Precious bonding time extended for fathers at Michigan Medicine

June 18, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,
David Jerkins and daughter Grace.

With Father’s Day only a few days away, many dads find themselves reminiscing about special times with their children, especially those precious days when they first bonded with their newborn infant.

Michigan Medicine supports that special connection by offering Paid Parental Leave of up to six weeks for parents of a newborn, newly adopted or fostered child, or a child for whom legal guardianship has been appointed.

“It was so exciting when Grace saw me for the first time. I mean really saw me by making eye contact, looking around and tracking me as I moved,” said David Jerkins, a nursing supervisor who is currently enjoying his leave with his four-month-old daughter. “I have worked for Michigan Medicine for 12 years and this is the longest time I’ve ever taken off work. With the continuous time off, I was able to watch her make those gradual developmental changes that I had missed with my first two children, like being able to hold her head up and look around as I held her in my lap.”

The importance of bonding

Bill Morin, a staff specialist with Nurse and Physician Assistant Recruitment and Retention, had similar experiences over a year ago when he took advantage of the parental leave policy.

Bill Morin and his family.

“Being able to be home with my wife and newborn baby was such a blessing to me and my family. It allowed me to help my wife as she recovered from her third C-section, bond with our newborn baby and gave all of us the time to welcome Charlotte into our family.”

The benefit allows employees to take paid leave without utilizing their own paid time off (PTO). In fact, employees continue accruing PTO while using the time off. It is intended to be taken as a single, continuous block of time, but intermittent use of the time can be requested and scheduled with departmental approval.

This flexibility was helpful to the Jerkins family when COVID-19 put a kink in their initial plans.

“I took one week immediately and then COVID-19 happened and I came back to work,” Jerkins said. “I understood. I wanted to be there for my staff.”

Fortunately, the surge in COVID-positive patients has lightened up at Michigan Medicine. So Jerkins is now using the rest of his leave.

“We have three kids under three so in some ways I am used to this, but with COVID, the parenting experience was different,” Jerkins said. “Not having all the regular infant wellness checks was an added concern and you couldn’t have the extended family drop by for a visit at any time. But I really appreciate the extra time I was given to focus on my family. 

Tips from the experts

The two dads who discussed their leave have a few tips for other parents of newborns:

David Jerkins:

“First-time parents should know that initially it is going to be hard and you will be sleep deprived, but you have to enjoy all the moments because the season doesn’t last that long. Make plans for family and friends to visit (but not in the peak of a pandemic!) It gives you something to look forward to because it becomes repetitive at times.”                        

Bill Morin:

“Being a father of three daughters now, I know how important the role of a father is. I would encourage all fathers to take advantage of the parental leave when they welcome a new baby. It was so nice to take the time off and have the reassurance that Michigan Medicine supported that time I had with my family.That makes me proud to work for this organization.”

From all of us at Michigan Medicine Headlines, Happy Father’s Day!