Patients who don’t have childcare resources often delay doctor’s appointments and other procedures—and this issue disproportionately affects moms. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened this barrier to care by stretching existing childcare options and discouraging patients from coming in to the clinic. Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas aims to help parents make their appointments with Annie’s Place, an on-site daycare for patients’ kids that they plan to open this fall.
Annie’s Place is a collaborative effort between Parkland and Mommies in Need, a Dallas not-for-profit which provides childcare for patients who are in a health crisis, such as a cancer diagnosis. The two organizations have joined forces to create what’s thought to be the first on-site childcare center for children of patients at a safety net or large urban hospital.
Mommies in Need was launched by a young mother who was inspired to help other mothers battling serious illness after her own life-threatening battle with cancer. Meanwhile, in 2019, Parkland’s Kimberly Kho, MD, interviewed more than 300 Parkland patients who were parents or caregivers to determine their major barriers to keeping medical appointments. She found that the most common reason for missed appointments was lack of childcare.
“Parents already struggled to find childcare before the pandemic and for many, COVID-19 has created a childcare crisis,” said Dr. Kho. “We hope that Annie’s Place can take some of that stress off our patients.”
Parents will be referred to Annie’s Place after talking with clinic staff or providers, or if staff notes that a lack of childcare caused a missed appointment in a follow-up survey in MyChart. In Epic, Annie’s Place staff will review patient details, such as the number and age of dependents and preferred language. Parents receive a MyChart message confirming childcare for upcoming appointments.
The facility will be set up to maintain social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures.
Parkland is also using scheduling data in SlicerDicer, Epic’s self-service reporting tool, to look into how childcare needs and other social determinants of health—like access to transportation—affect patients’ ability to make it to their appointments.
“There’s a universality about women putting their children first and themselves second,” said Kavita Bhavan, MD, a Parkland physician. “We want to give caregivers peace of mind about their children so they can focus on their own health.”
Learn more about Annie’s Place and the story behind Mommies in Need from Fox 4 News.