July 11, 2003

Backup child care debuts Sept. 1

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Backup child care debuts Sept. 1

Vanderbilt has reached an agreement with TodayCare/Get Well Centers, 810 Broadway, to begin a pilot program to provide alternative child care for Vanderbilt staff and faculty. The center provides both backup care for days when regular child care arrangements don’t work out and also care for mildly ill children.

The contract for the pilot program goes into effect Sept. 1.

The use of sick time to care for sick children will be unchanged, giving parents an option to keep a child at home or use the care center.

“This new service gives parents a choice,” said Lisa Ponton, senior director of Human Resource Services.

“I am pleased that the leadership of the University and the Medical Center have heard the collective voice of our employees and have made the commitment to pilot this new program,” said Jay Groves, co-chair of the University’s Quality of Work Life task force.

“I believe it will help many of our employees who at times are pulled between the need to be at work and the need to find secure care for their kids when their primary childcare options are unavailable. It truly gets at the heart of what work-life balance programs are all about.”

“This approach reflects our commitment to VUMC employees who need care for their ill children and provides an option for that, if it is desired by the staff member,” said Marilyn Dubree, director of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer for VUH.

“This program offers another option for working parents as

Vanderbilt seeks to meet the dependent care needs of employees,” said Diane Neighbors, director of the Vanderbilt Child Care Centers. The University has a business interest in TodayCare’s corporate parent, GetWell Centers, but the drop-in center is not affiliated with the Vanderbilt Child Care Centers.

“The cost that mildly sick children and baby sitter problems cause Vanderbilt employees and the cost that Vanderbilt incurs as the employee copes with these problems is significant in terms of money and more importantly, in terms of stress on our employees,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, dean of the School of Nursing as well as a board member of Get Well Centers.

The center charges parents a $10 copay for each visit, and is open to children from three months to 12 years old. Its hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Employees who work in jobs providing clinical care will have first priority at the center, Ponton said. The center, which is located adjacent to Christ Episcopal Church on Broadway, has been in business since 1999 and is licensed for 40 children.

“We are very excited about this,” said Bob Brady, president and CEO of Get Well Centers, which has about 35 clients in Nashville, including hospitals, medical practices, and law firms, and also operates two centers in Birmingham, Ala.

Mildly ill children are assessed by a registered nurse at the center upon arrival and are assigned to separate rooms based on age and illness, so that, for example, children with stomach illnesses are not mixed with those with colds. “We worked with Vanderbilt infectious diseases and Pediatrics to develop protocols to screen the [mildly ill] kids,” Brady said.