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Women in Healthcare
In recognition of International Women's Day, March 8, Beebe Healthcare is recognizing a few of our amazing Women in Healthcare in a new series. This series will be continued indefinitely.
RECOGNIZING WOMEN IN HEALTHCARE
It was Jenn Hopkins’, RN, CCE, dream to work as a Labor and Delivery nurse. Her determination and hard work paid off at Beebe Healthcare last year.
"I always wanted to be a Labor and Delivery nurse. I applied multiple times, but because I didn't have any experience, I was denied. Then in June of 2012 I got a call to come in for an interview and was offered my dream job," she said.
Last year, Hopkins also received her certification as a childbirth educator. She now teaches women how to prepare for labor and delivery, as well as gives them information about nutrition, exercising while pregnant, and pain management.
"I have worked on every floor in this hospital and have never worked so hard as I do on Women's Health. Labor and delivery is like an emergency room for pregnant women. You never know what is going to walk through the door, so you have to be prepared for anything. I am blessed to work with a great staff and we really work well as a team and have each other’s backs."
Hopkins lives in Gumboro with her husband of six years and her two children who are 5 and 3 years old. Hopkins enjoys fishing and boating with her family, spending summer days on the beach and spending time on their hobby farm raising goats and chickens. She also enjoys baking.
"Working three 12-hour shifts a week has its advantages and disadvantages. I am able to schedule around family, school, and sports functions and have off when I need to, but the long hours can be tough on my kids. My husband and I are very blessed to have parents who help us with our children while we work, which gives us peace of mind knowing that they are being well cared for. "
“We are living the American dream,” Hopkins said. “God has blessed us. We work hard and it is a whole family effort, but I am so proud of my family and the life we have.”
When things get stressful, Hopkins enjoys baking.
"Baking is like a stress reliever for me. I started baking cakes for my children's birthdays and now I get requests from friends, family, and colleagues.
In December 2014, Hopkins was recognized as the first Beebe Healthcare Living Our Values Everday Award Winner. The Love note was submitted by a coworker who noticed Hopkins going above and beyond for a post-surgical patient she was caring for that had special needs.
“I noticed she had a picture of a sunflower,” Hopkins said. “I asked her about it and she told me she that she loved sunflowers and was an artist.”
Hopkins, who also loves sunflowers, enjoys photography, and told the patient about a field of sunflowers near her home. Every year Hopkins photographs the sunflowers and brought in some of the prints of the sunflower fields as well as a sunflower from her garden much to the delight of the patient.
Hopkins and the patient have continued their relationship, even meeting up for lunch to talk about photography, art, and flowers.
“I love helping our patients here and making a difference in others’ lives. Sometimes the smallest gesture can make all the difference to someone,” Hopkins said. “I’m proud to say I work at Beebe; that I represent Beebe.”
Camilla Carter, Physical Therapist (PT), came to coastal Delaware for the outlet shopping, but she stayed for the people.
Ms. Carter is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Temple University in 1984 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Physical Therapy. She worked as an outpatient physical therapist in the Philadelphia area specializing in the physical rehabilitation of people recovering from orthopedic injuries, stroke and other neurologic diagnoses, temporal mandibular joint dysfunction, as well as children and adults recovering from traumatic brain injuries.
Ms. Carter joined the team at Beebe Rehab Services in 1998 and worked as an Outpatient and Acute Care Rehab Services team member at the hospital location in Lewes, DE. She soon became certified in caring for those diagnosed with breast cancer and in the management of lymphedema. The Rehab Services’ Lymphedema Management Program began in 1999. Ms. Carter has been running the program out of the Outpatient Rehab Services location in Rehoboth Beach since 2003.
Lymphedema is swelling (the abnormal accumulation of protein-rich lymph fluid) of a body part due to injury or disruption of the body’s lymphatic system. This can be an inherited condition or it can start after surgery or trauma. If left untreated, pain, infection, open wounds and loss of function can occur.
In 2014, the lymphedema program was expanded to serve breast cancer patients. In some cases, patients may get lymphedema after breast cancer surgeries such as mastectomies or lumpectomies.
Ms. Carter said being a part of this new program is one of her proudest accomplishments.
“I am proud to be a part of our new Breast Cancer Pathway Program team because we are helping people remain functionally independent by giving them the tools and information they need to get back to their lives,” she said.
At this time, patients are referred to the program by their doctors or surgeons during the process of scheduling a mastectomy or lumpectomy surgery.
Ms. Carter said she hopes to continue to help expand the program to develop a collective approach to caring for breast cancer patients to improve their lives, create specific rehab skill sets and a management program, and grow the program into a community service with education opportunities for staff and patients.
In 2005, she graduated from Wilmington University with her Master’s degree in Health Care Administration. Ms. Carter became a certified Clinical Instructor in 2007 while serving as an adjunct teacher during the summers for (2006 through 2008) for Delaware Technical Community College’s Physical Therapy Assistant program. She continues to serve on the college’s advisory committee.
Ms. Carter said her department gets through tough days with laughter with the people they serve. The Rehab team tries to maintain a balance between humor and compassion even though some cases are hard.
“Sometimes there are tears, yet I find joy in helping others. I love to see joy – joy of work and joy in life,” Ms. Carter said.
When Ms. Carter isn’t helping clients, she enjoys traveling to Philadelphia to visit family or taking in shows at Clear Space Theater in Rehoboth Beach.
Her smile lights up the room when she talks about poetry, music and her church family. Ms. Carter is a member of Trinity Faith Christian Center on New Road in Lewes, a congregation she says centers her.
“I have been writing poetry since I was 12 and it just evolved into composing music,” she said. “I was given a little keyboard a while back and I taught myself to play.”
Ms. Carter writes ballads and Christian music. It is her dream to have some of her songs published.
She is also a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies and Dave Matthews Band, as well as the Dallas Cowboys, much to the friendly disappointment of team members and patients.
Ms. Carter served as the manager of Beebe’s Rehoboth Rehab location from 2008 to 2013, but gave the position up in 2013, so she could focus on treating clients.
“I am proud to be a part of Beebe Healthcare in general and specifically the Rehab department because everyone is so dedicated to helping the people we serve. I feel we really work together well, enjoy each other, and have a passion for the work we are doing here,” she said.
Erin Fletcher, DO
As one of the youngest members of the Beebe Healthcare Medical Staff, Erin Fletcher, DO, has done plenty in the five years she has been a part of the healthcare system.
Dr. Fletcher is chair of the Pediatrics Department at the hospital and a fixture at Beacon Pediatrics where she sees patients.
“When I came to Beebe in July 2010, there was a huge need for pediatricians,” Dr. Fletcher said. “I decided to come here because the area is so underserved.”
Dr. Fletcher was living in Wilmington with her husband and two children at the time, but jumped at the opportunity to move to Lewes.
“I was only a year out of residency, so it was very early in my career,” Dr. Fletcher recalls.
At Beebe, Dr. Fletcher has blossomed. She and the neonatal practitioners saw the rapid increase in opiate-dependent babies.
“When I first started we would see about one addicted baby every 2-3 months. Today we have one all the time,” Fletcher said. “That’s been the biggest change during my time at Beebe.”
The pediatrics team at Beebe Healthcare worked to develop a standardized Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome program to help both the babies and their mothers.
“The standardization of care and the policies we created is my greatest source of pride,” Dr. Fletcher said.
Busy is an understatement when it comes to Dr. Fletcher. She balances her busy pediatrics practice and time at the hospital with a very busy home life.
Her children, now 5 and 9, have a schedule full of activities of their own. Dr. Fletcher worked with her peers and supervisors at Beebe Healthcare to create a block schedule so she would have time at home.
“I am a very involved mother and am lucky I was able to set up the schedule so I could have bigger blocks of time home with my kids,” Dr. Fletcher said. “It allows me to trade off with my husband so my kids see us being present in their lives.”
Dr. Fletcher uses her Thursdays off to help in her children’s classrooms.
“Having this schedule helps me prioritize – when I am in the office, then work is my priority. On my days off when I am home, then my kids are the priority,” she said.
Dr. Fletcher is also working with government officials to increase access to pediatric specialists for children on Medicaid.
“Some of the children I see who are on Medicaid are having trouble finding specialists that accept their insurance,” Dr. Fletcher said. “I hope to be able to work with our officials to make policies that will increase access for these children.”
She also hopes to continue her education in osteopathic medicine for pediatrics.
“I never thought I would be the chair of a department this early in my career,” Dr. Fletcher said. “At the same time, while I am proud of my work, I am most proud of my kids. The successes I have had in the last couple of years while balancing my home life shows my children that they are the most important part of my life.”
When her mother became ill last year, Judith Ramirez, EdD, MA, manager of Oncology Population Health at Beebe Healthcare’s Tunnell Cancer Center, knew she would have to make some hard decisions. As she journeyed through her mother’s illness, Ramirez felt she needed an outlet for herself.
In August, she walked into a yoga studio and took her first class.
“I fell in love with the blending of physical and spiritual in the practice of yoga,” she recalls. “While my mother was ill, I practiced every day.”
Her mother passed away and through the tough days, Ramirez relied on her yoga practice to keep herself centered.
“I continue to remind myself that it is a commitment … I make myself do it every day,” she said. “It is one of my proudest achievements – that I can give this to myself. It reminds me that every breath is a new beginning and that’s how I drive my day. People in my life have noticed the change in me.”
As a therapist, Ramirez knows how important it is to take time for yourself as an individual, but she also knows how hard it can be to follow through.
In addition to yoga, Ramirez finds time to be creative through photography and writing.
“Creativity keeps me grounded,” she says. “I ensure that I take care of myself, honor myself, respect myself, because when I am able to do that, it creates a sense of abundance and overwhelming gratitude.
“I am able to give, to love, to serve wholeheartedly. That’s the spirit I bring to work because I know my call is to serve.”
The employees at the Tunnell Cancer Center outside Rehoboth Beach seem to echo this call to serve. When Ramirez started at an oncology social worker in 2002, she worked out of the Medical Center in Lewes.
The Tunnell Cancer Center was built in 2006. “Here, we have cultivated a sense of whole wellbeing – our approach to patients has evolved into this incredible circle of strength and energy,” Ramirez said. “The people who work here love cancer patients. They teach me to be present because as a team we work to be in the moment every day.”
Ramirez cites her work with the Breast Health Program to be her proudest professional achievement because the program achieved accreditation flawlessly.
“The cancer experience is unique in that it creates this sense of living, of immediacy; a sense of being present,” Ramirez said. “If you are going to be present you have to work at letting go of the fear. Our patients realize they are going to live through this experience, regardless of the outcome, because we are all going to die at some point.”
Ramirez lives by an unwritten motto of: Don’t create unnecessary suffering. In our lives, there is going to be suffering, but we should not create it by worrying about what might happen in the future or worrying about something that happened in the past and we cannot change.
“If you fear dying, then you create unnecessary suffering. By accepting that we are going to die, you live, you let go of fear, you balance joy and suffering, life and death, and everything in between. Let go of fear and love multiplies in our lives.”
When Cherrie Rich, former Executive Director for Oncology Services at Tunnell Cancer Center, came to Beebe Healthcare, she was fresh off a campaign as a successful facility administrator at Kaiser Permanente in Maryland, a part of one of the largest group-model HMOs in the country.
She was selected as a member of the integration team to bring 55,000 Humana members into the Mid-Atlantic region of KP as a result of an acquisition.
“Twelve people were chosen to lead this team to merge the two health systems,” she said. “It was one of my proudest professional moments to work with physician partners to incorporate new members and to ensure that patient care was seamless, with a primary objective to ensure that the care of Humana members with chronic diseases were integrated into KP without interruptions in care.”
When Rich came to Beebe in 2000, she brought knowledge that ran the gamut of healthcare – from her clinical care days as an Obstetrics nurse delivering babies, teaching nursing students, home health care, service line planning and development, management of multiple breast health centers and finally as an administrator in the healthcare/ insurance industry at Kaiser.
When she started at Beebe, Tunnell Cancer Center had fewer than 15 employees. Now, the cancer center, located on Route 24 outside Rehoboth Beach, has more than 100 team members.
“I am so proud of our team at Tunnell, and how devoted they are to providing care to our patients. Tunnell is one of the most favorite places that I have worked, because we have such a stellar team,” Rich said.
As cancer care services continued to grow at Beebe, Rich helped oversee the creation, design, and construction of Tunnell Cancer Center in 2006. “It was a fun experience and one of the proudest moments of my life – working with physicians and staff in planning the development of the cancer center and seeing it become a reality,” she said.
As we continue to grow, I Iook forward to planning for the continued expansion and growth of our clinical services.” “
“When I came to Beebe, I was happy to make my home at the beach,” says the Bethany Beach resident. “I also loved the community atmosphere and the diversity of people who live and work here.
Her life at the beach with her partner has been full of friends, as well as family members who began to flock in for visits, including Cherrie’s three sisters, brother, all their children, her partner’s five siblings and children and their extended families.
“We love having people here. It feels like a huge party all the time,” she says. “It gives me the opportunity to use my culinary skills, because cooking is how I relax.”
Her son, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters are her greatest joy.
“Seeing my son grow into a successful man has been so rewarding,” says Rich.
When her son was born, she was young, but she knew education would be the key to her future and his.
“I was the first in my family to graduate and I am proud I passed that legacy onto my son,” Rich said. “My husband and I worked hard to be able to provide the tools my son needed to achieve his own success.”
Janice Spencer, nursing assistant and patient transport, first walked through the doors into Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Center in Lewes in August 1980.
She was fresh out of high school and ready to help take care of people.
As part of Beebe’s Patient Transport team, which Janice joined in 1985, she takes patients from their rooms for testing and ensures patient safety. She also makes sure the proper equipment is in place on the floor and on occasion is pulled to do one-on-one care with a patient.
Her personal touch and warm personality shine through when she works with patients. Even in scary situations, Janice is able to bring a smile to patients’ faces.
“I usually crack little jokes with the patients to put them at ease. I tease them a bit or if they are scared I stay close to them to give comfort,” she says.
Patients and Beebe team members count Janice as one of their favorites because of her quiet, yet extremely friendly demeanor.
It was her compassionate side that won her recent recognition. In December, a woman was brought into Beebe from an assisted care facility. The woman was scared, nervous, and very confused. Janice noticed she was upset and sat with her, holding her hand during testing.
Tiffany Hale, RN, was working in the Emergency Department, while Janice was helping the woman.
Hale nominated Janice for Beebe’s Living Our Values Everyday Award, which is similar to an Employee of the Month award.
In her nomination, Tiffany wrote: “Janice was pulled from Patient Transport to sit with a confused patient in the ED. While drawing blood and doing procedures, the patient would cry out, so Janice would sing to her. In fact, it was the patient’s birthday, so she sang Happy Birthday to her.”
While Janice was helping the woman, she noticed the woman’s clothes were soiled. Once the woman was admitted, Janice took the clothes home with her and washed them, returning them the next day so the woman could go back to the facility in clean clothing.
“I was very surprised when they told me I won the award,” Janice said. “My heart just always goes out to people without any family. That woman needed someone … I was happy to be there for her.”
“My reward is seeing people smile. My job is very fulfilling in that way,” she said.
Janice credits her upbringing with her love of people. Born in Wilmington, Janice and her family moved to Sussex County while she was a child. She recalls happy days with her parents and growing up in the church.
“I’ve always loved people,” Janice said. “I care about them.”
Janice and her partner, Mary, who also works at Beebe, practice this continued caring at home in Oak Orchard.
“We’ve been together for 35 years and never had a fight. We don’t believe in them,” Janice said.
When not at work, Janice loves to take her grandchildren fishing. Their favorite spot is on the canal in Lewes. She and Mary also enjoy playing cards and travelling to Tennessee where they have visited Dollywood.
“I am proud to be a Beebe employee,” Janice said. “Beebe is a friendly, loving, and caring place to work. I love my job and the people I get to work with every day.”
Nancy Forsyth, MSN, RN, NNP-BC, was living through another cold winter in upstate New York when she decided it was time for a change. A native of Staten Island, Forsyth spent many summers on the Jersey shore so she had heard of Lewes. When a recruiter passed along a job posting for a neonatal practitioner at Beebe Healthcare, Forsyth was instantly interested.
Since starting at Beebe in 2012, Forsyth has seen large changes, specifically the increase of inpatients regularly in the hospital.
“In addition to the increasing inpatient numbers, the complexity of the patients we are treating is increasing,” Forsyth said. “We are seeing a large number of opiate-dependent mothers and babies. The number has easily doubled since I started.”
Families have a larger need for social services throughout the entire county.
“I had seen similar problems in New York starting in 2008, but the numbers spiked here at Beebe in 2011. It has become a national problem that all hospitals are dealing with,” Forsyth said.
It wasn’t always Forsyth’s dream to work in healthcare. When her father passed away, she was 23 and working at a publishing company. It was his death that spurred her to want to make a difference. She went back to school to become a Registered Nurse. While in school, she did rotations in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as a Licensed Practical Nurse.
“I loved it because of the interactions I had with the babies and parents,” Forsyth said. She continued her education and in 2003, she completed a Master’s degree to become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.
“That was my proudest moment because I had to commit to going back to school,” Forsyth said. “Getting my Master’s degree has allowed me to serve as a role model for other nurses.”
The team approach at Beebe has helped Forsyth grow in her career. She has helped create Women’s Health policies. She is also able to teach community members about the Women’s Health program.
“I moved here to Delaware all by myself. I didn’t know a soul,” Forsyth said. “Being a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner means long days, but I feel fortunate to have this position and work with such a supportive team.”
When not at the Medical Center in Lewes, Forsyth enjoys boating on the Indian River Bay with her boyfriend. She is also an avid runner and cyclist.
At 40, she completed her first triathlon.
“It was an awesome feeling of accomplishment,” she recalls. “We all need ways to recharge our batteries. When I’m home I keep in touch with friends and family. I also enjoy knitting to calm myself after a long day. Being outside, running, biking, seeing the water, it keeps me sane.”
When Bridget Buckaloo, MSN, RNC-OB, returned to Beebe Healthcare as the Executive Director of Women’s Health in 2014, she came full-circle.
Buckaloo worked as the Director of Women’s Health at Beebe from 2000-2004. Later she worked in a private practice before being named the perinatal project coordinator for the March of Dimes in Delaware.
But, her hardest job thus far has been raising triplets.
In 2004, she was pregnant with the triplets and was on bed rest for 11 weeks.
“My biggest personal achievement is surviving three babies at one time,” Buckaloo says with a laugh. “I look at them now and they are all healthy, engaged individuals. I know how blessed I am.”
Her two daughters and son attend Shields Elementary in Lewes. They will be 11 later this month and will soon attend Beacon Middle School.
“Lewes is a great area for kids,” Buckaloo said. “We live in such a beautiful place and have the advantages of a small town with plenty of nature, the beach, bike trails, and boating opportunities. Yet, we are also close enough to hubs of the arts in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.”
Buckaloo often talks to her children about how lucky they are to live in a beautiful place, but that it is still important to go away for college and see a bit of the world.
“Place matters. The place you live matters,” Buckaloo says. “Here we are exposed to nature; there is low crime, but not every child grows up that way. Our kids here are lucky because this place boosts their life trajectory.”
This is something Buckaloo knows something about. Her work in women’s health for almost three decades has opened her eyes to the downfalls of place. More and more babies are being born nationwide dependent on opiates.
At Beebe, the Women’s Health Services Department is at the forefront of standardizing care for drug-dependent babies. Beebe’s approach to Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome helps care for mothers and babies in order to improve their life trajectories.
“It is going to take a lot of work to make the largest impact on these children and mothers,” Buckaloo said. “It is going to take everybody – law enforcement, spiritual guides, social groups. It is truly going to take a village.”
The rapid increase of drug-dependent babies means there is limited research for what the future will bring for these families, but Buckaloo believes the work already being done will provide a brighter future. Beebe recently hired a dedicated case manager to work with the mothers and connect them with the resources they need to succeed.
“I love to tell people that we are a small place doing big things,” Buckaloo said.
Like so many women, Buckaloo says her key to success is scheduling. Her position at Beebe requires long hours and often night meetings, but she has a lot of support to make sure her family continues to come first.
With both daughters in travel lacrosse, both in dance and ballet, and her son in travel baseball, Buckaloo’s calendar looks like Mardi Gras confetti exploded, but she keeps it all organized. She shows grace under pressure and glides easily from work to sporting events.
“Everyone needs a village to keep them going,” Buckaloo says. “As my very wise Aunt says, ‘feed self first.’ I make sure to take time to exercise, spend time with friends, and get massages when I need to. It’s all about organization, having fun, and making sure to get enough sleep.”
Bridget Buckaloo, MSN, RNC-OB, became Executive Director of Women’s Health Services at Beebe Healthcare in 2014. Buckaloo, who has more than 27 years of perinatal nursing experienced, joined Beebe Healthcare from Delaware Perinatal Cooperative and The March of Dimes, Delaware chapter, where she was the Perinatal Project Coordinator. Buckaloo has served in many roles in high-risk antepartum and labor and delivery settings. She has worked as a nurse educator, charge nurse, research coordinator, nurse manager, clinical director, and adjunct faculty. She is an active member of the Delaware Chapter of AWHONN and the Co-chair of the Kent-Sussex Case review team for Delaware FIMR (Fetal Infant Mortality Review), and The Maternal Mortality Review Task Force.