Tuesday, January 29, 2008

a close call

before i begin, let me first say that i love the ymca, i love their mission, what they stand for etc. i have been very pleased with my time at our y here in newport, and until yesterday was happy to have a membership. however, after yesterday i am compelled to move my membership over to the newport athletic club.

so here is the story:

yesterday i dropped the kids off at the treehouse so that i could workout. about an hour and half later, i came walking down the hallway to pick the kids up. i noticed that two of the workers were coming out of the bathroom with my kids - both of them. rhys and ransom. now rhys is potty trained but ransom is not - he is 16 months old. as i approached the workers and the kids, one new worker (sorry i don't have her name), who was holding ransom said that he had escaped (!!!!) was wandering the hallway and she had seen him about to tumble down the stairs --- okay wait a minute - he was supposed to be in the treehouse (it has a gate and a door!) and why is he out on his own? the poor little fellow was red cheeked and flustered and very glad to see mama. so i brought my kids in to the treehouse and asked them to explain the story. i remained very calm and was able to keep the growing hysteria bottled up. there were three workers for the kids. two workers always have to go with the kids to the bathroom for legal purposes. so there was one worker left. she apparently was cleaning up applesauce on the floor and didn't see ransom walk out of the kids' area. as i was leaving i suggested that they make an incident report about this with the director of the treehouse. then i decided that they might not do that so i was going to do it - i mean if a mother isn't the advocate for her child who is? so i was able to have someone track down the director. she apologized up and down and had the two workers involved explain what happened. then it became more clear what happened. the new worker (who isn't "familiar" with which kid goes with which mom) saw a mom lead her three kids out and leave the door open and ransom followed her out. so the worker "assumed" that he was with the mom. yep that's right folks. assumed. never checked an id, or the list. just let some stranger walk out with my kid. so here ransom was wandering around by himself. the pool is just down the hallway from the treehouse room - where he could have just easily wandered in and fallen in the pool. or fallen down the steps, had not the worker rescued him. the director said that they had never had an incident like this and that she had been there for 2 years in charge. she apologized up and down as did the workers. they were very understanding and professional but it was obvious that this system ain't workin!! i said this is very serious and you might think about putting a system in place whereby you give out a sticker that coincides with the child so that only a parent with the sticker that matches their kid, takes their kid. it should NOT be this loosy goosy. i said that every church nursery i have ever been in has some sort of accountability system in place to prevent this kind of thing or worse from happening. the incident ended with them apologizing and me thanking them for being honest and talking about it with me. but in no way did i let them think i was going to continue going to the treehouse. i just let that be the unspoken decision. plus i wanted to talk it over with graham before i made my final decision. its always best to leave on a polite note then burn bridges or say something that can't be take back.

and so under the direction of my husband i am going to write a business letter explaining the incident and letting them know why i am not going to renew my membership. i think this problem can be easily fixed. but for now the system is broken and its not safe for my children to be there. there needs to be a change with the signing out and picking up the kids - checking of ids etc. if it means that they need to have two facilities b/c of overcrowding then do it. or if they need to hire more workers (since it seems chaotic anyway) then do it. other ymca's have really good systems (ie the mission valley y in san diego) in place and don't encounter these issues. i think with a little tweeking, the treehouse can really become an even better facility to its members. the workers were always very sweet to my children and i have appreciated being able to drop them off and get some free time to myself. but i just don't feel that they can be trusted to keep a watchful eye on where my children are and who is picking them up.

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