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Ronald McDonald House expanding in San Francisco

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The Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco will soon be able to help even more families with critically ill children -- it's expanding to a second location.

The Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco is going to be able to help even more families with critically ill children. It's expanding to a second location. The new house will be inside the new UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in San Francisco. It will make things a lot easier for parents in the first few days of a medical crisis with their child. ABC News anchor Cheryl Jennings and meteorologist Mike Nicco recently took a tour of the new house and the original house on Scott Street.

"Six months, 25 weeks was when he was born," said mother Colleen Warner. "I was in the hospital for a week and they were trying to forestall the labor and it worked for a while and then it didn't work."

Colleen and Sean Warner had a major scare with their new son, Julian, when he was born three months before his due date.

"The doctor came back in and said he's fine and you know, he's a little guy, but he's fine," Sean said.

Little Julian lives in the neonatal intensive care unit at a local hospital right now.

Mom and dad are nearby, living at the Ronald McDonald House on Scott Street in San Francisco. They don't have to drive 90 miles back and forth from their North Bay home in Cazadero now. But, Sean was in Cazadero when he found out his wife was going into early labor.

"So I rushed back down," he said. "Thinking I was going to miss the birth of my child, was she going to be okay, am I going to maybe lose my wife and child in one fell swoop, sitting in traffic on the101 thinking all of these things."

Now the Warner's have a home away from home at the Ronald McDonald House while Julian is getting stronger. And they have a built-in support system.

"Because he's three months early, we almost didn't know how to react to loving him, when you're so afraid of losing him every moment," Sean said. "So those first couple of weeks were so hard. But then we talked to other families and realized that's how they feels, and it really helped us come to terms with our own feelings."

They're able to get their own laundry done there and don't have to worry about a decent meal.

"They cook meals for us, we don't have to worry about that," Colleen said. "It's so close to the hospital and there are shuttles you can take. They just make it feel more like home. We get to hold him every day and that's the favorite, best part of my day."

And soon, more parents like Colleen and Sean will be able to benefit because a second Ronald McDonald House is almost complete.

It's located on the first floor of the new UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital at Mission Bay, for families with children in immediate crisis.

Executive Director Lois Moore showed Nicco around.

The gourmet kitchen is just waiting for chefs to volunteer to cook for the families. There are 11 bedrooms. They have a television and computer monitor with in-house channels so families can stay in touch with their child's medical team or go online.

"They have no time to do anything but worry about their child, and yet they have time on their hands," Moore said.

There are six bathrooms, a large laundry room, and private lockers.

And, the hospital has a helicopter landing pad.

"Most people don't realize that a child who's rushed by helicopter to our city lands at SFO and then is put in an ambulance and brought to a hospital," Moore said. "We're talking about a world in which minutes make a difference."

One of the greatest advantages of having Ronald McDonald House in the hospital is the fact that parents are just an elevator ride away from seeing their kids.

"Being inside the hospital would be your dream house," Moore said. "In the middle of the night you can get on that elevator and go up and check on your child."

And that will help ease the minds of worried parents like Colleen and Sean in the future. And as for young Julian, they're hoping to take him home for the holidays.

"We were planning on having him as our Christmas present anyways," Sean said. "So that's what we're hoping for, that we get to take home our present."

The new house and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital open in February. Mike and Cheryl are the emcees for the Ronald McDonald gala this Friday night. Click here for more information.

Related Topics:
healthdonationscharitiescharitychildrenchildren's healthchildren's hospital oaklandmcdonald'scancerUCSFpregnancySan Francisco
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