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Sickle Cell Infusion Center enhances care, quality of life for patients


Cutting the ribbon for the new Adult Sickle Cell Infusion Center were (l-r): Janis Bozzo, RN, senior clinical coordinator, analytic strategy, Information Technology Services; Kathleen Kenyon, RN, director of Nursing, Medicine; Shelly Jennette, patient; John Roberts, MD, medical director, Adult Sickle Cell Program; and James Flaherty, RN, clinical outcomes leader, EP 6-7.

When Shelly Jennette was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at 10 months old, she wasn’t expected to live past age 3, the typical lifespan for a disease that was not well understood at the time.

Jennette proved that prediction wrong, along with another that she probably wouldn’t make it through grade school.

“Most of my childhood was spent in the hospital,” she told a group gathered for an April 26 ribbon-cutting to open Yale New Haven Hospital’s Adult Sickle Cell Infusion Center on EP 6-7.

At least three more times throughout her life, Jennette was told sickle cell disease would prevent her from reaching major milestones, including becoming a mother. She defied the odds, and within the past year, was referred to John Roberts, MD, medical director, Yale New Haven Hospital’s Adult Sickle Cell Program. Here, her treatment has focused on home pain management to reduce Emergency Department visits and hospitalization.

“Thanks to the hospital, I’m still here, living with sickle cell disease,” said Jennette, now 55 and the proud mother of a 34-year-old son.

For patients like Jennette, the new Infusion Center can administer blood transfusions and provide an alternative to visiting the ED during pain crises. At the ribbon-cutting, James Flaherty, RN, clinical outcomes leader, EP 6-7, noted that the new center is dedicated to the care of these patients and conveniently located on the sickle cell inpatient unit, in case patients need to be admitted.

“Our typical sickle cell patient is 20 to 30 years old and is in school or working,” he said. “This new center will provide timely, convenient treatment and help improve their quality of life outside the hospital.”

Kathleen Kenyon, RN, director of Nursing, Medicine, said it took a coordinated effort involving physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, Information Technology Services specialists and others to make the infusion center a reality.

“This is all about having the drive, the passion, to care for patients and families with sickle cell,” she said.

The Adult Sickle Cell Infusion Center is open Monday - Friday. Patients experiencing a pain crisis or other concern should call the Sickle Cell Clinic, 203-200-4363, and speak to a hematologist.