McDowell Health CEO meets with concerned parents over closing day care facility

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 15, 2018

Parents concerned about the closure of Ephraim McDowell Health’s day care facility, A Children’s Place, planned for late May, were invited to attend one of two private, hour-long meetings with EMH officials Wednesday to discuss what happens next.

A reporter was not allowed to attend, but CEO Sally Davenport did speak briefly outside ACP after the morning meeting concluded.

She said the meetings were held so parents could openly voice their concerns about the situation involving their children’s day care needs. Later, via email, Davenport declined to answer questions regarding suggestions made by parents during the meeting, stating EMH “does not feel it is appropriate” to share any of the suggestions or requests of the parents administration met with.

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She said EMH knows decisions about child care are difficult and important.

“Not many people want to do child care,” she said.

To help make parents’ search for other child care options a bit easier, Davenport handed out a list to parents of about 16 day care facilities in Boyle and surrounding counties.

“We will help parents by providing all of the information that we have about available resources,” Davenport said. “All of the day care facilities in the area have been contacted to determine if they will be taking on children and this information was shared with parents. Although we have heard rumors of some expanding, we do not factually know which might do so.”

In addition, she said they will be taking the parents’ suggestions to the board of EMH for them to be discussed.

As parents were filing out of the meeting, some declined to comment on the situation because they are employees of EMH, while others did initially want to go on record, then later changed their minds and asked that their names be omitted.

One parent said he had the impression that closing ACP wasn’t because of the lack of children enrolled, but speculated that EMH could make more money using the building for another purpose, maybe some type of clinic.

Another parent said there was some anger and crying during the meeting, but no answers or definitive help was offered by officials. He said parents feel like EMH isn’t trying to solve the situation it has put the parents in.

Another dad who attended the meeting said the discussion with parents gave them the opportunity to give a lot of feedback to EMH concerning how hard it is to find child care. He said one of the requests made was to have ACP close later in the summer, instead of late May, in order to give parents more time to find a solution.

Following the morning meeting, Davenport wrote in an email, “We completely understand that this decision creates challenges for parents. However, our responsibility for 1,700 associates and the more than 120,000 residents in our service area who depend on us for health care requires us to make difficult decisions at times. Health care in a time when Medicare, Medicaid and our commercial insurers are reducing our reimbursement for care forces us to constantly re-examine our services while responding to higher demands for quality care.”

Additionally, Davenport added that the parents’ “passion over the closing certainly demonstrates the quality of care that has been provided at A Children’s Place for many years.”