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How to Survive Those Residency Years? Join the JH Medical Auxiliary

Medical Auxiliary playgroup moms, from left, top, Pam Lloyd, Johanna Fiedorowicz, Lindsay Wiley, Cindy Finigan; bottom, Julie Newman-Toker, Erika Jaeggli. The dads, respectively, Tom Lloyd (neurology), Jess Fiedorowicz (psychiatry), Henry Wiley (ophthalmology), Jay Finigan (pulmonary/critical care), David Newman-Toker (neurology/otology) and Nelson Jaeggli (emergency medicine).

Seven months’ pregnant with twins, Jo-Ann Barreiro was on bed rest at Hopkins Hospital in 2002. She knew few people and missed New York terribly. But before she had a chance to feel more miserable, the phone started jangling.

How was she feeling? What did she need, the strangers asked. Then, one afternoon, a mysterious Hopkins resident appeared with an armload of books. “My wife wanted you to have these,” he said. Barreiro had never met the wife or the resident.

Relatively new to Baltimore, married to Chris Barreiro, a resident in general surgery, she had attended a single gathering of the Johns Hopkins Medical Auxiliary before being hospitalized.

That’s all it took. Members found out she was ailing and swooped to the rescue.

Established in 1999, JHMA is a nonprofit organization of spouses of medical students, residents, fellows and newly hired faculty. With 100 members (two are men), the association provides a network of support, services and charity for members, their spouses and Hopkins Hospital.

Fast forward to 2006.

Barreiro, now JHMA’s president, is on bed rest again with her third child. This time, she recognizes the voices of her friends from the Auxiliary who call all day. “Can I bring you dinner?” “Do you need help with the twins?” “How about some company?”

“My life has completely changed,” says Barreiro. Though she now has many friends here, she met her closest ones through JHMA.

JHMA offers an easy solution to newcomers’ needs for friends and helps create a sense of community. Thirteen activities include a gour-met club, book club, adult social committee and playgroups. Members swap turns as babysitters or set off on family-oriented adventures to explore Baltimore.

One group has been creating gift bags bulging with items for HIV-positive mothers and their babies in Labor and Delivery.

Another just mailed out 250 welcome packets, stuffed with housing information, JHMA newsletters, registration forms and a picnic invitation, to incoming residents and fellows.

Four-year member Betsey Hobelmann grew up here, but none of her Baltimore friends are “married to medicine.” With two young children, she makes extensive use of JHMA’s mom-run child co-op at Brown Memorial Church. She is married to anethesia fellow Greg Hobelmann.

“The husbands are always working or spending the night at the hospital, and budgets are tight,” she says. “We’re all in the same boat.”

Lydia Levis Bloch

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