Exceptional Care for Children out to make Delaware holidays special for kids

Exceptional Care for Children, a state-of-the-art residential-nursing facility for technology-dependent children is celebrating its annual Breakfast with Santa event on Dec. 14.

ECC started as the dream of registered nurse Jeannine S. Winsness who was passionate about providing an environment where medically fragile children could receive round-the-clock care. That dream came to fruition in 2004 when ECC opened its doors to 3 patients.

Today, ECC is a unique pediatric facility servicing the medical needs for thirty one technology-dependent children in Delaware and neighboring states. Ranked as one of the top of its kind in the United States, ECC provides skilled nursing, transitional, and end-of-life care in a home setting.

If there is one thing that ECC values above all it is the opportunity for the children to have a normal childhood despite the obstacles with which they are presented. “We are focusing on a goal everyday and putting as many childhood experiences as possible in their lives to give them an environment where they can be kids,” said Brooke Minner, ECC’s Community Liaison.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The murals of the children’s rooms feature some of the world’s most amazing sights such as the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China which looks as far from clinical as possible. Every child at ECC is enrolled into a local school by the age of 3, as well as an on-site classroom where a Christina School District teacher comes in Monday through Friday.

ECC also makes time for play by organizing field trips to the zoo, aquarium, basketball games, and theater. ECC recently undertook a trip to Walt Disney where 30 staff and 9 children experienced the various amusement parks. The children at ECC are bustling with excitement in anticipation for their annual Breakfast with Santa winter event.

Holiday Cheer at ECC

ECC will ring in the Christmas festivities on Dec. 14 with their highly anticipated Breakfast with Santa event. “Breakfast with Santa gives our ECC children, their siblings and our employee’s children the opportunity to share in the joy of Christmas as one big family. It is an opportunity for us to celebrate another year passed with our friends who may or may not be celebrating another year with us” said Tracie Martin, ECC’s Director of Nursing.

The children get into the holiday spirit by joining Santa for a morning filled with presents, crafts, games, and a chance to socialize with their love ones. Breakfast with Santa will kick off at 10 a.m. with the children picking out their gingerbread houses assembled by volunteers the day before. The rest of the celebration includes Santa handing out presents and taking pictures on his lap. The event will take place in the extravagantly decorated gymnasium where all the ECC children, their families, and the staff’s children will be in attendance. “We strive to make every moment count to have everlasting memories for all who participate,” said Martin.

There are nine donors fulfilling the Christmas wish lists of every child at ECC. With their help, the children will experience the joy of Christmas similar to a home setting. On Christmas morning, the young patients will get the opportunity to gather around the Christmas tree in their pajamas and open up presents with their peers and families. “We are very fortunate to have these groups that are still connected with us to reach out and ask how we can help. We meet with our therapy team and nurses to decide who needs new clothes, care items, and toys and divide them amongst the donors,” said Minner.

Marling’s Emergency Water Removal and Carpet Cleaning, a local business in New Castle, is participating in a gift drive for the Breakfast with Santa event and will also provide care items for the children. “An impression was made after learning about Exceptional Care that drove the company to start thinking about children in the community. As a company, we wanted to do something bigger than ourselves that would truly have an impact” said Khristian Toolan, Marling’s Business Development Manager

In addition to donations from Marling’s, the Little Gym of Wilmington is hosting a gift drive to fulfill the Christmas wish lists for the ECC children. “We have the Christmas drive for ECC each year because it’s a great way to teach our kids that Christmas is a time for giving, not just getting, and ECC is doing exceptional things for kids” said Kaci Gravatt, aerobic instructor at the Little Gym of Wilmington

“We just want to create an experience where the ECC children, their families, and the staff’s children can come together and share in the holiday spirit” said Minner.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal