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Posted on Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

Chelsea Community Hospital cancels childcare; cites program costs

By Amy Biolchini

To the chagrin of many parents in the city of Chelsea in western Washtenaw County, Chelsea Community Hospital has announced it will be canceling its childcare programs at the end of August.

A letter was sent to the parents whose children are enrolled in the hospital’s Children’s Center July 11 notifying them the program would be discontinued because the hospital is “refocusing resources on our core mission of providing exceptional health care to the communities we serve.”

Read a copy of the letter: Letter to Parents and Children Center Associates 71112[1].pdf


Chelsea Community Hospital has recently announced it will be canceling its childcare program.

Lisa Allmendinger |

The letter signed by Chelsea Community Hospital CEO Nancy Graebner cites “changes under way in health care delivery models and financing” as the hospital’s reason it can no longer sustain the costs, regulatory requirements and capital needed for the 35-year-old program.

St. Joseph Mercy Health System acquired Chelsea Community Hospital May 1, 2009. Current CEO Graebner took office in early 2012.

The Children's Center provides childcare to infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children of both hospital employees and the public. The daycare portion is housed in St. Paul’s United Church of Christ at 14600 East Old U.S. Highway 12 in Chelsea. After school programs for older children are held at North Creek Elementary School in Chelsea and also will be terminated.

The hospital is hosting two parent forums at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the church to discuss the issue.

Chelsea resident Dania Dunlap-Hurden has her preschooler and toddler enrolled in the hospital’s childcare program.

She said she chose the program because of its excellent ratings and proximity to her home.

Now, Dunlap-Hurden said she’s scrambling to find another childcare provider. Dunlap-Hurden said it’s likely she will have to make a 40-minute round-trip twice a day to Ann Arbor to drop her children off before returning to Chelsea for work.

There are other daycares in Chelsea, but Dunlap-Hurden said she doesn’t think they can accommodate all of the children from the hospital’s program.

The short notice from the hospital has left her and a number of other parents feeling cheated.

“The biggest thing is the short notice, and the communication,” Dunlap-Hurden said. “When we have a problem we band together as a community. It’s not in the vein with our community for someone to come in and make a decision like this.”

Chelsea Community Hospital recommended the parents affected by the decision enroll their children in daycare at one of the seven locations of Gretchen’s House in Ann Arbor.

The business serves about 700 children in the Ann Arbor area, and is offering daycare to the families affected by the hospital’s decision at the same rate they had at the hospital through the end of 2012.

“We feel really bad for the families there and we know childcare is an important decision,” said Heidi McFadden, executive director of Gretchen’s House.

When the hospital approached the Gretchen’s House administration at the end of May about accommodating the families, McFadden said the initial conversations attempted to keep the program at the Chelsea church location but have Gretchen’s House staff adopt the management.

However, the church declined to host the program under new ownership, according to the July 11 letter.

“It’s just not feasible to start up a new program in a new location without more time,” McFadden said. “I’m very hopeful that we’ll be able to help families in our current centers.”

As September is a popular enrollment time for daycare programs, McFadden said there likely would be more spots open as preschoolers leave the program for kindergarten.

“It typically takes a month to secure care,” McFadden said.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

The community needs to let the hospital know that this is unacceptable. There have been donors who have generously pledged the amount needed to offset the operating loss if the hospital were to keep the program. There are parents who have expressed willingness to pay more to ensure that the program stays out of the red. There are other options that will keep the center a nonprofit entity focused on our children. I urge each and every parent who has had a child in the center and every adult child who benefited from the exceptional care received from the center during the past 35 years to come to the July 25th meeting. Our community needs to make sure that the hospital is clear that we are united, committed and powerful.


Wed, Jul 18, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

After tonight's meeting, Chelsea Community Hospital should change their name to Chelsea Hospital. the meeting left me feeling more disappointed in Chelsea Hospital. they can spend millions of dollars on new buildings, sidewalks, and 2 new enterences, but can't ask the parents who write them the checks to increase the tution. thank you St. Joe's!!!!


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

St. Joe's, historically, does not care for it's employees. We used to call them the "Sisters of NO Mercy" when I worked there. I lived Chelsea and remember when they built the first little part of the Hospital. People were outraged that it was being built and many opposed it. Dr. Papo went right on and built it and it became a wonderful facility, fully supported by the community. Dr. Papo was concerned about his employees and patients. He went so far as to hire an actual chef to cook the meals as he felt poor nutation and awful hospital food delayed recovery. And he wanted his employees to be happy and well fed also. For years people went to the hospital for lunch because the food was so good! He was a great man with a vision and I wonder what he would think about this turn of events.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

I am sad to hear this; 27 years ago my son was enrolled in this wonderful program... it will surely leave many at a loss.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

yet again another reason I will continue my care and families care at U of M based offices.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

This was very bad news for a lot of families in Chelsea. I have been to other daycares in Chelsea and this was the only one that put the kids first and really cared for them. It was amazing what my children learned and the wonderful field trips they do. You can not find another daycare in Chelsea that comes close to the teachers and the Director of the this program. It is a sad day.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.

In my opinion, the changes being seen with these programs are as a result of the economics of scale. The scale of the ownership of the Chelsea Hospital has grown significantly. CCH was purchased by St. Joesph Mercy Health System a couple years ago. The problem is St. Joe's Mercy Health System is itself owned by Henry Ford and Trinity Health Systems. Trinity has been on a buying spree lately, adding size and cost. The addition of new hospitals and new programs requires a lot of administration. To stay a profitable not-for-profit organization (break even), you need a lot of administration. I'm sure these programs are being cut because the companies need administration to oversee everything. :<. I used to really like Chelsea CH, but having been there once since the new ownership took over, I can honestly say, the service has declined drastically as has the willingness to work with patients.

Fat Bill

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 3:19 a.m.

I guess St. Joes needs to reassess the name of their facility. " Community" is no longer part of the equation.


Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 11:15 p.m.

I wonder what is going on with St. Joseph Mercy Health Center. For years I have been taking exercise classes at Women's Health Center in the Ellen Thompson Women's Health Building. In April we were given a one week notice that they were discontinuing the program. We paid for our classes so it was not about a program that wasn't breaking even. What is the bottom line???


Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 10:36 p.m.

Way to go St. Joseph Mercy Health Center----not. According to statement on your site, you don't prescribe or dispense contraceptives. Now, you are leaving mothers of young children in the lurch. I'm certainly glad my family and I get our health care at the U. of Michigan.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Can you please link me to where on the website it says they don't prescribe or dispense contraceptives?


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

Yes, fathers and other family members are also affected. Oops. What does U. of M. offer that St. Joseph Mercy Health Center doesn't? The availability of contraception. When a medical facility seeks diverse patients, employees, etc. they are a community resource that is supposed to be serving a diverse community.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 3:13 a.m.

What kind of child care does the U of M provide Chelsea residents?

Will Warner

Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

Why do you say "you are leaving mothers in the lurch"? Aren't entire families affected by this decision, the fathers too?