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The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s 22-bed telemetry unit, Meyer 9, was the first in the hospital to transition into a biocontainment unit during the coronavirus pandemic on March 14, 2020, and it remained so until May 24, 2021.

The unit, which had been equipped as a complete isolation unit before it became a biocontainment unit, treated highly contagious COVID patients in isolation. As cases surged, the staff of Meyer 9 remained on call for weeks at a time, until more staff could be assigned to the unit.

The logistics of such a unit are detailed, and Meyer 9’s nurse manager, Candace Zabko, alongside other medical providers and the department at large, planned shifts, staff break areas, workflow and distribution of personal protective equipment as well as patient care, including medication and food.

Since Meyer 9 was an isolation unit, patients were not allowed to see their families in person. Instead, staff coordinated virtual visits with family members through FaceTime and often used interpretation applications to connect with bilingual patients.

“The Meyer 9 staff became family for these patients,” said Eleni Flanagan of the team. Flanagan is the interim director of nursing, medicine and radiology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. “They held their hand during times of need and cried with family members during the unfortunate loss of a loved one.”

The Meyer 9 team navigated many unknowns during the pandemic and the constant stress of a high-intensity unit, but their work paved the way for how COVID-19 patients were treated and managed at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and they developed and refined many new and novel care strategies for the virus in the unit.

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards. Information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.

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