The Edwards Agency

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Children's home efforts coming to fruition

Mary Shemesh

Mary Shemesh, above, is delighted with the donated services and materials resulting from contacts of Owen Roberts, Inc. construction company, including the tiles that from Dal-Tile in Everett, installed by Shawn Norton.
Photo by Jeff Switzer/Woodinville Weekly.

Children's Country House by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--Specialized healthcare for children is hard to come by in the Northshore area, says Mary Shemesh. In fact, there isn't anything between Tacoma and Bellingham like the facility under construction on Hollywood Hill.
   The community has rallied behind the Children's Country House, donating tens of thousands of dollars in services and materials so the facility can get up and running. The 3,400-square-foot house sits on a horse acre at 14643 NE 166th Street, where five bedrooms, a bonus room for physical therapy, three bathrooms, and a utility room are being refurbished.
   When it opens, the home will provide normally hard to find short- and long-term care for children with special health needs. As a separate corporation, it will lease nurses from Acute Care, Inc., in Woodinville and have some administrative support. Andi Bailey and Mary Shemesh, both registered nurses with 12 and 16 years experience respectively, will be administering the facility.
   "There's no group home for children with special health-care needs in our community," Shemesh said. "And there's little support for families in crisis who don't have the resources to provide for their children in the face of the their crisis. Parents need a place where the kids will be able to come and stay for a week or two."
   Shemesh says their company, locally owned and operated, recognizes the need and will specialize in providing care for children who are disabled, with licensed nurses on a 24-hour basis. Shemesh said they recently made the decision to become a non-profit facility because of the access to federal grant funds and transportation.
   "The kids are just going to be served better by the federal and state programs, better for the home overall to access that support and better for the kids," Shemesh said.

The challenge of raising a special needs child
   Shemesh says most insurance doesn't cover custodial care support, and families may not be eligible for nursing care support.
   "There are people out there who get very little support because they have a job," she said. Depending on the child, some need as many as 20 hours a day of nursing care, and while some parents learn as much as they can and help the child, others turn to foster care. She related stories of children who became too much for their parents to handle, who were abandoned either to the streets or to the system.
   Additionally, as the child grows, the lifting and carrying begins to be physically more difficult. Shemesh says their facility would be able to alleviate some of the physical and emotional exhaustion of caring for a special needs child by providing a safe place for them to go. "It's just a really neat home--people are excited to be a part of it and contribute to it."
   Shemesh says the home will be "really kid-oriented," with birdhouses and feeders in a yard designed in a parklike setting. She would like one day to have a wheelchair-accessible gazebo. She also hopes to repair the front yard pond, which has a broken fountain and a crack in the bottom.
   The home will have an advisory board of parents and professionals, and plans to do random drug testing and extensive background testing of its employees. "We've gone to great lengths to provide the best service we can," Shemesh said.
   Three more rooms are available for "adoption," needing decorations, furnishings, and curtains in a children's theme. Those interested can contact Shemesh at 483-3303.