From the category archives:

Hopkins Speaks

Roderick Toney, director of mail distribution and sustainability, is shown with a Mail Matrix machine capable of processing 3,000 pieces of mixed mail (letters, flats, magazines, small parcels) per hour to over 1,020 mail delivery points in a single pass.

Describe your responsibilities as assistant director of mail distribution and sustainability for The Johns Hopkins Hospital?

I oversee mail throughout The Johns Hopkins Hospital, The Johns Hopkins University, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. For sustainability, I am responsible for managing different initiatives such as furniture recycling, confidential paper shredding and salvaging. I also help run the Johns Hopkins Hospital farmers market in conjunction with Reduction in Motion, as well as the hospital’s membership with Practice Greenhealth, which delivers sustainability best practices. I have a fantastic team working with me!

What is your background? Where did you get your start?

I’m a proud product of Johns Hopkins! I started here when I was 18 working in the nutrition department, and Johns Hopkins gave me the resources to take leadership management courses that helped me grow as a professional and individual. Johns Hopkins also provided a number of mentors who were invaluable for me to reach my current position. They groomed me to be a leader and I’m always eager to pass it forward to the next generation.

What is your role in Johns Hopkins' sustainability efforts?

Sustainability is incredibly important for Johns Hopkins across the board. I personally have three main responsibilities for sustainability:

  • I work to increase waste diversion. This includes recycling and repurposing electronics and furniture as well as shredding confidential papers.
  • Next, I focus on increasing access to local and sustainable food through our farmers market. East Baltimore is considered a food desert — there is limited access to healthy foods. The Johns Hopkins Hospital farmers market provides healthy, locally sourced foods for both staff and the community. It also provides a matching program using federal nutrition benefits for qualifying community members and associates — if an individual is on federal assistance, they can receive up to $5 in matching funds, which allows them to purchase more produce and vegetables. We also offer free cooking demonstrations and community recycling for electronics and paper.
  • Lastly, I am responsible for increasing engagement through our Green Office Certification program. The certification is a self-reporting eco-checklist for The Johns Hopkins Hospital departments, which ensures they will become more ecologically sustainable. For example, using a water tower instead of plastic bottles is something you would find on the checklist. Departments who achieve everything on the list are recognized as champions and receive an award.

What are the sustainability goals for the future?

We want to continue to be as eco-friendly as possible. Personally, I would like to see Johns Hopkins be recognized as a top program in sustainability in the near future. We have already been celebrated numerous times for our efforts. However, I would like us to continue growing.

Is there a particular initiative that you believe should be highlighted?

We have an instrument reprocessing program with Stryker where we send them our old medical equipment and they refurbish and resell the supplies back to us. These items remain at a high safety level while saving the health system considerable cost — about $1.2 million.

What do you feel is needed to improve sustainability?

Engagement is key. We have several members of leadership such as Redonda Miller and Ken Grant who are engaged with sustainability, but there still needs to be more structure for the departments to help align our goals further and engage all employees.

Communication is also incredibly important. For example, we have both recycling and trash cans. However, if no one is trained about the difference between the two, then the recycling can is useless. We need to be able to clearly communicate how to be sustainable in order for our work to be effective.

Lastly, how challenging is it working for mail distribution during the holiday season?

During the holiday season, mail distribution becomes a bit more difficult because we become overwhelmed with personal packages. We use the same resources to process these packages so it takes a toll on the system. As a reminder, Johns Hopkins mail distribution should not be used for personal packages – no exceptions. This rule isn’t just made to help keep the system running efficiently - it’s also for safety purposes. So please, everyone, have your personal packages delivered to your home or alternate location.

For more information of The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s sustainability efforts, please email Roderick Toney at

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Erin Ricketts

Erin Ricketts says that her team of research assistants gives her joy in her position as senior research program manager in the school of medicine.

You have been with Johns Hopkins University for several years. Tell me about your current position.

I am a senior research program manager in the school of medicine. I support the research programs in the Department of Emergency Medicine. In that role, I am involved with clinical trials and other research studies, from the study startup—working with the drug companies/sponsor to create the study procedures and training protocols—to the time the study comes onsite at Hopkins. I manage the 20 or so research assistants in the Emergency Department (ED), who are the ones that screen and enroll people into the studies.

Our team also runs the HIV and Hepatitis C ED based testing programs. Our research assistants offer and give complimentary HIV and HCV point-of-care tests to the patients coming into the ED. It’s really rewarding when you have a patient who came to the ED for something unrelated and test positive; our staff help link that person to care and potentially cure them.

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Yariela Kerr-DonovanYariela Kerr-Donovan is senior director for strategic workforce development. In that role, the 14-year workforce development professional oversees a health system office responsible for career and workforce development, skill building and education and training for Johns Hopkins employees. In addition, her office oversees programs and services for youth and adults from the community. Read the Q&A to learn how these programs can help employees with advancement opportunities.

Tell me about the mission of the Office of Strategic Workforce Development.

Our office, which is within the Department of Human Resources for the Johns Hopkins Health System, provides programs and services to help current health system employees advance their careers at Johns Hopkins, youth understand careers in health care, and partner with community organizations to provide training to community adults to become competitive, qualified applicants for employment at Hopkins We have four coaches, one youth program coordinator, two part-time and two casual/on-call skills enhancement instructors, and one staff assistant.

We strive to provide our employees and organization with the workforce/career preparation, access and opportunities to meet their career or workforce goals.

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Betty Adams, Training Manager for Facilities, has dedicated the last three years to developing and implementing an ongoing training plan to guide environmental care associates and technicians. Read a Q&A about her role at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Betty AdamsGroupWhen I came to Hopkins in 2014, there were over 700 environmental care employees and my predecessor had just retired. There were many needs. I was looking for information so I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. However, I was told that we would be starting fresh, which was good. I started doing discharge room cleaning, and anything I could to learn about the job and the challenges of the job, and to meet and get to know the staff.

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There are many things you won’t want to miss at the 36th annual Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration on Friday, Jan. 19, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Turner Auditorium on the East Baltimore campus. The choir will begin performing at around 11:30 a.m. Here are 5:

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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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Levi Watkins

Levi Watkins, The Johns Hopkins Hospital's first chief resident in cardiac surgery.

Since 1976, every U.S. president has designated February as Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African-Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African-Americans in U.S. history.

Throughout the history of Johns Hopkins Medicine, many African-Americans are known and remembered for their significant contributions to medicine, which often led the way for change.

Who else should be included on the list below? Share your thoughts, stories and memories in the comments.

  • Vivien Thomas, surgical assistant to Dr. Alfred Blalock during the revolutionary cardiac surgery to repair tetralogy of Fallot, a heart condition often referred to as “blue baby syndrome.” After the first successful surgery, everyone involved received a great deal of recognition except for Thomas, who was African-American. He was later given an honorary degree by the school of medicine
  • Suburban Hospital’s medical director of trauma services, Dany Westerband, MD, was a recipient of the 2015 Johns Hopkins Medicine Clinical Award for Excellence in Service and Professionalism and has a distinguished history of excellent service to his patients and colleagues. In 2010, Dr. Westerband led a team of physicians to Haiti immediately after the devastating earthquake to contribute to medical relief efforts.
  • At The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Robert Higgins was named the first African-American department head within the hospital in 2015. Levi Watkins is remembered as a prominent cardiac surgeon who performed the world’s first implantation of an automatic heart defibrillator in a patient in 1980. He came to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1970 as the first African-American surgical resident and became the first African-American chief resident in cardiac surgery in 1975. Additionally, Ben Carson was the second African-American in the United States to become a neurosurgeon.
  • Howard County General Hospital anesthesiologist John Payne has been associated with the hospital since its founding year in 1973 and was the first chair of the hospital’s medical staff. During the years that followed, he developed a thriving practice of anesthesiologists. In its earliest days, it was obvious that HCGH needed the participation of private physicians from Howard County. Dr. Payne worked diligently to meld the interests of the new hospital with private doctors to build the Medical Arts Building in 1977, providing office space for private specialty practices in a building adjacent to the hospital. Payne noted, “These private physicians were critical for the survival of the hospital and the betterment of medicine in Howard County.”
  • At the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Robert Gamble and Nigerian student James Nabwangu were among the first African-Americans admitted to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and both graduated in 1967. 1975 graduate Claudia Thomas became the first African-American female orthopedic surgeon in the country. She later returned as an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
  • At the Johns Hopkins University, Frederick Scott was the first African-American undergraduate admitted and Gail Williams was one of the first three African-American women admitted.

Read about the impact of other African Americans at Johns Hopkins at

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Dr. Paul Ladenson (Endocrinology, Radiology)

"He did not rush through the biospsy procedure. He was caring and cordial, warm bedside manner, he explained to me exactly what to expect. I felt confident and relaxed throughout the procedure."

Jenny Perry (CVISCU Nurse) and Sarah (CVSICU Tech)

"They were so great keeping my husband calm and communicated so he knew what was going on. It is hard to put into words how professional they both were and very compassionate to me."

Meghan Hill (Oncology Nurse)

"Each time we have had her she is attentive, efficient and through her body language we can tell she cares about our daughter. Megan anticipates our daughter’s needs, confirms with her, and then proceeds to see that she gets what she needs. Not only is she kind and compassionate, but her level of expertise excels far above the norm."

Jennifer (CCU Nurse)

"My husband is high maintenance, but Jennifer has remained extraordinarily kind, patient and encouraging. She has gone the extra mile to ensure his comfort by offering to reposition him rather than just offer pain meds. She also has helped to try to maintain his muscle tone  by using the lift to get him in a chair despite many tubes she had to manage. Perhaps less obvious to all is the quality of healing for patient and family members that her kind spirit provides."

Rose (Weinberg 4C Nurse)

"Rose showed tremendous maturity, knowledge, care and compassion toward me. She included my sisters, making them feel an integral part of the healing process."

Weinberg 4C (Krisha Patel, Nick Sacco, and Angela Reed)

"They all treated us as a family member and will be forever grateful."


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Grant and Lakadawala

Service Star winners

How do you use Johns Hopkins Medicine's core values (be the best, be kind, be open, be a role model) to make a difference for our patients? Click on the Leave a Comment box below to inspire us with your story about care that was compassionate, innovative and respectful.

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Transitional Care Services at The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Ms. U was referred to me for transitional care services from the Emergency Department in October 2015. She had presented to the ED after her blood pressure had become dangerously high. The patient confessed that she had run out of her medications one month prior to her visit. Her uncontrolled diabetes led to severe diabetic retinopathy and her vision was significantly impaired. She was evaluated by ED case manager Amy Cammer, who identified many barriers for the patient:

1) She can’t see any of the writing on her pill bottles

2) She has limited knowledge about her medications and only had a fifth-grade reading level

3) She was living alone in a rented room with no family in the state

4) She has no supplies for her glucometer

5) She receives a fixed income (SSDI) and is having difficulty paying for transportation to any of her outpatient appointments

6) She only speaks Spanish. Her medications were filled during her ED visit, a one week pill box was filled, and a referral for Transition Guide (TG) services was placed. It was unclear as to whether or not the patient had a primary care doctor so an After Care Clinic appointment was arranged for the following week.

I met Ms. U in her home for her initial home visit. I am bilingual and was able to communicate directly with the patient. The patient reported that she received primary care at a clinic outside of the Johns Hopkins System. I inquired about her social support system and she reported that her closest relative was her daughter, with whom she had resided with for a period of time, but who lives in out of state. She stated she wanted to have all of her care at Johns Hopkins.

I informed her that she lived within the ElderCare Plus eligible zip codes and would likely qualify for the services of a Medical Day program to assist with transportation, medication administration, and social support. I initiated the referral for two medical day programs that service her area, spoke directly with her primary care provider to obtain referrals for ophthalmology, diabetic testing supplies and an appointment with a mental health provider. I sent a referral to JCHIP because the patient lived within one of the seven eligible zip codes.

She began attending her outpatient appointments and was accepted into the JCHIP program rather quickly. Before attending her first primary care appointment, she was admitted at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for a condition due resulting from medication non-compliance. After discharge and due to the acuity of the patient’s conditions, skilled home nursing was ordered.

The providers she saw in clinic, Erin Perry, M.D., and Rahul Loungani, M.D., provided detailed emails to everyone involved in her care to provide updates to her plan of care after visits were completed and next steps. Erika Dixon, home care nurse, set up remote-patient monitoring to closely monitor symptoms related to heart failure. Melissa Lantz-Garnish, disease management nurse, monitored to patient’s daily weight, blood pressure and heart rate to assess for acute symptoms that needed immediate medical attention. A pharmacist in the JHOC internal medicine clinic met with the patient regularly to record blood pressures in clinic, provide medication teaching, and fill the patient’s pill boxes based on her most current medication changes. Pharmacist Tara Feller, PharmD, even dropped off the patient’s medications and filled her pill boxes on Christmas Eve, to ensure the patient would have her medications. A Spanish-speaking glucometer, as well as the needed supplies, were also ordered and obtained at a local pharmacy.

Despite our numerous interventions, the patient was admitted for heart failure.After discharge, she was seen in the Heart Failure Bridge Clinic by Johana Almansa, CRNP, where she could receive close cardiology follow-up with a provider that happened to speak her native language.

Her Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center providers gave her the medical records she would need to transfer care and provided a list of those in the area she would be moving to. The patient’s daughter came to pick up the patient, packed up her belongings, and helped her move in with her. I contacted her daughter and provided her detailed instructions about the patient’s current plan of care and how to apply for medical assistance in her state. To date, the patient has obtained medical assistance in her state, established primary care, and is living with her daughter where she received the love and support that she needs.

Each of her providers focused on providing patient-centered care that tailors care to the individual’s unique needs. This type of care provides optimal patient results and despite the complexity of this case, none of this could have been accomplished without the solid and outstanding care-coordination that each of her providers persisted in.

Margaret Elizabeth Arias, M.S., BSN, RN

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