Friday, October 29, 2010

We are a family.

At GBMC we are a family. All families have good days and bad days; they receive good news and bad news. Since I arrived here in June, I think there has been much more good news than bad news. But last week we had 2 tragic deaths of members of our GBMC family. The first was Patricia Brock-Johnson, a surgical technician in the Women's Surgical Center. Pat's work at GBMC began in 1992 in Labor and Delivery. She later transferred to the Women's Surgical Center. I did not know Pat well, but her colleagues have told me that she was a great member of our clinical team who was very skilled, kind, and who took great pride in her work. The second was Joshua Burger, an OR support assistant in the General Operating Rooms. Josh came to GBMC in 2009 and quickly became a valued member of our surgical staff. I did not know Josh but I have learned that he had many talents and that he was a freelance painter and specialist in exterior restoration. Josh was a dedicated and dependable member of the OR team. I know it was hard for people who knew Pat and Josh to get through work last week. Thank you for supporting each other and for remembering Pat's family and Josh's family in your thoughts and prayers.

Over 2400 members of our family received the annual influenza vaccine last week as part of our annual push to protect ourselves and our patients from this annual scourge. I am grateful for the hard work of all those who pitched in to make the first week of the initiative so successful!

Organizations that want to move forward must set goals for themselves. Our goals are the answer to the question: "How will we know if we are getting closer to our vision of treating everyone, every time, the way we would want our own loved ones treated?" We have now finalized the GBMC Healthcare System Goals for fiscal 2011. The goal's are:

GBMC Healthcare
Annual Goals
(July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011)

I will be talking more about our goals as we go forward. We must get better at executing change. One way to do that is to celebrate teams that reach their goals. On Friday, we celebrated both Halloween and those teams that achieved their patient satisfaction goals for the first quarter of this fiscal year.

One of the Teams that reached their patient satisfaction goal for the quarter was the Chemotherapy Infusion Center in our Cancer Center. Treating patients with cancer is not easy. These members of our family are very good at it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reflecting on Our History

I spent a lot of time this weekend emptying boxes brought into our new home in Roland Park by the movers last week. We love the house and the neighborhood.....but I could do without the work of finding a place for all of our "stuff" and wondering why we brought a lot of it with us from Massachusetts in the first place. How many flower vases could we ever use, anyway? I must have unwrapped at least 20 of them yesterday.

One of the reasons why unpacking is taking me so long is that I am reminiscing as I go. You see I am finding things that were buried in our last house probably since the last time we moved. (I still haven't found my set of 1960 Topps baseball cards that my Mom swears she did not throw away.) I re-read some notes that my wife had sent me while we were dating; I found the certificates that my children received when they passed toddler swimming lessons; I again scrutinized my certificate from the American Board of Pediatrics; and I marveled at all of my wife's cookie baking paraphernalia (She has always amazed me at how good a baker she is, especially around the holidays.) I found myself reflecting on our family's history, with all of the good things and the challenges and was reminded about what was most precious. Remembering one's history is important so that the precious can be protected.

Last week, I met with members of the Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Department. We are in the midst of a search for a new Chairman for ENT. Dr. James Kelly has decided to retire, after a long and illustrious tenure leading the physicians and growing the services to better serve the community. The physicians wanted to meet with me, to assure that the health system would hold on to what was precious in their department. They reminded me of the history of the founding of GBMC by the coming together of the The Hospital for the Women of Maryland, of Baltimore City and Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Charity Hospital.

Julian Chisholm MD, a noted Civil War surgeon, had begun the Presbyterian Hospital to serve patients with eye and ENT diseases. Through its existence until 1965, this wonderful specialty hospital had welcomed well-trained physicians from the community and gave excellent care in a spirit of collegiality. Since the creation of GBMC in 1965, the Otolaryngology Department has continued to thrive by building on this wonderful history. In fact, GBMC may have the largest ENT service of any community hospital in the country! From general ENT care, to head and neck surgery, and now to our cochlear implant program, there is much that is precious and we must reflect on our history to not lose sight of this. I am grateful for all of our Otolaryngologists, our nurses, our audiologists, our speech and language pathologists, and all the rest of the team giving care to our patients. We will not lose what is precious.

I love to eat (I am fighting to not gain back the weight I lost by staying on an exercise regimen; my schedule has a lot of early morning and late evening meetings) so when I was asked by Stacey McGreevy to be a judge in our Chili Cook-off to kick-off our United Way campaign, I couldn't say no. So last week, I and the other judges tasted 10 different contestants' chili recipes. They were all so good it was hard to pick a winner. Please give as you can to the campaign, the United Way helps so many worthy organizations that cannot serve those in need without our help. Also, please thank Stacey and her Committee!

A shout out to Allison Habas MD, Lisa Griffee and all of our wonderful CPOE Team! The implementation is going very well so far. Our patients are safer and our staff will be doing so much less rework when our implementation is finished next spring.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Saving, Celebrating, and Planning

This past week saw a number of notable events involving our family at GBMC. The first was one that we did not plan. However, it showed our determination and strength in a moment of crisis.

A patient with mental illness started a fire in her room on Unit 36. The staff immediately went into action. They Saved the patient by removing her from harm; they called 3473 to sound the Alarm; they contained the fire and controlled Ventilation by closing the door to the room; and then Nicole Young RN and Helene Hyde NST used the fire extinguisher correctly to Extinguish the fire. The staff quickly and safely removed the patients on the floor to other units since smoke was present and the fire department arrived to make sure that everything was OK.

When I came in and saw the aftermath that evening, I was very grateful that no one was seriously injured. The team on Unit 36 was prepared, brave, and determined to keep the patients and themselves safe. They did a great job and I am proud of them. We will redouble our efforts to assure that episodes like this one do not happen again. Patient safety must be a given.
On Thursday evening we had our annual employee recognition dinner. I was truly amazed with the turnout and by the planning, spirit, entertainment, overall enthusiasm, and the joy of everyone involved. Patricia Larkin from Human Resources and her team oversaw the planning and organization of the event. Melissa Sparrow MD was the Master of Ceremonies extraordinaire and also displayed her wonderful comedic talent! I was rolling in laughter during the skits performed by a cast of characters too long to list here. All the time and effort was put in to recognize the many years of service of our people and to celebrate all 458 of them who had reached a milestone. We had 202 of our team with 5 years of service; 114 celebrating 10 years of dedication; 37 celebrating 15 years; 57 celebrating 20 years; 19 with 25 years of service; 14 with 30 years; 4 with 35 years; and an astounding 11 with 40 years of service many of whom are in the photo below!
Yesterday, we dedicated the sculpture, "Health, Healing, and Hope" that had been commissioned for the healing garden at our Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute. The healing garden is a fantastic asset that helps cancer patients get through the ordeal of cancer and its treatment. Members of the Woodbrook-Murray Hill Garden Club invited Francesca Schuler Guerin, owner and director of Baltimore’s Schuler School of Fine Arts to partner with them in finding a sculpture to add to the garden. Francesca Guerin invited students at the Schuler School to participate in a design competition for the project, which resulted in the selection of the bronze wall sculpture that is now installed. The artist is Dana Maranto and the piece was cast and bronzed at New Arts Foundry in Baltimore. We are very fortunate to have such community support for our cancer care. Please visit the garden and view this wonderful piece of artwork when you get a chance.

On Friday and Saturday, members of our Board of Directors, our senior management team, and some of our physicians met off-site for a strategic visioning retreat to help set the course for GBMC Healthcare over the next few years. I will be telling you more as our Strategic Planning Subcommittee of the Board continues its work, but I wanted to share with you our "elevator speech" to let you know where we are going:

"We have decided to evolve our current health system to one that is patient centric. We will actively manage the patient’s health in the most effective and efficient way. Our integrated system of care will involve an alliance with our physicians, both employed and in community practice, to efficiently manage patients’ needs.

We will evolve into an accountable care organization (ACO) where we will coordinate patient care with other partners to build healthy communities."

There is much more planning to do and then the execution of our plan will be the harder part. I look forward to working with all of you on this. It will be the extension of the work we have already begun to be the healthcare system where everyone, every time gets the healthcare that we would want for our own loved ones. (see my blog: "What if it was your daughter?")

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.