Carolyn and Louis Fischer from Dubuque, Iowa knew ahead of time their newborn son Ray was going to have complications at birth. Doctors were projecting a 10 to 12 week hospital stay and the Fischers figured traveling the 172 mile round trip from Dubuque to Iowa City would be doable. However, everything changed two weeks into Ray’s stay at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) when he started to get sick. The now 30-week-old baby was in an even more serious situation and Carolyn and Louis were able to reserve a room at the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City just blocks away from their son.
“A room opened up during our most vulnerable time,” said Carolyn. There now wasn’t the constant worry about traveling long distances, where to grab a bite to eat, or trying to find daycare for their eldest son Lou who was three years old at the time. The Ronald McDonald House took care of all those worries and then some. “To have a nice place for Lou to stay was a huge help because he wasn’t always able to be at the hospital,” said Louis. Lou loved putting together puzzles and when family visited from out state, he was able enjoy the playroom with his cousins. “When my sisters came in from Washington we didn’t have to leave the House. The playroom, dining area, and space outside allowed us all to get together as a family,” said Carolyn.
Ray ended up being in the hospital for 61 days in total. Louis remembered how draining it was at times. “Life in general takes a lot of energy, so adding hospital visits on top of everything was a lot to take on. But the Ronald McDonald House gave us that extra boost of energy each day to get through a tough time,” said Louis. Even though Ray was only minutes away from his parents, he was never actually inside the Ronald McDonald House. Carolyn and Louis are ready to share plenty of stories with him as he gets older. “Someday we will bring Ray to the House and tell him how much it helped us. We will always hold this organization in high regard for what it did for our family,” said Louis.