IN the two years since Orange's Ronald McDonald House opened its doors, more than 250 families from across NSW have stayed at the house while their child received specialist treatment at Orange Health Service.
Thankfully none of these families have had to pay for their accommodation due to the commitment of volunteers who work year-round to raise funds to keep the doors open.
Chief executive officer of NSW farmers Matt Brand has thrown the organisation’s support behind Ronald McDonald House Orange saying it provides a vital service for rural families.
Once again this year Mr Brand will be master of ceremonies for the Ronald McDonald House fundraising ball which is held annually in September.
"As a parent it is difficult to imagine the type of pressure these rural families are under, worrying about the health outcome for their child, and being away from home," Mr Brand said.
"That is why NSW Farmers is keen to do whatever it can to promote the fantastic work of the volunteers and staff at this great facility."
Sadly many of the families who stay at the house, often for extended periods, have a child requiring specialist care in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMS) unit within Orange hospital, according Ronald McDonald House executive officer Rebecca Walsh.
In its first year of operation, RMH Orange had 13.9 per cent of families needing to stay more than 90 days.
"We have families staying with us that come from an area covering 86 per cent of the state taking in five health districts," Ms Walsh said.
Mr Brand said RMH Orange is vital to the support of rural families with a seriously ill child.
"This contribution of RMH to supporting rural families is enormous and goes some way to closing the divide which remains in the provision of adequate health services for rural residents compared to what is available in metropolitan areas," Mr Brand said.
He said another important service offered from RMH Orange by Learning Program Co-Ordinator Alison Wilkins is the provision of 40 hours one-to-one tutoring for every child connected to the house who has lost valuable learning time at school due to their illness.
While Ronald McDonald Charities funds the positions of executive officer, house manager and learning program co-ordinator, it is the 140 plus volunteers in Orange who continue to put in a tireless effort according to Ms Walsh.
"So far our volunteers have clocked up 27,000 hours as part of our 24-hour a day, seven-days-a-week operation of the house," she said.