Dr. Tam: Learning Beebe’s Culture and Heritage through Black History Month
Since I have been a Delaware resident for less than a year, I am still learning interesting facts about the state and the rich history here. For example, I recently learned that Delaware was well-known as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and for many slaves, Kent County was the first free land they crossed into. Many of the stops along the Underground Railroad in Delaware are still standing today.
I am also learning a lot about Beebe’s history, which spans over 100 years. Since we are a small community, many of our current team members have several generations of Beebe employees in their families. One of our team members with a long bloodline of Beebe team members in her family is Nancy Gooch Collick, a Certified Respiratory Therapist.
Nancy was born and raised in Lewes and is proud of her family’s long-time connection to our local community and Beebe Healthcare. She attended the DuPont Avenue School, which was segregated at the time, from grades 1 through 6, and then experienced integration from grades 7 through 12 and graduated from Cape Henlopen High School in 1972. She then went on to continue her education and obtained degrees in Applied Science & Nursing and Respiratory Therapy. She is now entering her 44th year in the medical field! She thanks her extended family for teaching her the importance of hard work and being respectful of all people, as well as accepting responsibility for yourself.
One of the relatives that influenced her the most was her grandfather, Ernest Gooch, as she regarded him as a tremendous provider and great example of being a tireless worker. Ernest began working at Beebe Hospital for the Beebe brothers, James and Richard, in many capacities including mail carrier and orderly. He was also the first ambulance driver and was even involved with the construction of the original hospital. Ernest Gooch was an invaluable pillar in the hospital community, as well as within the Beebe family. In fact, he not only taught the Beebe children how to drive, but he also took on the responsibility of the children’s travel to and from college.
Nancy says that Beebe Hospital was her grandfather’s home away from home and he would be very proud to know that one of his grandkids still works at Beebe today. A few other Gooch family members have also worked for Beebe through the years, including Nancy’s mother, aunt, and two cousins. As a local family, several generations of Gooch children have also been born at Beebe.
Ernest Gooch made quite an impact here at Beebe and in recognition of his commitment, there is an elevator named in his honor and his story was featured in two Beebe publications, “Two Men with a Dream – The Story of Beebe Healthcare (100 Years of Caring)” and “Beebe’s Big Birthday.”
In addition to learning about the history of some of our current and past team members, we also celebrated Black History Month with food.
During the month of February, we asked our team members to submit their favorite African, Caribbean, Soul, Haitian/Creole, Nigerian, and Southern family recipes. They sent in their cherished recipes, along with a photo, and a few words about why the dish is special to them. We have been sharing these recipes with our team members and have learned about our fellow colleagues by embracing their food traditions and learning about their culturally inspired food, memories, and stories.
Beebe’s Chef, Frederick Lee, and his Nutritional Services Team have recreated some of the family recipes, in compliance with set hospital standards, and served them in our cafeteria throughout the month. We had the opportunity to taste delicious treats such as LaShawn Burke’s recipe for “Hush Puppies” and Wanda Guyton’s family recipe for “Baked Mac and Cheese.”
Food always has a way of uniting people and it was wonderful to pay tribute to the culinary traditions celebrated by our team members and their families. Personally, I’m glad we had the opportunity to learn about our team members in such a delicious way!
One of our core values at Beebe Healthcare is to “treat each individual with respect and dignity.” Team Beebe is committed to actively pursuing ways to be more inclusive and diverse, and delivering on the promise of equitable treatment for all persons. We are proud of the diversity in our staff and celebrate ALL our team members. These values encompass everyone at all our care sites and extends to our friends and neighbors throughout our diverse community.