Adapting Medical Day Care to a Virtual World

On March 20, 2020, the New Jersey Department of Health required all Medical Day Care Centers in New Jersey to close, in order to protect staff and children from the spread of COVID-19. Weisman Children's, while in support of this decision, recognizes that many families rely on Medical Day Care for maintaining the overall health and development of their children. To ease the concerns of the suspension in the program, the Weisman Children's Medical Day Care team developed new services in order to maintain the care of our children and families. These new services are designed to keep everyone enrolled and engaged in the program while practicing social distancing.

"During COVID-19, we have been remotely managing the care of our Medical Day Care children from a developmental, nursing, social and therapeutic standpoint. The first couple of weeks have resulted in many phone calls with our patients' physicians, home visits to replace tubes or reinforce teaching, and many families expressing how much their children miss coming to our program. All of this reinforces the importance of Medical Day Care in keeping our patients happy and healthy," said Shannon Sherry, Administrator for Weisman Children's Medical Day Care in Pennsauken.

Beginning the week of March 30, 2020, Weisman Children's began a care package delivery service for our families to help our children maintain proper nutrition and maintain their developmental goals while they are at home and missing days at Medical Day Care. The deliveries occur curbside and require families to come out to meet the medical transport van when it arrives so they can maintain face-to-face contact at a safe distance.

"The care packages have been very appreciated, especially with helping keep my daughter in that daily routine she needs," said parent David Kaye, whose daughter Alison normally attends Weisman Children's Pennsauken Medical Day Care. "Having something from the day care has really helped with her emotional state and it is has been really helpful. She was so excited that she got something from Weisman Children's. It didn't matter what it was, it mattered that your staff loved her enough to send something for her."

Another parent Nery Martinez, whose daughter Anna normally attends Weisman Children's Vineland Medical Day Care said that the care packages received from Weisman Children's have just been a part of the overall support they have received with this new program. "Aside from the support from the staff, we have also received calls to check and see how Anna is doing. Just knowing that the staff is there for us, as well as knowing that I can reach out to them at any time has been amazing. I know that I can count on them without hesitation."

In addition to the care packages, the teams have stepped up in other ways to help families. The Weisman Children's team in Vineland, hosts a group virtual circle time on Wednesdays with children and families, to help the children stick to their routine and to keep them all interacting with each other. "Everyone has been really excited, we have our children, their families, and a couple staff members that are homebound jump on as well," explained Diana Ciurczak, Administrator for Weisman Children's Medical Day Care in Vineland. She continued, "We try to single out each child and ask them questions to see how they were doing that day. We sing songs together, and read an interactive book. It is a very fun 30 minutes for all of us."

Furthermore, this past Easter thanks to a generous donation from Vie Model and Talent Agency, Weisman Children's nursing staff delivered Easter baskets and Easter dinners alongside the weekly drop off of food and supplies to the children and families. "As a New Jersey business, we wanted to give back directly to the community, and this partnership with Weisman Children's allowed us to help improve as many families' Easter holidays as we could," said Will Ball, Owner Vie Model & Talent Agency. "We received so many pictures and videos of our Medical Day Care children all with smiles after they received the baskets, we could tell it was so special for them," added Sherry.

Ciurczak concluded, "This has all been new for the children, parents, and for us. We are all navigating as best as we can. We are touching base with every family every week. Weisman Children's has used creativity to take an abnormal situation and make it as normal as we can. We are proud to keep these programs going as long as they are needed."