FELTON — It’s obvious that Thelma Gabrielson developed a very strong and enduring connection to Bayhealth, one that started with her birth more than 70 years ago at Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus. It’s doesn’t take long to discern that Mrs. Gabrielson not only takes pride in her deep Delaware roots, but she’s also a woman with a generous spirit.
She’s an active Bayhealth volunteer even when COVID-19 restrictions kept her outside of the hospital walls – all to keep her safe. This retired Dover Air Force Base civil service employee quickly found a way to link her sewing skills and the need for masks; she’s stitched more than 1,000 masks from recycled surgical wrap material.
Bayhealth provides the materials – the fabric and the elastic – while Mrs. Gabrielson sews at home on her 10-year-old sewing machine. “What else is there to do,” she said. She quickly notes that volunteering may be genetic. “My father always donated time to projects,” she said.
Mrs. Gabrielson is also a patient at the Bayhealth Cancer Center, Sussex Campus where she receives follow-up treatment for a breast cancer diagnosis. It’s the care she receives at the Cancer Center that also supports her drive to give back.
Although she grew up on a dairy farm near Marydel, Mrs. Gabrielson now makes her home – with her husband, Ed – near Felton. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, surgeon Wendy S. Newell, MD, removed the tumor.
Mrs. Gabrielson’s treatment included outpatient radiation, and she continues a regime of oral chemotherapy with oncologist Pranitha Naini, MD, at Bayhealth Cancer Center, Sussex Campus.
Mrs. Gabrielson praised Dr. Naini not only for her medical expertise, but also for her compassionate care. “I think she’s wonderful,” she said.
It’s a mutual admiration between this physician and her patient. “She’s an amazing, cheerful woman. I’ve known her since 2017, and our relationship got stronger when I learned that her brother was under my care for cancer. We’re not always just their doctors; beyond the patient/physician, sometimes we are like a family,” said Dr. Naini.
“Wherever she volunteers, I’m sure she brings positive energy with her. Her volunteering shows she appreciates the medical community,” said Dr. Naini.