Childcare while visiting the hospital
June 12, 2021 4:06 PM   Subscribe

I'll be visiting a hospital (Sloan Kettering in NYC) frequently over the coming months and need childcare for a two-year-old during visiting hours. While searching, I thought about the short-term childcare services many gyms (like this) provide while parents work out. Sloan Kettering doesn't seem to offer something like this, so I'm wondering: Do any hospitals offer short-term childcare services for visitors who have family members receiving treatment? If not, why not? What barriers might be preventing hospitals from creating something like this?
posted by saltypup to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I suspect liability is not something hospitals want to take on— kids + medical center w risks in either direction? I will say as a ER physician we have occasionally tried to push for on site childcare just to have back up for staff (a frequent staffing issue being child care emergencies!) and we have been told liability is prohibitive ..
posted by BundleOfHers at 4:37 PM on June 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nationwide Children’s in Columbus does but only for 1.5 hrs 2x per day.
posted by shesdeadimalive at 4:48 PM on June 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Covid is a big problem right now.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:57 PM on June 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One reason for hospitals not to get into this is that people would use them to deal with emergencies.

If you have ever dragged a screaming baby and a pair of whining toddlers to Emerg with you because you were the patient but had no one available on short notice to take the kids off your hands so that you could go in and be seen, you will see how a drop in babysitting service at the hospital would be a godsend. However if you have ever gone to Emerg in hopes of a quick prescription only to discover that they wanted to admit you or been told that the half hour wait had just been extended to seven hours, you can see how you might not be able to retrieve your kids before urgent care, visiting hours and the drop in service all close.

It is not likely that your local fitness centre will get stuck holding the baby because people don't go there in crisis. It is much more likely that people will go to the hospital when their life is hurtling out of control. Of course, the hospital's drop in childcare, like every other childcare facility would have the contact information for emergency intake, so that the foster care system could come and pick up your kids. There is a big difference between a day care offloading your kids into the system and informing you that getting them back is entirely between you and the social workers and if you don't like it you shouldn't have abandoned them, and the hospital telling you that your kids are safe where they are but you absolutely seriously need to stay hooked up to that monitor, while simultaneously telling you that they won't be answerable for the consequences if you don't pick up your two year old within fifteen minutes... You've got a conflict of interest just waiting to happen.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:51 PM on June 12, 2021 [13 favorites]

Our local children’s hospital has this service for siblings during treatment (I volunteered there as a teen!) but I don’t think it’s common in the adult ones.

I would ask your doctor/clinic to connect your with your hospital social work department as they may have a solution for you. (Note: my experience is in Canada but I would hope it would be even better down there.)
posted by warriorqueen at 8:17 PM on June 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

As a general rule, centers specializing in adult cancer treatment, like MSK, are not enthusiastic about having very young visitors, who, as I'm sure you already know, are walking germ-bombs.
posted by praemunire at 10:17 PM on June 12, 2021

My opinion is that gyms use babysitting services as a marketing tool to get parents in the doors who might not otherwise go to the gym at all. Hospitals don't have that concern.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:25 AM on June 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Magic Castle - Princess Margaret hospital - Toronto

Stella’s playroom - Toronto

Drop in daycare St Justine - Montreal

Back up child care - Brigham and Women’s Hospital - Boston

I think Covid may be a huge barrier but some hospitals see them as essential.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:40 AM on June 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

As an ER social worker, I'd recommend Safe Families for Children which
operates in your state if cost is a concern you have. That will be sort of voluntary host families for short term (days) things (say primary caregiver(s) is hospitalized or in substance abuse treatment), but also can do short term childcare stuff too. I haven't worked with any chapters in NY, but the one in Chicago have some really great people. Now, there can be a religious bent to services, but it really varies. Wouldn't hurt to look into it, and they'd likely have local referrals if their services aren't what you are looking for.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:46 AM on June 13, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you for your ideas and links! @warriorqueen, that list was exactly what I was looking for. While there are of course barriers to implementing this sort of service at hospitals, seeing that it's been done has lit a fire in me. Thank you very much :)
posted by saltypup at 3:44 PM on June 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

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