As director of community relations at Johns Hopkins Bayview for many years, Gayle Adams found that her job responsibilities included, periodically, squelching rumors about the hospital.
“Over the course of a number of years, there have been all kinds of rumors that the hospital was going to buy O’Donnell Heights, PEMCO, the Eastpoint Mall–none of it was true,” Adams said.
Especially persistent, Adams said, were false reports of the hospital’s intent to purchase O’Donnell Heights, which was a housing project before it was razed.
“At one point our doctors were going to live there,” Adams said. “At another, it was going to be parking for hospital staff.”
“It would always start with someone saying, ‘Hopkins should buy it,’ and then the rumor would resurface again,” she said.
Adams is retiring after 40 years at Johns Hopkins Bayview, and as many years deeply involved with the communities in East Baltimore and western Baltimore County. She came to the hospital in 1973 for a graduate school program in social work.
“In 1974, I came back to work,” she said, adding that the hospital did not get a separate department for community relations until 1985.
Today, that department handles relationships with neighborhoods from the eastern edge of Patterson Park to Perry Hall.
Adams has served as secretary of the Bayview Community Association–the association for the neighborhood tucked in next to Bayview Hospital. She notes that members of her staff are secretaries for other community organizations within Bayview Hospital’s area.
“It’s a nice service to be able to provide,” she said.
The Bayview Community Association threw a retirement party for Adams last week at Our Lady of Fatima Church. In addition to community members, Delegates Luke Clippinger and Pete Hammen, as well as staff from City Councilman Jim Kraft and Senator Barbara Mikulski’s offices, attended with testimonials to Adams’ service.
Often referenced was her ability to connect people.
“When I first started, you were a lifeline for me,” said Amy Seeberger of Mikulski’s office.
Emily Sherman, newly-appointed chief of staff for Councilman Kraft, said, “You were literally one of the first people he met when he was elected…You’ve always been a great partner for our office and the community, and he’s very grateful for that.”
Hammen said that he met Adams back when he was still an undergraduate and intern for the Eastern Baltimore Area Chamber of Commerce.
He ran into her again, later, when he was in graduate school and working in Washington, D.C. Adams told him of a vacancy in Congressman Ben Cardin’s office.
“Within three weeks, I was working for Congressman Cardin,” said Hammen, and so launched his political career.
Elaine Welkie, president of the Bayview Community Association, thanked Adams for her service and presented her with a gift card for Cracker Barrel.
“Yes!!” exclaimed Adams.
Welkie, who also works in the community relations department at Bayview, thanked Adams for letting her know about the position she now fills at the hospital, as well as for all the advice she has given over the years.
“I’m sure there are a lot of stories throughout the community similar to mine and Pete’s,” Welkie said.
Adams said that she “loved” her job, and wanted to retire while she still felt that way about it.
“I come in everyday and say, ‘Another thrilling day at Hopkins Bayview is about to begin,’” she said.
Adams, who lives in Essex with her husband, enjoys going on cruises “once or twice a year.”
“Once you’re on a ship in the middle of the ocean, there’s not a whole lot you can do about what’s going on at the hospital,” she said. “You kind of have to let it go.”
by Erik Zygmont