Friday, May 8, was National Provider Appreciation Day. It is described as “a special day in May to recognize child care providers, teachers and other educators of young children everywhere.” 

Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville decided to recognize Provider Appreciation Day by permanently shuttering our homegrown Child Care and Education Center and issuing its teachers and staff pink slips the previous afternoon.

While this may seem like an incredibly tone-deaf move to make, and it most certainly is, it’s not that out of character. 

In a press release dated Dec. 7, 2018, Dr. Mark Laney, CEO of Mosaic Life Care, stated “We highly respect our relationship with the Maryville community, SSM Health St. Francis leadership, their medical staff and caregivers. …We fully intend to honor that relationship by continuing the traditions that have been so meaningfully formed over the 124-year history of St. Francis.”

Mosaic officially took over operations of the local facilities on April 1, 2019 — April Fool’s Day.

It seems the April Fool’s joke was on all of us. Some traditions die hard, and in this case very quickly, too.   

A hospital-affiliated childcare facility in Maryville has been one of Dr. Laney’s cited traditions in our community for decades. To fill what has long been a dire need, some 30 years ago, what first began as a private residence and thereafter served as a veterinary clinic, became a 3,000-square-foot childcare facility soon bursting at the seams, with children housed in a sunless basement. 

In stark contrast to these spartan, unhealthy conditions, and to fulfill increasing demand the 2018 construction of our state-of-the-art (and well-lit) 14,000-square-foot facility became a tremendous source of pride for the community and us parents and was understandably described as “a dream come true” by Peggy Miller in a Sept. 2018 letter to the editor published in The Maryville Forum: “I am so proud of this community and the result of the collaboration that made this DREAM possible,” she wrote. 

There is speculation about the future of the facility. Mosaic’s own press release points toward repurposing the space toward Outpatient Therapy. This makes a lot of sense on the bottom line — $170/week for childcare pales in terms of the prospect of $170/hour for other usages. I hope their leadership at the very least explains, to the State of Missouri and the vast and various donors of our neighbors toward a dedicated Child Care and Education Center, why their generous investments in our children and workers have gone awry. 

Our story here in Maryville, alas, is not an uncommon one. And it will only worsen due to this pandemic. The lack of Medicaid expansion has already and will continue to completely decimate regional health care institutions like ours. Today it’s a committed investment in children. Tomorrow it will be your medical care itself. Please keep this in mind in this coming and all future Novembers as you cast your ballot.

As revealed through its own actions, neither the 124-year-old legacy of the St. Francis facility nor this statement by St. Francis of Assisi himself is apparently part of Mosaic’s ownership plan: “For it is in giving that we receive.” 

Perhaps they should listen to him. Then they can truly fulfill their own motto: “Mosaic Life Care: More than health care … life care.”

Richard Black