When a child becomes ill or injured, the family’s entire world suddenly is turned inside out. Physically, financially and emotionally stressed, families find themselves at our front door… a house built with love and filled with hope. Since 1984, more than 35,000 families from 568 Wisconsin communities, 48 states and 26 foreign countries have stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Milwaukee.


Zeke’s Story

Tell us a little about your family.

My husband Greg and I have two sons, Wade and Zeke. We live in Green Bay, WI. My husband is a machinist and I am a pharmacy technician, currently staying at home to care for Zeke. We have a very supportive, involved family here in Green Bay. We never could have prepared ourselves for the journey we were about to begin.

Can you describe your child’s medical situation and how you arrived at the Ronald McDonald House?

Zeke has HLHS; hypoplasia left heart syndrome, mitral stenosis, aortic atresia and Hirschsprung’s Disease. Zeke was diagnosed at the 20 week ultrasound. We were told I would have to deliver him in Milwaukee at Froedtert Hospital, so Zeke could get immediate medical attention after delivery. HLHS is fatal if the baby is not given medication to help blood stay in fetal circulation. We were told the typical hospital stay for babies with HLHS is about four weeks. Zeke’s Hirschsprung’s Disease was diagnosed a week after he was born. We were not prepared to stay 104 nights. The social worker through Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin put us on the waiting list for RMHC and within a few days of Zeke’s delivery, we were checked in. Zeke will have two more surgeries to correct Hirschsprung’s Disease and will be back between two and four years for the third stage surgery for his heart. We plan on calling the RMHC when those dates arrive to be able to have a place to stay so we can be there for Zeke every day.

What meant the most for you staying at the House?

What meant the most to us while staying at RMHC was the close proximity to the hospital?  We could be at the hospital within minutes especially after the foot bridge over Watertown Plank opened. We didn’t have to worry about being too far from Zeke any time of the day.

How do you think the House helped in your child’s recovery?

Even though Zeke did not stay with us at the House, he was affected positively because we were able to be with him every day while being well rested, fed and have one less thing weighing on our minds. We didn’t have to think about where we were staying or how much it will cost, while we were with Zeke helping him heal.

If you had to cite one or two experiences at the House that you strongly remember what would it be?

I remember the way we felt when we were at the House, like it was our “home away from home.” We felt very safe there in such a time of uncertainty. That was very important to us. We also remember the friends we made with other families that were in the long term rooms like we were. There were two specifically that were there from the beginning of our stay and that were still there when we left. We think of them often and keep in touch with one family. They really became our dear friends. The family dinners were always a welcomed treat. It was a nice break from the hospital. It allowed for some downtime in a comfortable environment. The weekend brunches and lunch 2 go program are also greatly remembered.

In one or two words, what does the House mean to you?

The House meant safety and love.

What surprised you most about the House?

I was surprised about the quality of everything in the House including the furniture. I was impressed with the quality of workmanship in the design and structure of the old and new portions of the House, both inside and out. The Secret Garden was amazing and I was always admiring the work that went into the garden by the Master Gardeners and donors.

How did you gain strength from staff, volunteers or other families at the House?

We gained strength from everybody involved in the House in some fashion or another through daily friendly conversations to the exchange of a smile. It was heart-warming knowing there were people surrounding you that knew what you were going through and that cared enough to volunteer or take their time to say hi.

Is there anything else you would share?

I would like to share that nothing that is donated to the RMHC, whether it be time, money, meals or material, goes unnoticed. You are surrounded by love and generosity in one form or another. RMHC helped us walk through our journey.


How to Stay

To qualify to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, you must be a parent/legal guardian who:

  • Has a child 21 years or younger being treated at a Milwaukee area hospital.
  • Lives outside of these five counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Racine, Ozaukee.

If you meet these qualifications, take the next steps:

  • Get a referral- Contact your child’s assigned hospital case manager/social worker to submit your referral.
  • Check availability- Once on the list the family then needs to call on the day requested to check in, to ensure we have a room available.  We request families call between 10am-1pm.  If we do have an available room families must check in before 8pm.

Important things to know:

  • We are unable to take reservations because we never know how long a child may need to be in the hospital.
  • Families are admitted as availability permits.
  • Check in hours are from 9am-8pm.
  • One room per patient.
  • We have a suggested donation of $20.00 per night, however no family is ever turned away if they are unable to pay.
  • Families clean their room before checkout.
  • The building and grounds of Ronald McDonald House are smoke free.
  • Families must be respectful and tolerant of other families who are equally concerned about the well being of their children.


Download a detailed PDF about how you can stay.

How to Stay FAQ

Please expand the frequently asked questions below to reveal the answers.

What makes a family eligible to stay at the Ronald McDonald House?

  • Has a child 21 years or younger being treated at a Milwaukee area hospital.
  • Lives outside of these five counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Racine, Ozaukee.
  • Families must be respectful and tolerant of other families who are equally concerned about the well-being of their children.

How does a family request a room at the Ronald McDonald House?

If you meet the above qualifications, take the next steps:

  • Get a referral- Contact your child’s assigned hospital case manager/social worker to submit your referral.
  • Check availability- Once on the list the family then needs to call on the day requested to check-in, to ensure we have a room available.  We request families call between 10am-1pm.  If we do have an available room, families must check-in before 8pm.
  • We are unable to take reservations because we never know how long a child may need to be in the hospital.
  • Families are admitted as availability permits.  After the family has phoned to be placed on the waiting list, they will be contacted by a staff member or volunteer as soon as a room becomes available. Families can check-in between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

What can a family expect when checking-in?

Each Ronald McDonald House family is asked to make an estimated time for check-in. All adult guests are required to have a photo ID with them at check-in. When the family arrives at the House, they will be required to complete the check-in process with a member of the House staff/ volunteers.  During this check-in process, the family will receive a brief introduction, a review of House policies and procedures, and will be given a tour of the House.

A Ronald McDonald House volunteer/staff member will also show the family to their private bedroom/bathroom and provide them with room keys.  After the check-in process, families are able to return to the hospital, relax in their room, enjoy a meal with their family and other guests in the dining room or spend time in any of the common areas within our House.

What is important to know before I check-in?

  • One room per patient, 5 people maximum per room (four adults and one child).  No exceptions.
  • At least one parent/guardian/primary caregiver must be present at check-in.  All RMH guests over 18 years of age staying overnight at RMH must present a valid photo identification.
  • Check-in hours are from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.  Please allow at least 30 minutes for the check-in process, which includes a brief orientation/tour and minimal paperwork. Families must check in before 8pm (RMH does not have 24 hour overnight check-in’s).
  • We require everyone staying to be infection free.
  • We suggest a donation of $10 per night, however no family is ever turned away if they are unable to pay.
  • The building and grounds of Ronald McDonald House are smoke-free.
  • Families clean their rooms before check-out.
  • Families must be respectful and tolerant of other families who are equallyconcerned about the well-being of their children.

What do I need to bring with me to check-in to the Ronald McDonald House?

Please bring the following with you for check-in:

  • Your photo ID.
  • RMHC has an access control system to help keep our families safe.  We ask for a deposit of $10 each for the Access Key Cards that you will be using to open your door.  Key cards are given at upon check-in. Forms of payment include cash, check or credit card and the payment will be returned when you check out as long as the key is not lost or damaged.

What can families expect when they arrive at the Ronald McDonald House?

Guest rooms have 2 single beds, a private bathroom, a television and a phone.  Cribs, cots, sleeping bags are available upon request.  Linens and towels are provided.  There are fully equipped community kitchens and dining areas.  Families have access to pantries that provide an assortment of food choices, as well as our meal program that provides a meal almost every day.  Families are responsible for maintaining their room’s cleanliness and washing their own laundry.  There are washers and dryers provided at no cost.  Parking spaces are provided for any guest with a car.

Is it possible to tour the Ronald McDonald House before a family stays?

Please contact the manager on duty at 414.935.6500 or you are able to view a virtual tour on our website.

Can we have more than one room at Ronald McDonald House, ex. divorce situations?

One room per patient. No exceptions.

How many people can stay in a Ronald McDonald House room?

In compliance with fire code regulations for the city of Wauwatosa, no more than five people may stay in a room (three adults and two children).

Is there a maximum age for the patients of the Ronald McDonald House?

Yes, the patient must be 21 years of age or younger, excluding pregnant mothers receiving fetal care.

What does Ronald McDonald House offer?

Ronald McDonald House is a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill or injured children. Since our doors opened in 1984, more than 34,000 families have called the Ronald McDonald House in Milwaukee home.

In addition to providing a warm and nurturing environment for children receiving medical care, we offer many caring outreach programs and initiatives. We are committed to providing a sense of community and emotional support that allows our families to focus solely on their children’s health. Our House offers a variety of areas for children and parents to relax and have fun including:

Who may stay at the Ronald McDonald House? Can other family members stay with a guest family?

Parents or legal guardians of any child may reside at Ronald McDonald House.  Parents are welcome to bring siblings but note that child care is not provided and that an adult must supervise children at all times.  All additional family members/siblings must be infection free when staying at RMHC.

Anyone outside the immediate family, such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent, must be helping to serve as support for the family and must be approved by RMHC management.   It is required that the at least one parent/guardian is present at check-in.  We can provide only one room per family.  In compliance with fire code regulations, we do have a maximum capacity for each room. The maximum number of people per room is five (four adults and one child).

Can a family go home and keep their room?

The House maintains a waiting list of families requesting rooms at Ronald McDonald House.  If a family is unable to use their room at least once every 24 hours, RMHC will request that they check out so that another family may be served.  Any extenuating circumstances must be approved by the Family Service Manager/Manager on Duty.  The family may request to be placed on the waiting list again once they have checked out of the House.

May a family stay if their child is only being seen on an outpatient basis?

Yes. A family is welcome to a room at Ronald McDonald House whether their child is an inpatient or outpatient at a Milwaukee area hospital; or, with pre-approval, another area hospital.  The child must be age 21 or younger; if the patient is under the age of 18, he or she must be accompanied in the House by a parent or guardian at all times.

For any family whose child is being treated on an outpatient basis, the child must be receiving treatment at least three times per week.  It is important to note the family may be required to show proof of treatment frequency to the Family Service Manager/Manager on Duty.

If a family needs to return can they reserve a room for a future date?

Unfortunately we do not take reservations, we do accept waiting list request.  If you have stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in the last two years, the primary caregiver may self-refer by calling the House directly at 414.935.6500.  RMHC requests you call when you know the specific date that you will need the room, this can be no more than five days in advance.  For example if the room is needed on June 20, the earliest you can be added to the waitlist is June 15.

Is there a fee to stay at the Ronald McDonald House?

We have a suggested donation of $20 per night, however no family is ever turned away if they are unable to pay.

Is smoking permitted at the Ronald McDonald House?

Smoking is not permitted anywhere inside Ronald McDonald House.  Smoking inside RMHC is grounds for immediate dismissal from the House.

There is, however, one designated outdoor area for smoking. This designated smoking area is the ONLY place smoking is allowed. The rest of our House and grounds are smoke free.

Can a family receive mail and packages while staying at Ronald McDonald House?

Yes.  We accept deliveries during normal business hours and will be happy to forward them to the family.  Families sometimes check-out unexpectedly, however, it is best to call and confirm that a particular family is still staying at the House before you send mail/packages.

Please note, however, we may not accept any delivery of medical supplies or medications.  A family representative must be present to receive such deliveries.  If we are unable to contact the guest, RMH will turn away the medical delivery.

Are families permitted to have visitors?

Limited day visitors are welcome, but must sign-in at the front desk. The children living at Ronald McDonald House are medically fragile and highly susceptible to infections. RMHC asks any person who has a physical condition that would endanger the health of our families  (infections such as a cold or flu, chickenpox), may not visit Ronald McDonald House. Visiting hours are between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.  Any overnight guest must be registered with the manager and show a valid photo id.

How close is Ronald McDonald House to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin?

CHW is .5 miles and is a two minute walk.  We are located right across the street!

How close is Ronald McDonald House to Rogers Memorial Oconomowoc location? Rogers Memorial West Allis location?

The Oconomowoc location is 25 miles and is about a 30 minute drive, the West Allis location is about 5 miles and a 10 minute drive.

What types of activities/services does Ronald McDonald House offer for my children?

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
Boerner Botanical Gardens
Cool Waters Aquatic Center
Discovery World
First Stage Children’s Theater
Milwaukee County Zoo
Milwaukee Public Museum
Milwaukee Public Art Museum
Mitchell Park Domes
Carenza Salon (Thursday afternoon haircuts only)
VICI Beauty School* (Available for Long Term Families)
Wisconsin Athletic Club

Is there a maid service for Ronald McDonald House guests?

No. Your room at Ronald McDonald House is your place to rest and rejuvenate as you care for your ill child. Our volunteers are very generous with their time and energies in operating our House, but they are not asked to clean your room during your stay. We ask that you take responsibility for maintaining your room while you are here, including cleaning your room daily, washing your own dishes and frequently laundering your bed linens and bath towels.

Is there a curfew at Ronald McDonald House?

To maintain the safety of our guests, the doors to Ronald McDonald House are always locked. Guests receive keys so that they may come and go to suit the needs of their children. Quiet hours are between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m . We ask that all guests respect these quiet hours.

Is alcohol allowed at RMHC? Medical marijuana?

RMHC does not allow possession or consumption of alcohol in the House.  Controlled substances are not allowed in the House or on the House grounds including medical marijuana.  A family with a medical prescription for marijuana is prohibited from smoking marijuana or preparing/ingesting food items containing marijuana in the House.  It is an expectation of RMHC that parents are able to provide responsible supervision and care of their children while staying at the House and be able to coexist peacefully in a communal environment. Being impaired while under the influence of alcohol and drugs is counterproductive to these expectations and may result in a family becoming ineligible for continued stay.

Can I bring a knife to RMHC?

Weapons are not allowed in RMHC in accordance with applicable state and federal laws with the exception of licensed law enforcement personnel providing security services for the House.

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