DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It is a sometimes forgotten piece of the health care puzzle: who cares for the kids while parents access care?
“We have got to start thinking about medicine and health care outside the traditional box,” said Kavita Bhavan, an infectious disease physician and Parkland’s chief innovation officer. “It’s about people who have to make choices — that aren’t good choices to make — between maybe postponing a surgery or postponing chemotherapy, because they have no safe place to leave their child.”
Now, Dallas-based non-profit Mommies In Need looking to fill that void with Annie’s Place.
“It’s the number one reason that women are missing appointments,” said Natalie Boyle, founder and CEO of Mommies In Need. “So we are able to solve for that here.”
In a neat brick building near Parkland’s main campus in Dallas, Annie’s Place is believed to be the first hospital-based drop-in child care center in the nation, working with Parkland hospital to make it happen.
“We are able to work with their clinics and actually get referrals from the doctors, nurses and social workers so that they can get appointments over here and be sure their kids are in safe and loving hands while they get their medical treatments,” said Boyle.
The staff at Annie’s Place are specially trained to care for children of ill parents — teachers are joined by a play therapist and social worker, all providing support and so much more.
“We also provide free diapers and wipes and food while they’re here, so there’s no barrier to care,” said Boyle. “All the patient needs to do is show up with their child, and we take care of the rest.”
“In order for women to do well and to have the care that they need, we need to be able to consider all aspects of their lives, including the very predominant role of childcare,” said Dr. Bhavan, who calls Boyle a “visionary” and applauds Parkland for thinking creatively about removing barriers to care.
“You know what? This may not be a cookie cutter model. This is not Ronald McDonald house, yet. But maybe it can be.”