Gratitude Stories

Gratitude is expressed all across MedStar Health-from our friends, families, caregivers, community, and patients. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Click the photos to view each gratitude story.


Giving to the doctors,
our dedicated heroes

Leaving a legacy to the care team
who saved my life


Infusing philanthropy and gratitude into everyday life

Emily Briton, vice president of professional services at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, understands the importance of giving back. When her oldest daughter Maya was born prematurely seven years ago, she was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Grateful for her healthy recovery during the holiday season of Hanukkah, Briton and her husband Zach decided they would begin a family tradition and that gratitude would be an integral part of it.

“In Judaism, there is a concept called tikkun olam which means ‘repairing the world’, or giving to others,” Briton shares. “It’s become a big part of our teachings and what we do, and it plays a big part of Hanukkah in our house.” When their children were younger, the couple chose which charitable organizations to support on their behalf. Today, seven-year-old Maya and four-year-old Noa play an active role in choosing what synagogue, school, or organization they would like to see benefit from their own savings and Hanukkah funds they gather throughout the year.

This past year, the girls chose to give to MedStar Washington in honor of their mother’s work during the pandemic. “This year was particularly impactful since I was at the hospital a lot. It was hard for little kids to understand why mom was away so much,” Briton says. “We had a lot of conversations with them about the important work MedStar Health is doing to help them get past their fear and feel proud of what I do.” With the help of their father, the family surprised Briton by making a philanthropic gift in her honor.

The lessons of helping others and giving back to your community are lessons being taught in the children’s school. “I think for them it feels second-nature, it wasn’t a surprise that they would choose to give to the places that are so meaningful in our lives--and this year MedStar Health played a large role in that,” Briton says.

The family has also posted about their designated Hanukkah gift to the organization of their choice in recent years, which inspired friends to do the same. “It’s great to see others highlighting an organization they care for,” she says.

Instilling a True Sense of Peace

On January 14, 2021, Lisa Yeager received one of those calls no one wants to receive—her 94-year-old mother, Lois Nowlin, had fallen at the facility where she was living and had been transported to MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. “I was very upset and having to rely on getting information over the phone versus in person due to COVID restrictions made the situation that much worse since my mom has dementia,” Lisa says. “But the nurse I spoke with at the hospital was very caring and kept me informed while my mom was in the ED.”

Lisa was soon told that her mom had broken her hip and needed a partial hip replacement. “At that time, I did not feel confident making an informed decision about moving forward with the procedure because I hadn’t talked to any of her doctors,” she says.

“A hospital associate immediately contacted Dr. Mark Richardson, an orthopaedic surgeon, who called me from home to explain what was going on. I then received another call from Dr. Brian Gallagher, a colleague of Dr. Richardson’s, who went over the procedure with me again to obtain consent to proceed. Dr. Richardson called me before the surgery to assure me that my mom was doing great and after the procedure as well. This gave my family a true sense of peace.”

Her experience with the nurses who cared for her mom while she was recovering was just as positive. “I was calling several times a day to check on her and I was always treated kindly and respectfully. Then Dr. Richardson arranged for me to visit her in person due to her dementia. While I was a bit apprehensive about it, I was also very grateful,” she says.

After several weeks in rehab, Lisa’s mom is doing well and has been moved to a new facility where she is now receiving the level of care she needs. “Everyone at MedStar Union Memorial is amazing and I truly appreciate all they did for me and my mom, especially during these difficult times,” she adds.

Lisa has since decided to make a philanthropic gift to the hospital as a way to express gratitude to Dr. Richardson and his team for the care they provided.


Eternally Grateful After Life-Altering Event

Norina Bentzel has reason to be grateful. On Friday, February 2, 2001, a 52-year-old man wielding a 2-foot-long machete entered the North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School in south central Pennsylvania where she was school principal and started randomly attacking anyone who got in his way

Although no one was killed, some of those attacked sustained serious injuries. Norina’s were the worst. Her hands and arms were so severely cut by the machete that emergency responders opted to send her by helicopter to The Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, widely recognized as the largest, most experienced hand surgery and rehabilitation center in the nation.

There, surgeons—a team working on each hand—painstakingly reattached several of her fingers, which were nearly severed. The injuries to her arms were so bad that they had to implant a titanium plate in one of her wrists to hold the bones together. After 5 days in the hospital she was discharged, subsequently spending 18 months in physical therapy.

Despite what she went through, Norina considers herself fortunate. “I had a very positive experience at the hand center,” she says. ”I received the best care you can get. Everyone was wonderful. They even helped my husband find a hotel once he arrived at the hospital, and provided him with clothes and other necessities, since he hadn’t packed anything in his rush to see me.”

Today, Norina, now retired, is doing well. In the 20 years since the attack, she has spoken to more than 60 audiences about the incident, providing insight and observations about this life- altering event, and is currently writing a book about it. She is also incredibly grateful for the care she received at The Curtis National Hand Center, which she and her husband, Jim, acknowledge with an annual philanthropic gift. “It was an emotional experience. The support I received was exceptional.”

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