SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Ronald McDonald House in Springfield is launching a new program in an effort to fill a gap in care. The executive director said their facility is seeing an increasing need for short-term stays.

There are 183 Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide. The Springfield Ronald McDonald House is the only one in western Massachusetts.

“When folks are in this house, and they’re all talking, and they’re talking about their experiences, they realize they’re not alone,” Executive Director Michelle D’Amore said.

Krista Parker is from Winchester, New Hampshire. She’s staying at the Springfield Ronald McDonald House while her premature-born baby girl Emma is cared for at Baystate Children’s Hospital.

“She was born at 30 weeks, so she needed some assistance when she was first born,” Krista Parker said. “To be able to be right down the street from the hospital and able to get our care.”

Representatives of Avangrid, the parent company of Berkshire Gas, helped to cut the ribbon Thursday afternoon on a new respite care program at Ronald McDonald House. A charitable arm of Avangrid donated money to Springfield Ronald McDonald House, so they could make improvements to the house. The new respite allows parents to reserve a room for up to three hours.

“A little time to get away from the hospital to rest, rejuvenate, and get back to their child and face the challenges they’re facing as a family,” D’Amore said.

Parker told 22News she’s hopeful that little Emma will be released from the hospital in a few weeks.

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