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Tucson Medical Center rolls out pilot learning center for children of frontline workers

Learning center at TMC.jpg
Posted at 10:23 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 00:42:00-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Healthcare workers are working around the clock to treat the community and when they wrap up for the day, they go home to their children who have needs as well.

Tucson Medical Center rolled out a pilot program -Restart SMART-alongside behavioral health provider Higher Ground to help their frontline workers focus on their job while making sure their loved ones are getting the attention they need.

Nursing director Heather Jankowski enrolled her daughter in the program as soon as she heard about it. "It really is it this was such a relief because you know at the end of the day you go home and you try to help your kids with their distance learning, and you just can't put 100 percent into that,” she explained. That’s part of the goal of the pilot. Jansen Azarias, the CEO of the resource center, explained it provides a way for frontline workers to pick up an extra shift and also serves as a way to get children back to socializing. Especially, since most have been stuck at home for nearly a year— with little to no interaction with other kids.

"The original problem was how do we mitigate the social-emotional learning impact that's happening when it gets a school is getting shut down,” he said.

Since the rollout this month, 45 employees have enrolled their kids, according to Azarias. Those children are separated into groups of 10. 10-year-old Caroline is one of them and she explained although she was nervous at first, she's noticed the impact. “I think it might help because I'm just getting used to other people around again. And so, you still have to stay socially distanced, but you still get to interact and figure it out with other human beings,” she said. Caroline said she’s been able to make friends and has noticed she’s doing well in online school. Jankowski explained she is seeing a change in her child's behavior. “I've really noticed a difference in engagement in their distance learning so this really has been a blessing,” said Jankowski. To keep everyone involved safe Azarias said children are separated into groups of no more than 10— employees get tested weekly and the facility is cleaned daily. The pilot program is set to last until May.