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PB Sandwich causes day care closure
Peanut butter sandwich causes closure of daycare
Owners of the Rise-N-Grades Montessori School and Daycare were hoping to have the facility back in operation this week after the daycare's licence was suspended by the Ministry of Children's Services.
The provincial government suspended the daycare licence Jan. 23 under the Day Nurseries Act. Operators were ordered to meet certain food handling standards and staff training requirements before reopening. The suspension came after a child in the nursery school suffered an allergic reaction to a peanut butter sandwich served at the Van Kirk Drive daycare.
The girl, about 2-years-old, had to be transported to hospital for treatment.
Daycare owner and operator Karen Waghorn said she was "devastated" by the incident and is taking steps to make sure improved precautions are taken and staff are better prepared to handle a medical emergency of this nature.
"The ministry investigated Rise-N-Grade Montessori Daycare following a complaint related to food handling procedures and the centre's emergency procedures," said Anne Machowski, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Children's Services.
The province closed the daycare until local health and ministry officials are satisfied appropriate safeguards have been put in place to ensure the well-being of children at the centre. Operators were ordered to make sure staff underwent specific emergency and food handling training required by the local Medical Officer of Health and ministry.
Waghorn also operates the Rise-N-Shine Kids daycare on Eastbourne Drive and the Professor's Lake Day Nursery on Philosopher's Trail. Those facilities were not included in the licence suspension or ministry order, said Machowski.
However, Waghorn said staff at those sites are receiving the same training.
"We're doing everything that's required by the ministry," said Waghorn.
Meeting emergency procedure requirements include first aid and CPR training, she explained. According to Waghorn, her staff already possesses the training. "We just want to make sure they do it again."
Staff is also focusing training on administering aid to younger children and recognizing allergic reactions, she added.
According to Waghorn, the child had an allergic reaction to a peanut butter sandwich served with lunch Jan. 20. The child's parents had not informed the daycare the toddler had an allergy to peanuts and may have been unaware, she said.
Waghorn said the centre posts "no peanut" signs if a child with a peanut allergy is registered. Parents are asked to divulge any known allergies upon enrolling their child. There were no children registered with peanut allergies at the time of this incident, said Waghorn. The other two daycare sites are peanut-free environments, she noted.
"We were just unsure whether or not the child was having an allergic reaction," Waghorn explained. Staff may have panicked once they realized the child was in distress.
Staff called the child's mother to find out if she had any allergies, before an ambulance was eventually summoned.
"I do apologize and I do feel bad and I have to live with it for the rest of my life," said Waghorn. "I can only try to make things better for staff and parents." She hopes the centre and staff are better prepared should another medical emergency arise.
Waghorn believes all daycare centres should be required to conduct re-training and mock emergencies on a regular basis. She is now planning to carry out regular training sessions with staff at all three sites.
The Guardian received telephone calls from several parents. Some were concerned the incident occurred in what they were under the impression was a peanut-free environment. They were also upset about how the situation was handled by staff.
Other parents considered it an unfortunate and isolated incident in what has otherwise been a safe environment for their children. Those parents felt the government had seriously disrupted their lives by closing the daycare and damaged Waghorn's reputation.
Waghorn said she has been operating daycare facilities for more than five years and has never before had her licence suspended. "I'm not sure how many parents are coming back. I'm hoping everybody does," Waghorn said. The centre was caring for about 50 children, she said.