Exceptional Care, Exceptional Place
A unique home for medically fragile children proves that sometimes love conquers all, even the gravest conditions.
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All residential care and pediatric facilities strive to preserve family involvement, Falchek says, but “ECC generally has the families of patients as a starting point from which our care plan proceeds.”
When ECC opened in February 2006, there were three patients. Now 21 children (including a set of twins) live in ECC’s 20 bedrooms. Local wildlife muralist Dan Gotel has painted the bedrooms in themes such as Four Seasons or Fisherman’s Wharf. There are even paintings on the ceilings. “It’s the first thing the children see when they wake up,” Hammond says.
Gotel also designed ECC’s mascot, Sheldon the Turtle, whose shell is emblazoned with a heart. The turtle’s shell represents the love, care and protection that ECC provides.
ECC’s residential facility and administrative offices are set on 7½ wooded acres in a southern Newark neighborhood off West Chestnut Hill Road near Del. 896. The building, originally constructed in the 1990s, had briefly housed several programs, but had sat empty for years. ECC bought the facility in 2004 and began to renovate. It opened in stages as money became available. ECC hopes to expand again soon, due to the need for its type of care, Martin says. At times, several children have been on ECC’s waiting list.
The goal is to raise enough money to convert the third floor into 10 additional bedrooms for long-term residents and an 11th room so that ECC can begin offering respite care to families who are caring for children who are seriously ill or dependent on medical technology.
A $1.5 million capital campaign kicked off in April 2008. About a third of the money has been raised thus far. Those families whose children have already benefited from ECC know how lucky they are.
“We could not care for Devone the way they do at ECC,” says Haile. “They are very hands on. He gets a lot of attention and you know everyone there loves him so much.”
Richards agrees that ECC is exceptional. “If Devone can’t be home with us,” she says, “ECC is the place we want him to be.”