Newswise — Front-line Worker Story — Rick Redett Redeployed from Interim Head of Plastic Surgery to ICU “Trainee”

Video: Right Here, Right Now I Rick Redett, Interim Director of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

It seems there will never be enough “thank you’s” for the incredible doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff members who are working around the clock to help patients who have COVID-19, the dangerous coronavirus disease. The dedication, determination and spirit enable Johns Hopkins to deliver the promise of medicine.

Richard Redett, M.D., professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, found himself in an entirely new role when he was redeployed from surgery to an adult intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients. “Oftentimes as a pediatric plastic surgeon, I would work 12 hours and come out of the OR feeling pretty good,” he says. “I’m doing 12-hour shifts in the ICU right now, and I have to say, it’s exhausting.”

Redett is available for interviews.


Baltimore CONNECT Distributing More Than 11,000 Masks to Community Organizations

Albert Wu, M.D., Baltimore CONNECT president, a practicing general internist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is assisting with an effort to provide 17 community-based organizations in East and Southeast Baltimore with protective gear through a donation of 10,750 basic ear loop face masks and 1,000 KN95 masks. The donation, meant to increase access to personal protective equipment for Baltimore residents, hopefully will help prevent spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, says Wu.

“Every week since March, during a weekly conference call, our collaborating organizations have asked about masks,” says Wu. “We heard repeatedly that people do not have adequate personal protective equipment.  As a health care institution and a team of service organizations, our goal is to improve the health and well-being of our communities, and masks are an important way to keep people safe and well. As a result, we hope this donation leads to fewer people contracting COVID-19, which will also help prevent our health system from being overwhelmed.”

According to George Lavdas, J.D., senior director for international supply chain transformation at the Johns Hopkins Health System, Johns Hopkins received the masks from many generous donors. While the masks are medical grade, they did not meet the certifications necessary to be used as hospital supplies. So, with the assistance of Wu and the many organizations that are part of Baltimore CONNECT, the masks were distributed to residents in need. Baltimore CONNECT, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit comprised of community-based organizations and Johns Hopkins faculty and staff members, links social and health care services across Baltimore.

Wu is available for interviews to talk about the mask distribution and Baltimore CONNECT. Leon Purnell, of the Men and Families Center, is also available to talk about how his organization and community will benefit.


Combating Pandemic Fatigue

So many changes have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we constantly adjust to those changes, pandemic fatigue can arise. Neda Gould, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is available for interviews to talk about what pandemic fatigue is, how it impacts your health, and how being home and being stressed can often lead to exhaustion. Gould can discuss how to think creatively about the activities you enjoy, how to meet social needs in a different way and how to find new methods to energize. She can also advise on self-care strategies.


Toddler with Life-threatening Brain Injury Recovers in Five Days at Johns Hopkins

The ongoing spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can be frightening for many families, which may lead some parents to take additional precaution when leaving home with their children — whether it be to get necessities such as groceries, or to go to a doctor’s appointment or obtain emergency care.

For one mother, the decision to seek health care during the pandemic saved her young son’s life.

Noticing that her son was less aroused, hard to wake and unwilling to eat after sustaining a fall and hitting his head, Atheia Penafiel called 911 for help. When the emergency responders arrived, they decided to transport Penafiel’s son to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for emergency evaluation.

Earlier that day (July 10), 15-month-old Alec Penafiel went to see his pediatrician in Frederick, Maryland, for a well-child visit and routine shots. After the pediatrician left the room, Alec’s mother briefly turned away from him while preparing to leave.  Alec fell 4 feet from the exam table, struck his head on the floor and began crying.  Alec’s pediatrician examined him and he appeared to be doing well. He stopped crying shortly after that, and his mother took him home and laid him down for an afternoon nap.

About five hours later, Alec’s mother was unable to wake him. With stimulation, he opened his eyes but began vomiting.  As he became progressively less responsive, Atheia called the ambulance that took him to a nearby heliport, and nearly six hours after his fall, he was flown from Frederick to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.  In the emergency room, he deteriorated rapidly and had a dilated right pupil, an ominous sign of swelling or bleeding of the brain, which can be life-threatening.

A CT scan confirmed a skull fracture and a massive blood clot compressing the brain from a torn artery. Alec was taken to the operating room, where Alan Cohen, M.D., director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Children’s Center, and his team performed a craniotomy, and removed the blood clot and stopped the bleeding. After five days, Alec made a dramatic recovery and was discharged from the hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery. 

Atheia Penafiel says she is excited her son is at home in her arms, and that he can enjoy his favorite activities like walking, playing on his swing set and being in the swimming pool.

Cohen, other Johns Hopkins Children’s Center physicians and the Penafiel family are available for interviews.


For information from Johns Hopkins Medicine about the coronavirus pandemic, visit For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit