Non-profit partners with Parkland to provide first-of-its-kind care
Patients at Parkland Health & Hospital System experiencing a health crisis now have access to safe, loving childcare at a new drop-in childcare facility, Annie’s Place. This is the first childcare center from Mommies in Need, a Dallas-based non-profit that provides community, childcare and compassion to families, and is believed to be the first partnership of its kind between a non-profit and a public hospital to provide free, on-site childcare. Annie’s Place allows Mommies in Need to serve even more parents, who should never have to forgo life-saving care for themselves because of a lack of childcare.
“Having a serious health condition is just one thing these parents wrestle with,” noted Natalie Boyle, founder and CEO of Mommies in Need who has battled cancer and other life-altering conditions herself while raising two small children. “They also think about how they are going to possibly care for these little humans who depend on them. Supporting parents on this journey means taking this one very important worry off of their minds and allowing them the time and space they will need to heal.”
A Parkland studyshowed that nearly two-thirds of mothers have difficulty finding childcare during their medical appointments. Many of them even delay or forego treatment entirely when faced with finding a safe place to keep their child.
According to Kimberly Kho, MD, MPH, a Parkland OB/GYN and Associate Chief of Gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, who led the research project, “What we found is that caregiving responsibilities are the number one reason that patients surveyed are missing appointments, which means they are delaying care and often ending up in the emergency room. That is not only costly, but it’s not the ideal place to get healthcare.”
“This partnership with Mommies in Need will have a positive impact on health outcomes for many Parkland patients, allowing them to access timely care for life-saving services such as chemotherapy and surgical procedures,” said Marilyn Callies, Senior Vice President of Transitional and Post Acute Services at Parkland.
At this time, Parkland is offering the childcare service available at Annie’s Place to a limited group of Parkland oncology patientsfacing a medical crisis.
Boyle’s own battle brought her to the realization that other moms out there needed the help she was able to get, and Mommies in Need was born in 2014. To date, Mommies in Need has provided more than 25,000 hours of care at no cost to families, all funded by the generosity of donors.
With the opening of Annie’s Place, the first drop-in childcare center from Mommies in Need, on November 2, patient families can receive complimentary childcare on Parkland’s main campus, home to Parkland Memorial Hospital, Parkland outpatient specialty clinics, ambulatory surgical center and more. Named for the first mom to receive support from Mommies in Need, Annie’s Place will care for up to 36 children per day (a number well under capacity to create appropriate distancing precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic), allowing their moms, dads or other legal guardians to receive treatment. The 4,200-square-foot facility offers care on both a licensed and exempt basis under State of Texas laws, and is expected to serve 3,650 unduplicated children, ages 0 to 6, during its first year of operation. Annie’s Place is staffed by teachers who receive special training, including trauma-informed care, to provide for the needs of a child whose parent is experiencing a health crisis. Ongoing training for teachers and staff happens on a monthly basis, with additional modules on hospice care, stress management and play therapy, caring for children with special needs and personal professional development skills as part of the ongoing curriculum.
“We look for qualified, experienced people who also have a heart of gold to serve our families,” Boyle said, “and the relationships they build with our families in their time of need is an incredible part of the compassion and community Mommies in Need offers. It’s not just about the childcare; it’s also about giving support and hope.”
Teachers and staff have also completed COVID-specific training through the State of Texas to be prepared to create a safe and supportive environment for children during the pandemic. In addition, the strict infection prevention procedures that were already in place for the facility were taken to new levels in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boyle considers the timing a silver lining to this health crisis plaguing the world. “We already had strict precautions in place for cleanliness to protect our families, but this allowed us additional perspective as we prepared Annie’s Place for our families. That influenced everything from how many toys we purchased, to which furniture we used, to how children were separated and even how team members move around to different assignments during the day.” With the effects of the pandemic also allowing parents fewer options in where to get care for their children, Boyle said that the timing for opening Annie’s Place couldn’t be better. “Protecting the health of the parents and families we serve has always been our top priority, and now we’re called on to help in what is a very dark time for many people, especially parents fighting a battle for their health. We feel called and compelled to be there for them.”
Mommies In Need is a non-profit organization that relies on the generous support of compassionate individuals, foundations and businesses that recognize the value of the services Mommies in Need provides to families. Among its many supporters are The Crystal Charity Ball, The Simmons Sisters Fund at the Dallas Foundation, The Constantin Foundation, Hamon Charitable Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, The Moody Foundation, and Perot Foundation, as well as in-kind partners The Beck Group and Winstead PC.
A ribbon-cutting for Annie’s Place is planned for November 19 that 9:30 a.m.