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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Hospital to build a daycare


It’s hard to go to work if you’ve got no one to watch the kids. That’s a problem Coulee Medical Center will tackle, at least for its own employees, following a decision by hospital commissioners Monday night.

They voted to spend up to $15,000 to fund a refurbishment of the basement of the old clinic building to house a daycare program for hospital employees.

A relative lack of daycare facilities was identified as a problem for economic development locally as far back as 2009 by the Horizons study funded by a grant through Washington State University Extension, but even earlier by hospital administrators trying to make it easier for employees of the 24-hour facility to come to work.

The hospital-specific issue was looked at as early as 15 years ago by then-administrator Mike Wiltermood.

“Grand Coulee area lacks childcare options for parents, and many have explained that this prevents them from taking a job when they would like to work,” the Horizons 2009 strategic plan stated, making expanded childcare availability one of several goals.

Both the hospital and The Star took part in that planning process.

Current Chief Executive Officer Debbie Bigelow told Hospital District 6 commissioners Monday night that her staff had been studying the possibilities and it looked “very viable” as an enterprise the hospital employees could support.

“We have done a financial analysis,” she said. “We could make a lot of money or we could just break even,” depending on how much is charged their staff for use of the facility.

“My tendency is to make it a benefit to our employees and just make it break even,” she said.

She said the service would also help with recruitment and retention of employees, including physicians.

By offering the service to employees only, Bigelow said later, licensing requirements imposed by the state on daycare-for-hire facilities don’t apply. If everything works out, however, she could see CMC offering it to the public someday, if called for.

Speaking to the board of commissioners meeting in the often-crowded training room at CMC, Bigelow noted that if the daycare didn’t work out as projected, the area would at least offer a bigger meeting room for CMC.

Board members all expressed enthusiasm for the plan, which they approved unanimously.

Bigelow said CMC will be working on the hiring of staff for the venture while the refurbishment work is underway.

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