Chandler Regional Medical Center has a backup plan for parents who find themselves with sick children. The Sick Kid Care program welcomes runny noses, coughs, vomiting, diarrhea and even fevers, as long as those symptoms are manageable by the nurses and children’s techs on staff.
Chandler Regional Medical Center has a backup plan for parents who find themselves with sick children.
The Sick Kid Care program welcomes runny noses, coughs, vomiting, diarrhea and even fevers, as long as those symptoms are manageable by the nurses and other staff.
"We're the best-kept secret in town," said director Susan Ohton, a veteran pediatric nurse who manages the facility and the community wellness program. "There's a lot that goes along with having your child sick and putting them in a place. We find we want to be available to help the family who can't take the time off work, who doesn't have paid days off or has used them all."
The service to the community has been around more than 10 years. Parents and guardians pay $40 for six hours or more of care, $30 for less. Children are accepted 6 weeks old up to age 13.
The Chandler Unified School District covers the cost of the daily care for its employees, so a number of kids who come to the center have parents who work in schools. A discount is also available for families with a KidsCare card or a Health Care Connect or on ACCCHS, the state's Medicaid program.
But if you find your child with a confirmed case of influenza in the next few months - seasonal or the H1N1 virus - you'll probably have to keep him or her at home.
"If the doc says they have the flu, we're probably not going to take them because everybody is concerned about the flu," Ohton said.
Every child's case is analyzed to decide whether or not the center would be a good fit. An older child with influenza - a respiratory virus that can cause symptoms like fever, coughing, chills and aches and pains - could be isolated in the respiratory room, where the air is circulated by machines to keep it fresh.
Children must be old enough to stay in the room, away from everyone else, and keep the door closed.
If a child is dehydrated, a parent or guardian must seek a doctor's care before coming to the KidsCare program.
Children who come to the center get focused attention and care. There are tables set up for art projects. Ohton boasts about a wide library of kid-rated movies for the little ones - or the big ones - to watch.
"If the child just feels real yucky and doesn't want to participate they can go into bedrooms. Overstuffed chairs are available for little kids to sit and watch movies with a blanket," she said.
Cross contamination of illness is kept at bay by lots of cleaning. Children in the public areas are kept at a distance from one another and everyone has their own set of care items - cups, blankets, tissue boxes and more.
"Here we're constantly washing hands and wiping surfaces. If we have a sneezer or cougher, they're not isolated but they're placed three feet away to do their own craft. We have hand wipes there and table germicidal wipes," Ohton said. "When they're done, it's cleaned and wiped off."
The center provides lunch, along with all the necessary fluids ill kids need like electrolyte drinks and juices.
"Goldfish (crackers) are popped by the crate," she said.
Children are welcome for multiple days as long as they've seen a doctor and are getting the medical care that's needed, she said.
Children are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are accepted 24 hours a day, but if they are made after hours, they must be confirmed between 6:40 a.m. and 8 a.m. Care technician-to-child ratios depend on children's illnesses and ages. Parents give details of their child's illness prior to being accepted. Immunization records must be up to date.
Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For information call (480) 728-3353.