Despite being an hour away from their home in Eldridge, Iowa, Dustin and Emily Murray felt part of a community thanks to the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City. Their newborn son Grayson was born early at 35 weeks and had to be placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. “We had no idea how long Grayson was going to be in the hospital. With him being born premature, we were prepared for the long haul,” said Emily. After checking in at the House, the couple learned about RMHC-EIWI and were amazed at how it made them feel. Dustin explains, “It takes a community of people to get through tough times, and we felt that loving atmosphere and sense of comradery during our entire stay at the House.”
The Murrays would have been happy with just a place to sleep but got so much more while at the Ronald McDonald House. Emily enjoyed grab and go food options in the kitchen which were crucial when they had to spend most of the day at the hospital. “Financially we wouldn’t have been able to be close to Grayson if it wasn’t for things like snacks in the kitchen, free laundry, and free parking at the hospital. All of that adds up,” said Emily. It was more than just a room for the Murrays. Emily felt special to receive a gift from the RMH staff: a polka dotted lunch box for Mother’s Day full of goodies that she still uses today. “That sort of thing sticks with you. I felt like I wasn’t forgotten about,” said Emily.
Maybe the most important thing the House provided was the proximity to the hospital. At the end of the day the Murrays just wanted to focus on Grayson. “I remember laying in bed at nights really missing our son and it was so easy to go see him. We would get in the car and minutes later we were at his bedside. We couldn’t ask for anything better than that,” said Dustin.