High blood pressure and elevated liver enzymes is the last thing an expecting mother wants to hear from a doctor. Stacey Rufer went into the hospital at 26 weeks pregnant and at 28 weeks, baby Lynzee was born. Doctors were straightforward with Stacey and her husband Andy: if Lynzee wasn’t born soon, both her and Stacey’s lives were at risk. Lynzee would spend the next 89 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital while her parents stayed just down the road at the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City.
The Rufers were three hours away from their home in Monroe, Wisconsin and staying at the Ronald McDonald House saved them from a huge hotel bill, “Comparing hotel costs over the three months we were away from home, staying at the Ronald McDonald House saved us at least $8,000.” said Andy. A big financial weight was taken off their shoulders which made it easier to focus on Lynzee, “Being so close to our daughter became even more important because she eventually had a total of three surgeries before she was three months old. We were always just a few minutes away whether it was using the RMH van shuttle to and from the hospital or using the free parking passes.”
Of all the amenities and services the Ronald McDonald House provided Andy and Stacey, the friendships created amongst other families may be the most meaningful part of their stay. “Everyone is family at the House” said Stacey. “Never did we expect to build connections and make lifelong friends during our stay, but we are grateful we did. At the end of a long day we could always count on someone to lift our spirits at the Ronald McDonald House.” Stacey remembers the day Lynzee was discharged and seeing a new family check into the House, “We were going home and they were just starting their journey. I introduced ourselves to the couple and said, ‘The Ronald McDonald House is like a giant family. Your time here will have ups and downs, but just know anybody here is willing to help.’”