Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It’s Hospital Week! Reflecting on the Value of Our Hospital in the Community

For 50 years, Greater Baltimore Medical Center has been serving the healthcare needs of our community. From the moment we opened our doors, our people have worked hard to meet our mission of health, healing and hope.

This is National Hospital Week. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate our hospital and acknowledge all that it means to the people we serve. In a two-week span this winter, we had two emergencies in our family and I was so grateful that GBMC was close and our team was so well prepared, hard working and caring.  On those two occasions, I was reminded that it takes the whole team, from parking lot attendants, grounds crew, patient access reps, and billing staff, to transporters, environmental services workers, food service workers, security personnel, social workers, care managers, physicians, nurses, clinicians, volunteers, and all other non-clinical and administrative employees. All of the GBMC family is very important to get the job done.

As GBMC celebrates its 50th anniversary caring for our community, this week is a great time to reflect on some of the things that make our hospital a great place to come to for care and a great place to work.

So, as we observe National Hospital Week, I want to sincerely thank all the members of our staff, Board of Directors and volunteers and everyone who has helped us improve our designs and make our system of care more reliable to move us closer to our vision: to every patient, every time, we will provide the care that we would want for our own loved ones.

I invite all employees to take part in the Hospital Week celebrations planned this week including:

Wednesday, May 13 - Ice Cream Social Event – Enjoy a delicious ice cream today:

  • 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. at the Emergency Department (ED) Entrance and in Civiletti Conference Center
  • 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. at the ED Entrance Only
  • 11 p.m.-12 a.m. at the ED Entrance Only

Thursday, May 14 - GBMC Mug Giveaway – Each employee and volunteer will receive a commemorative GBMC 50th Anniversary mug as a token of our appreciation.  Managers will receive an email with the location to pick up mugs for their staff.

Thursday, May 14 - Employee Wellness and Information Fair -- I know you are very busy caring for our patients and healthcare system, but please take some time to focus on your own health and wellbeing by joining us for the fair anytime from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the Civiletti Conference Center.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Honoring our Nurses During National Nurses Week

Each year, GBMC celebrates National Nurses Week and National Nurses Day (celebrated this year on May 6th). During this week, we reflect on the tireless caring that our nurses demonstrate daily in their work with our patients. I often write in this blog about how we at GBMC are transforming to fix the main issues affecting our national healthcare system.  I can assure you that nursing is not one of those issues.  This country has the best prepared and hardest working nurses in the world.

Our nursing staff is a phenomenal group – well-trained, smart and resilient. In fact, the resiliency of our nursing staff never ceases to amaze me.  Nurses are at the bedside 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year. They deal with whatever problems come their way and are the face of our healthcare system to thousands of patients annually. Nursing requires self-sacrifice and dedication. Through major snowstorms and other calamities, our nurses are there for our patients, whether they have to sleep on cots in the hospital so that they don’t miss a shift, or come in early to make sure shifts are covered. We in the GBMC HealthCare system are blessed to have phenomenal nurses in our inpatient units, in our operating suites, in our outpatient areas, our physician practices and in our hospice.

One of the hallmarks of nursing is compassion but over the last 50 years nursing has become a very technologically and scientifically challenging field. During my time at GBMC, I have seen just how talented our nurses are and how good they are at problem-solving. Through Lean Daily Management (LDM), I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of our nurses and have observed directly their dedication to improving care and moving us closer to our vision.

Last evening, as part of our 50th Anniversary Celebration, we held a reception for all of our nurses who had served GBMC for 10 years or more. I addressed the group and reminded them how GBMC had always been known for outstanding physicians and outstanding nurses. I thanked them for their dedication to our patients and for their efforts to continually improve our care. This beautiful power point presentation (below), displayed during our event, clearly demonstrates the value of our nurses and what they mean to GBMC and our patients.

Our Board Chair, Bonnie Stein, told them of how GBMC had become her hospital and health system even though she lives some distance from our main campus. She had initially been referred to a prominent GBMC physician who treated her very well, but it was the nursing care that helped convince Bonnie that she should get all of her care at GBMC!

Our CNO, Dr. Jody Porter recognized each of the nurses in attendance and also thanked them for their commitment and excellence. It was then fitting for us to also recognize Jody for her outstanding leadership as she prepares for her retirement. It was a great occasion!

So during Nurses Week, please take a moment to thank our nurses for all of their care and caring.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Time for Reflection

This has been a sad week for Baltimore. We have seen our city erupt in violence after the death of Freddie Gray. On Tuesday morning I saw a young GBMC colleague who is an African-American male and he looked a little tired. I asked him how he was doing and he told me that he hadn’t gotten much sleep because of the commotion in his neighborhood. I told him that I was sorry and that I was glad that he was safe and I thanked him for coming to work. I saw the same colleague the next day and he looked much better. He told me that he had gotten a better night’s sleep. He told me that the combination of the curfew and the presence of the National Guard had calmed his neighborhood. I again told him that I was glad that he was safe and I was happy to see him at work. What he said next stopped me in my tracks and had an immediate emotional effect on me. He apologized to me for what some people were doing in our city.

I felt very small and I didn’t know what to say. I live in the city, too, but my neighborhood was safe. There were no burning cars and no state police or National Guard. I agree with my GBMC colleague and President Obama that the people involved in looting and setting things on fire are in essence people who have perpetrated a crime. But, why did I deserve an apology? Why did my colleague believe that he owed me an apology? My young colleague appeared to want to take responsibility for the behavior of others. What was I willing to take responsibility for? So I asked myself what had I done to make our city, state, and country live up to the commitment of justice for all? What had I done to assure that all are treated with fairness and some are not singled out for abusive treatment? My answer was clear: not enough. The words of my young colleague caused me to rededicate myself to work for social justice, understanding, inclusion and helping others. I ask all in the GBMC family to do the same reflection.  To make an immediate impact, visit this webpage set up by the Mayor. It directs volunteers to specific areas where help is needed.

A few months ago we setup a diversity and inclusion task force. I hope that this group can help us break down barriers to dialogue and make GBMC a better place to work and by extension, our community a better…and safer….place to live.

The GBMC Cares Program

Doctors, nurses, and other clinicians are sometimes involved in episodes that hurt patients. We have become pretty good at racing to the aide of the patient, the “first” victim, and at improving systems to assure that the error can never again result in patient harm. But what have we done to help the “second” victim, the caregiver who now bears the emotional burden of the error?

When patients experience harm as a result of an error, It is also stressful for the caregivers—those who have dedicated their lives to helping others.  Caregivers, whether directly or indirectly involved, often feel tremendous guilt and isolation, which can lead to serious mental health issues.

Second victims are left feeling responsible for the event, sensing that they have failed or questioning their clinical judgment. It is critical to get timely support after such events. Earlier this month, under the direction of Carolyn Candiello, we launched a pilot program, called GBMC CARES, whose main goal is to provide “psychological first-aid” to our caregivers involved in a stressful patient event.   The program, developed by the Maryland Patient Safety Center in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Hospital Armstrong Institute, includes a rotating group of 20 volunteers from our hospital staff, who offer peer support for any staff member who encounters a stressful, patient-related event. CARES team services are free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the team is here to help:

• Increase awareness of the second victim problem
• Equip staff with healthy coping strategies to promote well-being
• Reassure and guide staff to continue thriving in their roles
• Identify other support 

I am proud to have this important program in our hospital.  We realize how critically important it is to have a mechanism in place to support our staff and improve our culture of safety. Help is now only a call or text away. To utilize the peer support services of the CARES team, call 443-849-CARE (2273).

A Well-Deserved Award

Congratulations to Colleen Moore our SAFE program’s Domestic Violence Coordinator!  Colleen will be awarded the Governor’s Victim Assistance Award: Outstanding Contribution to Victim Services.  The award recognizes outstanding work done in the area of victim advocacy and services that exceeds expected work responsibilities, and exemplifies a high level of commitment and dedication to the field of victims’ rights and services and to the victims themselves. Thank you for all your hard work at GBMC, as well as out in the community, Colleen.  Your recognition is well deserved!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Recognizing Our Leaders: The Celebration Continues

This week we continued our 50th Anniversary Celebration with our Because of Leadership Event A Tribute to our Visionaries, Founders, Leaders and Benefactors. At the event were representatives of our founder organizations, members of our Virginia Sherwood and Kroh Societies, current and present HealthCare and Gilchrist Board members, members of the Philanthropy Committee and many other people from the community who have been important in the history of GBMC. We recognized three acts of leadership: service, innovation and philanthropy. Jamie Costello the nightly anchor of ABC News 2 –WMAR served as the master of ceremony and Cal Ripken, Jr. gave an excellent address on leadership.

Among the highlights of the evening were the playing of the tape recording of the invocation given by Reverend Richard H. Baker at the dedication of the hospital in 1965 and a video celebrating GBMC’s founding that included the voices of Milton and Dwight D. Eisenhower, the former President of the United States. The evening was a wonderful event and a great opportunity to celebrate our leaders past and present.

Central Sterile Processing

Last month we began the work to protect our operating rooms and central sterile processing from electrical outages like the ones that caused the cancellation of numerous surgeries last summer. The first step was to relocate the central sterile operations to a temporary location in order to rebuild the department and to add heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades to improve the temperature and humidity controls.

Since then, temporary CSP trailers, compliant to The Joint Commission (TJC) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) standards, have been stationed in the Bluebell parking lot.  These trailers are equipped with similar state-of-the-art equipment to what we have had in the main department to assure that all of our surgical instruments are processed according to our high standards.

As most folks may or may not be aware, the CSP department plays a vital role in reprocessing reusable devices (primarily surgical instrumentation) for GBMC. Currently, the construction is on target with an estimated completion date of Friday May 1, 2015. CSP staff will be able to reoccupy the space beginning Wednesday May 6, 2015.

Please join me in thanking Steve Adams, the Manager of Central Sterile and his Team for their outstanding work. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

GBMC has the Top Nurses!

On Wednesday evening, I had the privilege of attending Baltimore magazine’s dinner reception saluting 50 of the region’s top nurses for their contributions to healthcare.  I am proud to say that the GBMC family was well represented with SEVEN of our registered nurses being recognized by their peers for outstanding care in FIVE of 18 different specialties.  Having our nurses represented (7/50 = 14% of the winners!) on this list is evidence of what we already knew – our HealthCare system has the best nurses!

Please join me in congratulating the following nurses:
Cynthia Arnold, CRNP Pediatrics/Neonatal
Amanda Hindle, RN Pediatrics/Neonatal
Jaclyn Mueller, RN Emergency Department
Marla Newmark, RN Pediatrics/Non-neonatal
Ganotong Tongprom, RN   Medical-Surgical Nursing
Carol Hay, RN – Gilchrist Hospice Care Hospice/Home Health/Palliative
Kristin Metzger, RN – Gilchrist Hospice Care Hospice/Home Health/Palliative

I’ve been at GBMC for almost five years and I have learned how talented and hard working our nurses are.  I’ve also had the opportunity to see, each and every day, their true dedication to our patients and our vision.  Our nurses and nursing support technicians are the face of GBMC. They spend the most time with our patients and are critically important members of the healthcare team. Their untiring work in improving patient safety and redesigning systems to improve care has been remarkable.

Once again, congratulations and thank you for your hard work and dedication!

The inaugural “Top Nurses” issue will hit the newsstands soon.  Please make sure you grab your copy!

This week we are celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week. As you may know, with more than 900 volunteers in the hospital and at Gilchrist Hospice Care, GBMC has one of the largest volunteer auxiliaries in Maryland.  Over the last 50 years, our volunteers have donated more than 2.4 million hours of service and raised more than 20 million dollars to support patient care at GBMC.

I must admit, we have the best group of volunteers in the state.  I am always struck by how, to the average person, they seem so joyful in their service to our patients.  I meet them in our hallways and by the front desk, but, no matter where I walk within our hospital, I am proud to say that I am always greeted by at least 3 or 4 smiling volunteers.

I am so grateful for all that they do, from the smiles they share, to their dedication and commitment to our health system and our patients. Please take the time to say “thank you” for all they do.

Speaking of Baltimore magazine:  That’s right! It's that time again - Baltimore magazine is collecting votes for its best selling TOP DOCTORS issue.  Please vote for the doctors you most respect!  Remember, Top Doctors voting is done by physicians only.  The survey may be found at:

Join the GBMC 50th Team for the Baltimore Aids Walk & Run on Sun., May 3rd
I am still looking for GBMC colleagues to join team GBMC 50th.  This squad is slated to participate in the AIDS Walk & Run on Sun., May 3rd.  The walk and 5K run is taking place at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore to raise money for AIDS awareness and testing.  Again, please consider coming out and walking or running with me as another fun way to celebrate our 50th Anniversary and give back to our community.  If you want to get some exercise that morning or lend financial support (or both!), click on this link and follow the directions under “Join a Team”:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Gaining Recognition for Excellence

About a year ago, I was speaking with Mark Lamos MD, the Medical Director of Greater Baltimore Medical Associates, and the heart and soul of our advanced primary care strategy, and I was concerned that we would not be able to attract outstanding primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants fast enough. To truly be able to coordinate care across our community we needed more outstanding clinicians to add to the ones we already had, both as employed and private practicing doctors and mid-levels. With a new recognition of the value of primary care, how would we ever be able to do this with everyone looking for these providers?

Was I ever wrong! What I did not realize was that since we were building patient-centered medical homes that helped the physicians and mid-level providers do what they were trained to do and loved to do, they would flock to us. This week, there were a bunch of news stories about other companies opening new primary care offices. But their model had not changed…limited hours of operation, no embedded care managers and no hope for the providers to truly have a team to help them get the job done. Providers running as fast as they can where the goal is to churn as many visits as they can is not attractive to those looking for a job these days.

Our model, on the other hand, which is focused on the measurable outcomes of better health, better care experience, and less waste, thereby allowing the provider to have more joy in their day is what primary care clinicians are looking for. They want the help of the care managers and the rest of the team to do things like improve the diabetes composite score of their patients to make them live longer and healthier lives! They want to work in a system that is available for people when they have a need and doesn’t use the emergency department as the pathway of least resistance. An example of how attractive GBMA advanced primary care now is to physicians can be found in the fact that all 3 current Chief Residents of the University of Maryland Family Medicine Residency Program will be joining us this summer! They are: Janna Becker, MD who will be joining our Hunt Valley practice; Peter Burkill, MD who will be joining Family Care Associates in the North Pavilion; and Margaret Sass, MD who will be joining our Perry Hall team. One of their mentors, Dr. Kevin Ferentz, recently joined us as the lead physician at our Owings Mills practice. And we have other great new colleagues either recently arrived or coming:

Lisa Carey, DO Medicine/Pediatrics (Hunt Manor)
Deanna Shapiro, PA (Hunt Manor)
Elizabeth Shemin, NP (Texas Station)
Kevin Carter, MD (Owings Mills)

I am also excited that our Greater Baltimore Health Alliance colleagues from Jarrettsville Family Care, Linda Walsh, MD, Mary Elizabeth Craig, MD and physician assistants Bridget Diehl and Kristen Jubb, have decided to become employed by GBMA as well!

So, if you need a primary care provider or if you know someone who does…you have a lot of great choices! It is wonderful to be recognized as the system of choice for outstanding primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Opening Day Fun!

It would not be an Opening Day in Baltimore without Orioles gear at GBMC. Please check out pictures from today's celebration at the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Our Culture of Safety: A Colleague Speaks Up

In last week’s blog, I used the example of our volunteers in the GOR waiting room reminding me to wash my hands as an illustration that our culture of safety was improving. The fact that volunteers or others would feel comfortable stopping a senior executive is a great example of people feeling secure to do the right thing.

Well, one of our colleagues read the blog and sent me an email. Her message was clear (although she did not use these precise words): “Not so fast! We still have those that abuse their position on the authority hierarchy. Our safety culture needs more work”. She told me of instances where a very few physicians were still getting angry when a staff member, usually a nurse, stopped them if they were going to deviate from a procedure designed for safety. Our colleague was concerned that even a manager who confronted a physician who didn’t want to follow the rules would be at risk for retribution by administration.

I met with our colleague directly to reassure her that no one would suffer retribution if they “stopped the line” to get the safe practice followed. I also met with the manager who reassured me that she believed that she was safe in confronting anyone who wouldn’t follow a safety procedure but she was getting a bit tired of confronting a very small number of individuals.

I again thanked the manager for her hard work and I reassured our colleague that we would get all of our leaders involved and if individuals persisted in acting up, that there would be further action.

I know that almost all of our physicians and nurses are marvelous collaborators who treat their colleagues with respect every day. And I also know that the evidence is not always crystal clear and that there is room for honest debate about some of our safety procedures. We want our clinicians to speak up if they think a rule needs to be changed. But everyone needs to know that we shouldn’t debate the rule at the bedside of an individual patient (unless of course we have evidence that following the rule will hurt that patient). The correct approach is to follow the rule in the moment and then meet with the leader who can change the procedure. Those leaders are usually our clinical department chairs, our physician service line leaders and our nurse managers and directors working together as a team.
I did not intend last week to suggest that our culture of safety is now perfect – it clearly is not – but we have made progress. Now, we must unite as a family to make the culture even better to protect our patients and ourselves. We must respect those with differing opinions and channel them to effective forums where their voice can be heard and when appropriate, the procedure changed. But we must simultaneously stop abusive behavior even if the abuser believes that their intent is pure. We must always make it safe and comfortable for people to speak up.

National Doctors’ Day
This past Monday (Mar. 30th) was National Doctor’s Day. This is the one day of the year that we reflect on the many contributions made by our physicians. I want to thank all the doctors on the GBMC medical staff who work extremely hard to care for patients as they would want their own loved ones cared for. We have physicians throughout our healthcare system that are making a tremendous difference in the lives of patients every day.  From the surgeons and hospitalists to the ED physicians, primary care doctors and specialists all throughout GBMC, thank you for caring for patients and their families.

Town Hall Meetings
Starting next week, through the end of June, we will be holding a series of Town Hall Meetings. These meetings present an opportunity for direct and provide an opportunity to ask questions, raise issues and share ideas.  All are encouraged to attend a meeting!  The value of these meetings is directly related to your participation so we look forward to seeing you there! For more information please visit http://infoweb/body.cfm?id=23&action=detail&ref=614

Happy Holidays
On a final note, the GBMC HealthCare family sends its best wishes to everyone celebrating Easter this Sunday and the eight-day festival of Passover.