Caring for the whole person

Coronavirus: Check here for latest ChristianaCare visitor and other information. >

Caring for the whole person

Donyell Coleman’s medical alert bracelet may lack the luster of gold and the sparkle of diamonds, but this self-professed jewelry lover considers it a treasure beyond measure for its potential to save her life.

A mother of three and proud grandmother, Coleman is among some 70 patients in Christiana Care’s Adult Medicine Anticoagulation Clinic in The Rocco A. Abessinio Family Wilmington Health Center to recently receive a free medical identification bracelet. The bracelet alerts first responders and medical providers that she takes the blood-thinning medication Coumadin and requires special treatment in a medical emergency.

“This bracelet ... means life to me,” said Donyell Coleman, here with her daughters Devon and Seraiah. Because she is on the blood-thinning medication Coumadin, her medical alert bracelet is an important, potentially life-saving signal to first-responders, should she ever require care in an emergency situation.
“This bracelet … means life to me,” said Donyell Coleman, here with her daughters Devon and Seraiah. Because she is on the blood-thinning medication Coumadin, her medical alert bracelet is an important, potentially life-saving signal to first-responders, should she ever require care in an emergency situation.

Patti Allegretto, RN, who manages the clinic, works with the team pharmacist to educate all patients who require anticoagulation medication about their condition and measures they should take to stay healthy.

I have a life to live for these children. I need to be healthy for them.

”We encourage all patients on Coumadin therapy to have a medic-alert bracelet or necklace, but for many, this is simply not affordable,” Allegretto said.

The modest piece of jewelry is a known lifesaver, yet the out-of-pocket expense kept it out of reach for many — until now. Funding for the medical-alert bracelets was made possible thanks to the generous support of friends and donors to Christiana Care’s annual campaign. Gifts to the annual campaign support the most critical needs of Christiana Care and our patients.

By providing Donyell Coleman and other patients who are on Coumadin with medical alert bracelets, the care team at Christiana Care's Rocco A. Abessinio Family Wilmington Health Center provides extra support that complements traditional medical care and makes life better for patients.
By providing Donyell Coleman and other patients who are on Coumadin with medical alert bracelets, the care team at Christiana Care’s Rocco A. Abessinio Family Wilmington Health Center provides extra support that complements traditional medical care and makes life better for patients.

“I can honestly say that the patients were thrilled beyond words and are so appreciative that we were able to be advocates in keeping them well,” Allegretto said. “On return visits, the patients are still wearing them and often thank me again, mentioning that family members and friends have noticed their bracelet, which has prompted important conversations about their health.”

You can help

Make a gift today to support exceptional care and service to our community.

The medical alert bracelet that Coleman says “I never take off,” is a symbol to daughters Seraiah, 11, and Devon, 9, their older sister, Jordan, 23, and granddaughter Chloe, 5, that mom is taking charge of her own good health.

“I have a life to live for these children. I need to be healthy for them,” she said. She’s lost nearly 50 pounds — first by taking walks with her daughters and now through vigorous cardio kickboxing — and is determined to reach the point where she no longer needs to be on medication.

“When I started, it was for me,” Coleman admits. “But I’m also doing this for my girls. This bracelet reminds me of that every day. It means life to me.”

The bracelets are just one of the many ways Christiana Care complements traditional medical care and makes life better for patients.

A gift to grow on

It’s always exciting for a young mother to receive a baby gift. And now each woman who brings her newborn for a first pediatric visit at the Wilmington Health Center goes home with a Healthy Babies Start Here backpack filled not only with practical health-related gifts for the newborn — a sleep sack, a digital thermometer, an infant toothbrush — but also educational materials on how to use these items and why they are important.

Volunteer Kelly Panetski packs “Healthy Babies Start Here” backpacks for new parents at the Rocco A. Abessinio Family Wilmington Health Center.
Volunteer Kelly Panetski packs “Healthy Babies Start Here” backpacks for new parents at the Rocco A. Abessinio Family Wilmington Health Center.

Made possible by a generous grant from the Laffey-McHugh Foundation, the gifts help spark conversations between the mother and the resident, attending physician or nurse, which is a first step in creating a lifelong partnership with new families. The backpacks include special extras, such as a rattle and a children’s book. Staff teach parents about the longterm benefits of reading with their children — a topic that has long been championed by the care team at the health center.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading aloud to children, starting in infancy, stimulates brain development and helps build important language and social skills. Each time a child visits the Wilmington Health Center, he or she receives a book, thanks to the foundation’s gift.

Pediatrician Shirley Klein, M.D., meets with a new family at the Rocco A. Abessinio Family Wilmington Health Center, where the entire care team is involved in supporting parents to give their babies a healthy start.
Pediatrician Shirley Klein, M.D., meets with a new family at the Rocco A. Abessinio Family Wilmington Health Center, where the entire care team is involved in supporting parents to give their babies a healthy start.

“With these offerings, we’re not just telling patients what to do,” said Linda Brittingham, MC, LCSW, BCD, director of Social Work. “We’re partnering with our patients by educating and empowering them to take charge of their family’s health.”

Clothed in compassion

Christiana Care’s three emergency departments — at Christiana Hospital, Wilmington Hospital and Middletown — care for almost 500 patients every day. Often during emergency situations, patient clothing becomes badly soiled or destroyed. For many of our most vulnerable patients, the clothes that they wear to the emergency room are the only ones they own. For weary, injured travelers and patients who might be struggling through economic hard times, the gift of a new, clean sweatsuit, socks, underwear or even a pair of shoes from the Emergency Department clothing closet upon leaving the hospital provides a sense of dignity and the knowledge that others care.

This is really about providing necessary, compassionate care.

Funding for the clothing closets is also made possible through community support to Christiana Care’s annual campaign. For years, staff held clothing drives to help patients in need, and while greatly appreciated, many donated garments simply did not meet the needs of those leaving the hospital. Reliable funds now make it possible to purchase and store large quantities of clean, loose-fitting clothing that comfortably fits over casts and incisions without the need for precise sizing.

“We are asked almost daily to assist with getting clothing for a patient either in one of our emergency rooms or from our house discharge,” said social worker Linda Brennan Jones, BS, BALS. “We’re doing more than caring for the bodies of our patients. Time and again we hear, ‘I can’t believe you did this for me.’”

Brittingham describes these “soft services” as having strong impact. “This is really about providing necessary, compassionate care,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do to achieve good outcomes in care by developing trust and forming close working relationships with our neighbors to address their unique needs and health.

“Dignity,” she concluded. “We’re offering all of our neighbors care with compassion and dignity.”

Top