Sick Child? Care Center a Relief for Mayo Employees

By Edie Grossfield, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

Feb. 20–A boy wakes up with a fever and an upset stomach — and the scrambling begins. Can Dad or Mom to stay home from work? Can a friend or family member watch the sick child? What happens if his condition worsens during the day?

Mayo Clinic employees, however, are less likely to grapple with such questions, thanks to Children’s R&R, a free ill-child care center that’s in its 18th year.

Instead of avoid missing work, Mayo employees can bring their sick children to the center to be cared for by trained patient-care assistants and two pediatric registered nurses.

“It allows me to stay employed, basically,” said Ruth Paulson, a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic.

She took her 5-year-old son Michael to Children’s R&R last week.

“He got that stomach virus that’s been going around,” Paulson said.

Operating on the first and second floors of Mayo’s Colonial Building, Children’s R&R is the largest center of its kind in the country, said Director Lynnelle Campeau. It cares for an average of 30 sick children each day and has 9,800 preregistered children.

The center’s capacity is three infants, six toddlers, eight preschoolers and 31 school-age kids — a total of 48 children. It’s been running to near capacity since the beginning of February.

The center groups children by age, with a bed for every child. To help keep their minds off of being sick, the center has age-appropriate books and toys, TVs and VCRs and staff members who care for and play with the kids. Menus are selected for each child based on his or her condition.

Paulson can request a nurse practitioner to see her sons while they’re staying at Children’s R&R. If they need a prescribed medication, it can be filled and started while they’re still at the center.

“It gives me peace of mind,” she said.

The center, which is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, begins taking calls for the following day’s care at 1 p.m. the preceding day. But most calls come early in the morning, before the workday begins.

“So, it’s a busy, busy phone every morning, especially this time of year,” Campeau said.


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