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North Versailles day care will cater to special-needs kids

| Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 11:34 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Jennifer Parco, left, is administrative director of the Pediatria special needs day care facility in North Versailles Township, and Roxanne Cook is clinical nurse manager.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Roxanne Cook manages clinical nursing needs at Pediatria, a new North Versailles Township facility that will provide day care for children from birth to age 8 with special needs.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Pediatria administrative director Jennifer Parco arranges a therapy net on a vestibular swing at the day care facility.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Each room at Pediatria will be equipped with a nurses station.

A day care center for children with special needs will open in a 7,500-square-foot portion of Carmel Square along Route 48 in North Versailles Township.

“The purpose is to provide day health care for medically fragile children,” said Jennifer Parco, administrative director of Pediatria HealthCare LLC's newest outlet. “It is set up as a day care based on children's ages and developmental levels.”

Its will accommodate up to 48 kids 8 years old and younger, with one staff member for every three children. Each room will have a nursing station.

“All the skills I have learned over the years have been put into one job,” said Roxanne Cook, who will manage nursing care.

Parco said the core staff of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and aides and a bus driver have been hired.

Buses will transport youngsters from within an hour's driving distance of the center at 1183 Jacks Run Road.

“We will have a designated site for a parent who wants to meet the bus, or parents can drop their kids off at the center,” Parco said.

There will be a nurse on the bus, and all staffers who ride with the children will be qualified to administer first aid or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

Pediatria has a license from the state Department of Health to operate in North Versailles. Township code enforcement officer Allen R. Wagner said a specialized exhaust system had to be installed at the facility.

Pediatria is waiting to receive a Medicaid provider number.

“Whenever that number comes, I can admit the first child,” Parco said. “We do have a couple of children waiting to come.”

There has been a lot of interest.

“A lot of calls, a lot of walk-ins,” Parco said. “It has been amazing. Since the sign went up it has been non-stop.”

It can be confusing. Some think a physician's office is going in at the long-vacant space in Carmel Square, a strip mall across Route 48 from East Allegheny High School that houses Three Rivers Hospice.

“We do have a medical adviser,” Parco said. “He's Dr. Matthew Keller of East Suburban Pediatrics.”

According to East Suburban's website, Keller's specialties are treatment of asthma, allergies and children with disabilities.

Parco and Cook have extensive experience.

“I was with home care agencies for 15 years,” Parco said. “I was a supervisor, a nurse manager. They were all in Allegheny County. Before that, I was on the staff at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.”

Parco earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh in 1990.

Parco hails from the Monroeville-Penn Hills area. Cook grew up in North Huntingdon Township.

“I've been a pediatric nurse for 23 years,” said Cook, who earned an associate degree from West Penn Hospital School of Nursing in 1990.

Cook worked with critical care and discharge planning at Children's Hospital, then went into home care for 10 years. She talked about the clinical nurse manager's job with her husband Skip, who formerly worked for Pediatric Services of America.

“He was the director of their durable medical equipment until seven years ago,” Cook said.

Pediatria wants to establish more ties.

“We are trying to develop a liaison with the appropriate disciplines at the University of Pittsburgh, such as child development, occupational therapy and sports medicine,” said Wagner, an adjunct professor at Pitt.

The new outlet is Pediatria's 14th “day health center,” joining four in Pennsylvania and others in Georgia, Florida and Louisiana.

“This will allow families to work or go to school,” Parco said. “The children will receive all medically-prescribed treatments, medications, therapy, feedings and respiratory treatments.”

Pediatria provides private duty nursing in Georgia, South Carolina, Massachusetts and in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Scranton. A private duty office will be located next to the new center.

Wagner said the facility is good news for the township, which is actively seeking to attract new business.

“Things are starting to turn around,” Wagner said. “Two new entities have come into the township in the past couple of days, and a third and fourth are negotiating.”

Wagner announced Pediatria's plans at the May meeting of the township board of commissioners.

“New businesses are again finding North Versailles a development-friendly and supportive community,” Wagner said.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or