Stormont Vail Health and the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center partner to provide childcare for frontline health care workers
Stormont Vail Health and the Kansas Children's Discovery Center are proud to announce a new partnership to get children back into the museum building, which has been closed since March. Stormont Vail will rent the building on weekdays beginning this Thursday, October 8 to provide no-cost childcare to Stormont Vail team members. The outdoor area of the museum, which opened in July, remains open to the public for timed, ticketed entry seven days a week.
This partnership gets children in the building again, joyfully playing, learning, and having fun,” said Dene’ Mosier, president/CEO, Discovery Center. “As health care workers care for us, we will provide the perfect place for their children by providing a safe and enriching place for playful learning. In this building, every experience is designed to help young learners thrive. While we continue to work towards reopening our indoor space safely to the public, we are excited Stormont Vail can offer this safe experience for a consistent group of children of their staff.”
“Thank you to the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center for stepping up during these times to provide some peace of mind to our team members,” said Darlene Stone, senior vice president and chief experience officer, Stormont Vail Health. “Partnerships like these allow our team members to focus on providing high-quality care to the patients and communities we serve while their child is cared for in a safe and secure environment.”
The nonprofit children’s museum is privately funded and relies primarily on admissions and other earned income to operate 15,000 square feet of indoor science, art and play exhibits and a 4.5 acre outdoor adventure area. During the pandemic, the Discovery Center has struggled to redesign indoor exhibits experiences in such a way that children from the public can visit safely in large enough numbers to cover operation costs. The museum's outdoor area will remain open and visitors from the public will never come in contact with children enrolled in the child care program. This arrangement is temporary, and the museum is still actively working towards returning to full operation.
The program will be staffed by Stormont Vail. Stormont Vail employs over 5,300 team members and is actively seeking to add new team members to join the team. Career opportunities can be found on the Stormont Vail website at https://www.stormontvail.org/career-opportunities/.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it safe to have child care inside the museum but not open to the general public?
During normal museum operation, large groups of children and families from all over the region freely explore indoor exhibit spaces. Most visitors are under five, with a large percentage under age two, for which masks are not recommended. This experience differs significantly from a child care program like that offered by Stormont Vail, in which the same group of school-age children visit each day, following daily health screenings while adhering to social distancing and mask guidelines, enforced by child care providers.
When will the museum open to the public?
The museum does not have a reopen date. It has been difficult to choose to close our building during summer, which is typically our busiest season, but we will not reopen the museum until we believe we can do so in a way that is safe for our community, visitors, staff and volunteers. The purpose of a children's museum is to allow children to move freely between exhibits and engineer their own experiences.
As a high touch, hands-on facility, we have evaluated each exhibit and experience within the museum with the help of public health experts. At least two exhibits: science, which relies on compressed air, and grain, which has thousands of touch points, cannot be opened safely at this point in the pandemic. Procedures in build and art exhibits must be significantly modified. All exhibits will require substantially more oversight, cleaning and maintenance, significantly increasing operating costs.
The museum is a privately funded nonprofit organization that receives no ongoing government funds, and must have the confidence it can sustainably operate before opening. At this time, allowing use of our outdoor area for the public and indoor area for child care is the safest option for our community and most sustainable path forward for our museum. We miss our visitors, and hope to fully open as soon as possible!
I’m a Discovery Center member, what is happening with my membership?
The Discovery Center is still working towards returning to full operation but for now, memberships may be used for unlimited outdoor play sessions. Memberships are a vitally important source of financial support for the museum, especially now. We are truly grateful for your understanding, trust and support during these exceptional times.
What is the Discovery Center doing during this pandemic?
The Discovery Center building being closed has not stopped us from serving our community. We continue to reach out as a community anchor to support families.
- The outdoor adventure area is open seven days a week for safe play. After every play session, staff sanitizes high-touch surfaces across the 4.5 acre area. In addition, over 50 movable toys, including bikes and wagons, are removed from the play area and rotated for fully sanitized sets prior to the next play session. The outdoor adventure area also has a new giant game board for socially distanced chess and checkers, texture kitchen, and mister for hot days with more exhibits planned.
- 150 Discovery at Home videos have reached almost 400,000 views, with educational activities highlighting key child development information. Activities include Spanish-language Descubriendo en Casa programs.
- The Discovery Center has delivered over 350 free learning kits to low-income and at-risk families. Staff called hundreds of KCDC Cares member families in the early weeks of the pandemic to ask about their needs. Then brought activity bags to their homes using contactless delivery.
- The museum created free online programming for families with children who have an autism spectrum disorder. Staff from monthly Puzzle Pieces events recorded video resources for children. On-site play sessions started again in September outdoors with limited capacity.
- Discovery Kindergarten helped kids get ready for school. Camp Kindergarten was offered online using Zoom to connect parents and students with teachers. Sessions were offered in English and Spanish. A resource guide was mailed to participating caregivers.
- Medical Warriors visits have continued for medically fragile children or those battling life-limiting illnesses who need private play time. The program is needed now more than ever, with increased isolation for immune-compromised children.
- Discovery Baby has helped first-time parents navigate birth and parenthood during the pandemic.
About Stormont Vail Health
Stormont Vail Health is a nonprofit integrated health system that has served the health care needs of Kansas for more than 130 years. Stormont Vail has been recognized as a Magnet ® organization since 2009 by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. It is composed of Stormont Vail Hospital, a 586-bed acute care hospital, and Cotton O’Neil Clinic, a multi-specialty physician group with more than 500 providers, including more than 250 physicians. Nearly 5,300 employees provide care and support services for patients in the hospital and 35 other locations, including the Cotton O’Neil Heart Center, Cancer Center, Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, Digestive Health Center, Pediatrics clinics and ten regional primary care clinics. Stormont Vail Health is committed to its mission of improving the health of the community by being a national leader in providing compassionate, high quality and efficient integrated care through collaboration that results in a healthier community. For more information about Stormont Vail and Cotton O’Neil, visit stormontvail.org. For breaking news and videos, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.