Please read on for answers to some of our common questions from guest families!
Q. Where is Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama located? How close are you to the hospital?
The House is located in downtown Birmingham, AL. We are one block from both Children’s Hospital of Alabama and the UAB Women & Infants Center. The areas remaining hospitals are within a short driving distance.
Please note that RMHCA does not provide transportation.
Q. What makes a family eligible to stay at the Ronald McDonald House?
Basic eligibility requirements are that the patient must be a child that is 18 years of age or younger. The patient is either in, or coming to, Birmingham for medical treatment whether it be as an inpatient or outpatient. The family must live outside of Jefferson County and not be involved in an open DHR case for suspected abuse or neglect.
Q. How do I request a room at the Ronald McDonald House?
Families must be referred by their medical provider, preferably by a social worker that is familiar with you and your family’s needs. The social worker will complete the necessary paperwork and send it to the House. This request will place you on our waiting list for a room. A referral is not a guarantee for a room and we do not take reservations. Once the referral is received by the House, you are responsible for calling and establishing a check-in time once a room becomes available. If no referral is received, you will not be able to check in.
Q. Who may stay at Ronald McDonald House? Can other family members stay with a guest family?
Immediate family of the patient may stay at the House. For our purposes, immediate family is mother, father (or legal guardians), siblings and grandparents. Anyone staying at the House must be directly involved in the patients care or caring for siblings that may be staying at the House. Other relatives are not normally eligible to stay. Please talk to your social worker if there are circumstances that may require an exception.
Q. How long can my family stay at the Ronald McDonald House?
We ask that a family checks out after 90 days at the House. This allows us to check for any maintenance issues in the room. If you are here 90 days and check out you may put yourself on the waiting list to check back in after 7 days. There is no limit to the number of 90-day stays you may have.
Q. Is there a fee to stay at the Ronald McDonald House?
We ask all our families for a $10/night donation to help us defray the cost of running the House and keeping it in good repair. However, no one will be turned away if they cannot make a donation.
We do require a key deposit of $15 when you check in but that will be refunded to you when you check out and return the key.
Q. How many people can stay in a room at the Ronald McDonald House?
Room occupancy is tied to fire code. We have rooms that will accommodate 3, 4 or 5 people. This includes people of all ages and sizes and we will not allow more people in the room than code permits.
Q. Can a family have more than one room at the Ronald McDonald House? What if I have a traveling nurse or more than 5 family members?
We cannot provide more than one room for each family. We do have adjoining rooms for larger families but you will need to speak to your social worker if an adjoining room is needed.
Q. What do I do if I need to return at a later date, if the procedure date for my child changes or I cannot arrive at the check-in time I was given?
Please let us know as soon as possible that a procedure date has changed or that you cannot make your original check-in time. We will modify the referral and place you on the waiting list for the later date/time. If you check out and know you need to return, as long as it is not longer than 12 months from your original referral date you may request to be placed on the waiting list. You must be considered a guest in good standing to self-refer (to be determined by RMHCA staff).
Q. What do I need to bring with me?
We try to provide as much as possible for our families through the generous donations we receive from the community; however, we do have a few requirements and suggestions.
A photo ID is required in order to check-in. The most common form of ID accepted is a driver’s license.
The $15 key deposit is also required upon checking in but it will be refunded when you check out and all keys are returned.
We provide linens and towels in the rooms but we ask that you launder them and keep your room clean during your stay. We also provide travel sizes of most toiletries, toilet paper, a laundry room with washers and dryers, and bins to store food.
If you forget anything, ask the staff at the front desk to see if we might have that item available.
Q. Is food available at the Ronald McDonald House?
Any food we have available is provided to us through the generous donations of the community. Volunteers provide dinner and occasionally breakfast and lunch. To find out if a meal is being provided, check the meal calendar or the TV screens and paper notices posted around the House. Food is not guaranteed but is available most times.
You will be provided with 2 bins to use to store food. One is for the refrigerator and one is for the freezer. Since we have so many families staying with us, the space we have has to be shared so you can only store food that will fit inside the bins. You are also provided a pantry to store non-perishable items. No food is allowed to be stored in or taken to your room.
Q. Can I go home and still keep my room?
We do ask that someone spends the night each night in the room, however, we allow you to go home for 48 hours without checking out. If you will be gone longer than 48 hours you will need to check out so we can allow another family to use the room.
Q. What security is at the Ronald McDonald House? Is there a curfew?
We take the safety of our families very seriously. All adult guests are required to wear an armband that identifies them as a guest of the House. You will also receive a key to your room that allows you to come and go from the main entrance of the House. The House does stay locked around the clock so the key is required to enter or the desk staff has to allow access.
There is no curfew for families; however, any visitors must leave the building by 10 p.m. Our quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Q. Can I have visitors?
Families may have a maximum of four visitors and visitors over 18 must provide a photo ID. Visiting hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. For the safety of our guest families, visitors must remain in the first-floor communal spaces. RMHCA follows the guidelines of Children’s of Alabama Infection Prevention Policy which states: Visitors who have a fever, cough, or other flu/infectious symptoms are not allowed to visit. Siblings are children under the age of 12 are not allowed to visit when Seasonal Visitation Guidelines are in effect (October 1 – March 31 each year).
Q. Can I smoke in my room?
No. The Ronald McDonald House is a smoke and tobacco free facility. Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco are not allowed inside or on the outdoor playground. We do provide a smoking area outside the building for your use.
Q. Do you provide maid service?
No, maid service is not provided. Each family is responsible for keeping their room, and any other areas of the House they may use during their stay, clean. We also ask that families wash the sheets and towels in their room during their stay. Cleaning supplies are provided by asking at the front desk.
Q. What if my child or a family member has special needs?
Please be sure to notify your social worker that there may be special needs and they will work with us to accommodate you. Please note that the House does not provide medical or social services, counseling, or babysitting services. There are also no medical personnel on site and we do not have a back-up generator for medical equipment if we should have a power outage.
Q. What types of activities does the House provide and do you have internet access?
We have internet access throughout the House.
The House has an outdoor play area and indoor play areas and tickets/passes are available for many area activities including The Birmingham Zoo
, The McWane Science Center
, and Vulcan Park
. We are located within walking distance of Railroad Park
and Regions Park, the home for the Birmingham Barons
, our minor league baseball team and generous donor of game tickets for our guests! Information and tickets for these attractions are available by asking at the front desk.
We also have many activities provided by our volunteers that include Bingo nights, movie nights, game nights, special personal pampering days and educational classes. Look for special notices posted throughout the House for these events or check the family activities calendar
Q. Can I receive mail and packages while staying at the House?
Yes. Please notify anyone sending you anything that it needs to be marked with the child’s (patient’s) name and your room number. While we do allow you to receive items such as flowers, gift baskets, etc. please remember that food is not allowed to be stored or eaten in guest rooms. Mail can be forwarded from your home address to the Ronald McDonald House. Please note that once you check out, any mail or packages received will be returned to the sender.
You may also contact staff at the House by calling 205-638-7255 and selecting option 2 for the front desk.