Each day, our care team receives expressions of gratitude at MedStar Health, as well as, hospitals and outpatient medical sites across our MedStar Health system. To further cultivate a culture of gratitude, we want to continue to share the heartfelt and inspirational testimonials we received from our friends, families, caregivers, community, and patients. We hope you enjoy the following stories and videos that feature how our culture of gratitude continues to grow.
Veteran Musician Stays Creative through Care
Samuel Hollomand fondly remembers his time with the National Guard and 272nd Army Band. He excitedly discusses his days of performing as a jazz musician.
At 90 years old, despite facing numerous health conditions and intermittent need for rehabilitation, Samuel can still express his creativity through photography, music production, and technology. He credits his occupational therapist, Elizabeth Romero (pictured left), for helping him keep his creative ability.
“The MedStar Visiting Nurse Association not only employs wonderful professionals, but they are also wonderful human beings,” Samuel explained. It was through the collaborative effort of a team of caregivers that Samuel received care in the comfort of his own home that was tailored specifically to his health needs. He is grateful for the care he received from everyone, but for Elizabeth in particular.
“I would always request Elizabeth as my therapist,” Samuel continued, “and even though my treatments are currently done, Elizabeth is always just a call away. She checks in on me from time to time, too!”
Creativity for the Healing
After Harry Ulrich received his diagnosis of prostate cancer, he and his wife Harriet were worried about his prognosis. Concerned about finding the right provider, Harry and Harriet researched their options for care providers and discovered the CyberKnife technology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
The compassion, empathy, and respectful care they received from the entire team helped ease their anxiety every step of the way. Everyone from the front desk person helping them schedule treatments around travel plans, to the accommodating nurses and follow up physician. “We both felt like we were in a partnership with Dr. Collins and his team,” they said. “This is truly patient-centered care.”
Their gratitude for Dr. Collins and the entire group who helped them through Harry’s treatment led them to provide beautiful artwork to improve the aesthetic quality of the radiation oncology lobby. Harry and Harriet (pictured with their artwork) hope the improved lobby will help other patients and families feel more comfortable throughout their treatment experience.
Compassionate Care for Carpenter Hobbyist
Kathy Myers was home enjoying her hobby of refinishing furniture when she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. The rapid feeling of pain was so intense, it knocked Kathy to her knees.
When she arrived at the emergency department, she realized that she forgot her cell phone, but a nurse was able to help her connect with her loved ones. “When people put that much compassion and love in their work… to see the level of care they give, not only professionally, but just as the good, genuine people they are -- these are the exact people who you want to surround you in a health emergency,” Kathy shared.
As she learned more about her prognosis, it became apparent emergency surgery would be required. Her surgeon explained the best next steps not only to Kathy, but also over the phone to her parents who were en route to the hospital.
After an early morning surgery and during a day of rest at the hospital, Kathy met many care team members. Kathy reflected, “Everyone on the staff, from the surgeon to the kind woman who would wipe down my room, they stopped and talked to me like I was more than just a patient, they treated me like I was one of their people.”
A Beautiful Legacy
A complicated health journey would take Elizabeth LaFleur, and her husband Arthur LaFleur, away from home. Elizabeth had a diagnosis so difficult that her primary care physician in Boston sent her to Washington, D.C. to meet with Cal S. Matsumoto, MD at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
Elizabeth’s husband Arthur said, "I can't say enough good things about Dr. Matsumoto’s care. From the very first moment he walked into the conference room, Elizabeth and I felt a presence about him. He was caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable."
Understanding the gravity of the decision they were making to undergo this complex surgery, Dr. Matsumoto explained every possible alternative and what the complications were.
Given the limited, effective options available to her, Elizabeth chose to undergo the complex surgery. Tragically, she did not survive the nearly 12-hour operation. Despite this devastating outcome, Arthur was filled with love for his wife and gratitude for the MedStar team who skillfully and compassionately cared for her. He wanted to express his gratitude to both Dr. Matsumoto and his team, as well as pay tribute to Elizabeth in a special way.
Using a portion of the proceeds from her estate, Arthur honored their loving relationship – and Elizabeth’s passion for the Maine coast and lighthouses – by dedicating a tranquil fountain in the space where she received treatment. The fountain creates a beautiful legacy in Elizabeth’s memory that will benefit patients and their loved ones.
Rides for Therapy Patients
Patricia Chung faced a loss of independence after her knee surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. She was advised by her physician that she would be unable to drive for several weeks.
A Team’s Willingness to Further a Life
Without treatment, Ed Pinder would have six to nine months to live with his diagnosis of colon cancer. His disease was so advanced that his cancer had spread to his liver with too many tumors to count. Ed began the long, painful process of treating an illness designed to thwart treatment efforts.
Pilot’s Passion Leads to Paralysis Recovery
Lee Sommer’s passion for flying and his pride in managing the historic College Park Airport is limitless. "This is the world’s oldest, continually operating airport and was a demonstration and training site for the Wright Brothers," he said, happy to remind anyone within an earshot.
Lee received a diagnosis of a cauda equina lesion, which is an incomplete paralysis that is caused through injury to the mass of nerves which fan out of the spinal cord in the lower back. Lee had lost, in one evening, complete movement and sensation in his right leg which required an immediate surgery. After surgery, Lee was told that with intensive therapy, he would be able to achieve recovery, and was referred to MedStar National Rehabilitation Network for physical therapy.
Lee expressed his gratitude, "Dr. Pamela Ballard evaluated me right away and the next day I started my regimen. The entire team at the hospital was a huge support. Harsh Thakkar, the spinal cord injury wellness specialist was terrific." Over time, with the expertise and encouragement of his team of therapists, Lee went from no movement, to being wheelchair bound, to now only utilizing a cane to help steady himself.
"This experience has been the biggest challenge in my life," Lee added, "My personal goal is to get back to 100 percent and I know my caregivers at MedStar are critical to achieving it. I am incredibly grateful for the care I received and the progression I made with the help of my therapist. They put me back on my feet and for that, I’m eternally thankful."
One Heart Saves Another
Maureen O’Neil Hooker (pictured right) lived with heart failure for many years due to the damaging side-effects of chemotherapy and reached the point where she desperately needed an organ donation.
Maureen is grateful to everyone at MedStar, "an army of phenomenal caregivers," she said, who gave her this new chance. "Every morning when I wake to the sound of my new heart, I celebrate the gift of life. My gratitude grows with each passing day."
Maureen further expressed this gratitude by locating the family of the young woman who gave her heart, and became close friends with her mother (pictured left). Discovering her organ donor was a mother herself, Maureen established a scholarship fund to benefit the children of organ donors who gave the gift of life.
Perseverance and Positivity
Patrick Forbes used to live an active life. He worked as a mechanic, was engaged in his neighborhood, and always had a positive attitude about himself and the world around him. His activity lessened once he was affected by complicated health problems, including suffering from diabetes and tragically losing his left foot in an accident, but his kind spirit remained.
Surgeon Jeffrey D. Sabloff, MD at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center said, "This was an unusual case, but he was in a situation where if we didn’t do something, he’d never get up and walk." Patrick said he appreciates and is grateful for the time and attention Dr. Sabloff dedicated to his treatment. "I never thought I’d walk again,” Patrick said, “but Dr. Sabloff told me ‘we’ll get you out of this chair."
Knowing the great results Dr. Sabloff has achieved, patients can see that seemingly impossible results can sometimes be possible. Patrick has always paired medical treatment with a positive attitude. "I don’t let anything bother me," said Patrick. "Life is good. I’m thankful for my beautiful life."
Proud Veteran Conquers Appalachian Trail
Henry Rorie learned "Mind over Matter" during his time in the Marine Corps and placed this mantra directly in the center of his incredible 2,191.1 mile journey to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail.
Nearing the end of his epic journey, Henry was faced with a complicated surgery that would require another break from what he loved. With mind over matter, this didn’t slow his drive, "The number one goal for me was to get back on the trail. All of my doctors at MedStar Health made this their number one priority as well... I can’t say enough about how grateful I am for their care. They were just excellent!"
Under the care and expertise of his MedStar physician, Ravi Agarwal, DDS, and clinical team, after surgery and a brief hospital stay, he was able to reach the final precipice of the Appalachian Trail. He even touched the iconic end-trail marker as he summited Mount Katahdin! He stood at the end of a momentous personal journey, with his health and grateful spirit, an example of the fighting human spirit.
Tennis Injury turn nearly Tragic
When Sarah’s health took an unexpected turn for the worse, her emergency care team sprung into action and brought her back to life. Twice.
Early one morning, Sarah experienced rapid labored breathing and tightness in her chest. The last thing she remembers from that morning is immediately dialing 911 only then, to awake four days later in a MedStar intensive care unit.
What she doesn’t remember is arriving by ambulance, unable to speak due to respiratory distress. Her emergency department team had to revive her twice when her heart stopped beating. The rapid onset of such dangerous symptoms lead physicians to diagnose Sarah with a pulmonary embolism. With quick action, her care team safely removed the blood clot that had formed behind her knee - saving Sarah’s life.
It was thanks to the fast action and medical expertise that Ethan Booker, MD; Travis Thompson, MD, emergency medicine resident, Matthew Schreiber, MD and Emil Cohen, MD were able to quickly collaborate on bringing Sarah back to health.
"My family and I are so grateful to the hospital and the entire team," Sarah reflects. Her father also states, "My wife and I know that Sarah is alive because she had the right doctors with the right skill set, doing their job well. Every member of the team was so kind to us. They went out of their way to make us comfortable, and the care Sarah received was quite remarkable. The practices and the culture of caring were so impressive. We cannot say enough about how incredibly grateful we are for the care she received."
Strong Women: A Mother and a Daughter's
When LaWan Sypert-Mujiheed and her husband Dawud arrived at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s Labor & Delivery department, they were ready to welcome their daughter, Laila, to the world. On the day of delivery, however, mother and newborn daughter endured life-threatening medical emergencies. When in active labor, LaWan suddenly collapsed and passed out completely and baby Laila’s heartbeat slowed.
After intense intervention and numerous hours spent in care at MedStar Southern Maryland, Children’s National Medical Center and MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, both Laila and LaWan’s health risks subsided. LaWan now has nearly full physical function, thanks to continuing treatment with her MedStar therapist. Little Laila is now a thriving young toddler.
Dawud, after being faced with losing both his wife and daughter, recalls of this life changing event, "You are never prepared to hear your wife is dying and your baby is too. I knew Laila would pull through, just like her mother. They are strong women. I am incredibly grateful to the physicians and care team who saved both my wife and daughter."
The “A-Team” Saves My Life Twice
In 2006, despite experiencing a tremendous amount of tightening in his chest, Larry Washam was discharged from a community hospital. Not one to complain, Larry continued to fight through the pain until a second trip to the emergency department was necessary. As his oxygen levels continued to decline – things went from bad to worse.
A year after the surgery, Larry was again having troubles breathing. After Dr. Marshall ran a series of tests she identified a condition which included the paralysis of the diaphragm on the right side of his lungs. With another successful surgery, Larry stated, "You never forget the person who saves your life once. The difference in my case is that Dr. Marshall saved my life twice. I can't put into words my gratitude for her care."
For his continued care, Larry was referred to Charles Arthur Read Jr., MD. In 2015, during a routine checkup, Dr. Read noticed a nodule on Larry’s lung. Due to his limited lung capacity and other comorbidities, surgery wasn’t an option. Subsequently, Dr. Read conferred with Dr. Marshall and Brian Timothy Collins, MD on the treatment needed and decided to pursue the high intense target radiation Cyberknife procedure. Through this targeted form of radiation, Larry was able to keep the remaining functionality of his lung while removing the majority of the cancerous nodule.
Because of this exceptional care, Larry now affectionately refers to his clinician team as his "heroes" and to MedStar Georgetown as the "A-Team".
They Gave Me Back to Him
Thene Mernick recalls her sudden injury after feeling faint. She talks about how MedStar Health helped in her healing process and how grateful she and her husband are for the team that supported her incredible recovery.
I Have Hope
Grateful Patient Kevin Kolb discusses how life-changing research and immunotherapy helped him get his life back after a Stage 4 Melanoma diagnosis.
Kenny Alexander, RN, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, talks about how his patients impact his life and the great sense of satisfaction that comes from helping them reach their goals.