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IMG_7956I am an occupational therapist and certified hand specialist at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center. I specialize in providing therapy for the whole arm and the hand so people can regain function and independence in their life.

At The Johns Hopkins Hospital, we get complex cases. Some of our patients come to us with wounds that are a result of a stabbing, an accident, surgery or even a gunshot. We are dealing with people who have lost the ability to use the hand, and that can be frustrating. So we help patients with the physical component of regaining hand and arm function. We make custom-molded splints, perform manual therapy, and do strength training, to name a few of our services. We also work on scar tissue quality and therapy for tendon repair, making sure that they are moving and gliding properly and ensuring that the joints are operating at full motion.

But we also focus on the social component of gaining their trust and building a good relationship. I always try to make sure my patients leave with a smile. We see each patient over the course of eight weeks, on average, so relationship building is a very important part of what we do.

One of the most significant things I do during a therapy appointment is listen. Sometimes people just need an ear to bend because they are frustrated that they can’t return to work, or are experiencing financial trouble as a result of their injury. I believe that listening and empathizing, along with taking time to show them how to do their exercises at home, give patients the motivation to take responsibility for their recovery, which ultimately gives them power over their condition.

One of the things that make Johns Hopkins special is that we are an institution on the cutting edge of discovery. I wouldn’t get the same experience working elsewhere. There are only a handful of hospitals in this country that would do a hand transplant. Johns Hopkins is one of them! People with different ailments come here from all over the world because we have specialists with the ability to help them. I truly believe that people work at Hopkins because of the desire to do what is best for the patient.

On a more personal note, many people wonder how I got my nickname, Princess. My real name is Lourdes; it’s my mom’s name — apparently, she’s the queen and I am the princess. Growing up in the Philippines, my family called me Princess and it stuck.

My husband, Raphael, and I are both in health care. He is a physical therapy assistant working under the Johns Hopkins Home Care Group. We moved to Baltimore from New Mexico in 2014 after we had our daughter, Marloe, because we wanted to be closer to our family in New York. We fell in love with Baltimore and chose to work at Hopkins because this hospital is so client-centered and we knew it was a great place to continue our professional development.

I have been an occupational therapist for over 23 years, and I am still learning every day. I love that the work I do is challenging and that no two days are the same.

—Story written by Jennifer Wicks, Marketing and Communications

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William CurtisI am an East Baltimore native. My family and I lived close to Johns Hopkins, and my father used to work here. In my senior year of high school, he helped me get a weekend job in housekeeping. That was 24 years ago. I’ve been working at Johns Hopkins since 1993. Once I graduated, I worked in housekeeping full time for the next five years. Then, I was an associate in the ICU for another five years. After that, I worked night shift in the trauma unit. When I came to mechanical services, where I am now, I learned about the program that would change my life. There was an ad on the job board for a four-year plumbing apprenticeship. I applied and, luckily, was accepted into the program.

I went to school two days a week for four years and graduated with eight other people. The program took a lot of time, and it wasn’t easy, but I came out a licensed plumber and had an array of certifications and a raise to go along with it. The best part is that I have no student loans or debt. I have been a licensed plumber for four years now. With my apprenticeship, I didn’t have to pay for one book or tool. I just had to show up every day and do my best. Many of these programs will even work with your schedule.

My supervisor also started in housekeeping; in fact, we worked there together. Now he runs the shop as a master plumber. Next year, I can go for my master license, and I want to see where that will take me.

The typical day here varies. I focus on the backflow, and my job is to prevent contaminated water from getting back into the system. Let’s say that something is hooked up to the chemicals used in housekeeping. If that water becomes backed up, I make sure it won’t get into the drinking water. We also do a lot of new construction. We can take an empty room and make it into a bathroom. Sometimes we get emergencies, like pipes bursting. It’s busy, but we have a great team.

Hopkins is the only employer I’ve ever had, and I’m comfortable here; I love my job because this is a great place to work, and offers a wide range of opportunities and positions. I have worked with both patients and tools, and I can still go further — and I will.

I wish I would have used the programs sooner, but I didn’t have anyone to motivate me to do that. That is why I try to encourage as many people as I can to use the programs to move up. I tell them, “You can go from housekeeping to a nurse, and they pay for the full ride! You’ll go from a $10-per-hour job to a $30-per-hour career. If you want it, it’s available to you. Just keep checking the job board.”

Getting into the apprenticeship program is my most memorable day at Johns Hopkins. Learning this trade was a big move for me, and I’m ready to keep advancing.

—As told to Jennifer Wicks, Marketing and Communications

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Heather, Nurse and Cheerleader

Photo by Chris Hartlove

I am a pediatric intensive care unit nurse at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. My colleagues did not know for a very long time that I am also a Washington Redskins cheerleader. It felt as if I was living two separate lives. But, of course, over the years they figured it out.

I’ve been cheering since I was 6 years old. My mom really pushed my sister and me to be active, so I decided to try out for our recreational cheerleading team. That’s where it all started.

In middle school, I danced for a hip-hop troupe. Then, in high school, I cheered for our varsity basketball and football teams. In addition, I cheered competitively and did some gymnastics. In college at The Johns Hopkins University, there wasn’t a collegiate cheer or dance team, so I auditioned for the local NFL team’s cheerleading squad. I didn’t expect to make it, but I did. I spent three years on that team while I was attending JHU, before becoming a Redskins cheerleader.

This season will be my fourth with the Washington Redskins. There are 34 of us on the squad and I am one of the four co-captains. We cheer at every Redskins home game—two preseason and eight home games during the regular season. We don’t travel to away games, unless we go to the Super Bowl, which hopefully will happen at some point during my time as a Redskins cheerleader! My mom comes to every single game. She is definitely my biggest fan.

Cheering on the field during a nationally televised game with thousands of fans in the stadium is so exciting. To prepare for the upcoming NFL season, we start training in April. We practice two to four times a week. Our rehearsals are rigorous. We start with a team workout, followed by stretching and practicing different dance techniques. Then we rehearse the dances that we will be performing at the next game or public appearance.

Our sideline dances are especially versatile because we have to perform them to whatever music is playing at that moment—we never know what it’s going to be. One of the captains will call a particular dance and the rest of the team will pick it up on the spot.

Game days can be long. We’re at the stadium six hours prior to kickoff, the games are about four hours long and sometimes we do a show afterward. I might spend anywhere from 10 to 40 hours a week dancing in addition to my job as a nurse.

If you told me I worked 80 hours a week, I wouldn’t believe you. I love both of my jobs so much, for completely different reasons. I don’t know if I could do one as well without the other.

My passion for nursing was sparked through cheerleading. When I first became an NFL cheerleader, we visited a few local hospitals, including the old Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. At the time, I was a pre-med major. I knew that I wanted to help people and thought that I wanted to be a doctor. During these appearances, I witnessed that the nurses were the ones providing hands-on care, standing by the patient and helping the families. That’s when I decided to switch my major from pre-med to nursing.

I absolutely love being a pediatric ICU nurse. There is something about kids—they are just so innocent and resilient and, at times, really funny. My favorite part of the job is when we are able to nurse a child back to health and they get to go home. The wins are sometimes few and far between, so I’ve learned to celebrate the small victories like getting to see a child who has been here for months smile or laugh for the first time. It’s those little moments of joy, if only for a second, that you have to hold onto and keep with you as long as possible to help you get through the tougher times.

Dancing has always been a release for me. It helps me fill up my cup at the end of the day so I can come back to work the next day ready to care for another child.

The story was told to Laura Motel, communications specialist, Johns Hopkins Hospital Nursing

*Editor’s note: The NFL requests that its professional cheerleaders’ last names not be published.

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Jesse Grant

My first experience at Johns Hopkins was in the ER in 1994 — two young guys robbed me and shot me in the chest at Old Town Mall in Baltimore while I was driving a bus for the MTA. Luckily, Hopkins Hospital wasn’t far away. I heard the doctors say there was nothing they could do for me. I just kept asking God to save me and to get me through. And he did. Two weeks and five operations later, I was ready to be discharged. My daughter, who was 2 years old at the time, came around the corner, put her hand out and said, “Daddy, let’s go home.” It showed me that, no matter what happens, there is always somebody there who cares.

I became familiar with the Johns Hopkins campus during my 11 years driving for a contracted mobility company. On my fifth year, I met Bonnie Windsor, the vice president of HR at the time, who saw me in action and offered me a position at the hospital. I didn’t come to Hopkins at that time, but a few years later I applied and became patient ambassador. I’ve been at Hopkins for three years now.

I wear many hats as patient ambassador. I get here every morning at 7:30 and clock in at 7:45. My post is located at the main entrance of the hospital at 1800 Orleans Street. The first thing I do when I come through the door is see how many wheelchairs we’ve got. I need to make sure we have enough to get patients to their appointments. The next thing I do is make sure my podium is fully stocked. I call that my mobile office and it is where I keep cups, graham crackers, coffee, water and anything else a patient or visitor may ask for while they are waiting. If the information booth gets busy, I help out behind there. I help outside with security and traffic flow. You may see me by the Johns Hopkins sign on Orleans Street waving down cabs and directing the cars. I try to remember everyone’s name and give a smile to everyone I pass by. I don’t know what people are going through when they come to this hospital and that’s why I always try to be as nice as I can. A smile does a lot of justice. I want people to come back and say, “This guy gave us everything he had, and he did it professionally.”

I was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and raised in Baltimore. My grandparents, who raised me, taught me how to cook and how to be a gentleman. I remember them saying that these skills would help me throughout my whole life. And they have. That’s why I am able to give such a high level of customer service. It was instilled in me early on.

My family and my faith keep me going. I have three daughters and one son. I also have four grandsons — Brandon (17), Jacob (4), Carter (4), and Jaden (2) — and they are the joys in my life. I have to be the best man I can be for my family and teach my grandsons how to be respectful. That’s what I try to tell some young folks. It’s all about respect. I know how hard it is to not have a mother or father in your life, but it’s not that hard that you can’t make it. I tell them, “You don’t know my background. You may see this smiling face looking happy every day. But if you understand what I’ve been through, you can make it too. You don’t have to go to the gang. You don’t have to go into the drugs. You might not have that mom and dad, but there’s somebody you can reach out to that can get you through and to make sure you don’t make these wrong turns.”

I am also excited to announce that I will be one of the “Gameday Ambassadors” for the Baltimore Ravens. I’ll never forget that day in August when they called me and asked, “Mr. Grant, how would you like to greet 71,000 people?” That phone call really made my day. I look forward to providing the fans the same level of customer service that I provide for every visitor in this hospital. I’m here to help.

You might not help everybody, but if you can help one person, that’s good. Thank God you helped somebody! Because we’ve got a lot of people out there that need it. One day, I’m going to need help. And I hope someone has my back.

Read what one patient had to say about Jesse Grant in August 2017.

— Jennifer Wicks

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Following is a letter sent from a patient to The Johns Hopkins Hospital about Jesse Grant

Dear Sir/Madam:

I just wanted to make a comment on one of your employees. There is a gentleman named Jesse that works out in front of the main hospital/emergency entrance. Jesse is the kindest soul.  I came there  with my grandson and my mom. My grandson had had eye surgery the day before and was coming for his day one post op visit.  I also had to bring my mom for her appointment.  I was feeling very overwhelmed and stressed out because my grandson had a very difficult night the night before, dealing with post op pain, and my mom is steadily declining and has been falling a lot.  I pulled up at the front entrance to get a wheelchair for my mom and drop her and my grandson off before going to park in the Orleans Street Garage.

Out of nowhere appears this Angel, Jesse.  He immediately got a wheelchair for my mom, helped me get her in the chair, made her laugh and assured me that he would keep an eye on them while I went to park.  My grandson is 14, and he was going to stay with my mom, so she was okay, but it was very sweet of him to offer that.

Several hours later, when I came back to the front entrance to pick them up, there he was again.  I was struggling to get my mom out of the wheelchair and into the car.  Jesse was right there helping me.

This man has the warmest smile and the kindest heart.  He truly got me through a very stressful morning, and after getting somewhat teary, I walked away with a smile.

What an incredible asset he is to Johns Hopkins!!  You are so lucky to have him as an employee, and I was lucky to have him as my Angel on Tuesday.  He is truly a SHINING STAR!!

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Doretha Lewis

Everyday Hopkins: Doretha Lewis, Staff Assistant for General Services Training and Education

 

I was raised in East Baltimore. In the early 1970s, when I was 16 years old, I was recruited to work as a summer intern at Johns Hopkins through Dunbar High School and a program called Neighborhood Youth Corps as a pediatric nursing assistant. When I graduated high school three years later, I was asked to stay full time. I moved to Phipps where I was a psychiatric nursing assistant before leaving the workforce for 18 years to raise my family. I’m married with a son, a daughter and a cat named Summer. I also took this time to earn my AA degree in early childhood education.

In 2010, I felt I needed to get back into the workplace. I was drawn back to Hopkins. I remembered working here years ago doing bedside care and interacting with people — doing things to make them feel better. I’m always wanting to reach out and give to others as others have given to me. It’s reciprocal. So I went through an agency and eventually ended up with Intrastaff in mail services. My coworkers call me “Ms. D,” and when the word spread that Ms. D would be here permanently, everyone was pleased with the decision.

My job as a mail clerk was to retrieve mail from the loading dock, sort it, and organize it for delivery to the East Baltimore campus. Pushing, pulling and lifting the heavy mail gurneys was really something at first! We process a lot of mail — almost 3 million pieces last fiscal year. But, then I started looking at each piece of mail as a person. Each letter that comes into this hospital does represent somebody. Finding the value in every task handed to me and helping others is at the core of who I am.

In June, I was promoted to staff assistant for the General Services Training and Education department. I work with interns who were chosen to participate in a job training program that helps those receiving state assistance gain full-time employment after they intern for 15 weeks. I like to sit in on the classes and listen to people tell their stories about where they came from and what they aspire to accomplish. I enjoy hearing our staff tell the interns how they have to be accountable and responsible. Here, it’s all about patient care.

Working in mail services has prepared me for my new position because I have had the opportunity to demonstrate that I am responsible, reliable and diligent about my work. They could have chosen anyone for this position — someone with a higher education than I have, but God allowed this opportunity to come to me.

The program is called IMPACT. It trains the interns for service positions in the hospital. They do different jobs like security or transporting patients. And a lot of times, the interns are given a full-time job. My role is to follow up with them after they complete the program.

Last week, I called one young lady, a former intern from the program to follow up. She told me how grateful she was for this opportunity and that she was happy the Johns Hopkins training and educational center gave her that chance to better herself. Now she’s working on her second master’s degree. To hear that someone has been placed into our program and is now a success is the type of story that makes me feel good. She made me tear up.

It’s not that people can’t do. It’s just that sometimes people just need someone to help them to do. You never know who will come through those doors and what value they can bring to this institution.

 

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IMG_7733

Hear how Dan and his team help bring Johns Hopkins care to a patient's bedside:

I was a firefighter for Baltimore City for 23 years, and I worked mostly in East Baltimore. I was at the station on Harford and Oliver Street, which isn’t far from The Johns Hopkins Hospital. We were very busy in this area, and I was often dropping patients off at Hopkins with an ambulance crew.

My title was emergency vehicle driver, and I drove the ladder truck. Usually our job was to put ladders up, do search and rescue and provide access, if doors needed to be taken out or windows needed to be taken out. “Sometimes we would arrive at a fire and the people outside would tell us there are people still inside. It was our job to go in and find them.”

I always had a positive impression of Hopkins. I remember our fire company responded to one fire back in 2001 on Broadway when some firefighters were injured. They brought one injured firefighter right down the street to Hopkins. He actually had an inhalation injury, and they brought him into the emergency room. The doctor who saw him did a trach on him and probably saved his life. That was one of the good things about working close to Hopkins.

After I retired in 2010, I spent about a year at home waiting for the grass to grow, so I decided to see what else was out there. I just read the job description and I was thinking what this department did would probably be a good fit for me. And it has been.

I’ve been working with Lifeline’s Hopkins Communication Center for seven years now as a communications specialist. After the Hopkins Access Line receives a call to transfer an outside patient and coordinates with bed management and admitting, I help in preparing and dispatching the crew to pick up the patient. We arrange the transportation, triage the call to find out what level of care they need and send out an ambulance to pick the patient up and bring them back to one of the hospitals in the Johns Hopkins Health System. My job is coordinating all of that and to make sure the right care team gets to the right facilities. A lot of times we’ll call the sending facility, whether it’s an outside hospital or urgent care center, and say, “Hey, we’ll be there in an hour to bring that patient into Hopkins,” and they’re so relieved to hear that because the patients often require specialized care that they need at our hospitals.

Now, I’m hearing everything over the radio, so it’s a little bit different than being out there on the scene as a firefighter. I don’t miss being out all night cold and wet in the winter time, putting out fires. I’m glad to trade that for the office. I found this job, and it’s been very rewarding and enjoyable.

Most people have no idea the magnitude of how many people are waiting every day for a bed at Hopkins, all the calls we’re handling, sending crews out to different places. We’re handling the emergency paging for the hospital, we’re handling discharges as well as all the people we’re trying to bring into the hospital. It’s constant very busy, not much down time.

I do a lot of bicycling on my days off, and have been doing it for years. In 2000, I rode from Los Angeles to Boston, which took 50 days. I pretty much plan my own trips now, things I want to do or get out for a long weekend or four days off and go plan out a ride. Some people can go swimming or take yoga. I get out on the bike and that’s my relaxation and stress reliever. I found one that worked for me so I’m sticking with it.

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Trivia Biscoe

I am a clinical customer service coordinator in Johns Hopkins Children Center and I work to build positive communications between patients, family, staff—the entire medical team. I round every day with the patient to make sure they have an exceptional stay, so I track the patient experience with the HCAPHS survey.

Patients and their family members tell me that the best patient experience they can get is being communicated with, understanding what’s going to happen, knowing the next steps.

I spend more time with the families since our patients in the pediatric unit are 0 to 22 years old. Before I step into the patient’s room, I evaluate what they may be going through. I try to put myself in that family’s shoes.  I have a great understanding for people coming into the hospital for the first time, under very stressful situations. Yesterday they may not have planned to be here, and now they’re here looking toward an unknown diagnosis. I really embrace empathy and compassion.

I am excited about what we call the “warm welcome” because it really bridges any gaps in communication about a patient’s care. I normally go into the room, greet the patient and family, give them a tour of our unit and just assist them from the time they arrive to the time they’re discharged. I make sure they receive all the services that we have from parking assistance to daily meals, picking up prescriptions from the Arcade Pharmacy, connecting them to social work, Child Life and even an interpreter if necessary.

Sometimes these families just need someone to listen to or to understand them with a non-bias opinion. I’m available to do that for 20 families on our unit. I become their navigator. Families tell me that just having me when they enter the unit releases the anxiety.

I was born and raised in Baltimore. I graduated from Morgan State University with a degree in family and consumer sciences. The degree is about educating people about health disparities in the community. I worked with people with intellectual disabilities for seven years, running houses for the disabled and operating programs. A friend told me about the job.  June 6 will be one year that I’ve been at Hopkins.

People might be surprised to know that I am a seamstress. In my spare time, I make jewelry, pocketbooks, clothes, pillows, draperies. I made the fashions for the fall fashion show at Morgan State in 2013.

What I enjoy most is spending time with my children. I have two boys, 17 and 10. We like to go to the movies, take a drive to York, Pa., and eat dinner together. This job has allowed me to see the blessing I have in having healthy kids.

Hear Trivia's advice on delivering patient-and family-centered care.

Note: Leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

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Matt Norvell

 

My dad was in the army. I grew up a lot in Texas, and then lived in Germany for a little while. My dad was also a chaplain in the military.

My specific assignment at Johns Hopkins is to provide spiritual and emotional support to the patients, families and staff of the Children’s Center.

I sometimes think: I’m not helping someone get all the way across the creek or the river, but I can help them find the next stone that they need to get across.

I am ordained in a Baptist tradition called the Alliance of Baptists. However, hospital chaplains are trained to provide spiritual support to whomever we meet. I recently worked with an observant orthodox Jewish family that I really connected with. Certainly we had some spiritual and religious conversation, and there was a lot of general emotional support for a family facing the difficulties of having a sick child. When I meet a family who is Muslim or Baha’i or whatever specific faith and they say, ‘I really need to talk to, for example, an Imam,’ we have resources on our staff to cover these other individual belief system needs. We also have resources in the community that I can call on.

One thing on my list of “hard things to have to witness” is seeing parents having to make choices when they know their child is not going to live, and to have to make a choice to stop things. For me, those are some of the most difficult, courageous, deep, caring parenting moments.

There’s a lot of literature about resilience—how do you build resilience, avoid burnout, etc? And the reality is that most people—if you’ve made it to adulthood—are pretty resilient. And what happens is when people get put into a crisis situation, they maybe temporarily forgot those things that support them and keep them afloat. So a lot of what I do is evoke from people what it is that keeps them afloat and remind them that they’re resilient, strong, smart people.

One of the personal things that I’ve had to learn to do—and I don’t always do it successfully—is that even with the most horrific, saddest stories that I might be suddenly thrust into, I am able to remember that this child is not my child that’s sick or hurt. It would be impossible to carry the emotions of all the particular situations I witness.

One of the ways I stay emotionally healthy is I’ve got a garden that is maybe 20’ by 20’, and I’ve been growing tomatoes and peppers and a variety of other things. One of the things I’ve found is I have to have activities that I can be completely immersed in that have no emotional consequence. If I get more crab grass in the garden, that’s okay. Nobody gets hurt.

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Charles Carter Meat Cutter

Charles Carter is an assistant Cook in the Johns Hopkins Hospital kitchen, which is located underneath the Orleans Street parking garage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My name is Charles Carter. I’m classified as an assistant cook, but I just say “meat cutter” because I don’t do too much cooking. I slice the meat.

Like today, I’ll process these 20 turkeys—these weigh about 18 pounds each—so 300-some pounds of turkey. On an average day, I process anywhere from 800 to 1,000 pounds of meat. You have cheeses cut first: cheddar, Swiss. The machine is cleaned, and then I did turkey, smoked turkey. Cleaned it, and did corned beef, cleaned it, then roast beef.

Most people don’t understand the health nature with hospital food. Some people have to learn to eat again, so they puree. If a person can’t have salt in his diet and gets something that’s salty, he’ll be sick. You don’t want to come to the hospital and get sick. That’s why we spend so much time on safety cleaning.

Early on, a lot of the people I met taught me how to work and stay employed because I had never had a job more than a year. I was working with Ryan Homes before I came to Hopkins... I started here, I was 33. Twenty-seven years ago… I started out working in the store room. Then for unseen reasons, I started slicing meat.

It’s physically demanding because you’ve got to stand, and you’re in cold conditions. The process of cleaning machines… carrying boxes, cases of meat, load’em up, bring’em back, it’s a lot of work. One reason I took the job is because it offered all holidays and weekends off. That was really inviting.

The beauty of it is I’ve been doing this for 20-some years and only cut myself once. That was by accident, stupidity.

My father used to say whatever you can be, be the best at it. That’s what I try to do. You can tell by way I talk, I enjoy it. It’s a good job, you get the bills paid. I don’t go hungry. Plus, you eat pretty good when you’re working here. I met a lot of good people and good friends coming here.

One thing about Johns Hopkins is overall, it’s prestigious. So you put that on your application, it means a lot. That’s why when people ask about certain things, I say: Johns Hopkins doesn’t owe me anything. They really don’t, because I came here not knowing anything, and look what I gained. I got a trade I can take anywhere in the world.

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