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Gratitude Matters for Our Caregivers 

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Date: 10/24/2020 To: Dr. Gregory Argyros, MD, MACP, FCCP From: Janelle Baliko (and brothers Ryan and Eric Baliko) Re: Staff Recognition Dear Dr. Argyros, I will apologize in advance for both how overdue and how lengthy this letter is, but hopefully it will be an easy read as we offer our unwavering compliments to MedStar Washington Hospital Center doctors, staff, and team members. It is important to preface this note with the following: • I have been under the entrusted care of Dr. David Shocket for several years to manage my unpredictable Crohn’s disease. • I was assessed by Dr. Edward Aulisi for a meningioma in 2017 and continue annual post-radiation MRIs under his advisement and care.

Part I: Our Dad, Rudolph (Rudy) Baliko The mid-to-latter part of 2019 had our beloved dad, Rudy Baliko, starting to feel more and more fatigued. He was still working, by choice, as a forester, his chosen career of more than 50 years. He loved the woods, being outdoors, and enjoying nature. Dad’s local physician had waved off his symptoms as “just part of getting older.” Dad turned 80 in November 2019 and was planning on retiring at age 85. He had always been in great shape, never really having more than an occasional cold. Dad continued to press his physician over the next few months to which his physician responded, ordering some bloodwork, ultimately diagnosing dad with Rocky Mountain Spotted fever as the result of a tick bite (though dad hadn’t experienced the most common symptoms). As we approached mid-April 2020, dad’s fatigue had worsened and he was unable to eat much of anything due to extreme pain in his abdomen. On Thursday, April 23rd, I contacted Dr. Shocket who immediately had his staff schedule a tele-video call with Dad for the following Monday, April 27th. After a thorough conversation with dad and receiving confirmation from him to discuss his health with me, Dr. Shocket contacted me immediately and told me we needed to get our dad up to MWHC so he could have the appropriate doctors assess and diagnose him. He was honest in sharing with me that our dad was experiencing something very serious. This allowed us to start mentally preparing for what the MWHC teams might find. On Tuesday, April 28th, I drove our dad from St. Mary’s County MD up to MWHC ED where he was admitted immediately. Not five minutes after he was received, Dr. Shocket called to let me know he saw that my dad had been admitted and that he would provide the ED team enough time to get the basics done, and that he would then go down and visit with our dad a bit. He wanted to make sure our dad saw a friendly and familiar face, especially in these times of Covid when mom and I had to leave dad at the hospital without the means to visit. Dad was admitted, as expected. Dr. Shocket reached out to the appropriate teams to make sure he was seen by the best. In addition, he took time out of his schedule to make daily visits to our dad, not just to check on him, but to ensure dad had the opportunity to see and talk with a familiar face. Not only was Dr. Shocket visiting with our dad, he was staying in close contact with me to keep our family informed. A few days later, Dr. Shocket called me with the news: terminal pancreatic cancer. It was everywhere. He took it upon himself to share the news with dad directly so it wasn’t coming from new and unfamiliar faces. We are forever grateful our dad received this awful news from a physician who is considered by our family as an extended family member himself. Dad was discharged to us on Friday, May 1st. While devastated to be losing our dad so abruptly, we were blessed to have the diagnosis from the MWHC team so that we could spend the next nearly four weeks of dad’s life with him at home. The first week was good as he provided my brothers and me with a crash course in forestry so we could close out his business and complete all current client projects. The following week on Friday, May 8th, Home Hospice Care was initiated. Dad was still able to sit up and communicate with us as we allowed some close family and friends to come say goodbye. Post-discharge, Dr. Shocket called me regularly to inquire about dad. This was of huge comfort, not only to me, but to our entire family. My brothers and other relatives couldn’t get over the amount of concern and communication Dr. Shocket offered (after all my years under his care, I wasn’t as surprised, as this is all truly indicative of how he treats people). We are so grateful for his support during such a difficult time. When we ran into an issue with the Hospice care, I reached out to Dr. Shocket, who, immediately reached out to your Palliative Care Director for guidance which he relayed back to me all within 30 minutes of my initial call. With that guidance, we were able to quickly resolve our issue and focus on dad’s true needs. Our beloved dad died on Wednesday, May 27th. I contacted Dr. Shocket to let him know, and, in addition to expressing his sincere condolences to me and my family, he offered to do anything we needed to help us get through that time. Dr. Shocket, as I’ve been able to say time and time again, is a top-notch human being and physician because, for him, it truly is all about how you treat people. While unfortunate, the diagnosis from your physicians that we weren’t able to get from local doctors afforded our family precious time with our beloved husband and dad. There are no words that can accurately express our extreme gratitude for that. Dad’s sons, my brothers, may not have otherwise known to travel home for dad’s final and precious weeks of life and for this, there are no words strong enough to express all of our gratitude.

Part II: Our Mom, Marguerite (Peg) Baliko On Monday, June 8th, five days after we buried our dad, my younger brother, Ryan, still in town from Colorado, and I found our mom unresponsive in her home at 6:15pm. She was rushed to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital. Knowing they don’t have capabilities to handle neurological-related issues, as soon as we were informed mom had bleeding on the brain, I reached out to Dr. Shocket who immediately contacted Dr. Aulisi who approved mom’s admission to MWHC via MedStar’s LifeFlight. Dr. Shocket had briefed Dr. Aulisi about the recent course of events our family had been through with our dad. Once mom’s helicopter took off, we went back to our parent’s home to wait for the next call. My older brother Eric would drive back up from South Carolina the next day, after heading home just three days prior. Dr. Matthew Jacobs was the receiving physician and had been provided all the details about mom’s condition and our family’s recent events. It was a bit after midnight when the call came through. It was not a good call. All three doctors had kept in touch with each other and the prognosis was extremely grim: mom had stopped responding and was most likely not going to survive the night. I asked Dr. Jacobs to please just keep mom as comfortable as possible until Ryan and I could come up the next morning, preparing to bring home her body. Miracles happen and our mom somehow made it through the night. At close to 6am on June 9th, Dr. Jacobs called with the amazing news that mom was now responsive which meant they had surgical options. Soon thereafter, Dr. Aulisi called to explain what the surgery would entail. We consented and Dr. Aulisi and his team proceeded. A few hours later, we received the call that mom had made it through and her outlook was much more promising. My brothers and I really weren’t sure how we would have been strong enough to handle the possible tragedy of losing mom now, and through the expertise and sheer humanity of Dr. Auilisi, Dr. Jacobs, and the entire team, they made sure we wouldn’t have to. In addition, all of the doctors pulled the necessary strings to allow my brothers and me the gift of seeing our mom in person that Friday. While heavily sedated, and not alert by any account, we believe she knew we were there: talking to her, holding and squeezing her hands. We just needed that for some comfort in an otherwise very gray time for us; and while visitation was not an option for most during this Covid time, these doctors made sure it was an option for us. While our mom had another setback of testing Covid + while in the ICU, she proved to us once again how determined a fighter she truly is by undergoing the Covid antibody plasma transfusion, ventilation, etc. Minus an obstacle with one physician that was handled immediately by Dr. Shocket and Dr. Ira Rabin, the team continued fighting as hard for mom as mom was fighting for herself. We only wish we had the names of each of these team members to provide them the appropriate recognition. Teamwork makes the dream work. With mom’s improvement came the need to transfer her out of MWHC. We were sad to see her leave the institution that provides insurmountable patient care, but we understood she was no longer in need of their medical care. Still Covid positive and ventilated, the facility options were extremely limited, so she was transferred to Bridgepoint Capitol Hill. As of this writing, 10/24/2020, mom continues to progress and is expected to return to her home in St. Mary’s County next month. We all await her homecoming to treat her like the deserving fighter and special mother and friend she is. Each of the physicians I speak of in this letter stand tall in the pride of their work, not with egos and not for recognition, rather, simply doing what they do best, caring deeply for others. They humbly don’t expect letters of gratitude, but we cannot go without acknowledging and applauding them and will continue referring anyone in need of their services to them. Simply said, thank you. Warm regards, Janelle Baliko, Eric Baliko, and Family, Ryan Baliko and Family

The Baliko Family

Huge shout out and thank you to all the employees at MedStar Georgetown. I appreciate everything you have done for me and helped me through this past year. Your hard work, dedication, and kindness does not go unnoticed. We appreciate you and I am personally so grateful :))

Yasmine B.

Thank you so much for all that you do. Especially during this crucial time, it is good to know that there are people who are willing to stand on the front line and continue to care for those in need. I had a kidney transplant in July, and I am extremely grateful for the doctors, nurses and staff that were available to assist me during a pandemic. They made me feel comfortable and operated in such a normal fashion that you would not believe that there was even a pandemic occurring. To the surgeons, nephrologists, the nurses, and the staff who cared for me before, during and afterwards, I salute you all.

Darrell R.

I cherish the memories and the friendships I made in the over 20 years total I worked at MedStar Montgomery. The people which I have shared that time will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for the privilege of working with you. Your unwavering spirit, your compassion for nursing/healthcare, your commitment to patients and your peers will get you to the other side of this horrid pandemic. Knowing your actions make a difference leads you forward. Take care of yourself and stay safe my friends. Debbie D.- retired MedStar Nurse

Debbie D.

Mara Sedlock Genovese, Physical Therapist Extradinaire, is a treasure! She has served me in home 3 times. Her professionalism, ability to connect and converse with her patients, and kind encouragement are to be admired! Her love and care for me I will always remember fondly!

Bobbie Y.

I wanted to thank Dr. Wisotsky for the care he has given me

Amanda B.

Krishna, SUPER OT PERSON, has served me 3 different times! He is to be commended for his professionalism, kindness, encouragement, and ability to connect with his patients which them gives value and dignity. What a gift he is!

Bobbie Y.

Just would like to thank the staff who took care of me when I was sick with COVID-19 in March. It was a very scary time for me since it was the first time being hospitalized for any sickness. Medical staff was very helpful and courteous to me and I never was able to express my gratitude because it was a scary time for the Doctor’s and Nurses dealing with the unknown at the onset of the crisis. Kudos to all who help me to recover to make it back to my family!

Sidney H.

We are so proud of all you that take care of the sick with covic -19, risking your lives You are heroes, we appreciate the endless days giving hope and love to the patients. God bless you. We love you all.

Liliana C.

We are eternally grateful to all the world's medical personnel for your bravery, commitment and dedication. The power of science plus human care is an unbeatable combination. Thank you, and know that we are thinking of you every day.

Peter H.

Thank you to all the nurses, Administrative Staff, Dr. Ahmad and Dr. Carlini at Brandywine. I believe all areas of the medical care has improved 150% this year even through a very unlikely time for us all. I especially feel comfortable, safe and respected from Drs. Ahmad & Carlini including their medical staff and the Brandywine office staff. These doctors LISTEN to my every word and talk to me as though I really matter and they really care. The front staff is also awesome; I am always greeted with a warm welcome and always asked if there is anything else they can do to help and that means so much when your there for a follow up and/or feel physical discomfort. Thank You ALL so much for making my visits less stressful and more heartfelt.

Robin S.

I would like to thank my doctors asking you Neil and Sarah Johnson for the great work they have done I would like to thank the nurses at the hospital and the doctors at the hospital for taking care of all their patients and other patients I also would like to thank the fire department all the men and women who are on the front nine to take care of others when the emergency comes I pray for each and every one of them and I pray for the hospitals that have to take care of those who have the code linking covid-19 the doctors and the nurses I pray for them because they're right there working with the people who have the covid-19 I will pray for each and every one of them and all the men and women for who are doing their best to see that we have had a very Thanksgiving God bless each and every one of you you're in my prayers amen..

Catherine P.

The Stafford Family appreciates the extraordinary efforts of those caregivers working so hard to save the lives of those affected by the pandemic. Praying for your continued strength and safety. 🙏🏻❤️

Cindy S.

MedStar Brandywine has the BEST team. There are no words that could express my gratitude for the work that you do. THANK YOU! I APPRECIATE YOU! GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU!

Janet B.

Having been hospitalized twice at MGUH during the pandemic (fortunately, neither time for Covid-19), I must say that the quality of care provided to me by the physicians, nurses, and various technicians was of the highest caliber. Thank you for your ongoing kindness, professionalism, and overall care during these extremely difficult times.

Pamela S.