The University of Texas Medical Branch Regional Maternal and Child Health Program will host a grand opening celebration of the Ronald McDonald CHEER! Room (Children’s Health Education Enrichment Resource Room) on Monday, June 3 at the Conroe Regional Maternal and Child Health Program clinic. 

The Conroe clinic is the fourth health care facility in the nation to offer a Ronald McDonald CHEER! Room, which is funded by the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The CHEER! Room aims to provide pediatric preventive health care through education. 

The UTMB Regional Maternal and Child Health Program provides quality community-based health care services to women and children who might otherwise not receive them. The Conroe clinic, located at 701 East Davis, Suite A, offers pre-pregnancy counseling, family planning, pregnancy testing, prenatal care, prenatal ultrasounds, well-woman and well-child exams, breast and cervical cancer screening, pediatric exams, immunizations, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

The idea for the CHEER! Room came from UTMB clinicians who observed that mothers who came in for prenatal care were often distracted by the young children who accompanied them. This inability to focus on important prenatal information could have serious implications for an unborn child. 

Through grant funds, a bilingual pediatric health curriculum was developed that teaches short health lessons to children while their mothers are receiving care. These health lessons include dental care, personal hygiene, nutrition, exercise, and home and car safety, among others, and are presented in the brightly colored and child-friendly CHEER! Room by bilingual students who are pursuing certification in early childhood education programs. 

At the same time, clinicians evaluate immunization needs and help mothers get appropriate vaccinations for their children in the hopes of health promotion and disease prevention.

“Through this program, we are helping expectant mothers have a healthier pregnancy and helping their unborn children to be born healthier,” said Carolyn Nelson-Becker, director of UTMB’s regional maternal and child health program. “We are so grateful for the generosity of the Ronald McDonald House Charities.”

Dr. Gary D.V. Hankins
, chairman of the UTMB department of obstetrics and gynecology, will provide the keynote address at the dedication ceremony. Nelson-Becker, along with Patty Nami, Conroe RMCHP Clinic director, will host the event. Debbie Adams, president of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston, members of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston Board, and Melanie Lay, Ronald McDonald CHEER! Room coordinator will also be in attendance. Members of the Greater Conroe/Lake Conroe Area Chamber of Commerce and Community Chamber of Commerce of East Montgomery County have been invited to attend.

UTMB’s Regional Maternal and Child Health Program is a network of 14 community-based clinics and 23 WIC sites serving low-income and uninsured women and children from more than 85 Texas counties. Telemedicine connects many of these community clinics to UTMB’s main campus in Galveston. The RMCHP served more than 100,000 women and children in 2012. The annual clinic patient visit volume for 2012 was 189,512, and 101,905 of those visits were for prenatal care.