The Ronald McDonald House of Durham opened its doors on February 1, 1980. It was the first House in North Carolina, the thirteenth in the nation, and the first to open without the support of a professional football team. At the time, it was the only House of its kind to be developed and supported entirely by the surrounding community.
In the late 1970s, a Development Officer at Duke University Medical Center recognized the need for affordable accommodations for the growing number of pediatric patients and their families who traveled great distances for treatment to “The City of Medicine,” Durham, North Carolina, and to the Duke University Medical Center. Together, with hospital representatives, civic leaders and members of the community, the need was documented and the process to apply for and receive a license to operate was started.
Each year the Ronald McDonald House of Durham has maintained an average occupancy rate of 97.5%. In 2009, our House hosted more than 1,300 family visits. However, the House had to turn away nearly 700 families for no other reason than there were no rooms available for them. This ever-increasing need for accommodations, a direct correlation to the excellence and growth in pediatric services being provided by Duke Children’s Hospital, led to an expansion of the House in 2012.
Today, the expanded House is able to welcome 55 families each night, providing them with a home awary from home and a community of support.
In addition to the House, the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms provide respite care for families within Duke (Durham) and WakeMed (Raleigh) Children's Hospitals – just steps away from the pediatric intensive care units. The Family Rooms serve more than 30,000 parents of critically-ill children each year.