Supporting a Spouse Through a Health Challenge

Life Events – JHU Human Resources

Supporting a Spouse Through a Health Challenge | Johns Hopkins Medicine
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Did you know that when you experience certain personal events, such as getting married or having a baby, you can make changes to your benefits coverage? These are called “qualifying life events,” and they allow you to make a change to your coverage outside of annual enrollment. Learn more about Eligibility and Dependent Certification Requirements.

Qualifying life events can include:

  • Marriage
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Gain or loss of other coverage
  • Start or loss of your spouse/domestic partner’s employment
  • Change in employment status (for you or your spouse/domestic partner, from part-time to full-time or from full-time to part-time)
  • Divorce or termination of domestic partnership
  • Death of your spouse/domestic partner or other dependent
  • Leave of absence or sabbatical for you or your spouse/domestic partner
  • Return from leave of absence or sabbatical
  • Salary loss due to disability

If you experience a qualifying life event, you have 30 days following the date of the event to go to myChoices Health & Life, provide documentation of the event, and make a change to your benefits coverage consistent with the event. (If you give birth, for example, you may add the baby to your current JHU benefits plans.) Generally, the change is retroactive to the date of the life event.

Please select from the list of qualifying events below to learn more.

Marriage/Domestic Partnership

When you get married or enter into a domestic partnership, you have the opportunity to make changes to your benefits.

Issues to Consider

  • Does your spouse or domestic partner have benefits coverage from another source?
  • Does your spouse or domestic partner have any dependents?
  • Do you wish to update your flexible spending account contributions?
  • Is your life insurance coverage adequate? Do you need dependent life insurance? Do you need to update your beneficiaries?

Take Action

When you need to make a change because of a marriage/domestic partnership, be sure to:

  • Go to myChoices Health & Life and select Start a Qualifying Life Event to make your benefit elections within 30 days following the life event.
  • Upload supporting documentation to the enrollment site. You will be required to provide a marriage license or an Affidavit of Marriage/Domestic Partnership Form.
  • Update beneficiary records for life insurance and with your investment company for the 403(b) Retirement Plan.

Remember, you are only allowed to make changes that are consistent with your life event.

If You Don’t Take Action

If you do not make a change because of a marriage/domestic partnership within 30 days of the event, your JHU benefits will stay the same. Your next opportunity to make changes will be during annual enrollment, unless you have another qualified life event.

Divorce/Termination of Domestic Partnership

If you become divorced or terminate your domestic partnership, you are required to make changes to your benefits if you are covering your prior spouse/partner.

Issues to Consider

  • Will you be paid for any portion of your Family and Medical Leave?
  • Do you want to change any of your benefits while on Family and Medical Leave?
  • Will JHU hold your position while you are on Family and Medical Leave?

Take Action

When you apply for Family and Medical Leave, be sure to:

  • Notify your supervisor.
  • Learn about your benefits payment options while on leave. Depending on the type of leave, you may be billed directly on a month-by-month basis in order to continue your benefits.
  • Contact the Benefits Service Center within 30 days of returning from a leave of absence to reinstate your benefits or make changes.

Remember, you are only allowed to make changes that are consistent with your life event.

If You Don’t Take Action

If you do not confirm the continuation of your benefits through direct billing ,your JHU benefits may not continue during your leave.


Four Seasons, Johns Hopkins Partner on Health and Safety Program

Supporting a Spouse Through a Health Challenge | Johns Hopkins Medicine

(Four Seasons) Four Seasons New York, which has been accommodating medical workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is collaborating with Johns Hopkins Medicine International to validate its new global health and safety program, Lead With Care, and provide ongoing, real-time guidance on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation. To support the development of procedures to be verified by Johns Hopkins, Four Seasons will be working with EcoLab and International SOS.

As part of the collaboration, Johns Hopkins Medicine International and Four Seasons have established a dedicated COVID-19 Advisory Board, bringing together Four Seasons leadership and top experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine International. The COVID-19 Advisory Board will create, enhance and review current procedures, along with virtual and in-person training to guide implementation of Lead With Care across Four Seasons global portfolio.

The Lead With Care program, Four Seasons says, is focused on providing care, confidence and comfort to all guests, employees and residents within the new COVID-19 environment. The new program outlines clear procedures that educate and empower Four Seasons employees to take care of guests and each other. 

Luxury Travel Advisor’s only newsletter, covering unique destinations and product news for affluent travelers. Delivered every Tuesday & Thursday.

Four Seasons collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine International will ensure the review and validation of the Lead With Care program in two phases.

 Phase One of the collaboration (Review and Validation) involves a review of Four Seasons existing health and safety procedures, along with enhanced protocols in response to the current situation at a global, regional and property level.

 Phase Two (Ongoing Guidance) provides Four Seasons with ongoing collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Medicine International team, including direct access to curated critical updates, relevant COVID-19 research outcomes and expert advice to ensure real-time adjustments to operating procedures. 

Four Seasons and Johns Hopkins will also establish a joint Response Team where senior experts in infectious diseases from Johns Hopkins will provide on-demand response and guidance to hotels facing COVID-19 situations.

While guests will see many of the enhanced Lead With Care procedures, behind-the-scenes measures will also take place through employee training, additional food handling protocols, and enhancements to ventilation systems and other back-of-the-house operations.

In addition, Four Seasons says it continues to invest in its app that further allows guests to control how they engage with others, limiting face-to-face interactions and allowing users to request luggage pickup, airport transfers, room service, restaurant and spa reservations and more.

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Supporting a Spouse Through a Health Challenge

Supporting a Spouse Through a Health Challenge | Johns Hopkins Medicine

When a spouse is diagnosed with a serious health condition, what can you say? What should you do? A Johns Hopkins expert shares strategies to help you both feel strong.

Every year, millions of couples come face-to-face with a serious illness. A new diagnosis—whether it’s Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart failure, kidney dysfunction or another major medical condition—is life-changing for both of you. Yet research reveals that the needs of the well spouse are often overlooked, just when he or she needs the strength to support a partner in new ways.  

If you have suddenly been put into the role of caregiver, what should you do—and how can you stay strong while you do it? Psychiatrist and caregiver health researcher Peter Rabins, M.D., M.P.H., co-director of the geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry division at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, recommends these strategies.  

Listen and share time.

Not sure what to say? That’s OK. Assure your spouse that you love and support him or her. Listen if your spouse wants to talk, or just spend quiet time together.

If possible, keep sharing routines that have been part of your life together—a TV movie and popcorn on Friday night, morning coffee and the daily newspaper, walking the dog.

After a serious diagnosis, you both may cherish these everyday traditions more than ever.  

Get informed.

Well spouses cope better when they, their partners, have accurate, firsthand information about their mate’s condition, treatment and needs. “The more you know, the better,” Rabins says. “It’s OK to start with the Internet, but make sure you find reliable websites that provide accurate, up-to-date medical information. Be sure to ask health care providers questions too.”   

Talk to practitioners together.

Don’t sit in the waiting room or stay silent during medical appointments. “Work together, beforehand, to create a list of questions,” Rabins suggests. “This gets the two of you talking about your concerns, your worries and areas where you need more information.”

Prioritize your questions—putting the most important ones first—to be sure you receive the info you need most at your spouse’s next appointment. “If there’s not time to discuss all of your questions, ask if a nurse or physician’s assistant can help, if you can meet at another time, or if you can discuss your concerns by phone or email,” Rabins suggests.

Sidestep nagging.

A major medical diagnosis can lead to doctor-recommended changes in your spouse’s diet, physical activity level, medication routine and need for rest. A well spouse’s support and encouragement can help a partner stay on track, but this new role can also trigger frustration on both sides. The well spouse may feel stressed; the ill spouse might not appreciate nagging.

“For some people, it’s useful to put some of the burden for deciding what’s most important back in the hands of health care practitioners. Otherwise, this can add extra strain to your relationship,” Rabins says.

“Ask about diet, medications and other daily needs.

That way, instead of saying to your partner, ‘You must take all of your pills,’ you can say, ‘I asked the doctor and she said it’s most important to take these medications on a strict schedule, but it’s OK to take this one a little later.’”

Accept help.

Are offers of casseroles and housecleaning pouring in? Let well-wishers lighten your load so you can focus on your ill spouse and get needed rest and support for yourself.

“If you’re feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, tell the doctor, nurse or hospital social worker,” Rabins says. “Sometimes well spouses are surprised by the home services covered by insurance. You might get help bathing and dressing your spouse, or your spouse may qualify for occupational or physical therapy that will show him or her and you how to make things easier in your home.” 


Caregiving: The assistance family, friends and professionals provide to those who are old, sick or otherwise unable to care for themselves.

Caregiving can include buying groceries, cooking meals, cleaning, assistance with bathing or personal care, making and driving someone to medical appointments, dispensing medicine, helping someone get in or bed, and more.

Heart failure: When the heart cannot supply as much blood as the body needs, because it cannot fill completely or cannot pump with enough force. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and heart valve problems can cause heart failure. Heart failure does not mean the heart is about to stop. Medications and lifestyle changes can reduce symptoms.


Johns Hopkins ACG® System

Supporting a Spouse Through a Health Challenge | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins Center for Population Health IT have developed a framework for the integration of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) factors into population-level predictive analytics.


Version 12.0 of the ACG System software offers valuable enhancements, which provide an ever-growing and more sophisticated toolkit for managing population health.

Learn More

Three recently published studies applied the ACG System to pediatric populations. They use the ACG System to measure child health, to examine health care resource use and to gain insight into risk factors associated with repeat tests.

Johns Hopkins University – Cell, Molecular, Developmental Biology & Biophysics

Supporting a Spouse Through a Health Challenge | Johns Hopkins Medicine

The NIH-JHU GPP is a cooperative graduate program between the Graduate Program in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology and Biophysics at Johns Hopkins University and the NIH. The program combines Johns Hopkins' educational excellence in the biological sciences with the tremendous variety of research possibilities available at the NIH.

The CMDB graduate program provides students with a broad foundation offers training in the areas of biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, developmental biology, genetics, and molecular biology.

Students do most of their coursework at the JHU Homewood campus in Baltimore, and perform their thesis research in a laboratory at NIH.

Thesis projects can be in any area of research, which, in addition to the areas listed above, includes immunology, neurobiology, microbiology, virology, etc.

Students may enter the graduate program from a variety of backgrounds including biology, chemistry, and physics.


  • Four core courses, taken during the first year at JHU. These include Advanced Molecular Biology, Graduate Biophysical Chemistry, Advanced Cell Biology, and Advanced Developmental Biology and Genetics.  A full list of JHU courses available here  .
  • Four elective courses, taken during the first and second year. These can include graduate-level courses offered at JHU, at JHU Medical School, and at the NIH.
  • Laboratory rotations during the first year, usually two at JHU and 2-3 at NIH. At the end of the first year, students choose their research advisor at NIH and begin their dissertation research.
  • Teaching experience. Students serving as teaching assistants for two courses during the first two years. At least one must be at JHU; the second may be either at JHU or at NIH.
  • Thesis research, done in the second through fifth years in an NIH laboratory.

In addition to formal course work, while students are at JHU, they actively participate in a weekly seminar series with faculty members and invited speakers.

While at NIH, they participate in monthly NIH-JHU GPP meetings where students discuss their ongoing research and other program matters, including the opportunity to practice upcoming seminars, mock qualifying exams, etc. The NIH-JHU students also select, invite and host an annual guest lecturer.  Students also take advantage of the large number of seminars given weekly at the NIH.

Research Facilities

The NIH is the world's premier biomedical research institution, with an environment that is rich in scientific exchange and that provides broad opportunities for biomedical research.

As the federal government's primary agency for biomedical research, NIH institutes and centers employ nearly 1,200 tenured or tenure-track investigators and about 3,700 postdoctoral scientists with medical, dental, or graduate degrees.

The NIH intramural research campus includes more than thirty research buildings that house a broad spectrum of biomedical and related scientific research.

Basic research in the biomedical sciences at the NIH is complemented by an active clinical research program at the unique 250-bed research hospital and laboratory complex, the Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center. The NIH campus is also home to the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library.

The laboratories and teaching space of the Johns Hopkins Department of Biology are located in Seeley G. Mudd Hall on the JHU Homewood campus. The Milton S. Eisenhower Library, a superb integrated science collection, is nearby.

All equipment and instrumentation relevant to contemporary biology is available to graduate students through the facilities of the Homewood Campus, the Carnegie Institution, the School of Medicine, and the School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Financial Support

All JHU/NIH graduate students are supported through NIH Intramural Research Training Awards and by Johns Hopkins and receive support for stipend, tuition, and medical insurance throughout their years of training.  Details about pre-doctoral stipend are available here.  Tuition is funded during the entire period students are in the program.

Living and Housing

Affordable apartments, houses, and rooms in private residences are available for rent near the NIH campus and elsewhere within easy commuting distance. Affordable rooms and apartments are also available near JHU in Baltimore; the Housing Office on campus assists students in finding rooms and apartments.

Student Group

Johns Hopkins has approximately 3,300 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. The NIH-JHU GPP admits 3-6 students per year, who join a class of 15-20 students at the CMDB Graduate Program and a group of ~20 NIH-JHU students on the NIH campus.

 While at the NIH, students join more than 500 other graduate students from more than 100 universities who are doing their research in NIH laboratories.

The Graduate Partnerships Program and the Office of Intramural Training & Education at the NIH sponsor student activities and services similar to those at a university to ensure student success and create a strong graduate student community.


The 300-acre NIH Bethesda campus is close to Washington DC, and is easily accessed by public transportation , affording a spectacular cultural and community environment as well as pleasant outdoor activities all year round.

Johns Hopkins University is in Baltimore, Maryland, a short distance north of the NIH campus. Maryland is a small state bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Allegheny and Appalachian mountains, providing the opportunity for pleasurable outdoor activities.

The cultural and academic environments of Baltimore and Washington also enhance opportunities for many recreational experiences.


Prospective students must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents. An entering class typically includes a variety of undergraduate majors in the biological, chemical, or physical sciences. Students wishing to be considered for admission into this partnership should visit the GPP Institutional Partnership – Long-Form Application for Prospective PhD Students web page.

University Partnership Director

  • Dr. Vincent HilserPhone: 410-516-6072Email:

Additional Information


Keep the Spark Alive in Your Marriage

Supporting a Spouse Through a Health Challenge | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Staying up late scrolling social media to avoid intimacy with your partner or, worse, pretending to be asleep, isn’t good for your marriage. But if you find yourself avoiding sex, you’re not alone: Approximately one woman in 10 experiences a decrease in her sex drive at some point in her life.

“That dip can happen for a number of reasons, including the natural progression of your relationship over time,” says Chris Kraft, Ph.D.

, director of clinical services at the Sex and Gender Clinic in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “But you shouldn’t give up on having a great sex life once you’re married.

Intimacy is key to having a healthy, functional and overall happy relationship.”

Stages of Intimacy

Intimacy tends to follow a pattern as a relationship evolves. Couples newly in love typically experience feelings of closeness and excitement and have regular sex, says Kraft.

That’s followed by the stage in which many couples start a family. Having children significantly changes a couple’s intimacy.

“It’s natural for a couple’s sex life to decline after having a baby because of the exhaustion and lack of private time,” says Kraft. “But many couples’ sex lives don’t recover after they get the baby zone.

Priorities shift to raising kids and juggling careers and household responsibilities.”

Even if you don’t have children, the newness of the relationship wears off after three or four years together. Typically, this is when sex becomes more routine. “Intimacy breaks down at this stage because couples don’t talk about their sex life,” Kraft says. “And, couples aren’t as intentional about connecting with each other as they were earlier in the relationship.”

Sexual Roadblocks

Besides the maturation of a relationship, other factors can lead to less intimacy, too. Career and family pressures can eat up your time and zap your energy. Relational hurts or resentments can develop over time. One of the most common? Feeling overwhelmed and resentful that your partner isn’t helping out as much as you would .

That’s when having a heart-to-heart can help. “Sit your partner down and say, ‘Look, this is what it’s to be a woman with these kids in my life right now and with my career.

Do you get it? Can you support and help me?” recommends Kraft.

“You really need to talk about it because the resentment that builds up around feelings of inequality is one of the biggest killers of intimacy and sexuality.”

In addition to discussing relationship concerns, it’s essential to have conversations about your sex life, too, even if it’s difficult or awkward at first. Just start the conversation by asking questions :

  • What are some sexual activities we’ve done that you really enjoyed?
  • What are some things you’d to try?
  • Is there anything you’d to do more or less of?
  • How connected with me are you feeling lately?

Increase Intimacy

It’s important to pay attention to how you and your partner are relating to one another in and the bedroom. If your marriage is solid and it’s just your intimate life that’s lacking, Kraft has these tips to help you keep sex in your relationship.

Identify Your Needs

Identify what makes you feel having sex. Un men — who are easily aroused — women’s desire is a more gradual process.

“In general, women’s desire starts with some type of connection to their own sexuality or their partner.

Most women often need to be relaxed, not worried about their to-do list, and feeling a connection to their partner in order to set the stage for sexual intimacy,” says Kraft.

To get in the mood, think about what makes you feel relaxed and sensual. Maybe it’s kissing or touching or talking intimately with your partner. It could be a glass of wine, a nice dinner or laughing together. Once you’ve pinpointed what makes you feel ready for sexual closeness, share that information with your spouse so you can work together to make those things happen.

Make an Effort

“Too often, women say ‘I’m a little tired,’ ‘I need to shower,’ or ‘It’s not a good time.’ But the couples who make an effort to have sex on a regular basis — even if it’s not the perfect scenario — have more satisfying sex lives,” says Kraft.

If your partner initiates a sexual encounter, try going along with it to see where it leads you. “Many women report feeling arousal after the intimacy is initiated,” he adds.

Of course, if it doesn’t get you in the mood, you should always feel entitled to stop.

Schedule a Date Night

It’s easy to put sex on the back burner when you’re in a nonstop stage of life. But the only way you’re going to maintain an intimate connection with your partner is by making it a priority.

“Couples who schedule time to connect with each other have healthier, happier relationships,” says Kraft. “It doesn’t have to result in sex every time. It’s more about making time to have fun together.

Get a babysitter and schedule a date night, or just put the kids to bed early so you can have some alone time. Take a break from your crazy work schedule to meet each other for lunch, or step away from your home renovation project and stay overnight at a hotel. Figure out ways you can make time for each other.

Feel Sexy

There’s no doubt that feeling sexy can boost your libido. So it’s important that you spend time doing the things that make you feel sensual, whether that’s wearing provocative outfits or lingerie, reading romance novels or erotica, or getting bendy at yoga class. The point is to focus on your needs.

Take Charge

Don’t wait for your partner to initiate sex or follow his sexual steps. Take the lead in how your sexual encounters unfold. Come in with what feels good for you, even if it’s not intercourse that night. It’s important to feel in control of your sex life and to have a voice in the relationship’s intimacy.

Redefine Intimacy

“People often think sex has to be a big production with intercourse and orgasms. When in reality, what’s most important to couples, especially to many women, is to connect and be intimate. Being intimate can be as simple as talking and cuddling or affectionately touching,” suggests Kraft.

Ask your partner to focus on “outercourse”: touching, massaging, kissing and cuddling. And, discuss the possibility of having these types of sessions without feeling obligated to have intercourse.

“The main thing is to make having an intimate connection with your partner a priority,” says Kraft. “Think about what makes you feel close and what you enjoy sexually. And then ask yourself how you can create that with your partner.”