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Volume 60
Number 10
December 2009



What’s the Best Gift You Ever Got?

blank Cheryl Koch
Cheryl Koch

Cheryl Koch
Vice president, Support Services, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Last Christmas, my son, Ryan, went to the store for the first time to pick out a gift with his dad. He excitedly gave me a big box to unwrap. It was a Tinkerbell toy, complete with a tea set.

When we were at Disney World that fall, I had told him how I loved the story of Peter Pan as a little girl and that Tinkerbell was my favorite fairy. We have spent the year playing with the set and having tea parties!

David Yuh, M.D.
Cardiac surgeon, Johns Hopkins Medicine

blank David Yuh, M.D.
David Yuh, M.D.

It was a watercolor given to me by a young woman I helped out many years ago. She was a waitress who showed great compassion to me when I was dining alone one Thanksgiving in a small diner in Carmel, Calif. I was her only customer.

She joined me for dinner, we had an amazing conversation and, at the end, even though she couldn’t afford her dream of going to art school, she waived my bill. I left her a tip: art school tuition with a napkin note saying that one shouldn’t have to pay for their dreams either.

She reaffirmed in me the notion that there are still completely unselfish people in the world. I look at the painting whenever I have my doubts.

Robin Poirer
Senior applications analyst, Information Technology, Howard County General Hospital

blank Robin Poirer
Robin Poirer

Every year, my husband and I wrestle with the I-don’t-want-anything-for-Christmas dilemma. In the past, we’d get a big-ticket item for the house. Last year, we decided to pick a charity that we felt the other would appreciate. My husband is a Vietnam War vet and he also was an avid golfer before he developed a severe back problem.

I did some hunting and found Golf Salute, an organization that provides “rehabilitative golf experiences for combat-wounded veterans.” He was thrilled!

My husband’s gift for me was a 50-pound bag of dog food and a 25-pound bag of cat food that we delivered to the Howard County Welfare Society the day after Christmas (we are both big animal rescue proponents). It was well worth the trip to see the pleasure on the staff’s faces when we brought it in.

blank Robin Poirer
Levi Watkins, M.D.

Levi Watkins, M.D.
Cardiac surgeon, Johns Hopkins Medicine

I operated on my father`s heart in 1992. We went home on Christmas Eve and had the gift of life for two more Christmases. This was our best gift EVER!

Roy Ziegelstein, M.D.
Executive vice chair, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

blank Roy Ziegelstein, M.D.
Roy Ziegelstein, M.D.

The most precious and meaningful gifts I have received as a doctor are not things that can be touched or put on a display shelf.

They are gifts that are personal and that suggest that I have made a difference in someone’s life. I am given them every day.

When a patient shares something very personal and important that he or she has not shared with anyone else, that’s very special.

blank Gary Stephenson
Gary Stephenson

Gary Stephenson
Senior associate director, Marketing and Communications, Johns Hopkins Medicine

This actually happened at my birthday party last month.

My best friend and old college roommate had a college picture of me framed (long hair and beard), replaced a bottle of cognac of mine he drank all of 35 years ago, and gave me several books, including the official Zombie Survival Guide.

blank Tom Schmidt
Tom Schmidt

Tom Schmidt
Emergency department nurse, Howard County General Hospital

When I was in 7th grade, I got my first set of drums. I have been playing in bands ever since and am working on my fourth full set of drums.

So that first investment in noise— I mean syncopation— really paid off.

blank Tom Schmidt
Christina Lundquist

Christina Lundquist
Administrator, Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine Johns Hopkins Hospital

Two years ago, when my daughter was 13, she made a beautiful woodcut print of a mother bear and her cub and gave it to me for Christmas. 

It just makes me smile whenever I look at it!


Natalie Joseph
Revenue control coordinator, Howard County General Hospital

The year was 1974. I was nine years old. My mom was a single, hard-working woman with two children. She sat my sister and I down and told us that this year Christmas would be very tight, so a lot of the things we asked for we would not be getting. With that statement, my dreams of the latest doll went out the window. Christmas was my mom’s favorite time of the year. At 12:05 a.m. Christmas morning, my mom came into our room yelling, “Santa came, Santa came.” My sister and I ran down the stairs. The first thing I saw was Baby That-a-Way sitting under the tree. This was the doll of the year, and my mom or Santa had gotten it for me. I was so happy that I never forgot that Christmas. As I got older, I realized what made it so unforgettable. It was the doll and the fact that no matter how hard times got my mom always did her very best to make my sister’s and my dreams come true. (My sister got whatever it was she wanted too.)

Mary Patton
Director of Public Relations, Howard County General Hospital

My daughters. They are both adopted and I appreciate the gift I received from their birth mothers every day of my life.

Carla Trevizo
Physical therapy assistant, Rehab Services, Howard County General Hospital

One year my best friend gave me a super soft stuffed panda bear. She remembered that I lost my favorite childhood stuffed toy and found one that was a close second. It was a great surprise! My husband surprised me for no reason with a anniversary band that I was not expecting. We had only gold bands when we got married, so getting a “real” wedding ring on a random day was also a great surprise.

Sree Murthy
Patient admission counselor, Howard County General Hospital

An appreciation letter from sister of a pt, whom I took care of nine years back !!!! She also sent small contribution to the Howard foundation

Winnie LaFrance
LaFrance, patient admission counselor, Howard County General Hospital

The best gift I ever got was a sold out novel that my boyfriend miraculously found and purchased off the internet. It was special because I tried so hard to get it and had to sign this 30 page wait list to read it at the library!

Debbie Fleischmann
Director, clinical education, Howard County General Hospital

Wow!--I would have to say my husband and can still say that after 32 years. We were married on December 18, 1976, and 1 week later had our first Christmas.

Marian Kennedy
Clinical program manager, the Center for Ambulatory Surgery, Howard County General Hospital

The best gift I ever received was my son. I always wanted children and lived in self pity because I didn’t have any for a long time. Then at the age of 43 I became pregnant with my son. It was the best 9 months of my life, and the joy continues!

Peggy Medoff
Maternal child unit nurse, Howard County General Hospital

The best gift I ever got was a dozen red roses---sent by my son to his grandmother for Mother's Day. The fact that he thought of her made it a special gift to me.

Cristine Smith
NICU nurse, Howard County General Hospital

The best gift I ever got was received on Xmas Eve many years ago, from an elf who visited the Newborn Nursery here at HCGH. The elf brought a basket of bubble baths and lotions for the staff to choose from.



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