Families continue to face pediatric emergencies amid COVID-19, nonprofit needs donations


AUSTIN (KXAN) — During the coronavirus pandemic, the Ronald McDonald House Charities continues to help families facing a pediatric emergency. However, COVID-19 has caused a significant drop in donations for the local nonprofit.

The nonprofit’s CEO Carolyn Schwarz said the need for items like disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer has doubled. The meals families depend on, usually cooked by volunteers, are now strictly takeout, and fundraising dollars are down after they had to postpone several events.

In the midst of all these changes, Schwarz said the demand hasn’t let up.

“You can imagine the anxiety that our families are feeling, it has skyrocketed,” she said.

One of those families is the Nunn family. Megan Nunn and her 3-month-old son, Branson, have been at the RMHC since January. Nunn arrived before giving birth to Branson. He was born with a rare congenital heart defect: hypoplastic left heart syndrome. It affects Branson’s blood flow.

“It’s really rough right now,” Nunn said. “(Branson) is immunocompromised.”

The pandemic has added some stress to daily life. Nunn now takes extra precautions to ensure not just her well-being but Branson’s, too.

“We cannot go anywhere,” she said. “Nowhere.”

Dell Children’s Medical Center has also made changes to their procedures including requiring masks, implementing temperature checks and limiting the number of visitors.

“Only one person, even if a baby was having heart surgery or anything only one parent is allowed back,” Nunn said.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, Ronald McDonald House Charities has suspended the arrival of new families into the home until further notice. Normally the house has room for 30 families. At present, there are 15 families in Austin including the Nunn family.

Schwarz said they’re doing their best to lift the family’s spirits by hosting virtual bingo events.

Nunn and Branson will remain at RMHC for several more months until Branson has his second heart surgery in July.

“Remember our families and any support the community can give us will truly make a difference,” Schwarz said.

Those who would like to help and donate goods are asked to order items through a delivery service such as Amazon. RMHC has a wish list of the nonprofit’s most-needed items.

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