Arrow-right Camera
News >  Business

Deaconess to close onsite daycare operation

Deaconess Medical Center plans to close its onsite daycare operation and refer parents and their children to the new St. Anne’s Children and Family Center.

Just five blocks away, the new St. Anne’s center is a vibrant choice for parents who now have their children enrolled at Deaconess, said Deaconess spokeswoman Christine Varela.

The closure affects 73 children. It was done as the hospital continues to make changes in an attempt to reverse its financial decline.

Two weeks ago Deaconess officials decided to close several pediatric services, including intensive care, oncology and surgery for children. Those moves are eliminating the jobs of about 56 employees.

The daycare closure will mean the layoff of between 25 and 30 employees. The center was opened in 1981 and was unusual in that it provided reduced-cost childcare for employees. Few employees in Spokane County offer such a perk.

The collaboration with St. Anne’s, which was built with land and money from Sacred Heart Medical Center, continues the recent gestures between the two big regional hospitals to work more closely together.

The new St. Anne’s center opened in October. It had 107 children enrolled as of Wednesday, yet its capacity is 200, said Loreen McFaul, director of development for Catholic Charities.

“It’s sad anytime we lose a childcare provider,” McFaul said. “Spokane needed more, that’s why we greatly expanded St. Anne’s.”

St. Anne’s accepts children ages 4 weeks to 6 years. Part of the new building houses Sacred Heart’s Cuddles and Care program, which allows working parents to drop off children too sick for daycare but not sick enough for hospitalization.

Sacred Heart donated the land to Catholic Charities to build the St. Anne’s center, along with $250,000. In return, Sacred Heart employees are encouraged to enroll their children.

McFaul said the cost of sending a child to St. Anne’s is comparable to the cost at Deaconess. The price and enrollment acceptance depends upon age, hours of care needed, and whether childcare is privately paid or subsidized by the state.

She said St. Anne’s will give laid-off Deaconess employees every opportunity to be hired, recognizing the important bonds children make with caregivers.

“We know how important that is for children and parents alike,” she said.

In a press statement, Deaconess interim Chief Executive Officer Jeff Nelson said the hospital will work with families on the best transition for children. Childcare services at the hospital will end no later than March 31.

Among the considerations for Deaconess was the need for about $100,000 in capital improvements for the daycare, said Steve Becker, a spokesman at Inland Northwest Health Services. INHS is a collaboration of Deaconess’ parent, Empire Health Care, and Sacred Heart.