OTTUMWA — Two weeks after it was announced that the hospital’s day care center was shutting its doors, parents, hospital and college staff met to look for ways to keep it open.
Melissa Schuttlefield, whose 3-year-old daughter has attended the center for nearly two years, said more than 100 parents and family attended a meeting Tuesday night with Ottumwa Regional Health Center CEO Phil Dionne and Indian Hills Community College President Jim Lindenmayer.
“I’m very happy to hear from Lindenmayer and Dionne that they were willing to sit down and have more conversations with community members, with me as a parent,” Schuttlefield said. “Let’s make sure we exhaust our efforts before we do shut this down.”
The Child Development Center, which was created by IHCC, is slated to close on May 24. Dionne previously cited the financial impact of the Affordable Care Act, reimbursement reductions and continuous financial losses as reasons for its closure. He said recently the hospital has averaged a loss of $90,000 per year to keep the center afloat.
IHCC manages the center for ORHC, providing staff and training, as well as handling all invoicing. The center’s funding comes from three sources: parents’ fees, IHCC-donated services and services billed to ORHC.
Parents’ fees alone cannot cover operating costs, Lindenmayer said, which is why the hospital has been hit with a $100,000 bill nearly every year since the center opened a decade ago.
“One thing I explained to the parents [Tuesday] night ... is our model is an educational model,” Lindenmayer said. “We built a lab on campus so we can train child care providers ... so we have full-time staff that get benefits, and we pay IPERS on them. They’re paid much better than your average child care provider would be. It’s a very costly model. It’s a good model to train people on, but it’s not an efficient model to run a child care center. But ORHC has been willing to accept that overage to get that type of model.”