Celebrating 113 Years of Service, Union Hospital Is Thriving With Its New Family

Union Hospital opened on Dec. 1, 1908 and welcomed its first patient on Dec. 8 that year. Today as part of ChristianaCare, the hospital continues its commitment to the Cecil County community, as well as its dedication to bringing high-quality, accessible health care to Maryland and the region.

Union Hospital became part of ChristianaCare in January 2020, just a few months before the pandemic turned the world upside down. In July 2021, caregivers gathered for a much-awaited celebration as the ChristianaCare peach blossom logo was unveiled atop the hospital’s entrance, a happy milestone in the Cecil campus’ integration with the health system that today includes hospitals in Delaware and Maryland, plus additional services that span across the region including Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

For caregivers like Bryan Johnson, a culinary supervisor in Food and Nutrition Services, it has felt like one big family for a while. He appreciates the “supportive and helpful” relationships with colleagues throughout ChristianaCare.

“Whenever there’s a new undertaking like this, there can be some uneasy feelings — you don’t really know what’s coming,” said Johnson, who has worked at Union Hospital for six years.

“But I can say that it has been absolutely fantastic. The relationships that we’ve built with the Newark Campus and the Wilmington Campus have been great. The people who are there and now work with us have been so supportive and so helpful.”

Bryan Johnson of Food and Nutrition Services at Union Hospital found collegial support across campuses right away.

Johnson said the integration with ChristianaCare has been critical throughout the pandemic, especially as food suppliers around the globe grappled with supply shortages and other challenges.

“We had to work together as one ChristianaCare to fill what we needed to do,” he said. “We were bouncing ideas about where to get products we needed. To be able to have that lifeline during the pandemic was phenomenal.”

Dozens of caregivers turned out in hot and humid weather on July 15 as Sharon Kurfuerst, EdD, OTR/L, FACHE, system chief operating officer and president of ChristianaCare, Union Hospital, unfurled a giant tarp to reveal the new logo at the main entrance to the hospital.

She was joined by Amy Marston, MBA, MPH, campus operations officer; Ryan Geracimos, M.D., MBA, Union Hospital chief medical officer; and Joan Pirrung, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, Union Hospital chief nursing officer.

Celebrating the Union Hospital sign unveiling: Joan Pirrung, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC; Sharon Kurfuerst, EdD, OTR/L, FACHE; Ryan Geracimos, M.D., MBA; and Amy Marston, MBA, MPH.

“To all of our caregivers here at Cecil County, you model the ChristianaCare Way every day with your compassion and your service to the community,” Kurfuerst said. “This is without a doubt an absolutely special place. Our community loves receiving its care here, and your teamwork and compassion for each other really resonate.”

In these extraordinary times, Union Hospital is a community pillar positioned with expert care and robust services in connection with ChristianaCare.

“Union has been serving our community for more than 100 years and we’ve always worked for the collective good,” said Dr. Geracimos, a longtime physician leader at the Cecil Campus.

“Now, as part of ChristianaCare, we are well-positioned with additional resources across the board to support and improve health, and to deliver expert care to our community close to home.

“As we look to the future we can be even more impactful with expanded services, access and health education to better serve our neighbors. It’s a very special opportunity.”

“We have that personal touch with everybody we work with, and ChristianaCare is encouraging us to keep that,” said Union Hospital nurse Susan Dewitt, MSN, RN, CBPN-IC.

Although there have been many changes over the past 18 months, the key tenets of serving the community and helping patients remain the same, said Susan Dewitt, MSN, RN, CBPN-IC, who works in the Breast Health Center and has been at the Cecil Campus for more than 20 years.

“ChristianaCare’s values of love and excellence were easy to get my head around. If you can treat people the way you want to be treated and provide that kind of care, I think everything’s going to be fine,” said Dewitt, whose son and sister also work at Union Hospital.

“We have that personal touch with everybody we work with and ChristianaCare is encouraging us to keep that.”

Nursing coordinator Paula Evans, BSN, RN, PCCN, said she can feel the renewed energy the integration has brought to her fellow caregivers.

“People now are more invested. For the community, we have so many more resources,” Evans said. “Right from the start, we have more education for our nurses. It makes us more competent, more engaged and more willing to learn new things and expand our horizons.”