A breezy March day at Miami’s Tropical Park sets the stage for a kickball tournament organized by a Leadership Miami class to raise funds for PATCHES, an acronym for Pediatric Alternative Treatment, Care, Housing & Evaluation Services, a prescribed children’s extended-care organization. Leadership Miami is sponsored by the Miami area Chamber of Commerce designed to educate and develop community leaders in a nine-month program.
Nurses Kyle Smith and Joanie Ippolito are the founders of Patches and serve as chief officers.
“In our community, my fellow nurses and I saw a need to establish a care facility devoted to children who are medically fragile, said Smith. “So we decided to start such a facility ourselves.”
In 1999, Smith and Ippolito maxed out their credit cards, took loans using their homes as collateral, cashed-in their 401K funds and, with their husbands helping, cleaned, painted and outfitted the first PATCHES facility in Homestead. They cleared the hurdles with licensing, permitting and establishing their non-profit status.
By 2005, they opened the doors, providing daily nursing care, 12 hours per day, Monday through Friday for children in need from birth to 21 years.
The purpose of PATCHES is to provide nursing care to children with medical conditions that prevent them from being left alone or without some kind of medical supervision in a professionally staffed, safe and caring environment. The facilities are licensed by the state.
Fostering self-esteem and self-confidence in the child is of the priority at PATCHES. They provide a nurturing home-like place where children can play and socialize with other children in a setting that is more cost-effective than hospitals or nursing homes.
Parents can rely on Medicaid and other insurance to assist in the costs associated with their child’s stay. If they have no way to pay initially, a way will be found. In any case the philosophy at PATCHES is simple.
“We are not going to turn a child away,” said Ippolito.
And so, here on an idyllic South Florida day, an organized adult kickball tournament made up of 350 participants comprising 18 teams of 12 members was played.
Members of the teams paid to compete and raise money for a worthy cause.
Thanks to the efforts of Paul Wilson, the visionary behind the event, this Leadership Miami class raised $21,000, enough money to fund a large portion of for establishing a “snoozling” room at the Florida City PATCHES facility. A snoozling or (Snoezelen) room provides a multi- or single- sensory experience for children by using lighting, color, sounds, music and scents for stimulation that does not rely entirely on verbal communication. The room reduces stress and aggression, and fosters relaxation.
PATCHES also received a large boost from Baptist Hospital in Homestead when it funded new cribs. They also donated a day of service in which 100 Baptist Health employees help to spruce up the grounds and paint the Florida City facility.
Jessica Berrin, Government and Community Relations for Baptist Health, reports that the much-anticipated opening of the snoozling room is scheduled for Apr. 26
For information, go to www.patchesppec.org or call 305-242-8122.