Friday, October 2, 2015

A Wonderful Week for GBMC

It’s hard to believe that our 50th Anniversary Gala is tonight! I remember asking Jenny Coldiron, our VP of Philanthropy, and Mike Hartnett, our then Director of Marketing and Communications, in the spring of 2012 to begin thinking about how to best celebrate 50 years of service to our community. Jenny and her team have done an outstanding job. Greg Shaffer, who took over for Mike when he left, and the marketing and communications team have really “hit it out of the park.”  In the summer of 2012, Harry Johnson, then our Board Chair, asked Bonnie Stein to Chair the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee. Bonnie and the Committee got to work and have overseen a wonderful year-long celebration of our history and the people who have made GBMC what it is today. I am very grateful for all of their work.

So tonight is the big night…the 50th Anniversary Gala. Delbert and Gina Adams and the Gala Committee have really done a fabulous job. It will be a great party to reflect on what we have accomplished and to springboard us into our future and all of the work yet to be done as we fulfill our mission and move closer to our vision.

Patient Safety is our promise!
On Tuesday, we had Sorrel King, of the Josie King Foundation, with us for the day. Josie, Sorrel’s daughter, died because of medical errors. Sorrel created the Foundation in Josie’s memory and has dedicated her life to helping hospitals get safer. Sorrel gave a powerful presentation to a packed Civiletti conference center at noon and then presided over our first “Great Save” celebration where all those who had been honored for their work as part of Great Save Wednesdays were recognized on Tuesday evening.  Six of these individuals were given the Josie King Hero Award by Sorrel, Bonnie Stein, our HealthCare Board Chair, John Saunders, MD, our CMO, Carolyn Candiello, our Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety, and me. We are grateful that Sorrel has the courage to recount Josie’s story and that she spent an entire day with us. Winners of this year’s Josie King Hero Award are as follows: Namhui Burchett, Carolyn Hart, Patricia Kelly, CRNP, Katherine Lynch, RN, Megan Newsome, Dr. Ali Ozhand and Dr. William Zirkin.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Patient Centered Medical Home Comes Alive!

A core competency of the transforming GBMC HealthCare System is advanced primary care through the use of the Patient Centered Medical Home model. Dr. Mark Lamos, the medical director of GBMA and GBHA, and Dr. Robin Motter-Mast, the Chair of Family Medicine and medical director of PCMH have done a superb job of building our system from the ground up!

I have featured Family Care Associates and their new office built to support PCMH in this blog and I have covered work done at Hunt Manor and Hunt Valley previously. Six months ago, Dr. Kevin Ferentz assumed the role of lead physician at our Owings Mills Primary Care Center and Kevin has led a number of improvements since then.  

From his first day, Kevin started a change in culture at the office. He began by getting to know his staff and engaging them in a dialogue and he started addressing their concerns immediately. Kevin instituted monthly team and individual meetings where he shared data on the practice’s performance on our four Aims (clinical outcome data, work output, and patient engagement scores). He also began giving regular feedback to his colleagues on issues such as chart completion and following up with patients on lab values in a timely fashion. Kevin worked with his team to hold each other accountable for respectful behavior. A goal of this work is to transform the clinical staff into a cohesive, empowered group of “owners.”  By creating an increased sense of pride and allowing the staff to practice at the top of their abilities and licensure, the team can accomplish more and get more joy from their work.

Dr. Ferentz and his team are proud of the increased hours of operation (Including Saturday and Sunday hours for all appointment types) and new services offered at the practice. These include well-woman services, care for children of all ages, and minor surgical procedures and cryotherapy.  The practice now offers a broader range of treatments for those who are battling obesity. They now also have a Diabetic Clinic, the brainchild of Dr. Elena Ghiaur.  The Owings Mills team has seen that their patients clearly appreciate the new services as evidenced by improvement in their patient engagement scores. 

Dr. Ferentz attributes much of the improvement in the practice to his working relationship with his practice manager – Holly Carrington.  Holly joined the practice at “the right time” and Kevin credits her with doing a great job of helping him implement the vision. Dr. Ferentz added that he and Holly make all decisions regarding the practice in tandem and their ability to problem solve is based on open and on-going communication, combined with mutual respect.  

So, what are the goals for the Owings Mills practice for the next six months?  Dr. Ferentz envisions an additional office on the first floor of the building to accommodate his new partner Dr. Kevin Carter.  According to Dr. Ferentz, Dr. Carter’s arrival has already had a major impact, given his easy going attitude and his incredible work ethic. Both Drs. Carter and Ferentz share the same belief that “the secret to caring for the patient is caring for the patient.”  Dr. Ferentz expects that Dr. Carter’s practice will be the beginning of a much larger family practice on the first floor.

Dr. Ferentz believes that his team has already created a better working environment and improved care for their patients.  He is truly proud of his staff’s commitment and the practice’s achievements, but, acknowledges there is much work still left to be done! When you see Kevin, thank him and his team for their leadership. 

Come join the celebration!!
This coming Saturday, Sept. 26 we will have the 15th annual Legacy Chase steeplechase event at Shawan Downs. This event has become an annual tradition of steeplechase racing and family-friendly fun that draws more than 7,000 equestrian fans, friends and families from across the region.  Legacy Chase has become an annual social event; combining the excitement of steeple chasing with the beauty of the countryside. There’s more to the event than great horse races, there’s something for everyone – from live music to antique car displays and tons of kids’ activities including a stick pony race. Stretched across 300 acres of green meadows at Shawan Downs, Legacy Chase attracts visitors of all ages. Past attendees will gladly tell you that you don't need to be an avid steeplechase fan to have fun. Make it a family event and come and enjoy a day in the country.

Proceeds from the event will benefit oncology support services at the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute.  The Institute is the only comprehensive community cancer program certified with distinction by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer in the Baltimore region. GBMC has invested in talent and technology to provide the best for oncology patients. Whether they are in need of outpatient, inpatient, home care, hospice or survivorship services, the more than 2,000 new cancer patients annually at GBMC get the best care.

For more information, visit  I hope to see you there!

Thank you & Congratulations!!!

Last week, we enjoyed a wonderful celebration – the annual Employee Recognition Dinner, where we recognized nearly 500 employees for milestones in their employment with the organization.  This was a very important night, because we need to recognize our people for their dedication. It’s also a reminder to me of my duty to look to create opportunities for our staff to grow within our organization.

Fifty-nine employees were recognized for working at GBMC for 30 years or longer – including 38 recent retirees! This shows incredible dedication. In addition we also recognized 36 individuals who have been with us for a quarter of a century; 25 employees who have spent 20 years of their career at GBMC; 76 employees celebrating 15 years; 111 employees celebrating 10 years and a 159 employees celebrating five years of service (Including me, my how time flies!).

The band “Don’t Stop” with our own Landri Hardiek, from Oncology Support Services, as lead singer did an outstanding job and got many up on their feet and dancing throughout the evening. A number of our people participated in the entertainment including Deloris Tuggle, Lisa Griffee, Rachel Ridgely and the Jackson 5 (Dione Harrison, Ronnie Goode, Gloria Calderon, Holly Carrington and Alida 

Many thanks to Benita Robinson and the 
planning committee for all of their hard work. You all did an outstanding job!

Congratulations once again everyone and THANK YOU for your commitment to GBMC and our patients!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

An Outstanding Leader Joins the GBMC Senior Team

The entire GBMC Family is delighted to welcome this week our new senior vice president for patient care and chief nursing officer (CNO), JoAnn Z. Ioannou.

JoAnn is taking the position vacated this summer when Jody Porter retired. Jody’s dedication and insight were instrumental in GBMC HealthCare’s growth during her tenure.  Please join me in wishing Jody and her husband, Peter, all the best in their retirement.

JoAnn is a seasoned and dedicated nurse and manager who brings a vast amount of nursing and leadership experience to her position and to our organization.  Prior to joining us, she was the director of Neurosciences/Psychiatry Nursing at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Joann worked her way up the nursing ladder at Hopkins.

During her career, JoAnn has developed an outstanding record of implementing new programs and services while improving the quality of patient care.  Her background and skills will serve us well in this position.

So, please join me in welcoming JoAnn to our team.

Environmental Services Week 
This week is Environmental Services (EVS) & Housekeeping Week (Sept. 13—19) and I want to take time to recognize the contributions of our EVS staff.

We must all be grateful for the hard work and dedication of those who keep our facility clean.

Our EVS employees play a vital role in infection control, patient safety, and patient satisfaction.

There are over 100 EVS associates working “around the clock” at GBMC in a variety of roles servicing over 1.2 million square feet of facility.  So, please join me in honoring all the men and women of EVS.

Let's Unite to Help Our Community Through The United Way
GBMC HealthCare was founded to meet a need in our community. We give back every day by offering our patients exceptional care – the same care we’d want for our own loved ones. However, we shouldn’t stop there. Each year, we partner with the United Way to give back to the community in ways that go beyond the walls of our facilities.

This year, as we reflect on the 50 years of service we’ve provided, I encourage all of our employees to consider making a pledge as part of this year’s United Way campaign, which will run until Wednesday, Sept. 30.

No donation is too small. Even a few dollars or cents given each pay period via payroll deduction can have an impact and help someone.

For more information, please visit or if you would like to donate, please go to

I made my pledge. Will you join me?

Our Wonderful Chaplain Reaffirms His Priesthood
This past Saturday, I had the honor of participating in the reaffirmation of the priesthood of John Joseph Hart (2nd from left), our beloved chaplain, as
he has become a priest in the Episcopal Church. Please thank and congratulate Joe when you see him!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Make Sure Your Voice is Heard

With the August 31st deadline quickly approaching, I wanted to kindly remind you all to do your part and complete our annual Employee Engagement and Safety Survey.  The survey can easily be accessed through the icon on any GBMC desktop computer (see pic on right) or by clicking on this link

This year, the survey company, Press Ganey, will know who completed the survey so that your response can be assigned to the appropriate unit or department. But Press Ganey will not give any identifying information to anyone at GBMC. 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.  Again, identifying yourself is important to ensure that your responses are appropriately linked to your department.

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.

Please complete the survey.  We use the information to see what we can do to make GBMC a better organization in which to work and a safer healthcare system for our patients. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How Do You Want Your Mother’s Care to Be?

We are working towards our vision of becoming the healthcare system where everyone, every time, is treated the way we want our own loved ones treated. The most important thing that we want when our loved one is sick is the best possible health outcome. But the second most important thing we want is the best possible care experience. We want our loved ones to be well informed by people who care; we don’t want long waits and delays; and we want the care in a clean, respectful environment.

About a decade ago, the federal government began requiring hospitals to ask their patients a standard set of questions after discharge so that patient satisfaction could be compared across hospitals. This system is called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems or HCAHPS.

The HCAHPS survey asks discharged patients 27 questions about their hospital stay. The survey contains 18 core questions about critical aspects of patients' hospital experiences (communication with nurses and doctors, the responsiveness of hospital staff, the cleanliness and quietness of the hospital environment, pain management, communication about medicines, discharge information, overall rating of hospital, and would they recommend the hospital).

So, the HCAHPS scores are the answer to the question “Are we getting closer to our vision under the aim of better care?” Another way to look at it is “Would you bring your mother to GBMC rather than another hospital because the evidence was that she would be always treated with respect and kindness?”

Some people argue that we should not pay attention to patient satisfaction scores because they are not often correlated with outstanding clinical process and health outcome measures. I think that this is silly. Health outcomes and care experience are two separate dimensions. If for a given hospital they are not both excellent, it just means that the hospital is not effectively working in one or the other or both. It clearly does not mean that being excellent in patient satisfaction causes worse clinical outcomes!

So where do we stand? Well, our overall score has been about average over the course of the last fiscal year. We clearly have work to do because we don’t want our loved ones going to an average hospital. But it is not because our people don’t work hard or don’t care. Our staff works very hard and they do care. When our scores are not excellent it is because our systems need some work. One of our dis-satisfiers is waiting for discharge. Why do patients wait so long after being told that they are ready to go home? It is because we have not designed a system to get the work done expeditiously. The doctors and nurses are working very hard doing other things.

I don’t think that we have done a good enough job enrolling our people in this care improvement work. We have not clearly stated what we are trying to do and given our staff time to discuss it and declare after the discussion that they will be fully engaged in this work. This is our biggest obstacle to improving the care….having the staff not see it as a burden but as a way to not only make the patients happier but to also make their work easier.

We have begun to hold focus groups in our departments and units to foster the enrollment process. The staff is being asked questions like:  “What are the barriers you find when you are trying to provide care to the patient that you would want for your own loved one?”

It doesn’t take long in these discussions before someone raises the question about staffing. It is unreasonable to think that we can do the work well if we are overwhelmed. We must make sure that we have the right number of workers to get the job done. But, we also need to make sure we get rid of wasteful steps to make sure that we are not bringing in more staff to do rework. An example of this is the “missing medication” problem that we have made such great progress on. I am still concerned that nurses are spending too much time looking for medications that they need. If they are spending a lot of time on this, it is not a good idea to bring in another nurse so that we can get all of the nurse work done. It is much better to unburden the nurse of the rework of calling the pharmacy multiple times and then giving the medications late.

Please get involved in improving our care to patients. It isn’t about the HCAHPS score, it’s about giving everyone what you want for your loved ones. Thank you for your hard work and please let me know what you think.

Congratulations to our team at the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, who under the direction of Dr. Gary Cohen, were among 20 accredited programs nationwide to receive the mid-year 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA) from the Commission on Cancer (COC) of the American College of Surgeons.

According to the COC, award criteria are based on qualitative and quantitative surveys conducted during the first half of the year and the purpose of the award is to raise the bar on quality cancer care, with a goal of increasing awareness about care choices for cancer patients and their loved ones. In presenting this award, the COC recognizes the outstanding quality of cancer services that the Berman Cancer Institute continues to provide to our patients.

Earlier this summer, our Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute and Sandra and Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Care Center along with its affiliated Advanced Radiology Breast Imaging Center were all given a three-year, full accreditation with commendation designation from the American College of Surgeons.

Please thank all of our team involved in the care of cancer patients and congratulate them on these deserved recognitions!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Making GBMC A More Diverse And Inclusive Company To Work In

Over the past nine months, a group of GBMC employees has been meeting to begin to discuss how to make our system an even better place to work. The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, led by Deloris Tuggle, Vice President of Human Resources, Bonnie Stein, Chair of the GBMC HealthCare Board, and me, has been discussing how to make our workforce more diverse at all levels and representative of the community we serve. In addition, the group has been discussing how to make everyone feel “included.” The best companies not only hire people of diverse characteristics and backgrounds, they also work intentionally to make their people  feel welcomed and not isolated.

The Task Force has created a draft Diversity and Inclusion Plan for this fiscal year and is presently interviewing candidates for the Director of Diversity and Inclusion position within our Human Resources Department.

It is often said that an organization cannot achieve its vision without a fully engaged workforce. To get everyone fully engaged, everyone must feel included. You will hear more as we find our new Director and begin acting on the plan over the next few months.

We get what we tolerate.

I threw a temper tantrum on Monday morning. I was walking down the hall to our first stop in Lean Daily Management when I came upon a stained floor where something had clearly dripped from a trash bag or trash cart from Unit 38 all the way to a closet outside of Radiology. Many GBMC employees were walking on the dirty floor (and had walked on it for a number of hours from the looks of the stain). I was upset for two reasons: the first was that we have not learned to get rid of trash carts with holes in the bottom - or we were still transporting bags not in carts; and the second (and more concerning thing) was that many of my wonderful GBMC colleagues had walked on the floor after the spill but had not taken action to get the mess cleaned up. What if your mother was sick and you were escorting her to Radiology along that corridor and she had seen the filthy floor? How would you feel? How would she feel?

Whose job is it to get the floor cleaned up?

I went and found an environmental services worker who gave me a mop and I began to mop the floor. Within minutes many people came and told me that I should not have to clean the floor and an environmental services crew took over and made the floor look beautiful. I have no problem cleaning the floor and I don’t mind pitching in when everyone is busy. That is not the point. The point is that no one should walk by a dirty floor. The first action is to call housekeeping and expect that the floor is cleaned expeditiously. If it cannot be cleaned by EVS quickly, then I believe that everyone should be ready to grab a mop. If we look the other way when we find things that are not the way we want for our own loved ones, then we will get more of what we tolerate – in this case dirty floors. What do you think?

2015 Employee Engagement and Safety Survey

Please complete our annual Employee Engagement and Safety Survey.  The survey is open through Monday, Aug. 31 and can easily be accessed through the icon on any GBMC desktop computer (see pic on right) or by clicking on this link
And, 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.

Identifying yourself is important to ensure that your responses are appropriately linked to your department. 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, July 27, 2015

Growing Surgery at GBMC

GBMC has always been a great surgical hospital. We have always had outstanding surgeons, nurses, physician’s assistants and technicians and they work very hard. Since the downturn in the economy and employers putting higher co-pays and deductibles in their insurance plans, there has been a reduction in the rate of many elective procedures. This, coupled with the fact that Maryland hospitals are now paid on the basis of a global budget, has given some people the impression that GBMC is not interested in attracting new surgical patients. Nothing could be further from the truth.

GBMC wants every patient in our community who needs surgery to have their procedure at GBMC if we are capable of providing it. Under the leadership of our Chair of Surgery, Dr. Jack Flowers, the Surgery Service Line has been strategizing to continue to improve the quality and efficiency of surgery at GBMC and to attract new surgeons and new patients.  Many will recall that last summer, after storms knocked out the electric power at both GBMC and St. Joseph’s, both institutions had to cancel surgeries. Since then, GBMC has spent close to $3 million to upgrade and reroute our ventilation and air conditioning systems and connect our generators to the systems maintaining cooling and humidity control to the operating rooms and our central sterile supply areas. We have had at least one power outage this summer but surgeries were not affected by the storm because we are now prepared.

We are beginning a study of our operating rooms to make them more efficient and make it easier for the staff to get the work done. We are also adding surgeons to our team in growth areas.

Just this month, a new bariatric surgeon, Gustavo (Gus) E. Bello, MD, hit the ground running in our Comprehensive Obesity Management Program.  Dr. Bello completed his residency at the Pennsylvania State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center where he served as chief resident in General Surgery.  Prior to joining GBMC Dr. Bello served as the Medical Director of the Uniontown Hospital Weight Loss Surgery Center.

Todd M. Melegari, MD, recently joined the Orthopaedic Specialists of Maryland practice at GBMC. Dr. Melegari earned his medical degree at MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine and he completed his residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.   Dr. Melegari is board-certified in Orthopaedic Surgery and was previously employed with Easton Orthopaedic Group at Coordinated Health in Pennsylvania.

Please join me in welcoming Drs. Bello & Melegari to the GBMC family.

New Physician Leaders at GBMC

Alex Munitz, MD, GBMC’s Chair of Radiology and Phil Komenda, the Director of Imaging and Cardiac Services have announced the appointment of Ethan Spiegler, MD, FACP as medical director for the Division of Nuclear Medicine and John Werner, MD, DABR, as medical director for Interventional Radiology.

Dr. Spiegler is a well respected and highly regarded physician in the Nuclear Medicine field.  He was instrumental in bringing PET CT imaging into the community setting by overseeing and directing the first units with Advanced Radiology and St. Agnes. He was co-author of the ERASE trial to risk stratify patients with chest pain with acute perfusion imaging in the emergency department.

Dr. Werner, who will be working to expand our Interventional program, has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and has many years of experience in the field of Interventional Radiology. While attending medical school, he was also working at the NIH’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics. Upon graduating from medical school he went on to complete his Radiology Residency at Albany Medical Center (that place sounds familiar to me) where he served as chief resident and then completed his Vascular and Interventional Radiology Fellowship at Johns Hopkins.

We are pleased that these outstanding physicians have joined the GBMC team and we look forward to the expansion of both programs under their leadership.

On a separate note, one of our beloved employees, Eric Melchior, earlier this month retired as our executive vice president and chief financial officer.  Eric’s 15 year GBMC career was stellar and highly impactful.  His dedication and insight were instrumental in GBMC HealthCare’s growth and financial success during his tenure.

Please join me in wishing Eric and his wife, Lynnette, all the best in their retirement.  Eric will truly be missed.

I am also pleased to announce that Robert “Bob” Thornton has assumed the position vacated by Eric. Prior to joining GBMC, he was the president of Patronus Healthcare Business Solutions in Tampa, Florida.  Thornton was also employed for 15 years as the executive vice president of finance and CFO for Bayfront Health System, a large, urban, multi-facility healthcare system in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Under Thornton’s leadership, Bayfront financed a campus expansion including a new women’s center, a heart center, 12 new operating room suites and a new eight-bed cardiovascular intensive care unit. He was able to deliver these projects, which greatly enhanced Bayfront's capacity in key clinical areas, while improving the system’s overall financial reserves and credit profile.

New Chief of Plastic Surgery

Congratulations to Alyson Wells, M.D., F.A.C.S. who was recently named as the new Chief of Plastic Surgery.  Dr. Wells is the first female physician appointed as division chief within our Department of Surgery.  She is replacing the retiring William Crawley, M.D., D.D.S., F.A.C.S., who headed the division since 2009.  She has researched extensively and published many professional papers in the fields of facial plastic surgery, organ transplantation and cancer.
Dr. Wells, an active medical staff member at GBMC since 2003, will be overseeing the work of 30 board-certified plastic surgeons on staff with practices that cover the entire spectrum of plastic surgery.

2015 Employee Engagement and Safety Survey

Please participate and complete our annual Employee Engagement and Safety Survey, which starts on Monday, August 3.  Your participation in the survey is vital so that we can learn what we can do to make GBMC an even better place to work.

Last year’s survey responses were used to generate significant change across GBMC HealthCare.  A few of these improvements included:  The creation of many unit-specific action plans; Implementation of a comprehensive Talent Management system, which includes career development planning; the Four Aims Recognition Program and the Perfect Attendance Program; and many celebrations of our staff throughout our 50Th Anniversary year including last week’s Employee, Physician and Volunteer Barbecue!

So thank you in advance for completing the survey!