Chelsea Community Hospital cancels childcare; cites program costs
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.pdf
Lisa Allmendinger | AnnArbor.com
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 AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.