For Sagarika Sahu and her husband, Manish Bhatt, it all started with an evening conversation about life with their friends, among them a pediatrician. “My husband and I don’t have kids and we always wanted to do something different and somehow give back to the community. We didn’t really know what we wanted to do. Basically, we always wanted to do something in the education field for children.”
The idea of a medical daycare came up during the conversation, and this epiphany led to Sagarika and Manish Bhatt founding Little Angels PPEC, a daycare for medically fragile children who cannot attend regular daycare.
Sahu, who is also a part-time professional adjunct faculty member for AdventHealth University’s (AHU) Health & Biomedical Sciences program, works mainly as the administrator for the center, while Manish Bhatt, an IT professional, manages the website and other technical aspects. They have a team of skilled nurses on staff to meet the children’s medical needs.
The center has expanded to two locations in central Florida, Orlando and Longwood. Both are staffed with medical specialists and provide skilled nursing care, occupational and physical therapies, speech-language therapy, free meals, and medical transport to children from 3 months to 20 years old. In addition, they provide education to the children’s parents on topics such as tube-feeding and medication management.
Each location is purposefully kept small-scale, servicing about 10 to 15 children each with about one to two staff members per child, allowing them to have individualized attention. Sahu said, “I keep it small so that we can maintain our standards. That was our original idea. I want to keep it very family oriented. That’s my main goal.”
She maintains this relationship by knowing parents personally, staying in touch with them every day, sending them photos of their children at the daycare, and keeping them informed. “They can trust us with their kids, and know that this is a place where they will be taken care of,” said Sahu.
A usual day for Sahu starts early with a tele-health check, followed by in-person health checks, and then transporting the children to the daycare. Then, before breakfast is served, each child receives a health evaluation. Throughout the day the children receive therapies, play, and go through learning activities. By 6 p.m., the children are either transported back by the center or picked up by parents. Then, the center is thorough- ly cleaned and sanitized.
The center also provides an opportunity for AHU students to do hands-on learning. Students from the physician assistant program can complete pediatric internships, while other students will reach out occasionally to volunteer. “They get to learn from RNs and gain experience interacting with medically fragile kids.”
Despite the demanding schedule of managing the center, Sahu is dedicated to her teaching duties at AHU. “Teaching is my passion. I love every moment of it.” When she meets her students for the first time, she tells them to “find what you love and if you get a job in that field, you are going to be the happiest, most content person.” The University’s mission to develop skilled professionals who live the healing values of Christ plays an im- portant part in Sahu’s own mission and approach to teaching.
“The service-oriented values of AdventHealth continue to guide us in this mission. We learn new lessons daily, and I feel blessed for the opportunity to be in a spiritually enhancing environment of AHU and be able to nurture in an environment like the PPEC,” said Sahu.
AdventHealth University | November 2020