The ED Team at The Johns Hopkins Hospital
December 2022
The ED Team
at The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Adult Emergency Department
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
United States




I finally sit down to type this email and already tears of gratitude and sentiment start to well up in my eyes.  I have been a nurse for 30 years and a daughter for 52 years—neither job has always been easy, but I must say that both jobs have always been meaningful.   

I brought my mother to the ED because I was at the end of my wits and just didn’t know what else to do.  I had called 911 the evening before because my mother was in distress and phoned me as I was leaving work, proclaiming that she was dying (and I later found the 12-minute video in her phone where she said her good-byes to me and my brothers).  She woke up with horrible neck pain two days before and then she had new onset of jerking movements that were causing her to flail and thrash about. My 87-pound mother looked so frail and vulnerable—she was short-of-breath, a little nonsensical, and was clearly in distress. I had never seen her in such a state in my entire life.  And trust me, I have seen my mother in all kinds of predicaments. Her behavior and overall condition when I rushed into my home prompted me to call 911 and she was taken to the nearest ED—which was NOT Johns Hopkins.   

Long story short, she had a horrible experience in that ED and did not stay there.  The staff would not let me and my brother in triage to see her and she felt abandoned and treated “like a prisoner.”  Her behavior was less than cooperative because of how she was treated and the ED staff at this hospital was eager for her to leave. She received no care and was discharged without ever being seen by a provider. We had a previously-made appointment to be seen at an urgent care clinic the following day.  I brought her home and managed her the best I could that night.  In the morning, I made the decision to take her to the Johns Hopkins Hospital ED as I felt that was a better option than the urgent care clinic.  

Our experience in the ED at JHH was extremely positive and I am beyond grateful for the amazing care my mother received.  She was treated with kindness and respect—something she did not receive at the other facility.  Every single person who interacted with my mother was wonderful.  I was there to witness it all.  If I could sum up the experience with one word, that word would be: compassion.   

First, I’d like to thank Nurse Michelle Whitfield.  I have known Michelle for over 10 years through our work with the Palliative Care Committee.  She saw me sitting in the waiting room and she came over to talk to me. I introduced her to my mother.  A few minutes later, my mother was called back for an assessment with a provider, an IV start, and a lab draw. Shortly after that, we were escorted to a room.  I know that Michelle expedited my mother’s care and I am forever grateful for her initiative and thoughtfulness.   

PA Autumn Jackson took my mother’s history and ordered labs.  She was very professional, kind, and there was not a hint of judgment about my mother’s eccentricities.  The clinical technician Sujeni Williams who started my mom’s IV and drew her labs was wonderful, too.  She was very engaged with my mother and took the lead when I kept telling my mother to hold still, calm down, and take it easy.  This very seasoned clinical technician gave me the “We got this and everything is okay” signal and I promptly took a step back and stopped interfering.  

We were taken into our room Nurse Sydney Cornock showed my mother compassion and kindness.  She did a full assessment, did my mom’s vital signs, and truly listened to my mother talk about her symptoms and why she was in the ED.  Sydney told us that she is a new nurse graduate and chose to work at JHH after attending school in Nashville.  I was very impressed with this new graduate nurse working in a very busy, urban ED with such confidence.  Sydney was extremely attentive and was very patient with my mother.  

Dr. Mustapha Saheed was the Attending ED Physician.  He was so engaging, funny, and really took his time talking to my mother and getting her history. Although I love my mother dearly, she can go off on a tangent and talk about things that I find embarrassing and most people find uninteresting.  Dr. Saheed took this in stride and when she started to sing her favorite song lyrics by a corny British folk singer no one has ever heard of (Roger Whitaker), Dr. Saheed showed interest and did a quick Google search and said he would take a listen to his music on his ride home.  The level of engagement Dr. Saheed had with my mother was refreshing.  He was sure to stress the fact that my mother and I were “family” because I work at JHH.  He spent so much time with my mom and really put us both at ease.  In everything he said and did, he offered optimism.  

I was very impressed with the verbal hand-off between Dr. Saheed and Dr. Scott Gummerson—the ED resident.  As Dr. Saheed updated Dr. Gummerson, they included both me and my mother in the conversation.  No one ever talked over us or talked in terms my mother could not understand.  She was included in everything.  Dr. Saheed and Dr. Gummerson both did a physical assessment of my mother and they explained the plan of care to her.  Every statement was spoken with concern and compassion—and the commitment to finding answers and getting her back on track.  Both of these physicians were extremely respectful and personable.   

The radiology technician who took my mother to the CT scan was funny and interactive.  I’m sorry to say that I do not remember his name, but he was very effective at putting my mom at ease and he chatted with her on the way to CT and all the way back.  

A neurology consult was ordered and my mother was evaluated by Attending Physician Dr. Judy Huang and the resident Dr. Navangi Patel.  I had a feeling that a special favor was done so that my mother could be evaluated in the ED instead of being admitted for observation for this neurology consult.  I have nothing to base this on other than a hunch, but if my hunch is correct—I am again forever grateful because this expedited my mother’s discharge from the ED to home.  Dr. Huang and Dr. Patel were quite empathetic and nonjudgmental about my mother’s quirks and peculiarities.  

My mother had a pain crisis in front of them (along with her jerking movements) and curled up on her side and sobbed.  I know she sobbed because she was in physical pain, but she was also exasperated by grief and the current circumstances of her life.  Dr. Huang and Dr. Patel were so understanding and kind-hearted.  They did a full review of her medications and discovered that my mother’s noncompliance with her medications was the root cause of her physical issues.  Whereas I was quick to scold my mother for this irresponsible behavior that made me miss two days of work and turned my life upside-down, I witnessed only compassion and humanity from Dr. Huang and Dr. Patel.  Their neurological exam was very thorough and my mother absolutely delighted in the fact that Dr. Patel commented on her physical strength.  They explained the plan of care and emphasized the importance of taking medications as prescribed.  Other referrals were made and my mom was able to be discharged from the ED.   

PA Hilary Krombel put things in motion for a smooth discharge.  She was energetic, funny, polite, and had great follow-up with everything.  She electronically sent prescriptions to a retail pharmacy, made the necessary referrals, and then Nurse Sydney Cornock reviewed the discharge instructions with us.   

All too often, the ED receives criticism. The Johns Hopkins Hospital ED is probably the most challenging department in the entire health system to meet the very high expectations of the general public, and I’d like to give only praise and compliments.  Every single employee who interacted with us introduced themselves and explained their role.  No one was rushed.  Everyone took their time.  Everyone was kind and nonjudgmental.  As a family member, I felt welcome and included—and I was invited to be with my mother through every step of her care.  I’m happy to report that my mother is much better and we have home PT/OT and we see her JHH PCP in two days.  Eventually, she will have her sleep study.  The jerking movements have stopped and her neck pain is controlled with ibuprofen and acetaminophen.  She is taking her medications as prescribed.   

Again, the theme of our ED experience was compassion.  Thank you for providing this to me and my mom.  You all make me so proud to work here.   
My heart is full.  Thank you!