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Delaware Governor: Jack Markell

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  Archived Posts From: 2010


Hospital Staff: Saving Lives through the Snow

Written on: March 5th, 2010 in Recognizing State Employees

I wanted to share the letter below.  It’s a moving testimonial to our healthcare workers.  Although the letter specifically mentions two hospitals, I know that all hospital staff, including the state-operated facilities across Delaware, have been working extremely hard.  Thank you!


Dear Governor Markell,

It is with a thankful heart that I write this note. During the most recent storm, my father awoke to find that he was unable to use his arm and when trying to get out of bed, he found himself on the floor, unable to use his leg. My mother, who has asthma, a poor heart and is a cancer survivor, and my sister, a teacher at Townsend Elementary, called a neighbor, Kenny, to come over and help them get Dad into the car.

With it snowing heavily, Kenny agreed to drive my dad to the hospital. Kenny recognized that my dad had a stroke. Oh, the kindness of a neighbor!

In the meantime, my husband and I headed for Christiana Hospital. When we arrived in the emergency room, we were greeted by nurses who hadn’t slept, or had just come in from sleeping in hotels. Some were in the process of securing hotel rooms for the night that was to come. We were greeted by residents and doctors in jeans and boots. We heard how husbands drove wives into the hospital so they wouldn’t miss their shift and neighbors shoveling drives to get physicians to the hospital. Most importantly, we were greeted with smiles.

As the day went on, and so did the storm, we listened as nurses called upon in-laws to take care of their children and heard calls to families to say that they would not be coming home. And still…there were those pleasant smiles…asking if we needed anything.

When the neurologist arrived in his snow boots, it became crystal clear to me that these unique individuals had an unsurpassed dedication for their patients. We saw nurses grab pillows and rest by front doors – where employees continued shoveling to keep the entrance clear. That night, one nurse, Jennifer, slept in a nearby hotel room with 5 other nurses to ensure that she would be rested and ready for her 7 PM shift. And she wasn’t alone, as the hotel sold out!

As night came, my mother’s neighbor, Chuckie, who recently returned from Iraq, called my sister to say that he had driven to the hospital to pick her up to get her home. Neighbors helping neighbors in need.

Soon, some nurses headed for the upper floor to grab a few winks in a hospital bed, while others just kept working. I guess what was so impressive was that their only concern was for their patients. No one complained about the hours, or leaving their children, or not having a bed to rest. No one complained about not having dinner or a break.

As the hours and days passed, I was more and more amazed at the spirit of the hospital staff…providing excellent, compassionate care for the patient and the family!

Isn’t it amazing how people can pull together for the common good of others? The selflessness, the caring, the unwavering commitment to others…never thinking of themselves….that is what I saw over the next several days at Christiana Hospital. As the staff expressed concern for my getting to and from the hospital, they never seemed to worry about themselves. Their only concern was for others.

Interestingly, at the same time, my niece was an oncology patient at the A.I. duPont Hospital for Children. As I called my sister to check on my niece, we exchanged stories about the sacrifices the nurses were making for us. They put their families aside, for our families….Dr. Miller, Dr. Kolb, Vicki, the nurses, the food service staff, the housing staff, numerous others, and their families made it possible for treatment to continue and the best possible patient care to take place.

Tonight both my dad and my niece are home and I am filled with a grateful heart. We are so lucky!

Do we have dedicated, compassionate professionals who make the world a better place because they are in it? Yes, we do. 


Sandra J. Genett, Ed.D.

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Connecting Schools with Our Future

Written on: March 4th, 2010 in Education

Earlier this week, I met a group of students from Appoquinimink High School in Middletown.  When I walked in, they greeted me professionally and confidently.  They looked me in the eye and shook my hand.  It was a genuine pleasure.

These students were helping to launch a new Bank In School program, which is a partnership between the school district and Wilmington Trust.  Right in the middle of the school, there’s a functioning bank.  Some students will learn how to manage a bank, while even more students will learn how to manage their own finances responsibly.

This program builds on the Delaware Bank At School program, which was founded in 1992 through the efforts of Dr. Bonnie Meszaros of the Delaware Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship and Ronni Cohen, a teacher at Burnett Elementary School in Wilmington.  I believe in this program, so as Treasurer, I worked to help it grow.

Why are programs like Bank In School important for Delaware?

Keeping Our Students Engaged:  Dr. Tony Marchio, Superintendent of the Appoquinimink School District, highlighted the challenge that schools across the nation face.  Students need to see the connection between what they’re learning and their future in the “real world.”  We must do this to keep our youth engaged.  This partnership and other creative programs, such as Junior Achievement’s Innovation Hub, illustrate direct links between education, careers and long-term success.

Growing Our Economy & Keeping Our Finances Healthy:  In the current economic environment, we all know how challenging financial management can be for individuals, companies and governments.  A study from the University of Arizona found that “nearly 73% of the more than 2,000 students surveyed have resorted to at least one ‘risky’ financial behavior.” 

Learning the skills necessary to manage money responsibly is critical to our students on a personal level: these skills will enable our youth to invest in their own future, as well as the future of their families. 

But these skills are also fundamentally important to our students on a professional level.  Sound, responsible money management is essential whether our young people work at one of Delaware’s fine companies, serve in our government, strive to help people at a nonprofit organization, or drive innovation as an entrepreneur.  These skills will enable our youth to compete in a global workplace and create quality jobs for Delawareans. 

We need to teach our youth know how to manage money responsibly for themselves and our communities to ensure that Delaware remains the best place to start and grow a business.

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Keeping Essential Services Running

Written on: March 2nd, 2010 in Recognizing State Employees

I’m almost done blogging about the storm—after all, most of us are sick of the snow—but there are still a few stories that I want to share with you to recognize some of the many Delawareans who have been working very hard.

When state offices are closed, you may have heard that “essential personnel should report to duty as scheduled.”  Most realize that plow drivers, police officers, soldiers from the National Guard, firefighters and paramedics are essential, but there are many others who run services that people depend on.  These include corrections officers; maintenance personnel; HelpLine, 911 and other hotline teams; hospital and long-term care staff; psychiatric social workers; public works and utilities personnel; horticulturalists (who help with snow removal); the team from the Delaware Veterans’ Home; and some of our Court staff, along with others.

Here are just a few examples:

From Ronald Zawora: The team at Sussex Correctional Institutespent hours that turned into days removing snow so that the institution could continue with their day-to-day operations uninterrupted.”

From Maria Ramos: “During this last storm I witnessed so many acts of kindness and hard work from your correctional staff. I would also like to mention that after being stuck at work all that time, my co-worker Andrew Gallaher helped five motorists stuck in the snow get free, before going home to get much needed rest. We are so proud to be a part of your team here at Morris—everyone from the Warden on down deserves recognition for all their hard work.”

From John Thorn at the Department of Health and Social Services: “Richard Crismond deserves recognition for the time he selflessly put in serving Holloway Campus throughout the last snow storm. Richard stayed on campus serving the community without pay in his off time. Richard was here shoveling sidewalks, assisting other officers on calls, answering phones and assisting the campus maintenance crew.  Officer Crismond slept in the office for five days relentlessly using an armchair as his bed and the desk as his pillow without once complaining.”

From Debra Faith at Emily P. Bissell Hospital:  “During the recent snowstorms, Tommy Adams (nursing supervisor) along with Mike Topolski (materials management) coordinated rides for staff to get to and from work.  Tommy spent the nights, sleeping VERY little.  Both he and Mike drove staff to and from the facility and split the routes (one going north, one going south).  This included not only the nurses and CNAs [certified nursing assistants], but also those from dietary and other departments who were needed.  Because of their bravery on the treacherous roads, our most compromised population continued to receive excellent care.”  Team members from the Governor Bacon Health Center and the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill were also praised for their tremendous efforts to help colleagues get to the facilities through the snow.

David Ciamaricone of the Mobile Crisis Intervention Service reported that: Three psychiatric social workers, Joe Arnauskas, Anne Igou, and, Terri Evans “all made the decision to spend the night and sleep in the building so that they  would be here for their scheduled shifts. They were not asked to do this but rather did it on their own and because of their commitment to the unit and the people we serve.” Other staff were able to make it in, while some took calls from home.  David continues,  “They were able to man our 24-hour hotline and assist people in finding shelters, putting them in touch with emergency services and in general calming those upset by the amount of snow and loss of power.”

From Judge Alan Davis: “Few are aware that the Justice of the Peace Court also remains open in several locations throughout the state, no matter the conditions. Though the Court may not experience the highest volume of business in emergencies, the institution is always there fulfilling its Constitutional mandate and the individuals that make up the institution are on duty, away from family and the comforts and safety of home. Many performed selfless acts for the benefit of their co-workers: one JP Court manager volunteered to come to one of the 24-hour courts that she lives close to – even though she doesn’t usually work in that location and her work site was closed – because it would save other personnel from making a longer journey through dangerous conditions. One court clerk in Sussex County was on duty 22 straight hours, sleeping for only a short period on bags of shredded paper piled together as a makeshift mattress. I am very proud that this institution and its judges and staff responded to the latest emergency as they always do – with professionalism and devotion.”

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Our Troopers: In the Community & On the Roads

Written on: March 1st, 2010 in Recognizing State Employees

Last week, our Delaware State Troopers did something that warmed my heart, while quite literally warming many others.

Troopers, members of the Citizens Police Academy, and other individuals have been collecting winter coats at the Troop 2 barracks in Glasgow.  With a storm predicted, some of our Troopers wanted to make sure those coats got into the hands of people who need them.  Here’s a video from The News Journal.

Our Troopers are out on the roads every day, including last month’s storms.  I received many emails that commended the Troopers, but here are a couple of dramatic illustrations of their heroism.  Of course, as with many of the stories from the storms, these are great examples of team effort across organizations, including the National Guard, DelDOT, and other important emergency personnel.

On February 10th, a senior corporal from the Truck Inforcement Unit was flagged down by a motorist, who indicated that there was a disabled vehicle a few miles away.  The Trooper went in search of the stranded car, but then his own vehicle became stuck in a snowdrift.  Getting out of his car to survey the scene, he saw a mother carrying a baby and walking with her seven year old son.  They were struggling to get home after a trip to Nanticoke Hospital, where the infant had been treated for an extremely high temperature.  The Trooper helped carry the boy through the deep snow to his vehicle where they could keep warm while waiting for help.  Around 30 minutes later, a Delmarva Power truck drove by and took the family to safety.  However, the Trooper remained stranded and, as the snow gradually covered his car, the engine stopped running.  After a couple of hours, the National Guard arrived, rescuing the Trooper after they had assisted many other motorists.

On February 6th, the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) dispatched a team of people from DelDOT, Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company, and Sussex County EMS Station 107  in search of a man who was lost and exhausted in his search for shelter.  The teams tracked his approximate location, but could not reach him.  In the meantime, one member of the EOC dispatch team coordinated with the National Guard, while another team member kept in contact with the lost man over the phone, encouraging him to keep moving and report his surroundings.   A Trooper from Troop 5, who was familiar with the area, contacted his family farm to locate a tractor and made his way into the field.  He didn’t get far before the tractor was stuck and he had to proceed on foot.  Phone communication with the man was lost, and there were no other options left to reach him.  After some time, the Trooper found him and helped get him to the road, so that he could be taken to the hospital for treatment.

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