To Your Health

Wilmington takes care of everyone though innovative public service and world-class hospitals. Here’s how.

Dr. Janice Nevin says Christiana Care’s $205 million renovation of Wilmington Hospital is an investment in the future of Wilmington. Photo by Tom NutterWhen Jim Horty of Wilmington learned he had prostate cancer, he drove to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to speak with a surgeon about a prostatectomy. “Why are you up here when you can have it done there?” the surgeon asked. He then told Horty about Wilmington surgeon Francis Schanne’s excellent work with the state-of-the-art da Vinci Surgical System at St. Francis Hospital—the same system used at UPenn.

Many people don’t realize the outstanding healthcare available to them in Wilmington until they’re faced with a serious medical condition. From the tertiary care of Christiana Care Wilmington and the community hospital of St. Francis to the comprehensive care of Westside Family Healthcare and Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, the healthcare community in Wilmington is world class.

The medical community strives continually to find better ways to serve the public through outreach, prevention and treatment programs; through seminars and support groups; by employing innovative technologies; and by expanding and improving facilities. Here’s what they’re up to lately.

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Christiana Care Wilmington

Christiana Care Wilmington Hospital
501 W. 14th St., Wilmington

The larger tertiary care hospital in town is Christiana Care Wilmington at 501 W. 14th St.—and it will soon be even larger. The campus is undergoing a $205 million renovation that will increase the campus to more than 1 million square feet.

There will be new medical offices, new surgical suites, a new intensive care unit and 30 new single-patient rooms, all housed in a new 51,000-square-foot office building and a nine-story, 286,000-square-foot tower,

“Christiana Care’s Wilmington campus has decades of history of caring for the people of Wilmington, but the $205 million investment into the facility is an extraordinary demonstration of our commitment to the community,” says Dr. Janice Nevin, senior vice president and executive director for the hospital. “It’s really an investment in the future of the city of Wilmington.”

With 1,900 employees, Christiana Care Wilmington is the city’s fourth largest employer. “We have an incredible staff, many of whom have worked at Wilmington for a long time and love it here,” says Nevin. The number of employees will increase by 600 upon the completion of the renovation.

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“The beauty of Wilmington is that, if you’re local, you get all of the benefits of accessing all of the services of the 21st century through the doors of your community hospital,” says Nevin. “We’re a first-rate acute care hospital, but because we’re part of a larger system, you have access to other services.

“In Wilmington, for example, we have the Advanced Joint Replacement Center—the busiest in the country—Acute Rehabilitation Services and the Roxana Cannon Arsht Surgicenter. But you also have access to everything that the system offers, including the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center.”

Fifty thousand patient visits a year are made to the emergency department, and many of the patients walk there, Nevin says. In fact, more than 60 percent of emergency department patients live in the city. Another 20 percent live in nearby Claymont and Brandywine Hundred.

“The emergency department is an incredibly important place for them to get the care they need, when they need it,” Nevin says. “And the new ED facility will enhance the care we provide. New buildings are just bricks and mortar. It’s really about the care that’s provided inside the walls.”

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Patient care sometimes extends from the medical realm to the world of education. When children with severe medical issues spend long periods in a hospital, schoolwork can suffer. Through a partnership with Red Clay School District, Christiana Care patients can continue their educations on-site at the First State School while receiving medical care. The school has enabled many children to stay on track and graduate on time. Nevin attends the commencement ceremonies without fail. “It’s one of the most moving experiences I have all year,” she says.

Future physicians learn there, too. Christiana Care is a teaching hospital that’s been affiliated with Thomas Jefferson University since 1988. It has more than 200 residents each year in 11 disciplines and five fellowships.

Education in the community is important to Christiana Care, as well. You can see it in the outreach programs of its Community Center of Excellence, a women’s health center and the Wilmington Healthcare Center. More than 70,000 offices visits a year are made to the Wilmington Healthcare Center, which provides multi-disciplinary outpatient services to patients, many of them on Medicare or Medicaid or uninsured.

“That’s a very important part of our commitment to the community,” says Nevin. “And we have partnerships with Westside Healthcare Center and the Henrietta Johnson Center. They are both incredible health care centers.”

Page 3: St. Francis Healthcare


St. Francis Healthcare

St. Francis Hospital
701 N. Clayton St., Wilmington

Schanne was passionate about bringing the da Vinci Surgical System to Delaware just a few short years ago. Since then hundreds of patients have benefited from robotically assisted procedures using the machine.

It was the hospital’s willingness to explore new technology that inspired Schanne to join the St. Francis Healthcare team.

“The daVinci was one,” he says, and St. Francis was the first in the state to get it, as well as the KTP green light laser treatment used to treat enlarged prostates.

Other departments are using new technology, too. St. Francis was the first hospital in Delaware to use the Diamondback 360º Orbital Atherectomy technology—a machine designed to remove dangerous arterial plaque from the legs—in its heart and vascular department.

“The hospital’s performance with the daVinci is really extraordinary,” says Schanne,. “We’re using it in urology in ways that aren’t being done anywhere else.”

The daVinci Surgical System allows surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures with greater precision and dexterity through the use of highh-definition 3D endoscopy and robotic technology. The result is minimal blood loss, less pain, and less recovery time and a shorter hospital stay for the patient.

Dr. Nancy Petit, head of the division of obstetrics, says the daVinci is also being used by eight board-certified gynecologists at St. Francis Hospital, which is the only facility in Delaware to use the machine for gynecological surgeries such as fibroid removals. For most women, convalescence from a hysterectomy is six weeks after a traditional procedure. With the daVinci, most patients can return to work in two weeks.

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To Horty, the only thing more impressive than the technology is the St. Francis medical team.

“When I was told I had cancer, my eyes glazed over. There was so much I didn’t understand because I was so scared,” Horty says. “But the accessibility of the doctors, the information they shared and the level of care was amazing. By the time I had the surgery, I was a very well-educated consumer.”

Educating future physicians is also important at St. Francis. Its three-year family medicine residency program is affiliated with the Temple University School of Medicine, and St. Francis is an internship site for doctors from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“We attract top-quality professionals, and we have very good relationships with specialists in the community who assist with more complicated cases,” Petit says. “In this way, patients have the ability to stay close to home, with loved ones nearby, while receiving excellent care from top-notch physicians and specialists.”

As the only hospital in the city of Wilmington to offer obstetrical care, St. Francis makes it possible for new parents to remain close to home for the births of their children. Patients tend to bond tightly with the OB/GYN nurses because “many of them have worked together for many years,” Petit says. “They know each other’s strengths, and are multi-faceted with the care they provide to the moms.”

St. Francis’ small size and the closeness between staff and patients means it can offer more one-on-one care, focusing on individual needs, such as screening for post-partum depression.

Last year St. Francis established a bilingual support group called the Blue Angels to help pregnant women and new mothers learn coping skills and better management of symptoms of depression. The group is facilitated by social workers and healthcare providers.

With the intimacy of a community hospital, St. Francis provides a full complement of patient services, including general medicine, diagnostics, surgery, rehabilitation, joint replacements, heart and vascular care, and more.

The main hospital has stood at 701 N. Clayton St. since 1924. St. Francis has since added the Franciscan Care Center at Brackenville, the North Wilmington Women’s Center and The Woman’s Place.

Page 5: Westside Family Healthcare


Westside Family Healthcare

Westside Family Healthcare, Wilmington
1802 W. Fourth St., Wilmington

Westside Family Healthcare, Northeast
908B E. 16th St., Wilmington

With the motto “We treat you well,” the dedicated medical staff at Westside Family Healthcare focuses on providing individuals of any age equal access to quality healthcare, regardless of ability to pay. Westside provides family medical care, women’s health services, disease management, dental care, adolescent health service, mental health care, and podiatry care. Cost for care is based on income, and need-based financial aid is available.

“It’s a one-stop shopping model for comprehensive healthcare,” says Westside Family Healthcare deputy director Sarah Noonan. “When patients walk through the door, Westside can treat them for a variety of things so that they don’t have to come back for multiple appointments. If a diabetic patient comes in for a regular patient visit, for example, we can also schedule an ophthalmology visit and a meeting with a patient educator, if needed.”

Westside also considers the patient’s social situation because transportation and childcare can often be issues. “If mom’s coming in for an appointment, we can try to accommodate a well-child visit at the same time,” says Noonan. “Or, if it’s appropriate, we’ll schedule dental exams for parent and child at the same time.”

Because a large number of patients have socio-economic issues that can affect mental health, Westside is always looking for ways to expand mental health services. A 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, it does a lot with a little. “If we weren’t here, most of the patients would have no place to go,” Noonan says. “I look around the waiting room and realize the great benefit we bring to the community.”

In 2008 Westside served 17,894 patients and conducted 73,206 patient visits. Nearly 1,400 pregnant women were given care, and 750 babies were delivered.

The Stork’s Nest program, sponsored by March of Dimes and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, provides incentives for women to keep their prenatal visits in the form of points to use toward baby diapers and supplies. Prenatal support groups for young mothers, facilitated by physicians, have had excellent outcomes. And clinical social workers help with post-partum issues.

As children grow, Westside physicians use the national Reach Out and Read program to work with young patients while promoting literacy. By reading with patients, doctors can gauge development. Volunteers are often seen reading to children in the waiting room.

Westside hires from within the communities it serves and trains its staff on cultural competence to help improve care. Most of the staff is bilingual.

“There’s great demand for our services,” Noonan says. “We’re a very trusted healthcare provider. When patients are asked if they’d refer a family or friend to Westside, the answer is always yes.”

Page 6: Henrietta Johnson Medical Center


 Henrietta Johnson Medical Center

Henrietta Johnson Medical Center
700 Lea Blvd., Suite 201, Wilmington, 761-4610
601 New Castle Ave., Wilmington, 655-6187

For those who can’t always afford medical care, there’s the Henrietta Johnson Medical Center in the Southbridge community.

When established in 1968, the center was a group of volunteer doctors, nurses and pharmacists who provided primary medical care to the community’s uninsured. Henrietta Johnson then became the first community medical center in the state to become a federally qualified and funded health center, which enabled it to expand services, hire paid staff and give care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.

Former CEO Rosa Rivera has been with the center for 22 years, so she’s witnessed the expansion of services and increase in the number of patients. The center now provides ambulatory services for chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and the center provides women with pre- and post-natal care. Pediatric care, dentistry and on-site lab services are also available.

With nearly 20,000 office visits, Henrietta Johnson provides medical care to more than 7,000 people in Wilmington. Most patients would not otherwise receive proper treatment. Eighty-two percent of the patient population is African-American, and 12 percent are Hispanic. Ten of the 47 staff members are bilingual.

As a federally regulated center, at least 51 percent of the board members must be users of the center. When the board meets to discuss what the center does well and what needs improvement, board members can speak first-hand about the patient experience.

And more patients are experiencing the center.

“We have people coming in who have lost their jobs and their health insurance and they’ve never been in this type of situation before,” says Rivera. “Suddenly, something as simple as getting birth control pills becomes a problem because they don’t have insurance or the $40 or $50 a month to pay out of pocket. Others don’t realize that they qualify for certain programs, like Medicaid or Screening for Life, so we help to direct them to the programs and health care services they need.”

Staff turnover is low, which affords patients opportunities to develop relationships with their care providers. Doctors are on-call 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

“We’re set-up like a private practice, not a clinic, so when you have an appointment, you know the doctor you’ll be seeing,” says Dr. Charles Case, chief medical officer. Case has worked at the center for 18 years. “Our patients have the ability to build a relationship with their doctor because there’s continuity of care.” And because of HJMC’s longevity in the community, multi-generational families—from toddlers to grandparents—go there.

Henrietta Johnson is the only federally qualified health center in Delaware to receive grants for the Healthcare for the Homeless program. Other outreach efforts help to direct people to social services. “We try to take the time to educate our patients, find out what’s going on in their lives that may be affecting their healthcare, and direct them to things like food closets and housing services, if that’s what’s needed,” says Rivera.

“We’re like a family team giving personal treatment to our patients,” she says, which may be why 75 percent of new patients have been referred by a friend or family member.

“It’s important that we, as citizens, help to take care of one another,” Rivera says. “We need to talk about healthcare and let people know what’s available right here in our community.”

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