Monday, May 30, 2016

Recognition for Our Work on the Triple Aim; Honoring Our Heroes

It is a great source of pride for me to attend a regional or national conference, seminar or symposium where our healthcare system is being recognized as a leader. Last week, I was in attendance at the Institute for HealthCare Improvement’s (IHI) Leadership Alliance spring meeting in Washington, D.C. with leaders from 40 other healthcare organizations in the country.

During the meeting, I was asked to be part of a three-person panel from the Alliance to present evidence that support from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was helping us achieve the Triple Aim: Better Health, Better Care and Lower Costs for a population of people (….and we have added the fourth aim of More Joy for those providing the care). I presented our data at improving health and care while lowering cost through our patient-centered medical homes and the phenomenal work of all of our team members in the hospital. Also on the stage with us were Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt and Acting Principal Deputy Administrator, Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality, and Chief Medical Officer, Patrick Conway, MD, MSc. The week before, Dr. Conway had come to GBMC to participate in our Lean Daily Management walk. When I told them about our accomplishments and how support from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation had really helped us transform care it was clear that they were pleased. The don’t frequently hear words of thanks and praise. I was really proud when Dr. Conway told the 200 or so people in the room how impressed he was with all that the GBMC HealthCare was doing and when he thanked us for helping CMS to learn daily improvement.

Kudos to Our IT Department

I am very excited about implementing EPIC, our new clinical and administrative information system, because when we go live each patient will only have one record in our system and it will make it easier to treat everyone the way we want our own loved ones treated. We have a lot to do between now and October 1st when we go live. But, I want to take a brief moment to thank Dave Hynson, GBMC’s Chief Information Officer, and his team, for all their hard work in getting us ready to go live. This is such a huge undertaking, but, Dave and his team have been doing an incredible job not just with EPIC’s implementation, but, with the everyday issues that come up across the GBMC HealthCare landscape. Thanks to all in our IT department who are working on EPIC and beyond!

Thank You Beth and Albert!

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Sheila K. Riggs Department of Radiation Oncology to make a special announcement. One of our most tenured and beloved physicians, Dr. Albert Blumberg and his wife, Beth, had done a wonderful thing for the staff of the Department of Radiation Oncology, and it was my honor and pleasure to make the formal announcement.

Beth and Albert, in a magnanimous gesture of gratitude have established the Beth and Albert Blumberg Radiation Oncology Staff Development Fund.  For more than 30 years, Dr. Blumberg has cared for thousands of patients who have come to GBMC for their care.  This wonderful gift is one way that the Blumbergs have decided to say, “Thank you!” to the Radiation Oncology staff who have made possible the Department’s and Dr. Blumberg’s success in delivering life-saving treatment.

The new fund will allow the Department Chair, Dr. Rob Brookland, to allocate critical dollars in support of requests by staff who are seeking continuing education.

Dr. Blumberg summed up the genesis of their decision to create this perpetual endowment, “This gift is to reinforce to the people I care about how much I really care about them.”

As I made the announcement about the Blumberg gift to a gathering of the Department’s staff, many were drying their eyes or visibly fighting back tears of admiration and joy for the Blumberg’s generosity and desire to recognize and reward them.

This very special occasion highlights the power of an effective team – the staff of the Sheila K. Riggs Department of Radiation Oncology is an amalgamation of people from diverse backgrounds who share one guiding principle: they support each other to ensure that every patient is treated like a member of their family.

Beth and Albert, GBMC salutes you for your many years of service, the team that you have helped to build and your amazing gift that will continue to give back to our staff so that they can grow in their careers and help our patients for a long time to come.

Honoring Our Heroes

Today is Memorial Day and it’s a special day during which we honor those who have given their lives during military service to our country.  Many of our GBMC employees have family members in military service and some are veterans themselves. We all have friends or family members whose lives of service included the ultimate sacrifice. So, on this Memorial Day holiday let’s make time to honor all of our veterans and their commitment to safeguard our security and be mindful of our heroes — living and dead. Let this be a moment to recognize with appreciation and respect our nation’s champions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Do You See the Clutter?

February 2015
Making It Easier (and Safer) to Get the Work Done on an Inpatient Unit
July 2013
It’s easier to get the job done when everything is in its place - 5 (or 6) S's revisited
August 2012
5 or 6 S: Having a Prepared Work Space to Get to Higher Reliability & More Joy on the Job

I have written about the concept of 6 S's in this blog three times previously. So last week, when I was returning a wheelchair, to a wheelchair storage area, I wondered how many of my colleagues had walked by that wheelchair and had not returned it to where it belongs. I began to reflect on the reasons why things get out of place.

When I walk through the halls of GBMC, I often find stretchers, chairs and other things where they don’t belong. We don't want to put clinicians in the position of having to do work-arounds to meet patient care needs because they cannot locate the proper equipment. Things get out of place for many reasons. Sometimes we are doing something and feel rushed to get on to the next task that we leave an item anywhere we can just to quickly get on with our work. In these instances, we sometimes tell ourselves that we will put the thing anyway later, and then we forget. Sometimes things need to be returned to a place off our unit or department and we need to call transport to retrieve it which takes time. Sometimes we don’t know where something truly is stored.

When something is already out of place, like the wheelchair I found, there are many reasons why they don’t get returned. Sometimes we are in a hurry and feel we don’t have the time to return something to its correct place. Some people believe that it isn’t their job to replace things that they did not displace. I also think that we get immune to clutter and we begin to not “see” it. It becomes the usual to have “stuff” everywhere. Then there is the concept of “hoarding”. Sometimes we keep things where they don’t belong because we are afraid that if we put it back where it belongs (especially if it is stored at a distance from our workplace) that we won’t be able to get it back when we need it. This, of course, guarantees that someone won’t get it when they need it if no one else knows where it is. This is why we created an equipment hub in 2012. When people don’t trust the equipment storage system and they hoard, they unwittingly make the system less reliable.

Why should we care? I think there is a true hierarchy of reasons why we should not accept clutter. The first is patient and staff safety. I told the story in this blog of being in a hospital that had a fire and patients needed to be moved quickly. Beds, stretchers and other things in the hallway were a true safety hazard that day. The second is patient engagement. No one thinks well of a cluttered hospital. The third reason is it makes it harder for us to get our work done if we can’t find what we need or have to work around things that don’t belong where they are.

We need to create better accountability for our facilities staying in 6S condition. So, in case you have forgotten the 6S’s, they are:

1. Sort: eliminating everything not required for the work being performed.
2. Separate: efficiently placing and arranging equipment and material.
3. Shine: tidying and cleaning.
4. Standardize: standardizing and continually improving the previous three.
5. Sustain: establishing discipline in sustaining workplace organization.
6. Safety: creating a safe work environment.

All managers must own their workspace and audit for clutter at some regular interval. They must enroll their people in keeping the department or unit clutter free. Our performance improvement colleagues will be happy to help managers create a system to make it easier to keep your space ready for business.

But we as individuals must avoid leaving things where they don’t belong and also help and remove clutter as we find it. If we all commit to this, it won’t be so hard because it will become much less frequent to find something that isn’t in its place.

What do you think?

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Sunday marked the beginning of National Hospital Week, the celebration of which dates back to the early 1920s. According to the American Hospital Association, the week is “a celebration of the history, technology and dedicated professionals that make our facilities beacons of confidence and care.”  This year’s theme is “Health Care from the Heart,” something that our committed GBMC staff – over 4,0000 employees across the system --does daily.

We have excellent facilities and technology within GBMC HealthCare, but, a hospital is always more than a building and equipment.  It is made up of physicians, nurses, volunteers, therapists, food service workers, surgeons, analysts, counselors, and administrators — men and women who are committed to providing everyone with the care they want for their own loved ones. At all hours of the day and night, all year long, GBMC and its dedicated staff are there to serve our community in our mission of health, healing and hope.

I am very grateful for all that our hospital team does every day. Thank you to all!

I hope that all of my colleagues will take some time to focus on their own health. Please attend our Employee Health Fair in the Civiletti Conference Center TODAY (Thurs., May 12) from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Visit a variety of vendors, learn about health, wellness, and benefits, receive giveaways and be entered for raffle prizes. Winners will be announced on the InfoWeb.

This week, GBMC HealthCare is participating in Decision Health’s 8th Annual Care Coordination Summit.  The summit showcases new models of care and innovative processes that are transforming the healthcare system leading to improved patient outcomes and appropriate use of healthcare resources.

During the three-day summit, Dr. Robin Motter-Mast, chair of the family medicine department and who leads population health and our Patient Centered Medical Homes, Melanie Miller, manager of Population Health Coordination Services who manages and trains the care coordinators within all GBHA primary care practices, and Megan Priolo, chief operating officer of GBHA who has direct oversight of ACO and population health activities, all presented our work that has resulted in a better health outcomes, better care experience including better access and reduced healthcare expenditures for our community.  They did a fantastic job in representing our healthcare system and educating the public on our population health initiatives.

We were nominated as finalists for the Case in Point Platinum Awards for our exemplary work and aim to continue providing improved healthcare to the people we serve.  The Case in Point Platinum Awards recognize population health management programs that successfully deliver efficiency and effectiveness across a variety of disciplines and settings in the continuum of care. Now, I am proud to announce that GBMC won awards in the following categories:
Community Care Settings--Community Care Programs; Health Information Technology Systems and Transition Care Programs.

I want to extend congratulations to the Gilchrist Inpatient Care Management team, director Joanne Parr, utilization review manager Yanting Zhu and manager of care transitions Kathy Eiseman-Brock for their part in securing our Transition Care Programs award.

With the May 16th 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).

So far, 42 percent of our colleagues have responded. We need your opinion.  The survey is anonymous to GBMC and confidential. We work with a third party vendor, Press Ganey, who compiles survey data for us. We at GBMC never see individual responses.

Please don’t be silent and complete the survey so that we can identify opportunities for further improvement, to judge the value of changes we made since the last survey and to make GBMC an even better place to work and a safer health system for our patients.

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.  As a thank you to completing the survey, Press Ganey also conducts a prize drawing each week.  For just providing your honest opinion, you could be entered to receive $100 extra in your paycheck or two tickets to GBMC Employee Night at Camden Yards.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the 28th annual GBMC Golf Tournament that was held on Monday at Turf Valley Country Club.  Hats off to the entire golf committee, the many employees who helped with the event and to Jenny Coldiron and the GBMC Foundation staff, all of whom worked together for a great event. We had over 45 foursomes sign up – that’s almost 200 golfers supporting our efforts.  It was clear that countless hours were spent preparing for this great day that grossed more than $180,000 to benefit GBMC. I had the opportunity to golf with Sam Heffner, the Chair of the HealthCare Board’s Philanthropy Committee and Delbert Adams, the Board member who along with his wife, Gina, oversaw our phenomenal 50th Anniversary Gala. Sam and Delbert carried our Team….I wasn’t much help but I had a great time!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Nurses are the Mainstay of our HealthCare System

The Oxford dictionary defines backbone as the chief support of a system or organization; the mainstay. Nurses are the mainstay of our health care system. Without nurses, the system would quickly fall apart.

Annually, GBMC celebrates National Nurses Week and National Nurses Day. National Nurses Week is celebrated yearly starting on May 6, also known as National Nurses Day, through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
During this week, we take the time to reflect on the profession of nursing and what our nurses mean to us and to also express our gratitude for their care and caring. It’s no secret that nursing requires self-sacrifice and dedication.

The 1,200+ nurses across the GBMC HealthCare system work very hard.  Caring for patients with many needs requires physical and mental stamina. It is not a profession for people who have difficulty focusing on others. Dedication to helping others is a key trait that defines nursing. Our nurses are smart, well-trained and resilient. Their work is not predictable. I am so grateful for their ability to adapt to the variability in demand for their services from day to day and sometimes from minute to minute.

GBMC has always been known for our outstanding nursing care at the bedside of individual patients. More recently, our nurses have become leaders in quality improvement. Just review any of the myriad of metrics that we display at You will see reduced infection rates, falls, and serious safety events among others. Nurse have frequently been the leaders on the teams that have achieved these heightened levels of performance. They have collaborated marvelously well with their physician colleagues and others to move us closer to our vision every day.

We in the GBMC HealthCare system are blessed to have phenomenal nurses in our inpatient units, in our operating suites, in our outpatient areas, our physician practices, and in our hospice. I am very proud of all of them and honored to call them my colleagues.

I also want to highlight the great work by our nursing administrators and educators for their ability to recruit young nurses, train them well and mentor them, making GBMC a great organization for nurses.

So during Nurses Week, please join me in thanking our nurses for all that they do.

How has your life, professionally or personally, been touched in a positive way by a nurse?  Please share your comments below and show our nurses how valuable they are.

Hand Hygiene 
Practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections. Cleaning your hands can prevent the spread of germs, including those that are resistant to antibiotics and are becoming more difficult to treat.

This Thursday, May 5th was declared, by the World Health Organization (WHO), as “World Hand Hygiene Day.”  The day has been designated to remind healthcare workers and to encourage patients and their families to practice good hand hygiene.  It’s no secret that many patients in the United States are affected by healthcare-associated infections and many of these situations could have been prevented by caregivers properly cleaning their hands at key moments in patient care.

So, to celebrate the day and to remind us all of the importance of hand hygiene, members of our Infection Prevention Team, led by Laurie Hart, RN, will be going around the hospital to educate our staff on the proper handwashing techniques and the “5 Moments of Hand Hygiene.”  Thank you very much for washing your hands!