Front-line Worker Story – Morgan Orndorff – A New Role for COVID-19 Care

Video: Frontline Healthcare Stories | Morgan Orndorff

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

Due to the changing demands of COVID-19 on The Johns Hopkins Hospital, many members of our faculty and staff were asked to take on new roles to support our COVID-19 patients. Morgan Orndorff works as a patient services coordinator in the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health, making sure each patient entering the clinic is paired with the care they need, but he was redeployed as a transport safety officer when The Johns Hopkins Hospital needed support. In his new role, Orndorff makes sure that the teams transporting COVID-19 positive and potential COVID-19 patients have the materials they need to prevent infection, and are able to move throughout the hospital safely to take patients in for tests such as MRIs and CT scans. “I’ve worked with patients everywhere from the bio unit to being discharged,” says Orndorff.

Morgan Orndorff is available for interviews about his experience being redeployed for COVID-19 care. Please contact [email protected]


Innovating Amid a Pandemic: Recorded Voices of Loved Ones Help Care Teams Get To Know Their Patients, Connect Patients with Their Families

In normal times, when a family member falls ill and becomes hospitalized in intensive care, we are able to be by their bedside, sharing critical and sometimes just simple and interesting facts about our loved ones with the medical teams responsible for caring for them. This vital information has proven to be important in connecting medical teams with their patients on a human level and often leads to better care.

But COVID-19 has stripped us of this privilege, leaving hospitals to make the difficult decision to limit patient visitation to keep everyone safe. While necessary, these limitations leave many clinicians not knowing who their patient is — what she likes to read, what she watches on television, what her favorite music is, what makes her smile. The lack of this simple information has made many clinicians feel disconnected from their patients.

During an interview with critical care medicine physician Brian Garibaldi, where he expressed how much he missed knowing something about his patients, Elizabeth Tracey, a chaplain and broadcast medical journalist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, decided to try to change this. To address the issue, she expanded My Life, My Story, a volunteer initiative sidelined as a result of COVID-19, into audio recording of family members talking about their loved one. Family members of patients in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) are able to record messages and send photos for their loved ones and the care team while their loved one is intubated and often sedated. In addition to information for the medical team about who the patient is as a person, Tracey also asks the family members, “If you were talking to your loved one, what would you say?” This recording can be played for the patient as they are coming out of sedation or nearing end of life.

Garibaldi, director of the Johns Hopkins biocontainment unit and associate professor of medicine, says, “Elizabeth’s efforts to make sure that our patients’ stories are heard have been so helpful in the COVID-19 era where family visitation is limited. Learning something special about our patients as told by one of their loved ones has enabled us to focus on the meaning of why we are doing what we are doing in the ICU when patients are critically ill.”

Dale Needham, medical director of the Critical Care Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program at Johns Hopkins, says the ICU medical team has greatly benefitted from this. “We often listen, as a group, after rounds are done. These recordings help humanize the COVID-19 clinical experience, especially in the circumstance of very sick patients who may be deeply sedated without family at the bedside. We take some of the new knowledge of patients, from these recordings, and write it on the glass door of the patient room, as a constant reminder of the person we are caring for.”

Laura G. was able to use My Life, My Story while her husband was in the MICU with COVID-19. She recorded messages for him and shared photos with the staff, who placed them in his room. “Being able to send these messages and photos to Elizabeth gave me a sense of comfort,” she says. When her husband woke up, he started referring to the photos he saw.

Tracey says she hopes other medical centers across the U.S. adopt this model of caring for patients, noting that high quality audio recordings can be made quickly and easily using a cellphone app. Expansion of this program is planned for The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Elizabeth Tracey, Brian Garibaldi, Dale Needham and Laura G. are available for interviews.


Working Safely from Home During the Pandemic           

The coronavirus will likely be with us for a long while, and many employers will continue to allow for telework or will permanently shift their workforce to this model. Many people, especially those who prepandemic worked in a traditional office setting, are likely doing their best to develop a healthy balance between watching their posture and staying physically active while working for an entire work day on the computer in their home office or on their couch in the living room. In the workplace, the opportunity to take physical breaks by walking to the water cooler or coffee machine is often more feasible in an office setting than at home. Meetings away from desks also permit some employees to move around while in the workplace, even if for a brief moment in between work tasks. Working from home, however, can make this needed activity challenging. But how can employees working remotely improve their physical and mental health and how important is it?

Terrence G. McGee, P.T., D.Sc., a physical therapist in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and board-certified orthopaedic clinical specialist, provides the following tips for employees to remain physically active and maintain appropriate chair and desk support while working from home:

  • Chair and Desk:
    • Stand and move from a seated position at least once per hour.
    • Perform desk stretches or chair yoga.
    • Sit completely back in an adjustable chair with an adjustable armrest.
    • Your thighs should be parallel to the ground, with:
      • A two-finger space behind the back of the knees and the chair.
      • 3–6 inches of space between thighs and desk / keyboard.
    • Place a small pillow/towel roll for lower back (lumbar) support.
    • Your head should be level, facing forward, and in line with your torso.

If you’re sitting at a desk, rest your feet flat on the ground and ensure there is adequate space beneath your desk. Use a foot rest if the desk height cannot be adjusted.

  • Computer Monitor:
    • The top of the screen should be at top or slightly below eye level.
    • Screen distance: 18–28 inches from eyes (or) at arm’s length.
      • If you feel the need to bring your head (eyes) closer to your screen, consider seeing an eye doctor for an eyeglasses prescription, or make your screen’s text larger.
    • If using a dual monitor, swivel body in chair rather than turning head repetitively to switch between monitors. Consider changing orientation of monitor from landscape to portrait if your chair is lacking adjustments.
  • Keyboard and Mouse:
    • Relax your shoulders and place your forearms parallel to floor.
    • Armrests should be removable / adjustable and at least 16 inches apart.
    • Wrists should be resting at neutral position (hand in line with wrist and forearm).
    • Use soft pads/wrist rest as needed.
    • A cordless mouse is preferable.
    • Keep mouse within easy reach/next to keyboard.
    • Adjust mouse sensitivity for light touch.
  • Additional Accessories:
    • Use a hands-free headset for phone use more than two hours per day.
    • Use a document holders to prop up papers when typing.

A diagram of proper workstation guidelines is available upon request. Additional guidlines can be found on the OSHA website.

McGee is available for comment about ergonomic recommendations for employees working remotely.


Six Months in: Lessons Learned from COVID-19 and what’s next

As we near the six-month mark after the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the U.S., life as we know it has changed. Social distancing, face coverings and contact tracing are now normal. The rate of infections is beginning to slow down, and we are seeing early signs of recovery as businesses, public areas and more take steps to re-open. Yet, every day new questions arise about how to help keep people healthy, reduce exposures to the new coronavirus and slow the spread of the disease in the midst of demonstrations for the victims of oppression and racism.

Join us for a media briefing during which Johns Hopkins experts will discuss what we’ve learned from the pandemic, what we are experiencing now and how it all will inform how we continue to move forward.

Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention in the Johns Hopkins Health System, discusses what we know about the disease and the projected trends.

Aaron Milstone, M.D., M.H.S., professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, shares what he is seeing in his practice, including a rise in the number of children who need aggressive treatment due to COVID-19 as well as multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a condition that can cause inflammation in the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and other parts of the body.

Sherita Hill Golden, M.D., M.H.S., vice president and chief diversity officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine, discusses the importance of addressing the health disparities and systemic racism that puts the lives of African Americans at greater risk than their white counterparts.

Crystal Watson, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, explains how to expand contact tracing in the U.S. so that we may reopen society safely and mitigate more waves of the disease.

Shmuel Shoham, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, discusses the effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy as a potential treatment for patients with COVID-19.

To receive the Zoom meeting information, please register here.


Couple Savors Life Together After Battling COVID-19 at Johns Hopkins

Gerry and Georgene Stephens, who have been married for 50 years, were the first couple to both receive treatment for COVID-19 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Gerry, who had a cough, fever and difficulty breathing, was intubated for much of his three-week stay at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, which started March 17. Georgene developed symptoms after Gerry and spent two days in the same hospital. While Gerry was in the ICU, Georgene was in a different unit recovering with a serious, but less severe case of COVID-19. Georgene was discharged on March 20. Gerry returned home April 8, weak and 35 pounds lighter. One of their providers, Brian Garibaldi, says they are examples of how different people can respond differently to COVID-19.

More than 100 doctors, nurses and other front-line staff members are believed to have cared for the couple during and after their hospitalizations, including a home care team that came to the Stephens’ home more than a dozen times to help Gerry regain his strength.

Both Gerry and Georgene are now doing well and are active, including going on a 4-mile hike.

Gerry and Georgene and members of their care team are available for media interviews. The couple also shared their experience in a video and article on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website.


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