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Johns Hopkins Hospital

Andrea Brown

I will say this is kind of difficult for me to share, because anybody who knows me knows I’m a very private person. I’m now realizing that in order to help others, I need to be okay with my journey and pay it forward.

I’m a systems administrator in the facilities department. I’ve been working at Hopkins for 10 years. We have a small department within facilities that serves the IT functions of the work management system for the entire hospital.

Last year in March, I found a lump. I got a mammogram and I got a call back. You’re not supposed to get a call back. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was petrified. There was no family history of breast cancer. I remember telling myself, I have to go to work and I have to tell my supervisor. I have a daughter. I’m her primary care giver. So it’s a scary situation to be in.

I was also scared because I work at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. I don’t care where you are, you see the side effects of what cancer can do. I told my supervisor, Tom Lentz, about my diagnosis and he was the one who encouraged me to go to the Managing Cancer at Work program.

I went to the very first Managing Cancer meeting, which was the first of each month. While I was nervous, the way the meeting was run put me at ease. Marie Borsellino, the oncology nurse navigator, was so helpful. The disease makes you vulnerable. It exposes you. I remember just tearing up, telling my story, not knowing what to expect. But then the people who were around me were a mix of survivors — those who were going through it, through treatment. People just like me.

I made the choice not to go through the chemo. I didn’t have to do the radiation. I chose a double mastectomy. My biggest fear was not being able to do my job when I came back at the same capacity that I did before I left. There were side effects from the surgery alone. There are times where I’m in pain. One of the challenges is not being able to physically do some of the things that I was able to do prior to surgery. I need help to lift things now.  I used to be fairly independent, and that is a constant reminder that I need help from others.

If you go to work and you don’t have that support, it makes things so much more difficult. I have such a respect my supervisor. I thank him on several occasions. The support was helpful also with the two senior directors. They maintained my privacy, as I wanted. Sometimes they just sat with me. I remember one time I was in the conference room, and I just balled my eyes out. Everybody does not have the benefit of having someone who understands. And I think in the workplace it’s very important because this isn’t something you ask for — to all of a sudden get this life-threatening disease.

My daughter is 13 now. She surprised me because initially I kept everything from her. Now she’s helping with the laundry. She’s helping do things I couldn’t do.

I’m coming up on one year of survivorship. I remember the exact date of my diagnosis was April 14. It will be a year. I’m definitely going to do something to mark that day. Not only that day, but the day I actually had surgery, which was the May 18.

One of my friends sent me a quote: “Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” I remember I kept looking at it. I get it. You have to live your life.

Hear, in Andrea's words, how she will celebrate her first year of survivorship.

Note: If you have been diagnosed with cancer or are a caregiver to someone diagnosed with cancer, and would like to  find out more about Managing Cancer at Work, visit managingcanceratwork.com (employee site PIN-6229, manager site PIN-6229) or call 410-955-6229.

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Dear Health Care Team Members:

I am a very happy and pleased Johns Hopkins patient. In January 2011, I was referred to Johns Hopkins for treatment of my lung disease. The only cure for my disease was a bilateral lung transplant, which took place on December 18, 2011. While I have had excellent success with my transplant, I have had the opportunity to return to the hospital (six admissions and nine outpatient procedures requiring anesthesia) and outpatient center (over 100 office visits and over 700 tests or studies) for subsequent medical care.  I realize I will continue to be a Johns Hopkins patient for the rest of my life.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be the patient member on the panel at the Town Meeting on September 8, 2015 discussing Patient and Family Centered Care (Also read the Patient Wish List blog of 10 things a patient would like to share with his or her care team.) One of the questions dealt with the patient survey, which patients receive and answer about their patient experience. As I mentioned in my remarks, one of the key factors that affects my patient experience is my health care team. While I was able to make a few remarks about my team members, I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with a little more information about my health care team. It is a very dynamic health care team composed of many members of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Outpatient Center staff.  I have divided my health care team into two groups: The face to face group and the behind the scene group.

The face to face group is composed of the following team members:

My Admitting Team

  1. The security guard who clears me for entering the hospital and, with colleagues, keeps me, my family and my health care team safe 24/7.
  2. The admitting clerk who process my paperwork to make sure I do not have to spend time with my insurance company or others doing paperwork.

My Patient Room Team

  1. All the physicians including fellows, residents and interns who are responsible for my medical care.
  2. All of my nurses who provide my nursing care and the nurse manager for the unit.
  3. The medical technicians who assist my nurses in my medical care.
  4. The environmental care associates and environmental care technicians who clean my room.
  5. The nutrition assistants who deliver my meals.
  6. The phlebotomists who draw my blood.
  7. The imaging technologists who take x-rays in my room.
  8. The case manager who is planning my discharge.
  9. The transportation specialists who transport me from my room to my procedures/diagnostic tests on time and to the right place.
  10. Administrative staff assigned to my nursing unit.
  11. Anybody else that walks in my room.

My Procedures/Diagnostic Test Team

  1. The receptionist who greets me and makes sure the paperwork matches why I am there.
  2. The physicians who provide my procedure/diagnostic tests.
  3. The radiologist and pathologist who review my results or pathology and interpret the results.
  4. The nurses involved in my procedure/diagnostic test and who try to keep me comfortable throughout.
  5. The technicians involved in my procedure/diagnostic test who are either performing the diagnostic test or making sure the equipment and instruments are ready.

My Telephone Team

  1. The dietary technicians who take my telephone meal order and assure I am ordering the right foods for me.
  2. The administrative staff I contact with all sorts of questions. They know just where to connect me for answers.

My Outpatient Center Team

  1. The physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant who will be evaluating and taking care of me.
  2. The nurses who will be assisting the provider with their assessments and care.
  3. The medical technicians who is taking my vital signs.
  4. The front desk clerks who process my appointment paperwork.
  5. The discharge clerks who process my discharge and schedule my follow up appointments.
  6. The radiology administrative assistants who match my paperwork for the test.
  7. The radiology technicians who perform my test.
  8. The radiologist who reviews my test and writes a report.
  9. The lab admitting clerks who process my lab order.
  10. The phlebotomists who draw my blood.
  11. The lab technicians who perform the lab study and enter the data in my medial record.
  12. The pathologists who review my laboratory/pathology studies and interpret the results.
  13. The security guards who check me in when I enter the outpatient center and give me directions to my appointment or help guide me if I am lost.
  14. The parking cashiers who process my parking ticket and wish me a good day.

As you can see, this is a large and dynamic health care team, but that is only the face to face group. Let me discuss my behind the scene group. They are throughout the organization.

  1. The food preparers who will be preparing the food to be cooked for me.
  2. The cooks who will be cooking my food.
  3. The servers on the food line who will be preparing my tray.
  4. All the food supervisors who are responsible for my food service team.
  5. The pharmacists who review my medications to prevent negative interactions and side effects.
  6. The pharmacy technicians who prepare my medications for delivery to the floor.
  7. All the pharmacy supervisors who are responsible for my pharmacy team members.
  8. The lab technicians who conduct all my lab analysis and report the findings into my record.
  9. All the lab supervisors who are responsible for my lab team.
  10. The security staff throughout the campus who insure my safety and the safety of my family and those who work here.
  11. The administrative staff throughout the hospital and outpatient center who process my appointments, file my claims, record my payments or any other administrative action I require.
  12. The information technology team who keep all the information technology working together to assure all the data about me connects to those who need it including me (MyChart).
  13. All the supervisors and their supervisors of my health care team members.

When I, a patient, think about my health care experience as I fill out my survey form, all the actions by each member of my health care team members are carefully considered as I evaluate my patient experience. Some of you may not have considered yourself as part of my team, but to me you clearly are team members. Each of you plays a role in my patient experience regardless which group you are in. Naturally, my face to face team members get more of my direct attention, but I have not forgotten about the behind the scene team members and the role you play. Being one of my health care team members is not easy. You have to make sure that everything that I am experiencing works like a finely turned, well organized, coordinated, happy and respectful health care team.

Although, I will never have the opportunity to meet some of you, especially my behind the scene team members; I want you to know I value what you do for me as a member of my health care team. I want to thank each of you for providing me with a great patient experience. You have given me a very special gift – the gift of life – and I sincerely thank all my health care team members for their individual contribution.

Warmest personal regards,

Podge M. Reed, Jr.

Proud Johns Hopkins Patient

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