Northeast Georgia Health System is closing its child care center in May, the hospital announced Wednesday to employees.
The center has been open since 1967 and was serving about 80 families, or 102 children, including those in its after-school program. That accounts for about 2 percent of the health system’s employees, according to Carol Burrell, NGHS president and CEO.
“This was a very difficult decision for our senior leadership team to make, and one that was only made after months of research and due diligence,” Burrell said in a news release.
Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Tmychuk said the facility where the center was housed, at 1215 Jesse Jewell Parkway NE in Gainesville, needed serious renovations or a newer building, which Burrell said would cost about $1.5 million. The center also lost about $300,000 annually, in part because of the long hours provided, from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., to help provide for employees on 12-hour shifts.
“We were facing a $4 million cost during the next 10 years,” Burrell said. “And we had to weigh this cost with how many of our employees were accessing that benefit.”
She said breaking even would have required charging more for the service, which would have been a cost “much higher than the current Gainesville average” for day care services.
The change also will affect 14 full-time and four part-time employees of the center. Tymchuk said the hospital’s human resources department is doing what it can to help those employees find work elsewhere, including helping them put resumes together to apply to other child care centers that have openings.
Burrell noted the decision is not a reflection on the quality of care provided by the center staff.
Tymchuk said she has used the center in the past for her two children and was happy with the service. She said employees have been disappointed by the decision to close the facility.
“Our staff has lovingly cared for children for many years,” she said. “Our staff, our parents and our children have a very strong connection. And as you can imagine, this is disappointing news. And it’s a process that we all have to work through.”
Burrell said the May 23 closure date was specifically chosen to give families and center staff time to adjust to the change.