Health Team

Durham Ronald McDonald House expands to serve more families

Posted July 17, 2013

— Brandy Cates and Adrian McMillan, along with their two oldest children, have a home in Selma, but they've called the Ronald McDonald House in Durham home for over a month.

Their twins, born 10 weeks premature, are in Duke Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.

"In the past three weeks, they've been getting progressively better," McMillan said. 

But it will probably be a few more months before the family can take the newborns home. Though the experience has been difficult, the Ronald McDonald House has helped make it bearable.

"You read the slogan: 'Home away from home.' It's a home away from home. It is," McMillan said. "Everything that I would have in my home, in our home, is here."

After an expansion in October that nearly doubled their space, the Ronald McDonald House is able to help even more families and accommodate them for longer. They went from 29 to 55 rooms, and the new rooms are suites – better suited for long-term family stays.

"They have a bedroom and a sitting area, a small kitchenette, a bathroom and a laundry facility in the room," said Nancy Jones, spokeswoman for the house. 

Volunteers keep the home functioning and community groups cook hot dinners. The game room is full of donated items, but of course, the home still needs money to keep things running.

New rooms at Ronald McDonald House allow families long-term stays New rooms at Ronald McDonald House allow families long-term stays

"$10 dollars a night pays for a family to stay here," Jones said.

More than the facility, volunteers and donations, the families themselves offer each other the kind of support that really makes the Ronald McDonald House feel like home.

"You never know what the other person's situation is. It can always be worse or it can be better than yours is," Cates said. "There's just so much love. I never thought that you could come to another place and people would just be there for you."

There are Ronald McDonald Houses in Durham and Chapel Hill for children receiving outpatient treatments or intensive care at area hospitals. Guests must be referred by a medical professional familiar with the patient's case, they must live more than 50 miles from the house and the child receiving care must be 21 or younger.

The houses ask for $10 a night from the families who stay there, but they don't turn away families who are unable to pay. That's why they seek donations.

For information about donating or volunteering, visit


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  • FragmentFour Jul 22, 2013

    I deal with the caregivers of mainly adult patients at Duke Med Center, and have heard and seen only wonderful things about the Durham Ronald McDonald facility. It does get donations from me, and I hope for many others.

  • ccblackman Jul 18, 2013

    My son had radiation at Duke, twice a day, 6 hours apart. The Ronald McDonald house allowed us to go and hang out to kill time in between treatments. Met some wonderful people there!

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Jul 18, 2013

    The Durham Ronald McDonald House is one of the most worthy charitable interests you can give to. My own daughter spent a week there after her son was born and had to stay in infant ICU for the first week of his life. The staff, and the facilites, are top-notch. It's also a great place to volunteer to prepare meals for the guests. Our company did it one Sunday morning and it was a great experience.