Pushing around her Playskool cart is one of little Nicki Harper's favorite things to do. Nicki has been a patient at the GHSU's Children's Medical Center. After having a massive stroke at two-weeks old, Nicki and her parents have been traveling from Albany to be treated here since April 2010. And like many out-of-towners treating their children at the facility, Nicki's family lives in the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Augusta.
"They're wonderful," said Stephanie Oxley, Nicki's mother." it wasn't for them, the parents wouldn't have anywhere to stay."
Even though the eleven-bedroom home provides housing for parents of sick children, the house is too far away from the hospital in case there was an emergency.
"It's not within walking distance. You have to wait on a cab you have to call. If something were to happen to your child while it was in the NICU, you couldn't get there in a quick, fast time."
But soon precious minutes will be saved. GHSU's board of regents approved a ground lease to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, granting .54 acres of land to build a new house closer to the Children's Medical Center.
"This is the one we wanted because it's like five seconds away," Oxley said. "It's just right outside the door. And it's the perfect spot for the families to be. So when they go to bed at night they can say 'My child; my baby is right there."
Now not only will the Ronald McDonald house be a home away from home, the nearby location will eliminate some of the worry and stress its residents harbor.