February 7, 2018

VNA Care to close Worcester daycare center

VNA Care CEO Holly Chaffee said the home health agency may push the closing of Children's Garden Childcare Center in Worcester back to June after a March closing date was initially announced.

Home health agency VNA Care will close its daycare center on Thomas Street on June 29, citing extraordinary financial pressures caused by low federal reimbursement for home health services.

A subsidiary of Newton-based Atrius Health, VNA Care offers home health services throughout Massachusetts, and has clinical offices on Thomas Street in Worcester. The onsite daycare, Children's Garden Childcare Center, which opened in December 1989, services employees as well as other community members, according to Jackson Murphy, a spokesman for VNA Care.

The closure was first announced by former CEO Mary Ann O'Connor, in a letter reportedly sent to families enrolled in the daycare last week. O'Connor retired in January. O'Connor said more children were opting to attend preschool in the public school system, causing the center to lose money. But the new CEO, Holly Chaffee focused on reimbursements from federal health insurance payers as the driving factor.

Originally, March 2 closing date was planned, but Chaffee decided to extend it until June after meeting with parents, according to a statement issued Wednesday. Chaffee said the center will remain open until June 29 so that families have more time to find alternative childcare arrangements.

"As home health organizations navigate extraordinary financial pressures caused by low government payments for our services, we face tough decisions about where we devote our resources to ensure we remain responsible stewards in serving our patients and the community with the best possible care. After careful consideration and much discussion, the Board of Directors had made the difficult decision to close our day care center," Chaffee said, in a previous statement issued on Tuesday.

Chaffee added she met with families on the planned closure Tuesday.

"We heard their concerns about finding care in this short time frame. Based on what we heard, we are now exploring all options to keep The Children's Garden open until June to allay their concerns. We will confirm our decision to extend the end date by close of business tomorrow."


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