May 10, 2006
Oklahoma City — Last February NewsChannel 4 told you about the most dangerous daycares in the metro. Now we take you inside some of the dirtiest. NewsChannel 4’s Scott Hines pulled health inspection reports dating back several years to take you behind the daycare doors.
Hundreds of operating daycares line Oklahoma City streets. Each one’s past carefully documented inspections that are safely filed away inside Oklahoma County’s Health Department.
Their responsibility is enormous. The inspectors have Oklahoma’s children to protect.
Tonya Moore of the Oklahoma County Health Department says, We not only look at the kitchens, but the classrooms for health and safety issues. Each metro daycare is routinely inspected with the strictest of expectations.
Most make the grade most of the time, but maintaining excellence can be difficult. Although Excell Learning Center’s most recent inspection was approved, the previous six failed.
From March until June of last year, the daycare was crippled by a Shigella outbreak. It is a bacterial illness capable of causing diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting that is easily spread from person to person. If you use the restroom and then fail to wash your hands or wash your hands thoroughly, you can spread it to your friends and co-workers, says Tonya Moore.
Inspectors were even forced to put the daycare on restriction. That means no field trips, swimming, or new admissions for thirty days. Tonya Moore of the Oklahoma County Health Department says That’s a standard procedure that we do when we start seeing that we can’t break the Shigella cycle.
The Manager of Excell Learning Center says, Actually we could have had a much worse situation, but we got on it right away.
Excell’s manager says the problem started in the daycare’s after school program with public school children. The health department can only inspect a public school’s kitchen, not the entire building.
Tonya Moore says the inspector’s lack of authority allowed the illness to infiltrate their facility with just a few cases. Before you know it, you can have an outbreak on your hands.
Just ask the folks at an area La Petite on North Warwick. Back in July, inspectors sent a letter home to parents telling them about Shigella and the daycare’s fourteen confirmed cases. A worker at La Petite says I wasn’t here at the time, so I don’t have much information.
Like Excell, inspectors say La Petite’s bill of health is typically clean and sanitary, but they admit that has not been the case for Cinderella Play School. Although inspectors praised its most recent effort, inspection reports, dating back two years, suggest a filthy past. Back in 2004, a complaint was filed with the health department notifying them of a rat infestation. Although inspectors found the complaint unwarranted, they noted rodent feces in the kitchen, under the sink, and on the microwave table. They also noticed upstairs rooms filled with trash and mud. A follow-up inspection two months later-found the daycare’s upstairs to be almost completely cleaned up and rodent free. Then two years passed, and again inspectors found several of daycare’s rooms full of trash, junk, debris, and even old liquor bottles. The Cinderella Playschool Owner says, First of all, that space they’re talking about is not licensed, they’re not supposed to be able to even inspect it.
Tonya Moore of the health department says Childcare regulations, by definition, allow the inspector to go in to any part of the facility we consider to be accessible. In this case, the upstairs was accessible to the children. Also, according to health reports, inspectors found a dead bird on a stairwell inside the daycare. They also found live and dead cockroaches on countertops, in the freezer, and on top of the refrigerator. There were large holes in the roof and walls.
The Owner of Cinderella Playschool says It’s the same guy and he has a vendetta against me.
The inspector does? Scott Hines asks.
And he keeps coming back and coming back and every time he brings me something and I correct it, says that Cinderella Playschool owner.
Still, inspectors say the vast majority of metro daycares are complying with county regulations. Since 2003, a Children’s Lighthouse on North Council has had almost no violations. The same can be said for Edmonds Head Start and a Crown Heights Christian Daycare.
Brina Hurst, whose son attends Crown Heights Christian church, says, That is great, great to know and that makes us feel better. I’m sure my husband will love to hear that.
Tonya Moore says, They’re all clean. We consistently can approve them, on our first visit and we don’t have to go back and follow-up on violations that are repeat violations.
While Excell Learning Center and La Petite Academy were hit hard by Shigella, inspectors say they were not alone. Last year the illness created big problems for a number of metro daycares.