Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Leaders in Their Field

Last week, I was delighted to attend the second annual BALTIMORE Magazine Top Nurses event. I was so proud of my six colleagues who were chosen by their peers from among thousands of wonderful nurses throughout the Baltimore region. These outstanding professionals were selected in five different specialties and represented 11% of all winners! These facts supported what I already knew – the GBMC HealthCare System has the best nurses!

Please join me in congratulating those recognized for their excellence:
Justine Kellar, RN, BSN, Management/Nurse Executive Category
Shannon Isaac, RN, Orthopedics Category
Joseph Henry, RN, Pediatrics: Neonatal Category
Laura Clary, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, CFN, CPEN, Women’s Health Category
Sherry Pearson, RN, Women’s Health Category
Erin Batton, RN, Hospice/Home Health/Palliative Care Category

Our nurses and nursing support technicians are the backbone of GBMC. They spend the most time with our patients and are critically important members of the healthcare team. Their untiring work at the bedside and in improving patient safety and redesigning systems to improve care has been remarkable. We frequently have visitors with us on our Lean Daily Management (LDM) walk and I often brag about the accomplishments of our nurses. Recently, I was telling representatives of the company that provides malpractice reinsurance to GBMC that Cele Gayhardt, RN, and her team on Unit 48 had been instrumental in implementing evidence-based standard work for the use of urinary catheters and had helped reduce our rate of catheter-associated urinary tract infections to zero! This is just one example of the intelligence, skill, dedication and hard work of our nurses. It is marvelous to see members of our team called out for their outstanding contributions.

The second annual “top nurses” issue hit the newsstands on Friday, Apr. 29.  Don’t forget to pick up your copy!

Speaking of BALTIMORE Magazine: Physicians….It's that time again - BALTIMORE Magazine is collecting votes for its TOP DOCTORS issue. Docs, please vote for the colleagues you most respect! This year, the magazine will only utilize online voting for TOP DOCS and no hospital codes are being used. The survey may be found at:

Another Well-Deserved Award

Congratulations to Laura Clary, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, CFN, CPEN, clinical manager of our SAFE program!  Laura was recently awarded the Henry Gleim Memorial Award by the Governor’s Maryland State Board of Victim Services.  The award recognizes her outstanding contribution to the field of victim services and for her work in the area of victim advocacy. Thank you, Laura for all your hard work at GBMC, as well as out in the community. This recognition is well deserved!

2016 Employee Engagement and Culture of Safety Survey
Please complete our annual Employee Engagement and Culture of Safety Survey.  The survey is open through Monday, May 16 and can easily be accessed through the icon (left) on any GBMC desktop computer or by visiting

If you want to be included in a weekly drawing for a $100 prize, be sure to enter your name after you complete the survey.

The survey is completely CONFIDENTIAL, and your individual responses to the questions will not be shared! If you do, however, choose to include additional comments, these will be shared with your manager but your name will not be given.

Please complete the survey so that we can learn what we can do to make GBMC an even better place to work. Thanks!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Passing of One of GBMC’s Greatest Friends

Last Friday, I attended the funeral of Mr. Joseph S. Keelty, who passed away at the age of 93 years.  As you can imagine, the church was packed. Father Timothy Brown, a faculty member at Loyola University and a personal friend of Joe’s, gave the homily and pointed out that all in attendance were mourning Joe’s passing collectively and personally. By that he meant that Joe had given so much to the community, but, that he had had a personal relationship of kindness and giving to so many individuals as well.  This really resonated with me. As the President of GBMC HealthCare, I realized that Joe Keelty was a force in giving of his time, talent and treasure to both Gilchrist Services and our hospital. And as an individual, I remembered how kind Joe had been to me when I first met him and at every interaction with him since then. He was the essence of humility. It was always clear that he did not want attention paid to his giving.  

A history of personal concern for others and “quiet philanthropy” were hallmarks of Joe Keelty’s life. Born into a family that began a homebuilding company in the early 1900s, Mr. Keelty helped to spearhead the family business and became a leader in the industry nationally, serving as an officer of the National Association of Homebuilders and the Homebuilder’s Association of Maryland.

His commitment to his church, education, the welfare of the disadvantaged and healthcare focused his philanthropy. Joe served as Chairman of the Gilchrist Board and was an emeritus member of that body at the time of his death.

The Joseph S. Keelty Society was named for him because of his life-long leadership and exceptional generosity to GBMC HealthCare. His vision of service is something we strive for each day and we are deeply indebted to Mr. Keelty for his support. The impact he made is beyond measure, but can be seen each day as we work towards our vision to provide to everyone the care we would want for our own loved ones.

There is no doubt that we have lost someone who was very special and a great friend to GBMC.  We will always be thankful for what Joe did for GBMC and we are truly going to miss him.

Look for more information honoring Mr. Keelty on and in future editions of GBMC publications.

For now, please join me in honoring his life and legacy by sharing your memories and thoughts of Mr. Keelty with our blog community.

Friday, April 15, 2016


This week we are celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week.  With over 900 volunteers in the hospital and at Gilchrist Hospice Care, GBMC has among the largest volunteer groups in the state.

Our volunteers perform numerous acts of kindness as they share their talents every day. We cannot achieve our vision without them. Since they are all accomplished members of the community they make it easier for us to stay focused on providing to every patient, every time the care that we would want for our own loved ones.

When I meet our volunteers throughout the system I am always amazed how personable they all are and how much they really enjoy helping others.  My spirits always rise when I leave my office and I am greeted by the smiling volunteers at the front desk of the hospital.

Since the birth of GBMC, our volunteers have donated more than 2.4 million hours of service and through various endeavors, like the Nearly New Sale events, have raised more than 20 million dollars to support patient care at GBMC!

Our volunteers are people with wonderful personal stories who could be doing something else with their time.  Instead, they come with a dedication to lessen the burden for our patients and their families, visitors and our staff.

A wonderful example is Sharon Barnes. She started volunteering at GBMC about six years ago. She decided to volunteer here because her mother was a GBMC volunteer and Sharon learned from her the value of volunteering and the importance of making a difference in someone’s day.
As a volunteer in the Family Waiting area of the General Operating Room, she greets patients who are coming in for surgery, takes them to the pre-op area and tells them what they need to do to prepare for surgery (how to put on the hospital gowns, etc).   Sharon also tells patient’s family members what to expect and keeps them informed on their loved one’s progress (when they get to the recovery room or when they are ready to go home).  Sharon is also the president of the Volunteer Auxiliary and conducts the Auxiliary Board meetings where they determine how to best deploy the money raised at the Nearly New Sales, the Corner Shop, and our Vendor Sales. She also represents the Auxiliary on the Philanthropy Committee, at various hospital functions during the year and at the fundraising activities conducted by the Auxiliary and by the hospital (Legacy Chase, Father’s Day 5K, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes). Sharon says that “it is an honor and a privilege to volunteer at GBMC”. For us, it’s an honor and a privilege to have volunteers like Sharon at our hospital.

Our volunteers don’t ask for much…actually they don’t ask for anything. They just give of themselves. They display selflessness. I am grateful for all that they do, from the smiles, to their daily work, and their commitment. When you meet a GBMC or Gilchrist volunteer this week please thank them.

Friday, April 8, 2016

What if it was your daughter?

It is a tragedy that one in every four women is a victim of domestic violence at some point in her life. What’s even more shocking is that according to the U.S. Justice Department on average every day three women are killed by their partners.

I am proud that GBMC has been a leader in helping the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and in educating the community to reduce these attacks on women. The assessment and treatment of victims of sexual assault are very complex. Expertise and caring are required not only to address the medical and psychologic needs of the patient but also to complete the forensic work necessary to aid law enforcement in the identification of the perpetrator and to see that justice is served. At GBMC, we have a very sophisticated Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) program.  A number of years ago and until her retirement, Linda Kelly was instrumental in educating and training our medical and nursing staff to better identify and respond to patients in need. Now, under the leadership of, Laura Clary, our SAFE program is growing and expanding in new directions helping us to better meet our mission of health, healing, and hope for those in our community and our vision of serving everyone the way we want our own loved ones served.
GBMC also serves survivors of domestic violence, including survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). The goals of the domestic violence program include providing 24/7 in-house victim advocacy response. Sexual assault and domestic violence patients not only get quality medical-forensic treatment but also receive much-needed crisis intervention and safety planning.

Recognizing another need in Baltimore County and Harford County, our forensic nurses have been working closely with the Crimes Against Children Unit and are now expanding the program to care for not only victims that are 13 and older, but also 12 and under. This way we can provide comprehensive services for victims of all ages.  Members of our SAFE program have also traveled to local high schools to educate students about healthy relationships, boundaries, internet safety and general information about how to help someone who has been a victim.

And our SAFE program has expanded its educational reach beyond Maryland. This past fall, we hosted a Forensic Nurse Examiner Course and trained 24 nurses from all over the world.  We recognize that violence against women is a global crisis, so training nurses not just for our program but for others around the world is very important. Among the students were nurses in the US Military being deployed overseas, and a nurse from Nigeria. We will be hosting another training at the end of this month.

Our program has received its share of accolades as Colleen Moore, our Domestic Violence Coordinator, recently won a Governor’s Award for Excellent Victim Services, Laura was selected as Baltimore’s Top Nurse (Woman’s Health category) and our SAFE Program was awarded a Citation from the Maryland General Assembly for excellent services provided to the citizens of Baltimore County.  And, Laura was personally invited by Vice President Joseph Biden to attend his visit to the Maryland State Police Forensics Lab a year ago. A clear example of how strong a reputation our SAFE program has not just locally or in the region, but nationally as well! To date, GBMC’s Domestic Violence Program has provided services to more than 800 individuals and our SAFE program sees approximately 140 patients annually.

We come nowhere close to covering the cost of these programs with health insurance billing. So, next weekend I will be participating in the Walk-A-Mile In Her Shoes event in support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As you might already know, GBMC is hosting the event, in which men walk a mile in high heels, as a way to educate the community and advocate for those who have survived sexual assault and domestic violence while raising money to support the SAFE and domestic violence programs.

Our SAFE and Domestic Violence programs do so much for our community and we are grateful for all the community support that is allowing GBMC to provide these necessary services for women across the community. I hope that you all see the value as well and consider walking with us and/or financially supporting the event. For more info., please visit:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Day to Celebrate the Dedication of our Physicians

Today is National Doctors’ Day, when we reflect on the knowledge, skill, hard work and most importantly, the dedication of our physicians.

My first remembrance of doctors is, as a little boy, hearing my mother speak of our pediatrician and her obstetrician in Paterson, New Jersey. I remember being amazed at the complete trust that my mom had in these two physicians. She was almost reverent in her words about them. It was apparent to me even at that early age that they had earned my mother’s trust. They were learned, caring and always there when she needed them.

As a teenager, I remember our family general practitioner making house calls. This man was also the father of my sister’s friends. This fact gave me new insight into the meaning of a physician’s dedication to his or her patients.  He, too, had a large family and was clearly devoted to his wife and children, but, if my mother called him, it seemed that he always figured out how to meet our needs either by seeing us in his office or coming to examine us in our home.

Being a physician myself, I have had the incredible good fortune to meet and work with hundreds of outstanding physicians, men and women who have been exemplary in their care and compassion. We are blessed to have so many wonderful physicians at GBMC. A marker of their excellence is that more than 160 of our physicians, in 80 unique specialties, were named in Baltimore magazine’s “Top Doctors” listings last year, the most for any community hospital in our region.

Doctors’ Day was first celebrated on March 30, 1933, in Georgia. It was started by Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, and occurred on the anniversary of the first administration of anesthesia by Dr. Crawford W. Long in 1842. In 1990, March 30 was officially designated National Doctors’ Day. Today at GBMC, we are continuing this tradition.  We had a Breakfast-to-Go earlier this morning, and physicians in attendance were given ear-buds and card-holders for their smartphone. Later this afternoon we are holding an ice cream social in the physicians’ lounge as another way to show our appreciation for all that they do.

As we celebrate National Doctors’ Day, please take a moment to recognize all of our outstanding physicians, from the surgeons and hospitalists to the Emergency Department physicians, primary care doctors, geriatricians and other specialists all throughout GBMC. Thank you for caring for patients and families from every walk of life, through all types of illnesses and injuries, and for helping GBMC move toward our vision: To every patient, every time, we will provide the care that we would want for our own loved ones.

In honor of Doctor’s Day and your physician, please share your thoughts and stories of the dedication of physicians here:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Patient Safety Becomes Pedestrian Safety

I had a real fright last Friday morning. I had been invited to attend a lecture at the annual meeting of the Maryland Patient Safety Center in downtown Baltimore at the Hilton. I was listening to Joan Lunden, who used to be the co-host of Good Morning America, give her plenary address. While I was sitting there, I got a text message from JoAnn Ioannou our Chief Nursing Officer. JoAnn’s text said that two of our nurses, who were crossing Pratt Street on their way to the meeting that I was at, were hit by a car!

My heart was racing as I made my way to Shock Trauma. When I arrived at the Family Waiting Room, I was told that I would have to wait awhile to get more information. The staff  at the University of Maryland Medical Center immediately welcomed me and tried to allay my fears. A wave of panic went through me and I worked hard to control my emotions. We then got word that the two nurses were stable . I was told that a driver allegedly had gone through a red light, which caused the nurses’ injuries.

When we talk about the “Just Culture” we speak of human error, at-risk behavior, and reckless behavior. I want to remind everyone to be cautious for their own safety, and carry the “preoccupation with failure,” that we exercise in patient care at GBMC to our lives outside of the work environment.

Remembering a Friend and Trusted Colleague
On Friday afternoon at the Sheppard Pratt Conference Center, GBMC and Sheppard Pratt held a memorial service for Darin Lerner, MD. Darin died suddenly of a myocardial infarction a few weeks ago. He was the Chair of Psychiatry at GBMC and an employee of Sheppard Pratt. The service was beautifully orchestrated by our Chaplain Joe Hart and attended by Darin’s widow, Dr. Laura Seidel, his brother Lane, and many members of the GBMC and Sheppard Pratt families. I said a few words of remembrance and thanksgiving for Darin’s hard work and marvelous devotion to his patients. Dr. Bob Roca, the Sheppard Pratt Chief Medical Officer, also spoke and commented on Darin’s career both as a resident in Psychiatry at Sheppard and also since then as an attending psychiatrist. Carolyn Keller, our interim nurse manager of Unit 36, told the crowd how much our nurses miss Darin as a friend, colleague and teacher. Other friends and colleagues added their thoughts at the loss of such a trusted healer. A search committee has been formed to find our new Chair of Psychiatry, but, we will not be able to truly replace Dr. Darin Learner. We will work hard to make his legacy be even better behavioral health care at GBMC and Sheppard Pratt.

Kudos to our maternity care staff
I am proud to announce that we recently received the Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care designation, a new designation under the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care, an expansion of the national Blue Distinction Specialty Care program, is awarded to hospitals recognized for delivering quality, cost-effective specialty care safely and effectively, based on objective measures developed with input from the medical community.  To receive a Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care designation, a hospital must also meet requirements for cost efficiency.

This is an important achievement because hospitals that receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care designation agreed to meet requirements that align with principles that support evidence-based practices of care, as well as having initiated programs to promote successful breastfeeding and it evaluates hospitals on overall patient satisfaction, including a willingness to recommend the hospital to others.

We are truly pleased to receive this recognition. This acknowledgement was made possible by the dedicated staff who work tirelessly to care for our community and provide quality services to our patients and their families.  Congratulations to everyone involved who help to make our maternity care one of the best in the region!

Happy Holidays
On a final note, the GBMC HealthCare family sends its best wishes to everyone celebrating Easter this Sunday and the Jewish holiday, Purim, on Thursday.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Reducing Hospital Acquired Infections – GBMC is a Leader

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, recently released their progress report on hospital acquired infection rates for calendar year 2014 and on changes in these rates from those reported for calendar 2013. You can see how an individual hospital (including GBMC) performed on the Hospital Compare website:

Hospital infection control leaders collect data and report to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) at the CDC and the NHSN then severity adjusts the data and converts the raw rates into standardized infection rates so that hospitals and states can be compared one to another.

Among national acute care hospitals, the highlights of the report include (taken from the CDC website):
 --A 50 percent decrease in CLABSI (central line associated bloodstream infections) between 2008 and 2014.
--No change in overall CAUTI (catheter associated urinary tract infections) between 2009 and 2014.  But there was some progress in non-ICU settings between 2009 and 2014, progress in all settings between 2013 and 2014, and even more progress in all settings towards the end of 2014
--A 17 percent decrease in surgical site infections (SSI) related to the 10 select procedures tracked in previous reports.
--A 17 percent decrease in abdominal hysterectomy SSI between 2008 and 2014
--A 2 percent decrease in colon surgery SSI between 2008 and 2014
--An 8 percent decrease in C. difficile infections between 2011 and 2014  
--A 13 percent decrease in MRSA bacteremia between 2011 and 2014

So it is clear that American hospitals are safer and more infection free than they have ever been. This is excellent news for patients.

GBMC has made outstanding progress in all of the measured infections. We have a statistically better than the national average performance in CAUTI’s (catheter associated urinary tract infections) and continuing to improve and as good as the national average in all of the other infections.

This is not the case for Maryland as a state. When the performance of all Maryland hospitals is averaged together, Maryland has plenty of room for improvement compared to many other states. 

I was on a phone conference with other Maryland hospital leaders this week to consider how we can reduce Maryland’s CAUTI rate that is 35% higher than the national baseline and that has not improved between 2013 and 2014. We also discussed reducing multi-resistant staphylococcal bacteremia because Maryland’s rate is 22% higher than the national baseline and our clostridium difficile infection rate which is 20% higher than the national baseline. Both of these facts are a call to action to reduce the misuse of antibiotics, a main cause of multi-resistance and of c. difficile infections in general.

I want to thank all of our GBMC physicians, nurses and advanced practitioners for their great care and everyone at GBMC, but especially our environmental service workers, for keeping our clinical areas clean to reduce the spread of germs! 

March is Professional Social Work month and I want to thank our dedicated group of social workers who serve GBMC.  I am constantly impressed and humbled by the creativity and determination of this group. Our social workers carefully arrange for care of patients after they leave the hospital. Our social workers and care managers have helped GBMC reach the lowest readmission rate in the state and have designed a system that assures that our patients with advanced illness receive the continued support they need after they leave our hospital. Please take the time to say “thank you” for all they do!