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HomeNewsMedical
Published: Monday, 7/9/2007

Child-care facility hurt by new law

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Northwest Ohio's lone specialized day-care center for children who need intense medical supervision is negotiating with two other home-health agencies after a ProMedica Health System affiliate decided to end its management contract because of financial issues.

Prescribed Pediatric Center in south Toledo, owned by the University of Toledo Health Science Campus, formerly the Medical College of Ohio, hopes to have another agency in place to manage the facility by the time ProMedica's contract runs out Aug. 31, said Dr. Elizabeth Ruppert, a founder of the 14-year-old center and its medical director.

"We have two agencies that are very qualified, certified home-care agencies that have a significant presence in Ohio and northwest Ohio that are interested in managing the PPC," said Dr. Ruppert, who declined to identify the agencies.

The day care at 1932 Birchwood Ave. is a nursing and developmental program serving children 12 and younger who have chronic illnesses, are recovering from surgery, or have other medical needs. Some children require medical apparatus such as feeding tubes and ventilators.

The center has an active caseload of about 45 children, and 20 to 25 of them typically attend a day, Dr. Ruppert said. The center's staff includes nine nurses, three teachers, and an administrator, she said.

Visiting Nurse Extra Care, a not-for-profit home health agency affiliated with Toledo's ProMedica, notified UT in May that it would stop operating the center Aug. 31.

Visiting Nurse Extra Care was affected by changes in Medicaid rules and an inability to maintain enough children without continuous care needs, which is necessary for it to successfully operate the program, ProMedica said in a statement.

Dr. Ruppert said health-care providers have been able to work with the state to modify year-old Medicaid rules on eligibility for care at the center, a positive sign for its ongoing future.

The center, initially called Tomorrow's Child, was the first of its kind to open in Ohio after Dr. Ruppert became interested in the concept in the 1980s.

While children benefit from medical care, education, and socialization with others, parents can go to work, attend school, or get needed respite, Dr. Ruppert said. The center is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The center was the first child-care agency in the area to receive the state's highest rating for its services, and it has since maintained that distinction in the "Step Up to Quality" evaluation system. "Our program is really high-quality," Dr. Ruppert said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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