The Ronald McDonald Charities Curaçao, like all aspects of our society, has been impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. March 2020 has been an unforgettable and impactful period for the staff, volunteers, children and families related to the foundation. It was a period of transition since Curaçao opened a new hospital, the Curaçao Medical Center, 3 months before and the moving challenges were still part of the day to day. Our core program, the family room was half-done, some bedrooms were ready, and the communal areas were still in development when the pandemic hit our island. The RMHC family room was originally planned to open its doors in April 2020, but due to all these circumstances, the hospital finally welcomed the foundation on June 19, 2020.
“This past year has been a long and intense ride. Being part of the Ronald McDonald foundation and not being able to focus on the importance of the family togetherness, is something I will never forget. It was impossible not to feel the uncertainty and the constant fear about coronavirus in our community and in the hospital it was even worse. The health and safety of our guests, staff, and volunteers was and definitely still is our top priority. For this reason, at the beginning of the pandemic, all Ronald McDonald chapters worldwide, guided by the RMHC Global organization, had no choice but to scale down operations or close some core programs. Only the houses remained open for the families who were already staying in, but could not accept new families. This brought extreme sadness to our team, since we believe no family should have to deal with their child’s medical crisis alone” says Claudia Rigaud director of Ronald McDonald Charities Curaçao.
After weekly meetings with the team and working on an intense strategic plan, the foundation started to re-open in phases. Serving families in need during a pandemic is challenging. At this moment, only one parent per sick child is allowed at the hospital. “When you have a child in the hospital, everyone is affected, especially brothers and sisters. The siblings can experience many feelings as they try to understand and deal with the change in family life and routines. Our foundation’s focus is to keep families close and to provide them with the resources they need to focus on their child’s healing. Covid has definitely affected mission delivery but it has also made us think of different ways to help! The other challenge is that part of our dedicated team is staying home, because they belong to the high-risk group.” Claudia continues.
The pandemic did not only have a negative impact on the foundation, but it must be said that there were also positive consequences for the team. The connection and communication with the CMC team became stronger and the team members and volunteers created a deeper relationship and sense of purpose. Revising our standards for hygiene and infection prevention has brought peace of mind to the team.
“Honestly, I miss seeing the families together. I miss seeing the children play with a smile on their faces. I miss the feeling of home in our family room. I miss hugging the lovely children and their family members…..there are so many things I miss at this moment. I keep faith that soon we will operate again like we used to. At RMHC I found my purpose. I will keep pushing together with our team, to broaden our impact and programs to make sure Curacao’s pediatric health care is family centered and community partnered.”