MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Morgantown Ronald McDonald House is currently being renovated to expand the facility. This project began back in September and is expected to take about a year to be completed.

The facility provides free rooms to caregivers whose children are being treated at WVU Medicine Children’s, which is located directly across the street. Officials at the house felt a need to expand its space in an effort to keep up with the hospital’s new expansions over the past year.

“In 1990, the Ronald McDonald House of Morgantown was established and opened its doors to local families seeking medical care for their children,” according to Eleanor Reigel, the CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh and Morgantown. “As a result over the years, an expansion is necessary because there has been a growth—a tremendous growth actually—of the medical care provided in Morgantown. And so therefore, with the expansion of this medical care and as you know, the WVU Medicine Children’s has expanded within the last year. That has a significant impact on the services that we provide,” she added.

The facility will be adding 11 new rooms as a part of this renovation and going from being able to accommodate 16 families at a time to being able to serve up to 27 families. These renovations will be done by Allegheny Construction Group and designs were by DRS Architects. The center’s lobby entrance area and the communal family spaces are also being redesigned.

“This is important because not only do we provide a place for the families to rest, but we also provide free laundry services, a community kitchen, a living room, a play room for siblings and/or if the patient’s outpatient, and we also have a family deck,” Reigel said. “So we try to think of our house similar to your individual homes and that, we wanna make sure that there’s a safe and comfortable environment for our families. It’s important to maintain their daily needs,” she added.

To be eligible to stay at the house, you must live at least 50 miles or more away from Morgantown and be with a patient who is 21 years or younger. “It’s not a cumbersome requirement and therefore, we’re able to provide the services to many, many families,” said Reigel.

According to Reigel, the facility provided over 10,000 nights of stay to over 500 families throughout the current year (2023). “So the need is significant and I’m thrilled that we can make an impact in providing this support to when families need it most.”

Even though the Morgantown location opened in 1990, the Ronald McDonald House Charities first opened in 1974 in the Philadelphia area. Over the years, the organization developed into close to 400 charities worldwide. “It is now an international charity, and each chapter is separately incorporated and governed by a board of directors,” she added.

In 2018, the Pittsburgh and Morgantown chapters merged to become one entity. This has allowed them to provide care to patients in both areas.

Prior to this merger, Reigel said that families from West Virginia and the Morgantown area would sometimes transfer medical care to the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital to receive care. “And so, with us being merged, it’s really easy and convenient for the families.”

Despite the renovations already being underway, Reigel said people can still show support. “I think there’s an opportunity for the community to still rally and help support the cause. This is a big initiative for the house, and you know, donations are always welcomed.”

For anyone hoping to leave a donation, they can do so on the organization’s website.