Emergency Childcare for Hospital Workers During Disasters

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Abstract

Objectives

The objectives were to determine the impact of emergency childcare (EC) needs on health care workers' ability and likelihood to work during a pandemic versus an earthquake as well as to determine the anticipated need and expected use of an on-site, hospital-provided EC program.

Methods

An online survey was distributed to all employees of an academic, urban pediatric hospital. Two disaster scenarios were presented (pandemic influenza and earthquake). Ability to work based on childcare needs, planned use of proposed hospital-provided EC, and demographics of children being brought in were obtained.

Results

A total of 685 employees participated (96.6% female, 79.6% white), with a 40% response rate. Those with children (n = 307) reported that childcare needs would affect their work decisions during a pandemic more than an earthquake (61.1% vs 56.0%; t = 3.7; P < 0.001). Only 28.0% (n = 80) of those who would need childcare (n = 257) report an EC plan. The scenario did not impact EC need or planned use; during scheduled versus unscheduled shifts, 40.7% versus 63.0% reported need for EC, and 50.8% versus 63.2% reported anticipated using EC.

Conclusions

Hospital workers have a high anticipated use of hospital-provided EC. Provisions for EC should be an integral part of hospital disaster planning.

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