Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. It is a day to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. For me, it is a very long list.

The GBMC family has a lot to be thankful for as well.  We have a beautiful campus, state-of-the-art technology, and great doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and support staff working in the hospital, at GBMA and at Gilchrist Services. We should be thankful for the volunteer auxiliary and all that they do to help us achieve our vision. GBMC has phenomenal support from the community. Wonderful examples of this are our GBMC HealthCare Board, the Philanthropy Committee, and the Gilchrist Board.  Our governance bodies are made up of individuals who are dedicated to the mission of GBMC – a mission of health, healing and hope for our community.

In this, our 50th anniversary year, we must also show our gratefulness for our donors who have pledged more than $54 million to help us achieve our vision.

But we should show the most thanks to our patients who entrust us with their care. They give us the joy of service to them in their most vulnerable moments. Without them, we would have no mission or vision.

On Tuesday of this week, after LDM rounds, Joann Ioannou, our Chief Nursing Officer, read a letter from a grateful family written to the SICU staff.  In the letter, the family spoke of how hard it was to see their loved one in intensive care and thanked the SICU staff not only for their care but, also their kindness. On listening to the letter, I realized that the SICU team was treating this family the way they wanted their own families to be treated and it brought a smile to my face.

I really have a lot to be thankful for.

I wish everyone in our GBMC family a Happy Thanksgiving.

What are you thankful for during this time? Please share your thoughts.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Very Busy Nurses Sit Down To Speak with Patients

During our daily visits, to Unit 35, on our Lean Daily Management walks over the last few months, Nurse Manager, Kathy Bull and her team have been telling us about their learning as they were testing a new communication strategy.  They began sitting at the bedside of each of their patients for “one minute” each shift and having a conversation with the patient about his or her care. I say “one minute” in quotes because they quickly learned that the conversation always took more than one minute.  The Unit 35 team had to figure out how to fit these discussions into their work.  They were already extremely busy in meeting the patient’s needs, but, they saw an opportunity to hear what the patient thought and to get to know them a bit better as the inpatient stay progressed.  

For the months of August, September and October, Unit 35 has had the highest patient satisfaction scores in any quarter since they started measuring!

In addition, all of the nurse communication questions showed the same pattern! The patients are saying that they really appreciate that the nurses are finding the time to sit with them and discuss the care.  I am so proud of the Unit 35 team and I am very grateful for their fantastic work in treating everyone the way they want their own loved ones treated.

Congratulations to the medical director of our Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, Gary I. Cohen M.D., FACP, who earlier this week was honored with the Martin D. Abeloff Award for Excellence in Public Health and Cancer Control by the Maryland State Council on Cancer Control. This award is given annually to a Marylander who has contributed to reducing the incidence, morbidity and mortality of cancer through research focused on cancer control. Dr. Cohen is an incredible physician who is dedicated to serving his patients. He truly deserves this recognition and we are proud of him for earning this prestigious honor. Please congratulate him the next time you see him!

I am also proud to announce that this is the second year in a row that a member of the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC was given this award. In 2014, Robert K. Brookland, MD, FACR, FACRO, GBMC’s Chairman of Radiation Oncology was also honored.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Our Phenomenal Physicians are Recognized…Again

GBMC has always been known as an organization with outstanding physicians. This was again confirmed when more than 160 of our physicians, in 80 specialties, were named in Baltimore Magazine‘s “Top Doctors” listings for 2015.  Once again, we had more members of our staff on the list than any other community hospital in the region and several of our medical staff members were recognized in more than one category and some have been recognized many years in a row.

In preparing its annual list of “Top Doctors,” Baltimore magazine surveyed more than 10,000 area physicians in Baltimore City and seven surrounding counties and asked where they would send a member of their family for care in a wide variety of specialties. This important question is at the very center of GBMC’s vision of providing each of our patients with care in the same manner that we would want for our own loved ones.  The annual Top Doctors recognition isn't another popularity contest – the list is chosen by people who really know about the quality of care being delivered.  And, it’s clear that with over 160 members of GBMC’s medical staff on this list, the medical community recognizes the excellence of GBMC’s physicians.

In addition, the magazine also highlighted one of our obstetrician/gynecologists, Dominique Allen, M.D.  She was one of four eminent doctors, from a pool of approximately 500 physicians in the Baltimore area, selected to be profiled in the current TOP DOCS issue.

I congratulate Dr. Allen and all GBMC’s Top Doctors - we are extremely proud to have such excellent, caring clinicians on our team and very grateful for all that they do to care for our community.

To view a listing of our “Top Doctors” and to learn more about who they are, please visit www.gbmc.org/topdocs under the “Find a Doctor” link.

And speaking of GBMC’s great medical staff, I had the privilege earlier this week of participating in the celebration of the career of Charles P. (“Pat”) Wilkinson, MD and his retirement from GBMC.  Dr. Wilkinson, one of our Physician Titans and an internationally known specialist in the treatment of retinal disorders, was the long-time chair of our Department of Ophthalmology.  The department has been fortunate to have Pat as the Chair since 1992.  Under his leadership GBMC’s ophthalmology department program became a place that is well known in the region for treating patients with the latest evidence-based advances in the field. Teaching the next generation of ophthalmologists was also an important part of Dr. Wilkinson’s work. He has mentored many residents from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland residency programs.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Wilkinson on his distinguished career at GBMC and thanking him for all that he has done for GBMC, our young physicians in training and most importantly, our patients.

Recognizing Colleagues: Radiologic Technology Week & Forensic Nurses Week
This week is both “Radiologic Technology Week” and “Forensic Nursing Week” and I would like to thank all of our registered technologists (R.T.s) and our forensic nurses for their important roles in providing serving our patients as if they were their loved ones.

R.T.’s perform diagnostic imaging examinations and administer radiation therapy treatments. They are educated in: anatomy, patient positioning, examination techniques, equipment protocols, radiation safety, radiation protection and basic patient care. They may specialize in a specific imaging technique such as: bone densitometry, cardiovascular-interventional radiography, mammography, MRI, nuclear medicine, sonography or general radiography.  They are the teammates of our radiologists and radiation oncologists.

Forensic nurses are specially trained and certified examiners who care for adolescent and adult victims (ages 13 and older) of sexual assault.  Forensic nurses complete a full assessment of the patient, obtain potential forensic evidence and provide antibiotic therapy, emergency contraception and resources for crisis counseling and support services.  Our forensic nurses, as part of our Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Program, also speak at middle schools, high schools, and college campuses in an effort to influence the behavior of youths to make safe choices in their social interactions.  Our forensic nurses are also an instrumental part of the Baltimore County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and work closely with local law enforcement agencies in cases of sexual assault in our community.

Please join me in thanking Phil Komenda, our Director of Imaging and Cardiac Services, and Laura Clary, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, CPEN, our Clinical Program Manager for the SAFE Program, and their teams for all their hard work and for their important role in caring for our patients.

Thanking Our Veterans on Veterans Day and Every Day
This past Wednesday, we set aside a day to honor the millions of American military veterans who have honored us with their service.  We paused to salute all who have served and honored the tremendous sacrifices made by members of the U.S. armed forces and their families to preserve our freedom. I know that I speak for all of us at GBMC in offering our sincere gratitude for the personal sacrifices, past and present of all of our service men and women.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Our Patients have Voted: GBMA is Delivering Better Care

It has now been five years since the GBMC HealthCare Board conducted its visioning retreat. http://ahealthydialogue.blogspot.com/2010/10/saving-celebrating-and-planning.html I remember the conversation among those in attendance. Everyone had great things to say about GBMC and its physicians, nurses and staff. But everyone had at least one story where our service to a patient missed the mark.  Frequently the stories were about waits and delays or about poor communication.

Last Wednesday, during our monthly leadership meeting, I had the opportunity to see just how far we have come in our Aim of Better Care for everyone’s loved ones. Danielle Da Silva, Ambulatory Service Line Administrator for Greater Baltimore Medical Associates, was showing the group how GBMA was doing on its better care goals. Danielle showed that our employed physician practices had an overall patient engagement score of 93.4 which is at the 89th percentile nationally and at the 91st percentile in our region!
This outstanding improvement in service has not happened by chance.  It is due to the hard work of our practice managers, lead physicians and all of the members of their teams.  They have extended hours of operation, improved at using the patient portal, improved patient flow within the office and improved  their communication skills across the board.  I am so proud of all of them and grateful for all of their hard work.

I must particularly call out a group of “unsung heroes”…our medical assistants.  These are the people who work alongside our physicians in the office, getting the patients ready for the visit, taking their vital signs, making sure that they have had their immunizations, etc. In this quarter, the medical assistant overall score was 94.7 which at the 85th national percentile!
As I studied the data, our scores have gone up in every area of the survey! Our GBMA colleagues are truly making the care better every day and helping us get closer to our vision. Please give them a pat on the back when you see them and thank them for all that they are doing for our patients.

National Medical Staff Services Professionals Awareness Week
This week is “National Medical Staff Services Awareness Week,” and I would like to acknowledge and thank all of our medical staff services professionals (MSPs) for playing an important role to our healthcare organization and its physician members, and their contribution and dedication in preserving quality patient care.

MSPs are experts in provider credentialing and privileging, medical staff organization, accreditation and regulatory compliance, and provider relations in our diverse healthcare industry. They credential and monitor ongoing competence of the physicians and other practitioners who provide patient care services in hospitals, managed care organizations, and other healthcare settings.  MSPs are a vital part of our healthcare team and are dedicated to making certain that all patients receive care from practitioners who are properly educated, licensed, and trained in their specialty.

Please join me in thanking our MSPs for their hard work and for their important role in caring for our patients.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Young Physician Calls Out A New Cause of Health Care Disparity

Since the formation of GBMC 50 years ago, we have always valued graduate medical education.  I have spent most of my career in academic medicine and teaching pediatric residents and medical students in pediatrics.  The act of being a teacher keeps you on your toes because the learners ask you questions and you realize that you don’t know everything and you have to seek out the information.   So, graduate medical education has always been a gift to GBMC and having smart, young, people—the next generation of physicians - around can only help us get to our vision faster.

Recently, I was glad to attend our Institutional Graduate Medical Education Committee meeting. The Chair of the IGME, Brian A. Kaplan, MD, FACS, who is also chairman of The Department of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery at GBMC is leading the group and helping us reflect on and continually improve our training programs.  During the meeting, we discussed many issues and one of our residents raised the issue about how we can better serve “underserved” populations and remove disparities in care.  Immediately, I started to think about disparities across racial and ethnic groups. We need to work to reduce these disparities but the resident added a new reason for some people not being able to get care - high deductible health insurance plans.  These are the type of plans where someone may have to pay $2-$3,000.00 out of pocket before the insurance kicks in. Our resident physician colleague was talking about how this was precluding some of her patients from getting the care that they needed.

Why do these high deductible plans exist? Well, one reason is that many people believe that you have to make patients “feel the pain” of high cost to get them to shop for better prices and therefore make producers work to lower their prices. When we shop for a car, we always look for the best price for the type of car that we are looking for. I am sure that letting patients know what the price is does have some affect. But I also know that in Germany, for the most part there are no co-pays or deductibles and their costs are about 40% lower than ours. I also believe that it is very hard for an individual patient to know what they are actually buying. Most patients don’t have enough knowledge to know what they really need let alone judge the quality from one provider to another. There is no JD Powers for medical care (Although hospital compare is a good start: https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html ).  I believe that it is sad that we feel compelled to put the onus for lowering the cost of care on the patient. That is why I am so proud of GBMC HealthCare and our third aim …to provide care with the Least Waste. We have the knowledge and the ability to change our care delivery system to get the waste out so the patient is not stuck trying to do this for herself. Our patient centered medical homes, where teams led by physicians with nurse care managers and care coordinators have reduced the cost of care to Medicare beneficiaries by more than 10% over the last 3 years!

I am grateful to my colleague resident physician for being concerned about her patients being able to get the care they need. I am very grateful to all of our residents and faculty for helping us build a better delivery system and for their excellence in learning and teaching. We still have work to do in removing care that doesn’t add to health and in becoming more efficient at what does add to health so that fewer employers will need to have high deductible plans for their employees.

Case Management Week 
Recently, we celebrated all GBMC case managers during National Case Management Week. We are very grateful for all that they do to help our patients.

Case and care managers provide clinical assessment, care coordination, patient education, counseling, case monitoring/clinical pathway management, discharge planning, resource management and patient advocacy.  They are recognized experts and vital participants of the collaborative team, who engage and empower people to understand and access quality, efficient healthcare, as well as enabling cost-effective outcomes.

Our Case managers deliver dedicated assistance to our patients, their care teams and GBMC day in, day out.  Please join me in thanking our case managers for their hard work and for their important role in caring for our patients.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Celebrating GBMC's History & Future

Last Friday night, we celebrated our 50th anniversary with a beautiful gala with more than 1,200 people in attendance. The magical evening, at the Baltimore Convention Center, highlighting GBMC’s service to our community and vision for the future, was a smashing success. I want to use my blog this week to share with you the thoughts that I shared with those who were in attendance.

GBMC has a glorious history and it has a very bright future because of its people.  
Our physicians, our nurses, and the rest of our staff are the lifeblood of our organization. They have all helped GBMC to stand the test of time.  For 50 years, they have been committed to bettering patients' lives by working to keep them well and healing them when they are sick.  For the next 50 years, we will work with them to continue to build the system where every patient, every time gets the care we would want for our own loved ones. But the GBMC family is bigger than just the staff members.

We must remember that GBMC was created by members of the community- volunteers who gave of their time and resources because they saw a need. Today our volunteers’ gifts of time and our donors' gifts of treasure are more important than ever. Their gifts help to assure that our clinicians have what they need to get the job done in our mission of health, healing and hope.

So to all of the GBMC family let me say it is your commitment, dedication and hard work that has transformed a Towson hillside into a mecca of compassion, caring and healing. You are the heart and soul of the GBMC Healthcare System.

GBMC recently received a gracious $5 million gift from The Kahlert Foundation. We are beyond grateful to the Board of the Foundation, to Greg and Roberta Kahlert, and to Greg Kahlert's late parents Bill and Yvonne, because you have been so generous to GBMC.

It is our intention to use this $5 million gift toward designing and constructing, along with our partners at Chesapeake Urology, a new building on our campus that will house up to 16 urologists and provide them with the facilities to deliver cutting edge care. And with this $5 million gift, I also have the immense pleasure of making another announcement, a crowning achievement for GBMC. We have not only reached, but exceeded, our anniversary fundraising goal of $50 million. Thanks to all of you, we raised $54,730,109.

Let that accomplishment hang in the air for a moment. Please recognize the significance of this achievement. $54 million to allow the GBMC HealthCare system to continue to build on the work of the mothers and fathers of GBMC some 50 years ago and to help us move even faster toward our vision. Let me also thank Delbert and Gina Adams and the Gala Committee, Bonnie Stein and the 50th Anniversary Committee, Greg Shaffer and his phenomenal marketing and communications team, Sam Heffner, Frank Palmer, Jerry Focas, Heidi Berman and the Philanthropy Committee, and last, but, not least Jenny Coldiron and her fantastic philanthropy team. What a great job!

So let’s celebrate our half-century of compassionate care – the GBMC Healthcare System is here to serve … and we have only just begun!  Thank You!

To view additional photos from our 50th Anniversary Gala, please visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gbmchealthcare/sets/72157659548938566/

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.