UM SJMC Patient Stories
As a past employee of UM St. Joseph Medical Center, Meghan Ray Virro knew she would be in good hands at the medical center after she became pregnant with her first child in 2013. What she didn't know was just how expert and loving those "hands" would need to be. On a routine week 27 visit to her obstetrician in August, Meghan was discovered to have severe preeclampsia, potentially putting her life, and her baby's life, in danger. As she tells it, "I did not pass Go, did not collect $200 – I was sent straight from the doctor's office to St. Joe's with the knowledge that we might have our daughter three months early, an incredibly frightening scenario." Read more about Meghan's birth story and how the services she received at UM SJMC helped her baby thrive and her family grow! Read the full story.
"Adventuresome" is probably too mild a word to describe Gretchen and Tom Carbaugh but it will have to suffice. In 2002, after selling their successful business, they commissioned a 53' Oyster Marine sailboat, took to the high seas and spent the next 10 years circumnavigating the globe. They lived the life that most only dream about. Fast forward to October 2014 when Gretchen is in the intensive care unit at UM St. Joseph Medical Center slowly recovering from an extremely serious and painful back surgery. The pain was excruciating and relentless. But relief arrived from a combination of pain medications and from certified integrative healing therapist, Heather Keller, RN. Tom was amazed at what he witnessed. "As Heather applied her hands over Gretchen, I actually saw her sink back into the pillows, ease her breathing and relax. I've never seen anything quite like it," he says. Read the full story.
If Colleen Kotras had any fear that she would be alone on her cancer journey after being diagnosed in August 2013, she need not have worried. Her husband, Neil, instinctively knew that the loss of her hair would be a particularly emotional blow to Colleen. To demonstrate that "we're in this together, babe," he shaved his head. It may seem like a small sacrifice but his act spoke volumes about a man, a marriage and a family. “It is so frightening to learn that you have breast cancer and that you will have to go through some harrowing times before you are well," adds Colleen. "It is vital to be surrounded by people who love and care about you. Not only did I receive this from my family but everyone at The Cancer Institute at St. Joe's made me feel that their job was to cure me in body and spirit." Read the full story.
For Arnold Gerber and his wife Debby, Arnold's heart attack was a life changing experience. The Gerbers credit the EMTs who were first on the scene and Dr. Khosrow Tabassi in the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Emergency Department and Dr. Henry Sun in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab for saving his life. Later, Dr. Jason Marx in the Intensive Care Unit carefully watched over his recovery. "These physicians are perfect examples of excellence in medical care and are surrounded by amazing and compassionate support staff," say both Arnold and Debby. In 2013 and 2014 the Gerbers made extremely generous gifts in support of the medical center. "I worked for 35 years in Human Resources," adds Arnold. "What I saw in the staff at St. Joseph's, makes the term "human resources" a metaphor for the "best of the best." Debby and I feel very blessed." Read the full story.
When Kathryn, "Kitty" Gerling started in the banking business in 1950, it was a "man's world," not particularly welcoming to women who wanted a seat at the table. Kitty would have to prove herself time and again to be accepted but she persevered, becoming president and CEO of Midstate Federal Savings and Loan, located on York Road near the medical center. It is not surprising that a woman of Kitty's intelligence would recognize it in others. When she was diagnosed with colon cancer she turned to the Wound and Ostomy Center at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center and found a kindred spirit in Sue Currence, RN, director of the Center. "We started with a professional relationship as she took fantastic care of me and then we became fast friends," says Kitty. Read the full story.
When Fran Kirley founded Nexion Health he had one mission in mind—to provide quality of care that would enhance quality of life. It seems all the more fitting that when he needed hip surgery in December 2013, he would seek out David Dalury, MD and chief of Orthopaedics at UMSJMC. "The entire process [hip replacement surgery] was an extremely positive experience for me. I was feeling stronger and knew I could improve each and every day going forward." Read more about Fran's experience and Dr. Dalury's care. Read the full story.
When you have your first knee surgery at age 78, you are bound to be apprehensive as Jane Riepe was in 1999. But David Dalury, MD, Chief of Orthopaedics at UM St. Joseph Medical Center, allayed her fears. "He was kind and a good listener as well as honest and reasonable about what I could expect." Read the full story.
A sweet anecdote reveals Stuart Silberg's deep and sensitive devotion to his family. The day before entering UM St. Joseph Medical Center for cancer surgery, Silberg had a superman drawn on his belly while attending a school event with his seven grandchildren. He then proceeded to show his young grandchildren how the Man of Steel would help their beloved "Popo" through his surgery. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he turned to Daniel Dietrick, MD, chief of Surgery at UM St. Joseph because "I have a great deal more to accomplish. I was impressed by his straightforward talk, excellent reputation and kindness. I was equally impressed by the medical center's staff compassionate care." Read the full story.
Friday, June 13, 2014 may have been hot and humid but that did not stop hundreds of runners and walkers from coming to Oregon Ridge Park to be part of the first Beats for BJ, a 5K Family Fun Run. The purpose of the event was twofold – to honor BJ Land who unknowingly suffered from coronary artery disease, a silent killer that can be asymptomatic, and to increase awareness of UM St. Joseph Medical Center's HeartAware initiative that consists of a free online test to gauge the risk of heart disease. Read the full story.
When Agnes Rosendale, who passed away in June 2013, set up a charitable gift annuity with UM St. Joseph Medical Center as beneficiary, she was, in essence, leaving money to the "family business." Retired from the former Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Company (now PNC Bank), Agnes never worked for UM St. Joseph but she has no less than seven family members who have worked or are currently employed at the medical center. Read more about Agnes' life and legacy. Read the full story.
Retired insurance executive John Rock is not one to wait around for things to happen. Certainly that was not the case when he met his wife, Pat, 62 years ago. In fact, he proposed on the second date! "I couldn't get those beautiful green eyes out of my mind." After marrying in 1952, the couple filled their life with children, friends, skiing, tennis and golf. Pat and John felt blessed until March 9, 2011, their son's birthday, when Michael Schultz, MD, director of the Breast Center, gently told Pat that her biopsy was positive; she did, indeed, have breast cancer in both breasts. Read the full story.
When you meet Ed and Sharon Klawansky, the first thing you notice is their devotion to each other. You see it in their eyes, their easy laughter and the way they can't wait to tell you something great about the other one. They understand what it means to be a team, facing life's hurdles together. Having this attitude was never more necessary than when Ed was diagnosed in 2010 with stage II esophageal cancer. His primary care physician insisted that Ed and Sharon choose the multidisciplinary approach at St. Joseph Cancer Institute. There, they joined another team, just as devoted and caring as they are. Read the full story.
It's not enough for A&G Management to rent apartment homes to families in 13 communities throughout Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard Counties. They want to keep these families healthy, too, and thought of a great way to promote Heart Smart Awareness Month in February. Read more about A&G Management's fundraising initiative, benefiting the Heart Institute at UM St. Joseph Medical Center Read the full story.
Seven years after meeting on a high school blind date, Betts Moran flew with her parents in 1966 to Germany, to wed Larry Moran, an Army Lieutenant stationed in Stuttgart. This was the beginning of a wonderful marriage that lasted 47 years until Betts' death from pancreatic cancer in 2013. Read the full story.
Charles "Bert" Sadtler was an All American attackman for the 1949 University of Virginia men's Lacrosse Team. He knows something about toughness and teamwork. When he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2009 Sadtler knew he would have to apply the skills that made him great on the playing field to his determination to be a cancer survivor. Read more about Bert's story and how he now gives back to those who helped him along his journey. Read the full story.
Royce Hendler, RN, knows a little something about breast cancer, both personally and professionally. As a nurse for plastic surgeon Ronald Schuster, she sees first hand the anxiety that breast cancer survivors experience as they come to his office for breast reconstruction. And testing positive for the breast cancer susceptibility gene (BRCA-2) means that Royce has a higher than average likelihood of developing the disease, just as her mother did. In fact, breast cancer has touched three generations of her family so when Royce talks about breast cancer and its impact, she speaks from the heart. Read the full story.
It is astounding enough to learn that George Hillenbrand has volunteered at UM St. Joseph Medical Center for 40 consecutive years. But even more surprising than his extraordinary length of service is hearing how he became a volunteer. Read the full story.
If you ever need to chase the blues away, stop by All Saints' Episcopal Church in Reisterstown on the third Saturday of the month. You'll find women of all ages from different churches, crocheting and knitting hats for new babies and chemotherapy patients, along with blankets and prayer shawls for any patient. Read the full story.
St. Joseph Medical Center is fortunate to have many loyal friends and supporters. It is a little more difficult, however, to name donors who have never missed the opportunity to make an annual gift since the hospital opened in Towson in 1965. John and Eileen Schmidt are the happy exception. Married for 69 years, the Schmidts have a special affinity for St. Joseph. "My brother, Gordon Bautz, was instrumental in bringing St. Joe's to Towson nearly 50 years ago," says Eileen. Read the full story.
Many at St. Joseph call volunteer Fran Hogan, "the face of St. Joe's." Fran came to volunteer 18 years ago, when her husband passed away and she was looking to fill empty hours. Fran is literally everywhere, greeting patients, soothing worried families in the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Emergency Department, and helping patients navigate the complexities of a large hospital. Read the full story.
An architect, with over 40 years experience in designing complex buildings for colleges and universities, Henry Fostel, AIA, knows that it's the details that matter. And that is why his experience as a patient for five days at St. Joseph Medical Center was so unique to him. "Without exception, everyone, from the nutrition department, who made sure water was hot for my tea, to the nurses who explained every aspect of my care, details were never overlooked."Read the full story.
For her 35th birthday, Ken Suter surprised his wife Nicole with a trip to Jamaica that included 10 of their family and friends, all of whom managed to keep it a secret. The trip was made all the sweeter because it may never have happened had Nicole not had life-saving open heart surgery when she was only 26 years old and a mother to three small children. Read the full story.
During his many years on the Bench as Associate Judge in Baltimore County Circuit Court, the Honorable Alfred L. Brennan, Sr. was not shy about expressing his words. He is equally emphatic when talking about St. Joseph Medical Center. Undergoing treatment for cancer, Judge Brennan calls the nurses in the Cancer Institute, "my chemo angels." And he is equally effusive when talking about his Cancer Institute physicians Josh Forman, M.D. and Richard Schrader, M.D. "These fellows keep me going. They're expert doctors who also happen to be truly great people." Read the full story.
With 13 apartment and townhome communities to oversee, A&G Management Company, Inc. is one very busy company. They found the time, however, to use their business model to come up with a unique way to raise funds during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A&G Management ran a special promotion to donate $50 of every lease signed in October towards this important cause. The result: $2,275.00 was given to the Breast Center, part of St. Joseph Medical Center's Cancer Institute. Read the full story.
Grateful patient, Dave Zimmerman, knows a good thing when he sees it so he goes a step further and uses his love of photography to commemorate it! That includes his cardiac care at St. Joseph Medical Center's Heart Institute. "The caregivers are so important. They need to know they are appreciated," says Zimmerman. He is particularly pleased with his cardiologist Dr. Mahmood Alikhan, and the staff in Nuclear Medicine who see him twice a year. "The staff in Nuclear Medicine is phenomenal. They're professional, informative and nice, to boot," he continues. "When I was rushed to St. Joe's Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Emergency Department in 1997 with heart trouble, I had the good fortune to be the beneficiary of Dr. Alikhan's skill. "He takes his time and is so thorough, I feel like I’m his only patient. I have several medical issues so this kind of attention is vital to me. He and the folks in the Cath Lab and Nuclear Medicine have been taking fantastic care of me for 15 years." Read the full story.
For Joanna Fridinger, the act of giving is a family matter. On September 25, 2009 the staff in the Serpick Infusion Center worked 9 hours straight, staying past their shifts, to try and get Janice Horner's potassium levels under control. They were on a mission. Horner, a terminal patient, was due to be the maid-of-honor in her niece's wedding the following day and nothing was going to prevent this from happening. The determination of Horner and The Cancer Institute staff made her dream come true and on September 26, Horner stood up for her niece in a ceremony that was about the power of love.
After Horner passed away on January 26, 2010, her sister, Joanna Fridinger, wanted to do something to honor Horner that would be meaningful for other patients. "Janice was such a giving person. She never showed up to anyone's house – or any party – without a gift in hand," says Fridinger, "and I wanted to find a way to continue her legacy of generosity." Read the full story.
When folks in the Baltimore area, Annapolis and the Eastern Shore are asked to name a supermarket that is known for outstanding quality and service, a name that always comes to mind is Graul's. What most people don't know is that the Hereford store, owned by Tom Graul, son of Graul's founders, was purchased on horseback! Graul had been courting the reluctant owner of the convenience store that became Graul's and convinced him to sell when the two were out riding together. It was their mutual love of horses that finally sealed the deal.
In addition to providing an outstanding service, Graul believes strongly in giving back to the community where he has been so blessed. Read the full story.