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In just its third year of operation, Community Cancer Fund has announced its intent to take on its most ambitious project to date; a hospitality center serving patients at Kootenai Health. The hospitality center is the result of a collaboration between Kootenai Health, Community Cancer Fund (CCF), and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest (RMHC). It will provide overnight accommodations that are low cost for adults and free for pediatric patients and their families accessing services at Kootenai.

“A cancer diagnosis is devastating to a family for so many reasons,” explained Jerid Keefer, co-founder and executive director for Community Cancer Fund. “Our goal is to help cancer patients and their families focus on getting better, not worry about how to pay for lodging during treatment. The hospitality center will help by providing patients and families across the region a comfortable, affordable place to stay while they are receiving care at Kootenai Health.”

Kootenai Health has experienced significant growth over the past five years, attracting patients from around the region with increasingly complex needs. One third of all patients seen at Kootenai Health are from outside Kootenai County, so the need for accessible, affordable patient lodging has never been greater.

The hospitality center will include 14 adult rooms and 6 Ronald McDonald House rooms for pediatric patient families. The hospitality center will provide a home-like setting, with kitchen and laundry facilities and recreational spaces. Ronald McDonald House guests will also enjoy services such as meal and pet therapy programs.

“The demand for a Ronald McDonald House at Kootenai Health stems from the recent expansion of its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as well as expanding pediatric services,” said Mike Forness, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest. “It will provide a free place where families can stay so they can be close to their baby or child.”

The hospitality center will be built on a currently empty lot on the northwest corner of the Kootenai Health campus. It will have easy access to walking trails and a shuttle service to take guests to various campus locations. Parents of pediatric patients will stay at the hospitality center free of charge through Ronald McDonald House Charities; adult guests will stay at a greatly reduced rate. The center will be available to patients with any diagnosis, not only those fighting cancer.

“The collaboration between Community Cancer Fund, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Kootenai Health on this project has been remarkable,” said Jon Ness, CEO of Kootenai Health. “The hospitality center shows the positive impact we can make when the missions of three great organizations are in alignment.”

Kootenai, CCF, and RMHC have a history of joining together to serve the needs of individuals seeking medical care in the Inland Northwest.  CCF has provided needed support to both Ronald McDonald House and Kootenai Health patients. Recently, RMHC opened a Ronald McDonald Family Room in the Kootenai Health NICU. This collaboration demonstrates a continued commitment to work together to advance healthcare in the Inland Northwest.

The adult portion of the hospitality center will retain the Walden House name. A prominent display at the center will honor the history, mission and story of the Walden family and the Walden House. Once open, the existing Walden House building will be retired and removed. This move will allow for continued growth and development of the medical office campus to meet the needs of patients and the community.    

Fundraising for the hospitality center kicks off at The Showcase, benefitting Community Cancer Fund, July 28-29 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course.  Architectural design is expected to be complete by fall of 2017. Construction of the new facility is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2018 with a targeted completion date sometime in early 2019. The current Walden House will remain fully operational and will continue to provide lodging for patients and families in need until the new facility opens.

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About our organizations:

Community Cancer Fund: is dedicated to fighting cancer in the Inland Northwest by providing support to cancer patients and their families, and the local organizations that serve them.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest: provides temporary lodging, comfort and support for families with children accessing medical services, and supports related efforts to improve children’s health in our region. RMHC serves families from a 4-state region including central and eastern Washington, northern Idaho, northeastern Oregon and Montana through three core programs: Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile Units.

Kootenai Health: provides comprehensive medical services to patients in northern Idaho and the Inland Northwest. Its main campus is located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and includes a 292-bed community-owned hospital. Kootenai Health is accredited by DNV. It also holds Magnet designation for nursing excellence, Level II Trauma Center designation, Level III NICU designation, and accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Kootenai is recognized as a center of excellence for total knee and hip replacement, as a top 50 cardiovascular hospital, a Gallup Great Workplace Award winner, an “A” rated facility for patient safety, and an “A” rated organization for financial strength by Standard and Poor’s. Kootenai Health is also a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Kootenai is regionally known for its programs in cardiac care, orthopedics, oncology, women’s and children’s services and behavioral health. Kootenai Clinic is comprised of 200 physicians and advanced practitioners providing primary and specialty care in practice locations across the region. For more information, visit

Walden House: The Walden House is an eight-bedroom home that provides comfortable, temporary lodging for patients and their families accessing services at Kootenai Health. Built in 1989 by the Kootenai Health Foundation, Walden House is named in honor of A.K. (Ace) and Ellen Walden, longtime supporters of the Kootenai Health Foundation and the Coeur d’Alene community.