Who We Are

MY LITTLE WAITING ROOM™ is a non-profit started by a couple of Portland moms who have the dream to bring drop-in child care to the hospital.

Our mission is to promote the health and well-being of families by bringing drop-in child care to the hospital according to the My Little Waiting Room Child's Bill of Rights:

1. As a child, I deserve competent care while my family member seeks medical attention.
2. As a child, I have the right to keep learning and growing socially, emotionally and intellectually while my family members take care of their health.
3. As a child, I deserve help managing the stress caused in my life by my family's medical situation.
4. As a child, I need sanctuary and a place to call my own where I can seek peace, friendship and security while my family members are treated medically.

The idea was born out of Amy's experience (please see details below) and is about to become a reality in early 2009. We look forward to sharing the exciting details soon. If you have questions, please contact us at info@mylittlewaitingroom.org.

NW Kids magazine 11.08

My Little Waiting Room, Jessica Davis, editor
Portland mother Amy Paterson was just 34 with a three year old, and battling cancer. She faced 144 medical appointments last year alone, meaning she had to arrange child care 144 times before she could begin to heal.

This ordeal prompted her to join forces with Melissa Moore to create My Little Waiting Room, a project dedicated to creating low-cost, on-site, clean and safe child care in medical facilities. The lack of such childcare is surprising; after all, you can find it at Fred Meyer, many gyms, and Ikea!

My Little Waiting Room is just getting off the ground and is searching for the serious funding needed to make this a reality. Things look promising thus far — Amy has just been named one of eight “2008 Pink Power Moms” in the nation by toymaker Bright Starts. She is one of seven women across the country “who has displayed amazing strength as a breast cancer survivor, fighting for a cure.” As part of this award, Kids II Foundation and Bright Starts will donate $1,000 to help open the first My Little Waiting Room to help mothers make — and keep — their important medical appointments.

The Oregonian, 8.28.2008

Cancer diagnosis spurs acts of giving back

By Jenn Director Knudsen, Special to The Oregonian

Diagnosed two years ago with Stage 3 breast cancer, Amy Paterson traipsed to nearly 150 medical visits: chemotherapy, radiation, a double mastectomy, physical therapy, an exercise study, nutrition consultations and more.

A young public relations professional, Paterson could put the job on hold. But not the care of son, Jonah, just 21/2.

Paterson had her husband and a stable of supportive friends and family. But what about women -- any ailing parent, for that matter -- with no support system?

She knew studies show that women caregivers often delay or avoid medical visits because they lack child care. She discovered that Ikea, Fred Meyer, some movie theaters, the Multnomah County court system, the Southwest Community Center and other places offer on-site child care. But not one local medical facility did.

So Paterson and friend Melissa Moore, with the help of a $5,000 award from the Avon Hello Tomorrow Fund, developed My Little Waiting Room, a program to provide low-cost, on-site, clean and safe child care for kids 11 and younger in any medical facility. It's set to become a nonprofit in December.

Paterson, 36, is one of a growing number of young people who, once finished with cancer treatment, are compelled and energized to make a difference for others.

"We're now looking at cancer as a chronic disease instead of a death sentence," said Selma Annala, supervisor of Cancer Integrative and Support Services with Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital & Medical Center in Northwest Portland. She's worked with cancer patients for more than 20 years.

"Cancer has a huge emotional impact," Annala said. "It's a lifelong thing, and that brings about the reason for someone to use (his or her) cancer experience to give back," she said.

(rest of article online)

KPTV Fox-12, 8.31.08

"A trio of Portland moms developing a plan to provide low-cost childcare at Portland area hospitals. Their non-profit group is developing a demonstration project to show how the idea would work. They say no area hospitals offer drop-in childcare while the patient goes to the hospital for treatment. KPTV's Jim Hyde talked with one of the moms about My Little Waiting Room Project..."

The Portland Business Journal, 6.27.08

Time for hospitals to help families in a new way
by Amy Paterson and Melissa Moore

Portland-area hospitals are trying new and innovative ways to better meet patient needs and in turn build patient loyalty, improve hospital efficiencies and enhance effectiveness.

In their efforts to deliver a more patient-centered approach to care, many are offering a more integrated set of services. For example many cancer patients now benefit from a single point of contact to guide them through the complex maze of specialists, treatment options and issues. We applaud these efforts.

But there is one need that no hospital in Portland is addressing. In fact, only a handful of hospitals across the globe have stepped up to the challenge.

Yet organizations in our community such as Ikea, Fred Meyer, 24 Hour Fitness, Southwest Community Center, Academy Theater, Multnomah County Courthouse, and even Zenana Spa have figured it out. We're talking about drop-in child care.

The hospital is a place where many families are in crisis. A parent or child is there seeking needed medical care, yet for the child not needing medical attention, there is no place to go to play and de-stress. So the little person sits idly in the waiting room, toddles through hallways, or finds refuge with a kindly, though likely overextended nurse.

And that's if the family even makes the scheduled medical appointment. Some moms put off needed exams for years due to a lack of child care, other family members cancel appointments at the last minute because pre-arranged child care falls through, while still other parents simply endure the stress of bringing their child along only to be interrupted or distracted while the doctor shares vital information.

This is a familiar experience. Amy, one of the authors of this article, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34, with a 2-year-old child at the time. She had 140 medical appointments to make that year. And she is one of the lucky ones with a helpful husband, nearby family and friends ready to jump in and help. Yet, still it was hard to arrange for someone to watch their son 140 times.

She is not alone. Our Web survey found more than 90 percent of parents said arranging child care so that they or another family member could attend medical appointments is sometimes or always a challenge.

Nearly three-quarters of parents surveyed said that they or a family member has had to miss or reschedule one or more medical appointments due to lack of child care resources. Half said that lack of child care has been an obstacle to their ability to access health care. The majority say they would use drop-in child care at the doctor, and that they would pay for this service.

As Oregon welcomes its largest baby boom since the 1970s and hospitals seek new ways to become more patient-friendly, we believe it's time for them to offer drop-in child care.

So let's set aside the potential barriers of space, liability and funding. Hospitals that find room for multiple conference rooms and gift shops, deal with near-death situations daily, or raise millions of dollars for a new wing can do this. After all, it's not brain surgery, it's just child care.

Amy Paterson, a vice president at Lane PR, was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the Avon Hello Tomorrow Fund to start a pilot drop-in child care program at a local hospital. Melissa Moore, a vice president at MAP Communications, is Amy's co-founder of My Little Waiting Room. They can be contacted at info@mylittlewaitingroom.org.

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

KINK-FM's Sheila Hamilton interviews Amy

3/21/08 Sheila runs an in-depth interview on her Sunday morning talk show.

Thanks Sheila!

Thank You Bloggers!

We want to thank Portland Mamas, Ready Set Mom , Urban Mamas and my co-survivor support group member Amanda for your words of encouragement and support. Many of our survey takers have come to our site thanks to your eloquent grassroots voices.

The Oregonian's Washington County Weekly 2.28.08, In Portland 3.6.08

Patience, patients: Child care may open at hospital
Solution - Two women suggest hospitals offer clients low-cost child care
By, Jenn Director Knudsen

Amy Paterson endured 140 doctor visits in 2007 as she battled breast cancer. As a parent, she struggled to find care for her toddler son. "The medical system is not designed for patient flexibility," says Paterson, 35, now healthy. "My grocery store, my gym and even my furniture store have child care. So should my doctor's office." So Paterson, of Raleigh Hills, and parent Melissa Moore, 41, of Southwest Portland, came up with an idea: My Little Waiting Room, a program to offer low-cost child care at hospitals while parents and siblings attend appointments.

They received a $5,000 check this month from the Avon Hello Tomorrow Fund to pay for child-care providers in a pilot project. They haven't settled on a site yet. Next, they plan to meet with administrators with the Legacy and Providence health systems and with OHSU Hospital.

Selma Annala, a supervisor with Legacy Good Samaritan Cancer Care Resources who participated in Paterson's care, tested the My Little Waiting Room concept this month during a free event for breast-cancer survivors and their children. While patients and partners attended an information session, kids worked with an art therapist. "This is kind of the first step," says Annala, who's helping Paterson and Moore. "We want to do as much exploring and, possibly, solving as we can."

The Beaverton Valley Times, 2.14.08

Doctor office day care gives moms time to heal
By Shasta Kearns Moore

Like everyone who is diagnosed with cancer, Amy Paterson was devastated when she got the news. At 34 years old, Paterson was a new mother and felt as though her life had just been yanked out from under her. But her 2-year-old son was also deeply affected. He wouldn’t leave the house and would cuddle up with his mom at every opportunity. “He clearly knew that something really frightening and destabilizing was happening,” Paterson said.

A year and half later, Paterson’s breast cancer is now in remission, but she is still fighting. She is fighting to get something in hospitals that is becoming increasingly common in fitness centers, grocery stores and even courthouses: a drop-in day care center. Called My Little Waiting Room, the center would be open to all parents who needed a safe and entertaining place to keep their children while they see the doctor.

A recent women’s health report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office found that women caregivers are 50 percent more likely than other women to report difficulty obtaining necessary medical care, and twice as likely to forego care or prescriptions they need. The report also found that a lack of childcare is a major obstacle for many women seeking and receiving timely and professional medical attention.

When Paterson was battling breast cancer, she had 140 medical appointments in one year. “That’s 140 times you have to find a babysitter, get a parent to watch them or have your husband take time off work,” she said. Paterson said the dilemma can add another layer to an already very stressful situation.

“It’s challenging for families with young children to get to the doctor when they’re healthy, let alone when they have cancer,” she said.

Paterson’s longtime friend and partner in the project, Melissa Moore, said the time has come for medical offices to offer an option for parents struggling with illness, schedule conflicts and expensive or inconvenient childcare services.

“It just seems a real obvious way to serve your patients’ needs,” Moore said.

She added that several troubling trends are converging to make life even more difficult for sick parents. Women are having children later in life and they’re getting diseases such as cancer earlier. Extended family tends to be far away and, for the very sick, employee childcare benefits dry up when they are no longer able to work. Temporary day care, Moore said, would allow them to focus their attention on getting better and give their children an escape from the norm.

Both Paterson and Moore are vice presidents in major public relations firms and said they are committed to using their contacts and fund-raising skills to make the dream a reality.

“It’s something that I really feel strongly needs to happen,” Paterson said.

In preliminary research for the project, the pair found that more than 90 percent of parents surveyed said arranging childcare to attend medical appointments is “sometimes” or “always” a challenge and about three-quarters said they have had to miss, cancel or reschedule appointments because of a lack of childcare.

Not surprisingly then, Paterson’s idea has so far been met with wide approval from parents and medical professionals.

She was also recently awarded one of Avon’s $5,000 weekly grants through the Hello Tomorrow Fund, a fund that helps give money to projects that “empower women and change our world.”

Paterson said she was surprised to get a grant so soon and will use the money to solidify her plans and coordinate with the hospital to create a unique environment for the children. Her vision is that the day care center would become a hub for the medical center’s childcare specialists. The staff would be trained to handle the terrifying issues of death and illness and be able to provide therapeutic relief, such as art projects and appropriate play.

Cancer services specialist Selma Annala at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital & Medical Center – where Paterson was treated and where she hopes to launch the first day care program – said she and the cancer support staff are behind the idea.

“I think it would make it easier for (patients) to participate in cancer treatment. It would benefit families to not have to worry about those stressors,” Annala said.

But, the devil is in the details, she added, and there are many obstacles to a successful program. The most significant of those being the lack of available space and money.

“We aren’t in the childcare business, we’re in the health care business,” Annala said. “But it’s certainly something we see adding another burden to our patients.”

Paterson said she’s looking at a successful day care program in a Minneapolis medical center to provide a framework to launch this program in Portland. She has already begun to offer day care to Legacy’s Young Cancer Survivor meeting and to Breast Friends in Tigard, a group for women with metastatic breast cancer.

Annala said the medical center will see how these initial as-needed programs work before committing to a longer-term day care center.

Paterson and her partner are hoping that commitment will follow soon.

“It’s not rocket science,” Moore said. “It’s just not being done at a place where we think it should – where families are in crisis.”

Copyright 2008 Pamplin Media Group, 6605 S.E. Lake Road, Portland, OR 97222 • 503-226-6397

106.7 KHits interviews Amy

Morning host David Wood and producer Vicky Martinez interviewed Amy and posted information at: http://khits1067.com/pages/1432578.php