Seattle Children’s Hospital plans to close daycare

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Seattle Children’s Hospital announced in an email to staff that it will close its daycare center in a cost-cutting movement as the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the demand for lucrative elective medical services. The center will be closed on June 30, 2021.Hospitals across the country achieved significant results during the Covid-19 pandemic. In many states, health systems have delayed or canceled nonessential elective procedures to make room for a potential flood of Covid-19 patients.

Child care for essential medical workers was a big challenge during the crisis. These workers are needed for long periods of hospital work, but their young children cannot go to school. To make matters worse, many daycares have closed due to the virus and those that remain open may have waiting lists of eighteen months or more.

The email indicates that the decision was made in part to avoid future layoffs.

“With the financial impacts we have experienced from the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot sustain our current spending and maintain the growth and financial stability we need to fulfill our mission,” the email says. “We have decided to take action now to ensure we remain affordable for our patients and families and to protect our most precious asset: our team members, by avoiding future layoffs. ”

The email expressed “deep sadness” for the move and suggested alternatives, including a child care subsidy program.

A hospital spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two parents affected by the decision say they have been thrown out for a loop and lack alternatives. Finding availability in a different daycare is a challenge for them at this point – and even if it were possible, most traditional daycares do not have enough hours in place to accommodate a worker’s schedule of health. It is also more difficult to find a nanny given the competition, or an au pair willing and able to fly to the United States during a pandemic.

The two declined to be named because they are not allowed to speak to the press.

They noted that this is a big problem for well-paid physicians, but that it will pose even greater barriers for environmental workers, nurses and respiratory therapists. A parent is now considering two nannies on consecutive shifts, but is deeply concerned that they will not be able to afford it.

In the Seattle area, other hospital leaders have widely voiced concerns about their health workers with children at home.

“We are concerned about our staff,” said Rod Hochman, CEO of Providence, by phone in March.

Providence currently offers child care and sought to increase capacity during the Covid-19 crisis. UW Medicine, another local health system, has confirmed that the hospital network is seeking to match university students interested in child care development with staff members who need an extra pair of hands.

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