At about 3 weeks old, Chelsea’s mom, Yolanda, received a call from the doctor that changed her life. Her daughter’s newborn check-up had come back showing that Chelsea had cystic fibrosis. An inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system, cystic fibrosis causes the body to produce a thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and causes issues in the pancreas, liver and kidneys.
After confirmation from the doctor, Yolanda took charge of the situation and learned all she could to keep Chelsea safe and healthy. In order to manage the diagnosis, Chelsea started taking pancreatic enzymes to help with food digestion, vitamins, an acid reducer and two different nebulizer medications to allow her to breathe properly. She was also placed on a lactose-free diet, and her digestive health needed close monitoring. When it was time for Yolanda to return to work, she enrolled Chelsea at Penfield’s Special Care Nursery so she could get the care she needed.
“I was so worried about leaving Chelsea in the care of someone else for the entire day. She had, and still has, extensive health needs and I knew that I had to find a special place for her,” said Yolanda. “When I found out about Penfield, I was relieved to learn that Chelsea would not only be taken care of by nurses and therapists, but that the staff was trained to care for her the way I was taught by the doctor.”
Chelsea spent a year-and-a-half in the Special Care Nursery and then transitioned into one of the Early Education rooms at Penfield. Even though she was no longer in the nursery, she still received medications and vest therapy each day to loosen the mucus in her lungs. Her teachers were also trained in how to care for her. Additionally, the same nurses that had been caring for Chelsea since she arrived at Penfield were able to check on her during the day to see if she needed further treatments or care.
When Chelsea turned 5, Yolanda was excited to learn that Penfield was opening a Montessori school for children of all abilities called Penfield Montessori Academy. She loved the idea of a Montessori education for Chelsea because of its hands-on nature, and felt relieved to learn that the nurses at Penfield Children’s Center would also care for her at her new school.
“Chelsea is thriving at Penfield Montessori Academy, and as her mom, I feel comfortable dropping her off each day because I know she will not only learn and grow, but also receive the care she needs,” said Yolanda.“Because of Penfield, my child is able to just have fun and be a kid, while her significant medical needs are met, and that is the most important thing of all to me.”
The Early Education and Child Care Program served 142 children. Fifty eight of these children had a disability or special need.
100% of the children who participated in our child care program displayed improvement in their development.
In partnership with Acelero, Penfield offers three Early Head Start classrooms, which provide child development and family support services that work to enhance the development of young children.