This past weekend marked the first-ever Camp Open Arms!

Children with limb differences such as brachial plexus birth palsy and congenital/traumatic deformities joined us for two fun-filled days in Monkton in Northern Baltimore County.

Camp Open Arms Field Day

Putting on this camp was the idea of our pediatric orthopaedist, Dr. Josh Abzug. He is used to seeing patients with limb differences in the clinic, but he wanted to see these children become carefree campers jumping onto tree swings, going for hikes and even chucking water balloons at him!

Camp Open Arms SwingCampers ranging in age from 4 to 9 arrived on Friday morning not really knowing what to expect. The two dozen volunteers were not quite sure what to expect either. Everyone changed into bright yellow Camp Open Arms t-shirts, which quickly helped put everyone at ease since we looked like a cohesive group. We certainly became one, especially among the campers.

The children did not talk much about their limb differences, but they seemed to understand that they had that connection as they helped one another overcome obstacles.  Volunteers watched as they worked on crafts, played a variety of instruments and simply had fun.

Dr. Abzug wanted the tag line of the camp to be “Strength, Courage and Determination.”  Campers demonstrated those values!  We witnessed big smiles and infectious laughter that made all of us believe that Camp Open Arms has a bright future.

Cute CampersThe weekend culminated with a large BBQ with the families joining the campers and the many volunteers. One girl asked if she could come back the next day, which we took as a sign that our inaugural year of Camp Open Arms was a success!






Blood Drive Experience

July 23, 2015

By: Michelle Logan, Editorial Intern

May 29, marked the first day of my communications internship at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I had come home from my junior year at college with a resume crammed with journalistic experience and I felt ready to handle anything. Before my first day, I familiarized myself with the hospital’s target audience, I studied its social media pages and websites, I practiced numerous interviews and writing styles, I lined my closet with business casual attire — I felt fully equipped to talk the UMMC talk and walk the UMMC walk. However, nothing could have prepared me for an email the night before from my internship mentor: “You’ll be helping at the Red Cross blood drive in Gudelsky lobby of the main hospital, see you there!”

Blood Drive 072015

The first thought in my muddled head was “I didn’t sign up for this.” I had heard about blood drives at local events and grabbed my arm in illusory pain — I had been terrified of needles since the first time I received a booster shot and furiously threw my Cinderella Band-Aid at the doctor. The thought of simply being close to needles made my fingers quiver as I typed back, “Sounds great!” to my mentor and pressed “send.”

The morning of May 29 arrived, and I took deep breaths as I sat at a registration table to greet those giving blood. I faced away from the blood drive area, my thoughts calming down, and instead enjoyed conversing with those signing up. One UMMC doctor informed me it was his tenth time donating, while another explained how her husband and daughter donated with her every time. The stories I heard were enlightening, but none as impactful as a community member who walked in to see what the big event was.

“What’s this?” he asked as he peered down at a flyer that read, “Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.”  He looked back up at me and exclaimed, “That’s a lot of people! Let’s give this a shot.” Spur of the moment, this man decided to donate blood. As he wrote his name on the sign-up sheet, I turned around and really took in my surroundings. I suddenly remembered my mom telling me how much blood she had lost while in the delivery room with my twin sister and me, and the needles behind me started to look less scary. In fact, they started to look like an opportunity to help a lot of people. I decided to give it a shot.

The weeks went by, but on June 16, I prepared for my internship a bit differently. I double-checked the appointment that I scheduled online. I ate a large iron-rich breakfast, and gulped down as much water as I could. I put on a comfortable shirt, packed my I.D., yelled at the butterflies in my stomach to calm down, and shaped my shuddering body into a confident stance as I marched out the door.

I once again walked into the Gudelsky lobby and to the registration table, but this time, I was on the other side. This time, I confirmed my online appointment and received a sticker, a number, and facts about donating. I then sat down with my sixth water bottle of the day in hand. When “73” was called, I looked at my number card and twitched. This was it.

Michelle L blood driveA woman in blue scrubs led me into a small cubicle, where I answered questions about my health, travel history and medications.  Then I had my temperature, blood pressure and pulse taken. I felt a sharp pinch and a squeeze as the woman pricked my finger to test my iron level, but she placed a bandage on it and I managed to not throw it this time.

Finally, the moment I agonized over was here, but it was far easier than I imagined. Another woman beckoned me out of my cubicle with a “hey girl, you ready?” and my shoulders began to relax as I followed a humming doctor to a reclining chair. As she brought me more water and took my arm, I looked around. To the right of me another doctor was telling a man about a video she watched online. Across from me a woman was squeezing her hand softly while reading a book. Though my doctor was preparing for the donation, she was telling me stories and asking questions. She kept me distracted, and I felt my stress slip away.

I only had two seconds of pain and eight minutes of arm pumping, but then it was over, and I was going to help up to three people. As the doctor placed a bandage around my arm I realized that I am always going to be afraid of needles. But if it means giving someone the gift of life, I am willing to tackle my fears.


The next UMMC blood drive is July 28-29 from 8 am-8 pm, and July 30 from 7 am-7 pm, in the Gudelsky lobby of the main hospital. Schedule your appointment today for July 28, July 29 or July 30.

If you have problems making an appointment, please email Katey Leiter at with the time you want to give, and she will make the appointment for you.

All donors receive a $5 gift card good at any UMMC eatery, and will be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to an upcoming Orioles game.


Great Stories hug

By: Adrian Rabin and Michelle Logan, Editorial Interns

A written letter conveys a certain kind of emotional power. Throughout the year, former patients and their families take the time to thank their UMMC care providers through personal notes and emails. The Employee Engagement Team, part of UMMC’s Commitment to Excellence (C2X) staff, selects a few such letters to recognize our employees in an event known as Great Stories.

On June 30, we welcomed back three individuals — a patient, a family member and a friend of a patient — who spoke about the excellent standard of care they received and the compassionate staff they came in contact with.

Treatment teams were reunited with their patients, and through tears and laughter, the patients, families and friends had the opportunity to express their gratitude and show how well they were progressing.

Below are excerpts from the letters:

Great Service: excerpts from Tessa Abate’s letter

Barrett Quick Great StoriesA close friend of mine was admitted to the Bone Marrow unit on Gudelsky 9 for what we hope will be her chance for a remission for her disease. Early last week, she was required to leave the unit for an X-ray. This, for her, was very scary because of her risk for infection. I was on the unit visiting at the time, and had the pleasure to meet Shawn Quick, who arrived to transport her. I was able to share with him her level of anxiety and concern before he organized her to go to X-ray. To say he was a breath of sunshine is to understate the impact he had on Jennifer. He was cheery, organized and extraordinarily personable. As he chatted to her on the way to X-ray, I saw her anxiety visibly diminish. He responded to her questions in such an upbeat manner; her confidence regarding being in good hands was evident.

The impression Shawn left on us both is that we are so very lucky to have him taking care of our patients. We are also so fortunate to have (Sean Barrett) in charge of this very important service for our patients. I am sure he has a very difficult job, but you would never know it from his attitude. The experience we both had that day made a difference, and his compassion and personal touch were so very much appreciated. Thank you.


Great Dedication: Excerpts from Scott Goodstein’s letter

Goodstein Great StoriesAs a patient of UMMC Shock Trauma from multiple injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident in April 2013, I got to know your staff, and a few stuck out that went above and beyond. Dr. [Jason] Nascone’s entire team in the outpatient pavilion are all class acts, and are some of the most dedicated individuals I have ever met. All of the nurses and assistants were dedicated and understanding.

When I look back at my healing process and many visits over the last year and a half, one employee of the outpatient facility really stood out. Ms. Annie Williams kindly helped me through many stages of X-rays from the early days when it was hard to get on the X-ray table, to the much later and easier process. She was polite, professional and truly empathetic. She remembered me between visits and gave me words of encouragement as I progressed. She had both a great sense of humor and a professional manner that made getting through painful positioning to take X-rays … bearable! Your team is clearly lucky to have such a dedicated employee on your staff!


Great Care: Excerpts from Enid Valentine’s letter

Enid Valentine Great StoriesOver the last three years, I have functioned as advocate and power of attorney for my husband, Gulf War Veteran Steven L. Valentine. Considering the full range of services that UMMC has to offer, it is refreshing to know that Steven has found the good fortune and dual advantage of having some of the most remarkable networks of reliable professionals to collaborate with his VA medical team. … I wish to acknowledge the many competent hands and unconditional support that my husband has received at UMMC. Over time, the combined investments of these fine individuals have become the binding force that I currently value and respect.

This success story truly captures the vision of good medicine, as Steven has now been given a clearer path to favorable beginnings. Apparently, UMMC has just what it takes to make life happen for those who need it the most. You don’t simply mend bodies; you heal families.


For more information on the Great Stories program, or to submit your own story, email


Return of the University Farmer’s Market

July 7, 2015
university farmer's market

By: Michelle Logan and Adrian Rabin, Editorial Interns On average, food travels 1,500 miles from farm to table. Locally-sourced foods travel 25 times less far—an average of 60 miles—which minimizes fuel consumption, air pollution and associated diseases. It also allows farmers to let their food ripen appropriately, maximizing both the nutritional content and taste of […]

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Safe Summer Skin

June 15, 2015

By: Adrian Rabin, Editorial Intern For many, the beginning of summer means spending lots of time outdoors. It’s tempting to spend full days outside enjoying the sunshine, but long hours spent in the sun can damage your skin, especially without proper protection. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer throughout their lifetime, and the […]

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UMMC Community Partnership with Building STEPS

May 7, 2015

Continuing his efforts to support the Baltimore community, President and CEO of UMMC and UMMC Midtown Campus, Jeffrey A. Rivest, lays out one of our partnership programs with Building STEPS and addresses the need for further action. Read his message to all UMMC employees: Dear Colleagues, In my letter to you on Monday, I promised […]

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Healing with Baltimore

May 5, 2015

Following the events in Baltimore over the past week, UMMC and UMMC Midtown Campus President and CEO, Jeffrey A. Rivest, expressed his gratitude to all those UMMC employees who helped keep the Center’s mission in mind during such a difficult time. UMMC plays an integral role in the Baltimore community and will continue to work […]

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Decoding Patient Care

April 25, 2015

By: Hope Gamper, Editorial Intern Our understanding of the genetic code kicked off in 1953 when scientists Watson and Crick documented evidence of the double helix structure of DNA. Fifty years later the Human Genome Project, an initiative to map the entire human genome, was completed. Today, we know more about our As, Ts, Gs […]

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Volunteering at a Medical Center

April 17, 2015

By: Andrea Rizkallah, Editorial Intern Volunteering is a rewarding activity, which is why I love my position as editorial intern in the Corporate Communications department at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I thought that I had to be a medical student in order to volunteer at a medical center, but luckily I was wrong. […]

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Marching Toward a Healthier Lifestyle

March 27, 2015

By: Andrea Rizkallah, Editorial Intern By March, New Year’s resolution motivation may be dwindling down, which is why it’s the perfect time to celebrate National Nutrition Month and get back into a healthy lifestyle. National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to promote informed food […]

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