Ronald McDonald House Orange: Wear Red Day ambassadors from Parkes

WEAR RED: Pat and Natalie Williams, with 10-month-old son Harvey, say Ronald McDonald House Orange allowed them to have vital bonding time when their son was born. Photo: SUPPLIED
WEAR RED: Pat and Natalie Williams, with 10-month-old son Harvey, say Ronald McDonald House Orange allowed them to have vital bonding time when their son was born. Photo: SUPPLIED

WHEN Natalie Williams went into labour at just 33 weeks she was forced to make an emergency dash 100 kilometres away for help.

The Parkes woman and her husband Pat were expecting their first baby, but their bub was early, way too early.

They fled to Orange Hospital without even a change of clothes or a place to stay, but thankfully there was a home away from home waiting for them.

Ronald McDonald House Orange (RMHO) is located just footsteps away from the hospital and it offers a place for families to stay, free of charge, while their child is undergoing medical treatment.

"I was just over 33 weeks pregnant and Parkes Hospital won't birth at 33 weeks and Orange Hospital will do it at 34 weeks. I was almost at 34 weeks," Mrs Williams said.

In terms of that bonding, it was irreplaceable. You don't get those first days back.

Natalie Williams

After their son Harvey was born he was put on oxygen. He also stayed in the hospital's special care nursery for 10 days and the couple needed a place to stay that was close by.

"It was either fork out hundreds of dollars for an AirBnb or a hotel, or stay at the [Ronald McDonald] House," Mrs Williams said.

This year the couple are Wear Red Day ambassadors to help raise awareness and donations for RMHO.

Mrs Williams said being able to stay at the house, free of charge, meant the couple could be as close as possible to Harvey.

SURVIVOR: Harvey spent the first 10 days of his life on oxygen therapy in Orange Hospital while his parents stayed close by in Ronald McDonald House Orange. Photo: SUPPLIED

SURVIVOR: Harvey spent the first 10 days of his life on oxygen therapy in Orange Hospital while his parents stayed close by in Ronald McDonald House Orange. Photo: SUPPLIED

"In terms of that bonding, it was irreplaceable. You don't get those first days back," she said

"He was being tube fed every three hours."

Far from being a clinical setting, Mrs Williams said RMHO was like a home, complete with kitchen, laundry, private rooms and volunteers there every single day to help out.

"It was so amazing being able to stay close by, it was the emotional tiredness that takes over," she said.

After an early entrance into the world, these days 10-month-old Harvey is doing well.

"He's a gem now, he's a very happy and healthy boy," Mrs Williams said.

RMHO accepts families of children being treated in a number of wards, including: paediatric, ICU, emergency, antenatal, special care nursery, mental health, medical imaging, rehabilitation and the Dudley Hospital.

There have been 55 families from Cowra (279 nights), 72 from Forbes (273 nights), 133 from Parkes (1031 nights), 28 from Grenfell (151 nights) and 12 from Young (254 nights).

Wear Red Day was held on Thursday, July 30.

Donations can still be made to Ronald McDonald House Orange by calling 6363 1960.

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This story This was our safe haven in our urgent time of need first appeared on Parkes Champion-Post.