Sun Sentinel, October 13, 2011
With flu season looming, South Florida parents fearful about job security are increasingly turning to a handful of day care services that watch their sick kids. The services—including one in a hospital—accept children with sore throats, sniffles, earaches and other minor bugs who normally would be turned away or sent home from day care. Memorial Pembroke, part of the tax-assisted South Broward Hospital District, has run its Sick Child Daycare for 15 years. Most parents who use it are hospital employees, but it's open to the public, and traffic has been climbing in the past few years. The day care takes sick children 6 months old to age 12, except those with highly contagious or potentially serious infections such as chicken pox, said Judy Frum, the hospital's assistant adminstrator. Nurses, doctors and the emergency room are a short walk away, although no child has ever become sick enough to need them, she said. Staffers can give the children medicines brought in by the parents but don't prescribe new ones, Frum said. They call parents at least once during the day with updates on how their children are doing. The unit sees as few as two children a day and up to a dozen, with two extra-trained staffers, Frum said. Traffic typically starts to go up at this time of year, when colds and flu start circulating more often.