Here’s a phrase that’s never been uttered in the history of the human race: “I’m really looking forward to visiting the hospital today.” I’m not sure I used those exact words but I truly did look forward to stepping inside the world famous Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland during a recent visit to town.
For years, I’d heard success stories and marvels of modern day medicine at Johns Hopkins through news reports or television shows. Beyond that, I honestly didn’t know much about its history or day to day happenings.
On a cold November afternoon I found myself on the massive campus of Johns Hopkins University in search of the Billings building that served as the original Johns Hopkins Hospital. Miraculously, on my first try I walked right through the doors of the structure designed by a battlefield surgeon for the Union in the American civil war. The famous 150 foot high dome on top was once visible to anyone standing in Baltimore’s inner harbor.
Moments later a voice echos through the lobby – “Are you the radio blogger?” While never great at math – even I knew odds were pretty good this was directed at me. It was Neil Grauer – a longtime Hopkins advocate and employee, known for his signature bow ties, medical books and most recently – the recorded voice that says “Going Up” in the elevator at the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center.
Mr. Grauer was asked to give me a personal tour of the hospital after I reached out to the kind communications staff at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Thankfully – he agreed and spent the afternoon walking me through this massive facility, a collection of waiting areas, operating rooms, specialty buildings and offices – all somehow tied together and at times even confusing for long time employees.
The first part of our tour was a brief introduction to Johns Hopkins himself. A full sized portrait of Mr. Hopkins greets you as you walk through the original main entrance where it all began back in 1889. Next comes the question of his first name: “Johns”. Turns out he was named after his grandmother Margaret Johns.
When Hopkins passed away in 1873 – he left $7 million to be divided equally between the hospital and university. At the time – his donation was the largest of its kind in U.S. history.
As we passed by doctors and peeked inside the various working parts inside Johns Hopkins Hospital – you get the sense you’re witnessing something special.
A wall of fame displaying all of the incredible advances in medicine and prize winning discoveries is really just the icing on the cake. Mr. Grauer pointed out the staff members that have won Nobel prizes and those with breakthroughs that forever changed modern day medicine. One photo on the wall even featured a potential Presidential candidate – Dr. Ben Carson who was first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head.
Speaking of Presidents – we stepped inside the Wilmer Eye Institute, known as one of the best worldwide but also as a place that has cared for 8 U.S. Presidents. The examining chair, most recently used by George W. Bush sits overhead for visitors to see as they enter into the offices.
While Baltimore certainly has plenty of history and attractions for tourists to explore – the stop by Johns Hopkins was my favorite part of the visit. What a fascinating feeling to be surrounded by so many intelligent people and see first hand where they’ve helped change the world.