T H E   N I H    C A T A L Y S T MAY  -  JUNE   1 9 9 7 


Below are comments we received in response
to questions posed or issues raised in recent

More on Daycare

1. You ask what burning questions or problems blocking the efficient conduct of research would (readers) like the Catalyst to dig into in future issues.

Sick-child care. Sick children have a significant impact on a laboratory as parents must take unscheduled leave for extended periods of time. Much of this time, children are not sick enough to actually need to stay home, but they are not well enough to return to school/daycare. I have colleagues at other institutions where sick-child care is available for this very same reason. It allows my colleagues to operate with a smaller (i.e., more efficient) staff and to avoid the uncertainties we face.

2. At the direction of HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, an NIH committee is now developing a strategy for improving NIH work life. You ask what Catalyst readers would recommend.

More support for parents in the form of more extensive and less expensive daycare and sick-child care. We desperately need this, unless we are going to require our scientists not to become parents (or maybe the plan is to return to allowing only those fathers with stay-at-home wives to be scientists at NIH, or to require women to remain childless and men to limit fathering to a superficial level).

3. The physical condition of the outdated NIH daycare facilities on campus could cost $250,000 to fix. You ask, is the investment worthwhile?

In the NIH budget, $250,000 is a very small amount. It is shameful that repairs of such small magnitude have not been performed. NIH should make a much larger investment in on-site daycare. The increased productivity will be well worth it. This investment should be made based upon the benefit to the NIH mission alone. After all, this is the reason that private companies make this investmentit affects the bottom line.

-Maryalice Stetler-Stevenson, NCI

Alessandra Barelli, a former NIHer and mother of two children who have attended or are attending the POPI preschool in Building 35, also decries the problem of sick-child care. At the
Catalyst's request, she called around to find out what commercial sick-child care is available. Barelli found that com
mercial care is scarce, hard to find, expensive, and primarily headquartered in Virginia. After considerable effort, she turned up the following possibilities:

  • Mother's Aid Professional In-home Childcare provides temporary and emergency services for children and elderly people and posthospital care for people of all ages. In operation since 1979, they serve the entire metropolitan area. Charges are $50 for the yearly registration fee, $15 for an agency fee ($25 for last-minute calls), and then $7­$10 per hour for caregivers.
  • Doctor Care Nanny Services specializes in full- and part-time, in-home or drop-off care for sick children, including evening and weekend care, throughout the metropolitan area. They charge a one-time application fee of $ 200, then $10 per hour for the caregiver. Credit card prepayment is required.
  • Tri-Cities Nursing offers emergency sick care for children and elderly people, as well as postsurgery care for people of all ages. Tri-Cities charges $50 for an eight-hour day of care, but requires registration and other fees, bringing the one-day total to $76. (This appears to be the best deal in town, Barelli says.)
  • We Sitt provides emergency sick care for children in Metro-accessible areas of Maryland.

Fortunately, neither Barelli nor the Catalyst staff have had to try out any of these services yet, so this information should not be considered an endorsement of any of the mentioned services, nor should omission of a service be considered a judgment against it.

Celia Hooper

I enjoy reading the Catalyst. In the March-April 1997 issue, I read the Catalytic Reaction about the NIH preschool and was glad to know that NIH approved the $250,000 upgrade for the daycare facilities; however, I was extremely disappointed by the picture of the preschool as portrayed in the Catalytic Reaction section by Rosaura Valle.

I have two children who went to the NIH preschool and they absolutely loved it. As parents, we enjoyed each and every day that our children spent at that school. We were grateful that we had the opportunity to enroll our children there, since we had looked at many
preschools and were very impressed by the setup, atmosphere, and curriculum of the NIH preschool. We chose to send our children to preschool to better learn the English language since we speak Chinese at home, and by the time they went to kindergarten, they spoke English very well. Not only did the preschool prepare them by developing their language skills, it did what a preschool should do, namely, it fostered their social skills and their muscle coordination.

As for the suggestion [the letter writer] made concerning the diversity of the preschool, I believe that the preschool already embraces internationality and diversity, since the children are of many different ethnicities and races. It teaches the children to be accepting of different people because the children interact naturally; it also exposes the childen to many different holidays and the customs of those holidays. There are teachers who are of various ethnic backgrounds and do speak many languages fluently - Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, and Farsi. If parents would like their children to learn about the heritage, traditions, and cooking of particular cultures in detail, that type of learning can be done at home. There are so many more fundamental aspects of development that children need to learn at school.

I hope that you print my letter. . . . I am also mailing a copy to the NIH preschool director and the teachers there. I would like them to know that . . . we, as parents, are still very much thankful to them in our hearts for giving our children the best start to life.


On May 12, the POPI preschool director and staff received a "Quality of Work Life Award" for more than 20 years of excellence in providing "loving, child-centered care."


On Lower-Cost "Cool" Methods

As a follow-up to the article on Molecular Interaction Analysis Using Surface Plasmon Resonance (March-April 1997 issue), please note that Biacore, Inc., currently has four instruments, not just the stated two, on the market. The other two instruments, the Biacore X and the Biacore Probe, have a base price of $101,000 and $58,000, respectively. This should at least help with the cost concerns mentioned.

Michael A. Robinson
BIA Account Specialist

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