This page features stories about Beebe Healthcare, Beebe Medical Foundation, our communities, and our patients.
For more patient stories and Celebrate Excellent Care articles, go to: https://www.beebehealthcare.org/stories
Celebrating Beebe Babies
All of Christian and Julie Hudson’s four children were born at Beebe Healthcare. Between 2009 and 2014, Julie gave birth to three boys and one girl. Locally, we refer to children born at Beebe as “Beebe Babies.” Julie said, “As a mom, I’m a Beebe Baby myself. So, I am proud to have brought my four beautiful children into this world and to have started another generation of Beebe Babies.”
Each pregnancy, from prenatal care, ultrasounds, the “Expecting Parents” class, and the delivery of their children, was a positive experience at Beebe. Julie said, “the staff at the Women’s Health Pavilion were truly exceptional, and always went the extra mile to make her and her husband Chris feel comfortable and at home.”
Beebe Healthcare was the first hospital in Delaware to earn the designation as a Baby-Friendly™ Hospital, reflecting its commitment to the optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother-and-infant bonding. The nursing staff of the Women’s Health Pavilion is highly trained and committed to serving the entire family.
“The nurses were professional and would always introduce themselves with a smile and make sure we understood their role in our delivery. They were warm and friendly and made you feel at home. This was something that was much appreciated during the most exciting, frightening, and yet most intimate experiences women can have. I must say we had a positive experience with all staff members during our stays at Beebe, from the receptionist at the front door to the doctors who delivered our children,” Julie said.
When asked what stood out through the entire experience, Julie gave high remarks to the nursing staff. “The nursing staff’s willingness to make you feel completely comfortable stands out for me. Each of my experiences was very different, from the first delivery jitters to the fourth delivery with confidence. Each time we had completely different staff, yet each time felt special. The nurses really take you under their wings and are fighting through every contraction and enjoying all the elation in welcoming your new addition,” Julie recalled. “They even went so far as to check on us after their shifts and to introduce us to the next shift’s staff before they left.”
Julie was also impressed with the nurses’ treatment of her husband. “They not only cared for me as an expecting mom, but also my husband Chris. They were always keeping him in the loop with my care and were prepared to answer any questions or concerns he had. They made sure he had pillows and blankets so he could stay at my side the whole time. I think Chris even made out with a meal after each delivery.”
When Julie and Chris found out about the “Celebrating Excellent Care” program, they knew they wanted to recognize the Women’s Health Pavilion. Julie added, “We have expressed our thanks to the staff after every delivery, and we have discussed our experience with others in the community; we also wanted to publicly acknowledge the team members of the Women’s Health Pavilion for their contributions to our lives. We couldn’t think of a more positive way to acknowledge them then by making a generous donation to support all of the great work they do in the community.”
Bridget Buckaloo, Executive Director of Women’s Health Services, said, “This is such an honor for our staff to be recognized publicly. Each and every one of them deserves this tribute. We are very proud of the Women’s Health nursing staff members at Beebe Healthcare. They consistently score in the 99th percentile in our Press Ganey survey so statistically we know they are exceptional, but to actually be recognized publicly by a patient is such a gift! We are grateful to Julie and Christian for their generous thanks and support of Beebe Healthcare.”
As a community-owned, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe continues to depend on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations. All gifts, large or small, to Beebe Healthcare, are tax deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation. Tom Protack, Vice President of Development, shared, “it is amazing to see the pride and excitement in our community when someone boldly exclaims ‘I am a Beebe Baby!’ Many families make donations in honor of their children or grandchildren who were born at Beebe.” Please consider making a gift in honor of your Beebe Baby today!
To learn more about how you can Celebrate Excellent Care, contact the Beebe Medical Foundation at (302) 644-2900 or write to [email protected]
Shown in photo are (left to right) Crystal Reynolds, RN; Gretchen Hegwood, RNC; Bridget Buckaloo, MSN, RN, Director; Julie Hudson; Melissa Gaull, RN; and April Phillips, RN.
First African American Nurse At Beebe Hospital Inspires Community
In 1964, First African American Nurse at Beebe Hospital Inspired a Community
As Beebe Healthcare celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, Lewes native Robert Wingo can’t help but reflect upon the mark his mother made on Beebe history, as well as on the history of the African American community in Lewes. His mother Elsie Dunning Wingo died November 25, 2014, when she was 92 years old, yet her legacy lives on.
In 1964, when Elsie was 43 years old, she became the first African American nurse to work at Beebe Hospital. Robert was just nine years old then, but still feels the overwhelming sense of pride at seeing his mother attain a status that no other African American around him had attained. He remembers the nurse’s pin that she earned, and the white uniform, stockings and cap that she wore.
“I was so proud. She inspired me to work hard to reach my dreams,” he said, remembering that her dream was to become a nurse. Elsie had worked in the laundry department at Beebe with Robert’s grandfather Dewey Dunning. In the ‘50s, she had worked as a domestic, and sometimes helped out with her father’s catering business, too.
She was in her early 40s when she finally earned her high school diploma, after returning to school. She soon earned an LPN certificate, enabling her to be promoted to caring for patients at Beebe Hospital.
“She was the talk of the town,” recalls Stell Parker-Selby, who was an African American teenager in Lewes at the time. “There was an announcement in every black church in the area. People were celebrating.”“We didn’t have the opportunities that people of color have now. It was a time when you had limited opportunities due to your race. We were segregated and there was so much we couldn’t do, places we couldn’t go. And then we saw Cousin Elsie become a nurse at Beebe. She inspired all of us” recalls Stell Parker-Selby.
Stell Parker-Selby, herself, went on to become a teacher and the first African American woman administrator in the Cape Henlopen School District. She continues to serve on many boards, including the Milton Town Council, and recently retired from her position on the Beebe Healthcare Board of Directors.
“Elsie was a Dunning and they were a caring and hard-working family. They were always doing good things for the kids in the neighborhood” recalls Stell Parker-Selby.
Robert Wingo, born at Beebe Hospital in 1955, remembers his mother as a woman who worked hard and who had a heart of gold, thinking of others until the end of her life. Neighbors, friends and family members told him stories about her from before he was born; the rest he observed and experienced.
Elsie was born in Lewes in 1921. She was the oldest of 14 children, though three of them died soon after they were born. She was an avid reader growing up and believed in education. She attended the Delaware High School for African Americans at the Delaware State College campus in Dover, staying there for the week and coming home on the weekends.
“My grandfather drove her back and forth to Dover in one of the Beebe doctors’ cars,” Robert said. But, she had to give up high school before she finished because she was needed at home to work and help with her younger brothers and sisters.
The Dunning family lived next door to the Happy Day Club at West Fourth Street and Dupont Avenue. It was a popular nightspot in the African American community in the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s that was on the Chitlin’ Circuit and attracted many famous entertainers. People went there to dance to jazz bands and to relax. It was at the Club that Elsie met her future husband, Pearl Edward. The U.S. Army had brought him from Ohio. Robert recalls that Pearl Edward was stationed at barracks at Redden Forest.
The two married in 1942 and had three children. Elsie also continued to work as a domestic. In 1962, she began her daily travels to William C. Jason Comprehensive High School in Georgetown, Sussex County’s segregated high school. Pearl Edward died in 1964, not long after Elsie had become a nurse.
Dr. Anis Saliba, a physician board certified in general surgery, thoracic surgery and surgical critical care, arrived in Lewes in 1967 and soon met Elsie.
“She became one of my best friends,” he recently recalled, pointing out her professionalism and loyalty to her patients and to Beebe. Dr. Saliba, a member of the Beebe Board of Directors, practiced until 2003, and often cared for Elsie and her family.
Beebe respiratory therapist Nancy Collick, recently recalled how her mother, Nancy Gooch, had talked about Elsie’s kindness. “She always had a smile on her face.”
Elsie left Beebe in 1968 to be a nurse at Dover Air Force Base, driving a long, two-lane road to and from work each day. Once she retired, she continued to be an active person in the Lewes community. At St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Lewes, she was a lay reader, sang in the choir and served as treasurer. She worked in home health. She took care of local children, later becoming a foster parent to children that had nowhere else to go.
Dennis Forney, Publisher of The Cape Gazette, recalled that she was “sweet, kind and always filled with humor. The kids loved her.”
Elsie’s work ethic and commitment to helping others inspired Robert, who earned his bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences from Wilmington College. He worked for many years in mental health, including more than 20 years with the State Division of Family Services, retiring in 2015.
“Doors were opening in the ‘60s for African Americans, but there was still segregation in the towns around here,” Stell Parker-Selby recalled. “Elsie stuck with it. She was determined not to give up.”