Friday, June 27, 2014

Pink Gloves, a Video and a Human Cancer Ribbon

Every day, GBMC’s healthcare professionals provide the care we’d want for our own loved ones.  It’s important for us to stay focused on our vision and in continually improving care. But it’s also important for us as leaders to bring awareness to and help with fundraising for illnesses like cancer, which touches so many lives.

For this very reason,  GBMC is excited to be participating in the Pink Glove Dance contest. GBMC has always been an advocate of breast cancer support programs and services for our community, and what a better way to continue our support than through this unique contest?

A Bit of History - The Pink Glove Campaign

It started when Medline, a manufacturer and distributor of healthcare supplies, introduced pink exam gloves for healthcare providers to use during a woman’s breast exam and created the Pink Glove campaign to honor healthcare workers and the patients they care for every day. 2014 marks the fourth year of the Pink Glove Dance video competition to help raise awareness of breast cancer throughout the country. Learn more about this unique campaign here.

GBMC employees "getting down" during the Pink Glove Dance video rehearsal.
At GBMC, the contest is bringing together employees as well as community members, many who happen to be breast cancer survivors, in a fun way to raise awareness for this disease. We kicked off rehearsals for our video a few weeks ago and I have to say, I draw the line at dancing. But I admit that although I’m not a dancer by any means, the excitement and camaraderie present in the room filled with GBMC staff members, friends and survivors alike, was motivating, and the spirit of the video was certainly contagious! Everyone in that room was smiling, laughing, “dancing” and moving for a great cause and I’m truly looking forward to producing our very first Pink Glove Dance video on Monday, June 30!

In fact, we have more than 200 individuals signed up to participate in the video and be a part of our human cancer ribbon (just imagine how big this ribbon will be!), which will be an amazing turnout. There’s still time to register to participate in the production of GBMC’s “Pink Glove Dance” contest video- simply register on our website. Our goal is to have 250 individuals – employees, patients, community members -  in our video and human cancer ribbon!

If we win the contest, Medline will donate $15,000 to the Red Devils, a Baltimore-based breast cancer support organization that provides a variety of services to families affected by breast cancer in Maryland.

While we can’t cure every disease or solve every illness or problem we face,  it is part of GBMC’s culture to give,  support and care for everyone as we’d want our own loved ones to be cared for. This is just another small way GBMC is moving toward its vision.

Won’t you be a part of our effort?

Friday, June 20, 2014

What Do I Learn at Town Hall Meetings?

Over the past couple of weeks, I've met with large groups of employees as well as small groups in departmental town hall meetings. One of the goals of holding these town hall meetings is for our people to come away feeling informed about our health care system and what is going on around it. It is also an opportunity for me to get more people in action to help us reach our vision and to hear our people’s concerns and ideas on how we can continue to get better and meet our four aims.

Here are a few of the conversations that I had with our folks during the meetings thus far:

A staff member was upset that she didn't get a raise this year. I reminded the employee that indeed she did receive a raise, but she let me know that it was ‘so small that she didn't notice it in her paycheck.’ I had to remind my colleague that GBMC’s profit margin this year is budgeted at less than one half of one percent. This means that for every dollar that we take in, we are spending 99.5 cents already. This does not leave much room for raises. I asked her to help us continue to reduce waste and to attract more patients to create an opportunity for bigger raises. I was concerned that she did not see the relationship between her efforts to improve things and her salary.

At a town hall session for the GOR (general operating room) staff, a nurse asked me, “Why do I have to ask the patient for all of this information pre-operatively when the information is already in the physician’s outpatient electronic medical record?” To this nurse, it seemed this was a waste of her time as well as the patient’s time. I have to admit that I got upset when this question was raised because I agreed wholeheartedly, but I wondered why this hard working nurse had waited to bring this matter to my attention instead of turning to her boss the very first time she felt this frustration so that they could fix it together? Did she not feel empowered to fix it? When I asked the manager why the staff did not have access to the EMR, the manager did not know this was an issue or concern. We must have the whole team engaged in improvement. If it is within your control to fix…fix it. If it is not, bring it to your manager and work with him or her to get it improved. The manager, for her part, must be asking her team to bring forth ideas for improvement and she must be engaging them in problem solving on a regular basis. Our people need to believe that it is not only their right to speak up but it is their duty. All of our people at every level must not accept dysfunction or assume “that’s just the way things are done.”  We must all be in action to make things better. Our work with lean daily management has demonstrated what can be accomplished when many begin focused problem solving. But if everyone is waiting for me to fix things…we are not going to get very far.

A Gilchrist staff member who had her arm in a sling raised her hand to tell me about the care that she had received recently. She fell and injured her arm and went to the ED. At registration she was asked if she had a primary care physician. She said yes but she was a bit reluctant to say that she went to one of our patient-centered medical homes because she had not been seen recently. Her injury was addressed and she went home. She was surprised when the next morning, about 10:30 AM, she received a call from her practice’s care manager inquiring about how she was doing, if her pain was controlled and if she had a follow-up appointment with an Orthopedist. She told me that she was delighted to see that someone was looking out for her and trying to help coordinate her care. I told her that every morning at 10:00 AM our primary care sites in GBHA get a download from CRISP, the Chesapeake Regional Information Sharing Network for our Patients, that tells them if any of their patients were seen in the previous twenty four hours in any hospital in Maryland. Her practice had been notified of her visit to the ED and they wanted to make sure that she was doing OK and that she understood the plan for her care. Her story made me feel very good because it was evidence that we are making real progress on becoming a true community based health system through the eyes of the patient.

The lessons I learned from these encounters in this series of town hall meetings are these – we must all:

  • Be engaged, empowered and in action to improve the care we deliver
  • Never accept dysfunction and cynicism
  • Celebrate our improvements

I found myself wondering, ‘Why is it that most of our people are feeling empowered but some are not? What is happening at our department meetings? Why are some not engaged and don’t see that they can say, “I have an idea”?’

I urge our team not to accept the status quo but to continue to be in action to create positive change. Waiting to air grievances twice a year at a town hall meeting is not going to get us to our vision any time soon!

Department leaders have to take responsibility to keep lines of communication open between them and their staff. We need a free flow of ideas both ways. The boss must be all ears for questions and ideas from their team and employees must be ready to fix things within their span of control. This is not an issue unique to GBMC. Rather, it is an issue for all organizations that grows with the size of the organization. I hold our local leaders accountable for overseeing effective problem solving to generate positive change and for getting everyone engaged. Our tremendous progress in so many areas shows how well the majority of our local leaders are doing this. I am grateful for their hard work and for that of their teams.

So, my reflecting after the first few weeks of Town Hall meetings shows me that our culture is certainly changing for the better, but it has also made me ask myself what we could do to make it change even faster.

How can we get more people engaged, empowered and in action on meaningful change? As usual, I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Compassionate Caregivers, Town Hall Meetings and the Father’s Day 5K

Each year at the annual Compassionate Caregiver award ceremony, GBMC honors staff members throughout the organization who exemplify what it means to be a true advocate for patients, a role model for their peers and someone who shows true empathy and caring through their interactions. True compassion is the ability to relate, empathize, listen and care for a person in need.

Amanda Hindle is presented with the
 2014 Compassionate Caregiver award
We have so many caring individuals at GBMC, as demonstrated at last week’s Compassionate Caregiver award ceremony. I congratulate this year’s winner of the 2014 Nancy J. Petrarca Compassionate Caregiver Award, Amanda Hindle, a nurse in the NICU.

Amanda was described in a nomination as the cheerleader for the NICU, a leader for all functions and events that raise awareness of the NICU and support patients and families. Working with some very sick patients who are in the NICU for weeks and sometimes months, Amanda comes in on her days off to help when needed. And, demonstrating the true spirit of compassion, Amanda has rallied the staff around one of the unit’s nurses who is bravely battling a deadly illness herself to help boost her morale in this difficult time. Amanda even gathered the NICU staff to sing the popular song, Happy, which they recorded and posted to YouTube to help bring a smile to their ailing colleague’s face. Thank you, Amanda for all that you do for our tiniest patients, their families, and your peers in the NICU.

Congratulations to all of the Compassionate Caregiver nominees
And, congratulations to all of our 2014 Compassionate Caregiver nominees:

• Susan Crouch, Gilchrist Hospice Care (honorable mention)
• Lynn Ellen Anderson, Gilchrist Hospice Care (honorable mention)
• Lauren Saval, Care Management (honorable mention)
• Amanda Hindle, NICU
• Francine Johnson, Physical Therapy
• Roberta (Jean) Hurtt, GYN/Oncology
• Shera Montero, TIPU

Don’t Miss the Town Hall Meetings

One of the single biggest problems for large organizations in any field is the ability to communicate to everyone. The bigger you get, the more layers of management you have- making it harder to get communication from top to bottom. This is why a couple of times a year we run a series of town hall meetings. These meetings help narrow the gap between the front office and the front line. Think of the town hall meetings as a sort of “State of the Union” address where I have the opportunity to update our team on how we’re doing and also hear directly from our people through open discussion and dialogue.
We welcome everyone to come to a meeting with questions and ideas. Town hall meetings will be held in both large forums and through individual unit and department sessions. Here is the schedule for the upcoming and remaining Town Hall sessions – please mark your calendars!

Running for a Cause and GBMC’s Tiniest Patients

And finally, June 15, is the GBMC Foundation’s annual Father’s Day 5K Race and 1 Mile Fun Walk to benefit GBMC’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This is a wonderful event where former NICU babies, families, staff members, community supporters and friends come out to have some fun and support the vital services provided to premature and sick newborns by our NICU. There’s still time to register and support this wonderful event.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A 5S in the Transport Hub

Hospitals have a lot of equipment that is not always used but must always be ready for use when patients need it. Most hospitals struggle with knowing precisely where their equipment is so that it can be moved efficiently to where it is needed. When the organization cannot quickly find equipment and move it on demand, the staff get frustrated and begin to “hoard” equipment, which generally makes the problem worse. 

Last week, a team gathered to conduct a Kaizen event, 5S in the Transport “Hub.” Unlike many other hospitals, GBMC has a unique area that houses more than 200 pieces of patient use medical equipment such as beds, stretchers, lifts, bariatric supplies and pumps. GBMC’s “Hub” operates 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The “Hub” was selected for a 5S event due to problems with overcrowding and lack of standardization, making it very difficult for staff to efficiently retrieve patient care equipment. This resulted in delay for patients and staff, and certainly less joy for transporters, nursing staff and patients.

A 5S event’s main goal is to organize and standardize an area. 5S stands for Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. 5S is at the foundation of LEAN performance improvement. Evidence shows that when a 5S is done well, the workplace will: “talk” to you, control itself, be refreshing, be safe, predictable and reliable. Results will shorten training for new employees and be welcoming to everyone: workers and visitors alike.

5S Patient Transport Hub Team

Michael Forthman, our Vice President of Facilities was the executive sponsor for the event. The team also included Neil Crockett (Facilitator), Courtney Hendon (Team Leader), April Herring (Director of Transport), Erin Wedemeyer, RN(IMC), Rayna Bush (Transporter), Asher Shorter (Transporter), Romaine Howard (Patient Flow Coordinator), Alex Ebright (Intern), Rachel Tonge (Crothall Manager) and William Shaffer (Bio-Med). It was important to have the transport staff on the team as the experts of “hub” operations. Nursing representation was also important to help the team understand the clinical needs of the transportation hub.

The scope of the event included both sides of the “Hub,” - employee areas and wheelchair storage within numerous lobbies throughout the hospital. The objectives were to: train the team in 5S principles and implement those principles; target equipment areas to organize, standardize space for patient volume, staff workflow and restocking process; determine physical items and information needed in the “Hub” area; and design standard process for check in/check out of equipment and accepting new equipment/supplies.

Through this event the team “sorted,” “set in order,” and “shined” both sides of the Hub, the hallway, the employee areas and six lobby areas which house most of the hospital’s wheelchairs. Results included 10 dumpsters of disposal, 60 visual parking spots for equipment, 120 visuals, and labeling of 60 wheelchairs for their specific lobby areas. After the 5s event, the transport team targeted the time needed to take equipment to patient care areas to less than five minutes – a 66% improvement! In addition, the team discovered equipment stored which had never been used and learned that we had been renting similar equipment for the past year. This was a tremendous waste!

Before- Side 2

After- Side 2

The next steps include creating a standard process to introduce new supplies and equipment into the hub. The 5S principles will be shared with the whole transport team to ensure that the new design is sustained. I am very grateful to this wonderful team for making our transport hub so neat and orderly and for creating a more reliable system for storing and mobilizing equipment!

Town Hall Meetings

Don’t forget to attend one of the upcoming Town Hall meetings. Following is the schedule:

June 9 – 12:00 p.m. – 1: 00 p.m. – Civiletti Conference Center, A, B & C
June 10 – 7:00 a.m. – Unit 37
June 13 – 7:00 a.m. – SICU
June 13 – 8:30 a.m. – Hunt Valley
June 18 – 7:00 p.m. – Unit 34
June 20 – 7:00 a.m. – Unit 38
June 23 – 11:30 a.m. – Owings Mills
June 30 – 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Civiletti Conference Center, rooms A, B & C