Sara Dowe, NSNU
Sara Dowe, a nurse at Colchester Hospital, believes that if more hospitals provided on-site childcare, some recruitment and retention issues would be resolved, particularly for younger nurses. Apart from nursing and her family, Sara enjoys cross-stitching and reading.
The bright decorations, smiling faces of toddlers and pre-schoolers, and the warm atmosphere that greet you are telltale signs that Near to Me daycare is special.
As you learn more about the early beginnings of the daycare, and how it has evolved, you begin to understand how truly special it really is.
In March of 1990, the doors to this home-like daycare opened to children of employees at the Colchester Regional Hospital in Truro, Nova Scotia. The centre has since provided ease of access to healthcare workers whose shift work requires an untraditional approach to service. By opening at 6:30 am and closing as late as at 7:15 pm, Near to Me offers just that.
Located at the base of the slow rise that leads to the hospital, the non-profit centre is the brainchild of the hospital, and the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union and CUPE locals. In the beginning, many employees of the hospital volunteered their time to help renovate the house that would eventually become the daycare.
Near to Me now offers care for 29 children per day, 60% of whom are children of nurses and other healthcare workers. More importantly, it provides much needed peace of mind for moms and dads, and a bonus for their employer.
Sara Hazelton is the Director of the centre which employs 8 workers. She says that studies have proven on-site daycare facilities offer benefits for both the employee and the employer. “On-site child care goes a long way to reduce tardiness and absenteeism. It reduces turnover. For parents, there are the obvious attractions — they know their child is near should anything happen. They are invested in the daycare on so many levels,” says Hazelton.
“I moved here from Halifax with two small children. Without Near to Me, I probably would not have been able to work. They offer space to hospital employees first. I was able to start work right away without a break in service,” says Dowe.
Dowe says that Near to Me takes the worry out of raising a family and working as a nurse, enabling her to concentrate on her patients and her job.
“I’ve been called into work at the last minute and in a panic, you rush out the door with the kids. Knowing that I can take my kids to a daycare on hospital property, have time to undress them and get them settled and not have to throw them in the door and run, is a big deal to me. The hospital daycare allows me to get to work without that regular morning stress so I can start my day on a positive note.”