Heather Webb

Heather Webb focuses on service and patient experience in her role as senior project administrator for the Department of Service Excellence, Johns Hopkins Health System.

I’ve always held positions in customer service, such as when we lived in California and I worked in a diamond lab for 4 ½ years. I have worked for Johns Hopkins Medicine since July of 2014. I am now a senior project administrator in the Department of Service Excellence. Having the opportunity to work at Johns Hopkins, with staff, patients and families to improve the patient experience brings me so much joy.

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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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180410 MESUBI rotimi_8457

I was lucky to be born into a family where my parents are science educators. My dad was a college chemistry professor and my mom a high school chemistry teacher who later became a vice principal. Growing up, I remember spending some of my after-school hours with my siblings (two younger brothers and a younger sister) in my Dad’s lab. It was so fascinating to see him and his graduate students conduct their science experiments. I went into medicine because my parents encouraged me to be a physician. But I have always been interested in science and understanding how things work.

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Gamal BornsI began working at Johns Hopkins in 2003. My mother, who is a patient transport supervisor here, told me about the opening and I’ve been here ever since. First, I was a trash tech in environmental services and I later moved to patient transport in radiology.

Once I realized I was holding myself back from all of the opportunities Johns Hopkins has to offer, I started to move forward by telling myself that there must be something better here for me. I got hip to the Hopkins culture of continuous advancement. We are not meant to stay in one place; we have to use the resources provided to move up and start a career.

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IMG_8030_edI’ve always felt for people who don’t have the means or resources to do things for themselves. I try to give back as much as possible.

For several years following college, I was homeless in Dallas. I lived on a series of couches and my car for the better part of three to four years. I moved to Las Vegas to refocus my life and my direction. You wouldn’t think it’s the place people go to retreat from chaos. Fortunately, I don’t gamble and I had so many skills I could put to good use: hairstyling, makeup artist, being a personal stylist, executive assistant to several models, a professional photographer, writer, graphic designer, the list goes on.

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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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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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Jordan Tropf, fourth-year medical student and winner of the 2017 Baltimore Marathon. (Photo by Ian Johnston)

Jordan Tropf, fourth-year medical student and winner of the 2017 Baltimore Marathon. (Photo by Ian Johnston)

Every fall, I pick one or two marathons to run. It’s something I like to do – I like to push myself and see how fast I can go. Running is something I look forward to at the beginning or end of every day and it gives me an opportunity to push myself outside of medical school.

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I went to the Naval Academy with the goal of heading to medical school. After graduating in 2014, I moved to Baltimore to attend med school at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. I consider Baltimore my home. Since it’s my last year in med school, I finally decided to do my “home” race course: the Baltimore Marathon. I usually do the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. around this time.

I started running in high school, when my cross country team won the state championship my senior year. I continued running at the Naval Academy, where I realized the 26.2-mile marathon was a better distance for me. I’ve been running marathons since my sophomore year there.

Training this summer was challenging. I was away for three months for orthopedic sub-internships at the three big Navy hospitals: Portsmouth, San Diego and Walter Reed. I tried to build in a run every day and get out on weekends for longer distances. (I did a lot of running in the dark.) I like discovering new places to run when I’m away.

During the race, I felt good until the second half. I knew what to expect, I knew the hills were coming, but it started to work me a little bit. I’m familiar with Dave Berdan, a previous year’s marathon winner. I knew he was working on running me down, so I just focused on keeping my lead.

After the second half of that course, I was very, very happy to be over the finish line. There was so much support on the course and it was great to see a summer of hard work pay off. It goes down in the books as one of my favorite races, and I can certainly see myself coming back.

After I graduate in May, I’ll hopefully (applications are in!) do my residency either in a military or a civilian orthopaedic surgery program, and then serve time as a Navy doctor. I’m familiar with orthopaedic injuries from years of running, and exposure to orthopaedics in the military and in med school led me to pursue it as my specialty. It's also been great to see the amazing impact that surgeries and rehab have on patients' lives. This especially motivated me to pursue this specialty.

The blue Navy singlet is my race shirt. I wear it to every race I do. Since I ran on the Navy team a few years ago, it’s good to wear my home colors. It's an honor to represent the U.S. Navy. My favorite race of all time is the Marine Corps Marathon, which I have run in the past with the All-Navy marathon team. It’s always fun and it adds an extra level of competition. This year, though, I spectated and cheered on my fiancé, Hannah, as she ran it for the second time.

Eventually I want to hit all six major world marathons. I’ve never done a marathon internationally but want to do the ones in London, Berlin and Tokyo.

The big thing about running is that I do it for fun. My priorities are being a good med student and, in the future, being a great doctor. I definitely intend to continue running and dropping my times, no matter what my future holds.

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