New spot for local Ronald McDonald House not easy to find

New spot for local Ronald McDonald House not easy to find »Play Video
Jen Clason and her 5-year-old son, Sam, rely on the Ronald McDonald House near OHSU for a place to stay while Sam is treated for brain cancer.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The executive director of a local Ronald McDonald House has to figure out in the next couple months where to move because the building, near OHSU, will close this summer because it’s too old.

But hundreds of families rely on that location every year like Jen Clason and her son, Sam, who has brain cancer and he's only 5 years old.

They're from Springfield, hours away from the treatment Sam needs in Portland, so the Ronald McDonald House has become home.

"It is a home away from home," Jen Clason says. "Having a place to walk, even if my son is hospitalized, I can walk a block away, and know if he needs me I’ll be right back, right there."

But the building is more than 70 years old.

"We wake up every morning worried about something that might happen," executive director Tom Soma says.
He says it's not a worry about safety but it's financial.

But there are cracks in the walls. The roof needs to be replaced, and the hallways aren't accommodating to wheelchairs.

But the nonprofit has yet to find a new building, and the deadline to close under a five-year plan is July 1.

Soma insists there will be an interim solution by July 1, but he doesn't know what it will look like.

So why is there a race to the end to find that interim solution?

"We have attempted to pursue other options in these five years that would be permanent," Soma says. "Unfortunately, we have not been successful. (Now) we have no choice to be successful."

For families like Jen and Sam, there is no choice, because they need a solution.

"I think about the fact that if we live in another place or another time, that he wouldn't have the chance that he has now," Jen Clason says.

Soma says he's looking at several possibilities for a temporary place. Those include a block of rooms at a nearby hotel.

He wants to emphasize this is not a crisis. He says the families will have a place to stay, and that place could be the "new" Ronald McDonald House for a couple years while the organization finds and builds a permanent facility.