Mother, daughter team up to provide heartfelt care

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 23, 2003

Erika Hayes has been taking care of this community’s children for years.

Now, Hayes – who has operated Erika’s Childcare Center from her West Washington Street home for nearly a decade – is teaming up with her mother, Diane White, to provide in-home healthcare to the city’s aging population. White has been providing in-home care for patients referred by Suffolk Department of Social Services for nine years.

Last week, the two opened their own business, Caring Hearts Home Care, in Washington Square Mall, 140 W. Washington St., Suite 105-C. Caring Hearts is now taking applications for clients and certified nursing assistants.

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&uot;I love children and the elderly,&uot; Hayes said. &uot;They are the two groups that too often fall through the cracks. They are so full of wisdom if you just take time to talk to them.&uot;

Caring Hearts’ nursing assistants will check the patient’s vital signs and, if necessary, refer them to a physician, Hayes said. They will also be available to provide services that clients aren’t physically able to handle making beds, fixing lunches or performing light housekeeping chores.

But most importantly, they will just be available.

&uot;Sometimes the client just needs someone to drop by and visit for a few minutes,&uot; said White. &uot;A lot of the time, he has children and grandchildren but they don’t have the time or they live too far away to visit very often.&uot;

Hayes, who became a certified nursing assistant in the early 1990s, spent the first part of her career working at Maryview Hospital. She left there to become a licensed childcare provider in 1994 after her own child, Shariykah Richardson, was born premature.

Shariykah, born at 23 weeks and just over 11/2-pounds, suffers chronic lung failure due to her early birth. From the start, doctors predicted she would never walk and probably would be retarded and blind.

&uot;She is none of that,&uot; Hayes said. &uot;Today, she’s doing great. She is in the special education program at Kilby Shores Elementary School.

&uot;…I started the daycare because I needed to be home to take care of my baby.&uot;

After daughter got a little older and more independent, Hayes began working as a nursing assistant on CHKD’s neonatal unit. Because she had spent so much time on the unit when her own daughter was sick, Hays said the nursing staff frequently called upon her to work with parents of other preemies.

She left there several months ago to open Caring Hearts.

Providing quality, hands-on patient care is Caring Heart’s primary goal, she said.

&uot;I am far more concerned with the quality of care than the quantity of clients we have,&uot; Hayes said

&uot;If we only have 10 clients, that’s fine. I just to want to make sure they are the happiest clients.&uot;

Patients can be private pay or they can be referred by the Department of Social Services, she said.

Often, at-home care can be an alternative to nursing home care, Hayes said.

&uot;Nursing homes have had to cut back on their budgets … and I don’t think patients get as much personal care as they sometimes need in nursing homes,&uot; she said.

For more information, people may call 925-1311.