Friday, July 12, 2019

Celebrating under the Summer Sun

Every single day throughout the year, our doctors, nurses, technicians, and all employees at GBMC work to move us closer to our vision to serve everyone the way we want our own loved ones served. This week, we took time to have some fun and thank our staff at our Employee and Volunteer BBQ for everything they do day-in and day-out in our system of care. The annual event allows our staff to step back, relax, and spend time with coworkers in a casual setting. This year, we also celebrated with a special Western theme.

As always, the festivities kicked off in the morning for our day-shift staff, with a continuation of the party in the evening to allow our night-shift staff to be recognized as well. Everyone enjoyed watching their coworkers sing karaoke and cool off with snowballs from the Kona Ice truck, all while fitting with the Western theme of playing horseshoes, lasso roping games and new this year – riding a mechanical bull. I hope everyone had the chance to try to stay on the bull for 8 seconds! I had a hard time getting on, but I made it through 52 seconds. I was glad that I was still in one piece after I fell off!

We also once again hosted a Legacy Chase Ribbon Contest in which departments, units, and practices decorated 3ft x 2ft three-dimensional awareness-shaped ribbons for the chance to win a pizza party. A round of applause to all the teams who participated! All ribbons were judged and the following teams were declared the winners of the three groups:

  • Best Departmental/Unit Theme:  X-Ray
  • Best Legacy Chase Theme: Quality and Patient Safety
  • Best Cancer Awareness Theme:  Oncology Support Services

I also want to give a special thanks to our Philanthropy Team, led by Jenny Coldiron, our Human Resources Team, led by Anna-Maria Palmer, and our Marketing and Communications Team, led by Greg Shaffer, whose planning made the fabulous employee BBQ possible for all of us once again. Your hard work brings us all together to move closer to our vision to provide the care to every patient, every time, that we would want for our own loved ones.


ICYMI: I talked to the Daily Record recently about how we can do even better in U.S. healthcare. Below is an excerpt, but you can read the full version here.

Before Dr. John Chessare took over as president and CEO of Greater Baltimore Medical Center nine years ago, the hospital’s board asked him whether GBMC could remain independent at a time when other hospitals across the state and the country were consolidating.

Chessare told them that it could, but it would require the hospital to commit to a transformation of how it cared for people, including an increased focus on treating people before they ever came to the hospital.

“My basic premise is the average man on the street in Baltimore has no idea, has no idea that health care could be so much better if we could just redesign care to get closer to what the patient actually needs,” Chessare said. “There’s no doubt (we) do a great job in the hospital, but we are not doing what we need to do in the management of chronic disease.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

One Patient One Record – An Update

It’s been close to three years since we went live with Epic as our electronic medical record (EMR), a “big bang” across the entire GBMC HealthCare System. And, I will admit that there were many “growing pains” along the way. Today, patients truly now have only one record at GBMC. It is without question that our success has been based on much hard work over the years and a big team effort.

That effort was recognized two years ago when we were presented with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics Stage 7 Award; we became one of only two organizations in Maryland to achieve this for both the inpatient and ambulatory settings. This accomplishment was due to the commitment and the hard work of the GBMC staff, including our highly skilled team of physicians, nurses, other clinicians, and IT professionals.

We have now been recognized again. Epic recently awarded us with Magna Cum Laude status in its Honor Roll Program. The recognition program is based on achieving continuous improvements in patient outcomes, quality of care, workflow efficiency, and financial performance. This is a unique distinction that is not held by many across the United States.

To talk about the award and what it all means, I've asked Dave Hynson, our Chief Information Officer, to discuss this with me in this week’s blog.

Dave, first let me start off by congratulating you and your team! Briefly tell us more about this award and why is it significant for our healthcare system?
Thank you, Dr. Chessare, for your kind words and for highlighting our recognition from the Epic Honor Roll program.  This achievement was truly a team effort.

Reaching Honor Roll status is based on strategies, lessons learned, and best practices distilled from Epic’s experience serving healthcare organizations There are three levels of program achievement based on the number of components completed: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude. The GBMC Epic team participated in this program in March and successfully obtained Magna Cum Laude! GBMC is now one of the three Epic organizations to date to have received this award for 2019.

Can you tell us how we were able to achieve this recognition?
The GBMC Epic team reviewed the Honor Roll requirements and created a workgroup that established leads for each portion of the Honor Roll checklist. Action plans were then created, and meetings held with key operational stakeholders to review the criteria and evaluate the benefits to GBMC and align the work with our quadruple aim. Through strong collaboration and communication, we implemented functionality within Epic that streamlined care delivery for our patients and enhanced end-user workflow. In addition, we further engaged patients as active members of their care team with tools that allowed them to self-schedule appointments, review their test results, and read notes from their providers in MyChart.

What are some of the next steps to help us receive the Summa Cum Laude distinction?
As we continue to leverage the Epic software, one of the main components is the infrastructure and meeting the standards for system response time and performance. Fast system response time and downtime preparedness increases productivity and better care delivery for our patients. By maximizing the performance of the system, the team can ensure that it is built for user efficiency and patient safety, so the focus can remain on our four aims. 

What are some helpful changes for our staff and patients, or important upgrades to Epic that might be taking place in the near or distant future?
We have moved to quarterly upgrades that allow us to incorporate enhancements and refuel the system more regularly. We have an upgrade planned for October 23rd of this year and new features will be introduced at that time. The team is working to identify the enhancements now and then will partner with operations to create a roadmap for development, conduct end-user testing, and offer any training necessary before implementing the changes.

I sincerely thank Dave and his entire team for all they do every day to reach our vision of being the community-based health system where every patient, every time gets the care that we would want for our own loved ones. I applaud them for their commitment and their excellence!

Accolades from Near and Afar
I am proud to announce a couple of significant recognitions from two print media outlets – one local and another national.

GBMC HealthCare was recently included in the inaugural Forbes list of America’s Best-in-State Employers 2019! GBMC was one of seven healthcare systems being recognized in the state of Maryland. The selection process was based on an independent survey from a vast sample of more than 80,000 U.S. employees working for companies employing at least 500 people in their U.S. operations. Employees were asked to rate their willingness to recommend their own employers to friends and family; participants were also prompted to evaluate other employers in their respective industries that stood out either positively or negatively.

The Baltimore Jewish Times also unveiled its list of “Best of Jewish Baltimore 2019” last week. GBMC was named “Best Hospital” by the readers of the Jewish Times.  I am truly proud of the great reputation we have among the Jewish community and for their trust in GBMC to meet their healthcare needs.

Stroke Center Award
I also want to congratulate our Primary Stroke Center which, under the leadership of Michael Sellman, MD, and Aaliyah Franks, RN, was recently selected for the 2019 AHA Gold Plus and Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite.  This award recognizes our Stroke Center’s strong commitment to quality stroke care according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines built on the latest scientific evidence.

The award is given by The American Heart Association (AHA) in recognition of hospitals that met specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. These measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. Before discharge, patients should also receive education on managing their health, get a follow-up visit scheduled, as well as other care transition interventions.

This award is the result of the hard work of our entire stroke team and demonstrates GBMC’s high level of commitment and expertise in caring for stroke patients. With an aging population, we are at the ready to provide superior care to all GBMC stroke patients, day in and day out. Great work & congratulations!

Happy Birthday to Us! 
I want to wish everyone in our GBMC family a safe and happy fourth of July. The Independence Day Holiday is the birthday of our great country..the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let's take some time to reflect on what we can each do to make our country even better than it is today.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Telling GBMC’s Story

One of the great things that I get to do as the President of GBMC HealthCare is to educate the community about our work and our vision. Last week, I addressed our malpractice reinsurance carriers along with our Vice President for Legal Services and General Counsel, Susan Martielli. Susan and I had a great story to tell about how we have made our care measurably safer through designing better systems and by holding ourselves accountable to standard work. The insurance executives were impressed by our reductions in hospital acquired infections, our work to make the medication delivery system more reliable through our use of barcode scanning, and the elimination of unreadable barcodes on medications. They were also impressed with our work to reduce non-emergent overrides in our drug dispensing cabinets.

Earlier this week, I met with two key members of the editorial staff at The Daily Record, Tom Baden, Editor, and Tim Curtis, Business Reporter. The Daily Record is a daily print publication that reports on commerce, business, and finance with a focus on Baltimore City and Baltimore County. During our meeting, we discussed national healthcare issues such as the current challenges facing our nation’s hospitals and the opioid addiction crisis as well as local issues like the behavioral health/mental health challenges in our state and our partnership with Helping Up Mission. In both instances, I was so proud to tell the GBMC story and to reflect on how far we have come as an organization in moving towards our vision.

Celebrating Life!

Earlier this month, I was delighted to be with 500 cancer survivors, their caregivers, friends, and family members as they celebrated life at our annual Cancer Survivorship Celebration.

This event provides an opportunity to recognize our patients’ courage and our caregivers' commitment to their treatment.

Every year, more than 2,500 individuals turn to the experts at The Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC when faced with life-changing medical diagnoses. Our Berman Cancer Institute is not only locally recognized, but nationally as well, and is fully accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

The number of people who attend this event continues to grow. Congratulations to our survivors, their families, and our caregivers!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Back Where We Started

For more than eight years, GBMC HealthCare has been committed to the vision of becoming a community-based system of care that the patient experiences as a whole. A core building block of our system has been advanced primary care, through our patient-centered medical homes in Baltimore and Harford Counties. These practices are designed to be accountable with our patients for their health. 

In the advanced primary care model, it’s not about visits, it’s about a relationship. The team manages those with chronic disease and reaches out to patients to make sure they have a plan and that they are following it. The team connects the patient to specialists when needed, including master’s-prepared behavioral health consultants, substance use consultants, and psychiatrists. Now, we are taking the advanced primary care model to Baltimore City — back to where we started.

In partnership with Helping Up Mission (HUM) – a nonprofit located in historic Jonestown whose mission is to provide comprehensive recovery services for men fighting addiction, poverty, and homelessness in Greater Baltimore – GBMC will deliver advanced primary care to 500 of their clients with significant healthcare needs and more than 1,500 alumni who are encouraged to maintain their recovery and remain accountable through the HUM Alumni Program.

Last week, Dr. James Baronas, the medical director for GBMC at HUM, and Erika Thompson, our practice manager, officially started serving HUM clients. HUM needed a partner that would be able to care for their growing number of clients. Most of the men who come to HUM have not had adequate healthcare for many years and many have lived on the streets for long periods of time. They have not had continuity in their care.

There is also a great need for primary care services in the larger community. Jonestown residents experience higher rates of unemployment and poverty than in other neighborhoods in the city. Our team looks forward to opening the doors of the practice to those most in need.

What makes this relationship even more special is that it brings GBMC, quite literally, back to where it started. The site of GBMC at Helping Up Mission once housed the Presbyterian Eye, Ear & Throat Charity Hospital, one of GBMC's founding institutions.

For more information about GBMC at Helping Up Mission, check out this brief interview with Dr. Baronas on a recent edition of “To Your Health,” as he talks in detail about our partnership today and in the future.

Recognition from the American Hospital Association
Last week, I had the honor of accepting an award on behalf of the GBMC HealthCare System from the American Hospital Association (AHA).

GBMC was presented with the AHA’s Membership Milestone for 100 years. This award was presented to us for reflecting the AHA’s mission for the last 100 years of “continuing their passion for improving health and community engagement.” 

GBMC, as it is known today, is the result of two Baltimore City hospitals merging and relocating to Baltimore County: The Hospital for the Women of Maryland, of Baltimore City (Women’s Hospital) and Presbyterian Eye, Ear & Throat Charity Hospital. GBMC HealthCare was incorporated in 1960 by consolidating the operations of these two specialty Baltimore hospitals, and GBMC opened its doors in 1965 as a regional medical center.

The timing of this award couldn’t have been more appropriate given that we started our work at HUM last week.

I want to thank the AHA for recognizing our rich history and ongoing commitment of health, healing, and hope.

Thank You!
In my previous blog post, I talked about my commitment to better health. Well, this past Sunday, I ran along with more than 900 participants in the 31st annual GBMC Father’s Day 5K and 1-mile Fun Walk. It was great to see so many members of the community and the GBMC staff come out and run while raising money for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. 

Every day, moms and dads turn to GBMC’s highly-trained healthcare professionals to care for their sick or premature babies because we provide the same care that we would want for our own loved ones. I am happy to report that since announcing our NICU renovation project at last year’s 5K, the community has come together to raise over $1.6 million to help support the NICU Renovation Capital Campaign. With everyone’s help at this year’s event, we raised over $90,000. I want to thank everyone who helped us have another amazing Father’s Day 5K. 

Let me also thank the volunteers as well as GBMC’s NICU doctors, nurses, technicians, and others who dedicate their lives to the health of babies. I want to congratulate the more than 250 patients from GBMC’s Comprehensive Obesity Management Program (COMP) and their supporters. This is the fourth year that a special group of members from The COMPto5K initiative, a six-month project designed to support and encourage COMP patients to incorporate exercise in their weight loss via a 5K training process, participated in the event. Many previous participants have continued their training after the Father’s Day 5K and participated in other area running events.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone involved in our community Wellness Fair which featured health-related vendors. Great work everyone!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Starting with Me

Since I came to GBMC in 2010, I have tried to lead by example by donating blood at our blood drives. So back in February, I arrived early in the morning at my appointed donation time. I was stunned that day when I was rejected as a donor because my blood pressure was too high. I’ve never had an issue with my blood pressure! I immediately did an examination of conscience and I realized that I was at my highest weight ever. My body mass index (BMI) was in the overweight range. I’ve always been a person who loves to eat and my wife, Tracey, is an excellent cook. I have always exercised, by jogging, but in recent years I have not done this as routinely as I should. So, after a visit to my primary care physician and seeing that my blood pressure elevation was only transitory, I committed to losing weight. I promised myself that I would eat less and exercise more. I downloaded the Lose It! App on my phone and built daily running into my routine. I worked hard to get to 10,000 steps every day. I am happy to report that I have lost about 20 pounds and this week I reached a normal BMI.

So, why am I talking about this? Readers of this blog know that GBMC has moved upstream to keep people out of the hospital. We have started with those who have been diagnosed with a chronic disease and we have also improved our focus on disease prevention. Obesity is a trigger for vascular and heart disease and for adult-onset diabetes.

Cathy Hamel, President of Gilchrist and our system’s Vice President for Continuing Care, and Carolyn Candiello, Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety, oversee our community health needs assessment and their most recent report shows that obesity is a priority health issue in Baltimore County. According to the assessment, 36% of people are overweight (like I was), 34% of people are obese, and only 31% of people fall within a “normal” weight range. (To read the report click here). If we could get more active and taking in fewer calories, imagine how much healthier we could be!

So, as we celebrate Men’s Health Month along with Men’s Health Week (Sun.10th – Sat.15th) and Blood Donor Day (Fri.14th), please reflect on your eating and exercise habits. Don’t make it too hard. Eat better and exercise more. And please become a blood donor if you’re able. Thank you!

Get some exercise on Father’s Day for a great cause!
It’s that time of year again for one of the GBMC HealthCare system’s biggest annual events. This Sunday, June 16th, we’re holding the 31st Annual GBMC Annual Father’s Day 5K & 1 Mile Fun Walk on our campus to benefit the hospital’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 fun and support our NICU.

GBMC is a community-based system of care and we are fortunate to have a fabulous NICU with excellent clinicians, great care, and cutting-edge equipment. It’s no secret that we enjoy a lot of support from those we serve because we are considered as the best place to have a baby in our region. We deliver more than 4,000 babies a year and approximately 400 of those babies spend some time in our NICU. The equipment and staffing required to provide this care is expensive — our annual Father’s Day 5K raises funds for the NICU and creates greater awareness of the strengths of our program as well as the wonderful expertise and commitment of our team.

There’s still time to support this event. Click here to register and learn more! I’ll be out there running, so please come join me! Remember that your support will touch more than 400 critically ill and premature babies cared for annually in GBMC’s NICU.

If you’re planning to participate in the Father’s Day 5K & 1 Mile Fun Walk, please feel free to share your story of why you help fundraise for GBMC.

…also, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers in our GBMC family!

Celebrating LGBT Pride Month
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride (LGBT) Month in the United States and throughout other parts of the world, and it’s established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on the world. This month offers an opportunity for all of us to pause and consider that, while progress has been made to afford equal rights to all, there is still much more work to do.

Inclusion has always been part of the GBMC culture. As a system, we feel that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Our policy of inclusion goes beyond employment practices and protections and celebrates the diversity of our workforce. At GBMC, we recognize that we must attract the best talent from around the region and create a culture where employees can bring their authentic selves to work every day. We will continue to be a leading voice in the push for diversity and inclusion in our communities.

Please join me in celebrating LGBT Pride Month.

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Behavioral Health Crisis: On Being a Part of the Solution

Much has been written recently in the media about the mental health crisis, not just facing our state, but the entire nation. Stories have ranged from new research showing an alarming increase in the number of U.S. teenagers and young adults turning to the emergency department (ED) in times of mental crisis (click here), to a 24/7 clinic opening next week in Harford County with the goal of being an option for people who need immediate access to behavioral health and addiction services.

Recently, Mental Health America (MHA) released its annual State of Mental Health Report, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on several mental health and access measures. The report provides a snapshot of mental health status among youth and adults and tracks changes in the incidents of mental health issues and access to mental health care, with the hope of promoting policy changes to improve outcomes for individuals and families with mental health needs.

The dilemma is profound, but perhaps the biggest concern is the state of behavioral health care for children. The president and CEO of Mental Health America, Paul Gionfriddo, commented in the report: “far too many young people are suffering – often in silence. They are not receiving the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives – and too many simply don’t see a way out.” I agree. So, what can we do about this?

Earlier this week, I met with Dr. Harsh Trivedi, President and CEO of Sheppard Pratt. GBMC is very fortunate to be contiguous to Sheppard Pratt’s main campus. Sheppard Pratt is one of the largest providers of behavioral health care and social services on the East Coast. We have had a partnership for many years. GBMC provides medical support for some Sheppard Pratt programs and in turn, it provides psychiatric support to our hospital and behavioral health services in our patient-centered medical homes.

Dr. Trivedi and I discussed our work in integrating master’s-prepared behavioral health consultants, substance use consultants, and psychiatrists into our advanced primary care offices. We are now screening patients in primary care for behavioral health issues and addiction, and with these new colleagues in our offices, it is easier to connect those in need directly to services. We reaffirmed our commitment to work together and move upstream in the disease process with early identification and therapy to reduce the probability of bad outcomes and speed up the recovery process from problems such as anxiety and depression. We also discussed how we can better work together to more quickly move patients in crisis out of our Emergency Department and into the required therapeutic setting. We are scheduling regular meetings to reduce waste in our system to improve mental health outcomes and the care experience for patients and their families.

We cannot solve the country’s behavioral health problems on our own, but we can become an even bigger part of a regional solution.

Related Sites For More Information:
Mental Health America report 
Crisis center in Harford County
Increase in teenagers and young adults ED visits/mental crisis 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A New Team to Help Those Most in Need

Last week I attended a meeting where I was excited to learn about the early successes of our new Complex Care practice. This team was created to help patients with repeated hospital admissions and visits to the emergency department. They work to identify and address the root causes of these patients’ high hospital utilization by creating patient-specific plans, which can involve longer, more frequent appointments, coordination with providers across multiple specialties, and access to social services.

The team is led by general internists Mark Lamos, MD, and Vaibhav A. Parekh, MD, both of whom have years of experience in managing patients with chronic disease. Nick Davenport, MSW, the social worker on the team, plays a critical role in helping patients resolve the social challenges that prevent them from getting the care that they need. Our Complex Care patients often have more than one chronic illness, which can lead to them being prescribed multiple medications. Our Lead Ambulatory Care Pharmacist, Susan Arnold, PharmD, is a valuable resource for our patients who may have trouble managing their new and existing prescriptions.

Complex Care patients are initially identified through CRISP (Chesapeake Regional Information Sharing for our Patients — the regional information organization) claims and Epic data or through direct referrals from physicians. The team first focused on patients outside of our employed primary care base but has expanded to include some GBMC Health Partners patients. If an identified patient wants to join Complex Care, the team does a thorough evaluation of his or her medical history and schedules an appointment to learn more about the patient’s current condition. They then develop a comprehensive care plan, which involves coordination across specialties and often includes a home visit. The team has quickly learned that each patient’s experience and challenges are unique, and they work incredibly hard to make sure that every patient’s needs are met.

The initial patient utilization results from before and after joining Complex Care can be seen below:
What an outstanding start! I am so proud of the team for delivering evidence-based care while also navigating the social determinants that make it difficult for patients to maximize their health and stay out of the hospital. Congratulations to Mark, Vaibhav, Nick, Susan, and their staff members for achieving such amazing outcomes for their patients!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Redesigning Care

I have been reflecting a lot lately about our vision statement (click here) that was written by our Board of Directors after their retreat in late 2010. They were concerned about GBMC’s ongoing ability to bring health, healing, and hope to our community in the face of changes in the U.S. healthcare system and the exorbitant costs of that system. So, they wrote a 4-paragraph game plan that we have been executing since then. The core directive in that vision statement was to continually redesign care to drive greater value for those we serve.
On a macro level, GBMC has gone from being hospital-centric to creating a system of care through the eyes of the patient. We converted our primary care offices into patient-centered medical homes and added more of them. We added specialist physicians to our practices and made them more accessible to our patients and to our primary care physicians for consultation. We built Gilchrist to deliver elder care services through the end of life in the home and in many of our facilities. Palliative care and integrative care for symptom management have become strong components in our system.

GBMC added the concept of accountability for the health of those that it serves. No longer is it only about visits. Once a patient decides to get his or her care from one of our patient-centered medical homes, we are now accountable for his or her health outcomes. To do this, we had to build the analytic capability to reflect on how individuals and disease-specific populations were doing. We purchased Epic, our electronic health record to help us do this. Care managers now work with physician-led office teams to maximize the health of those they serve and reduce unnecessary visits. We now know precisely how many diabetics we are serving and can identify patients who are not properly managing their disease. With this capability, we can focus specifically on those patients who need extra help from their providers.

It would take me days to list all of the practical examples of redesigned care in our system. Our SAFE and Domestic Violence programs have totally redesigned the care for a sexually or physically abused individual who comes to our emergency department. We now have peer counselors in our Emergency Department who work with patients struggling with substance use. Our Orthopaedics practice recently added walk-in services to more efficiently handle injuries. Our Intensive Care Units now have in-house critical care physicians available 24 hours per day. Patients who require a rabies immunization are able to quickly receive their second dose at Family Care Associates rather than having to return to the ED. I know that this is only a short list of the examples of care redesign that we have done…we will complete many more as we move towards our vision!

Gilchrist Named a Great Place to Work…Again!
Gilchrist was certified for the second year in a row, by independent analysts, as a Great Place to Work®. Gilchrist earned this distinction based on ratings provided by employees in anonymous surveys. The certification process considered 436 employee surveys from across Gilchrist’s locations. Cathy Hamel, President of Gilchrist and Vice President of Continuing Care at GBMC, feels that being re-named as a “Great Place to Work” is a confirmation of the culture at Gilchrist: one where employees find meaning in what they do and share a strong sense of pride about their work. I applaud all Gilchrist employees and thank them for their hard work. Congratulations, everyone!

Let’s Not Forget…
This coming weekend is the “unofficial” start to the summer season. While many of us might be heading to the beaches or to the pool, let’s not forget that Monday is Memorial Day, a special day to honor those who have given their lives during military service to our country. 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 our veterans for their commitment to safeguard our security and be mindful of our heroes — living and dead. Let this be a moment to recognize our nation’s champions with appreciation and respect.

Monday, May 20, 2019

National Hospital Week: Time to Thank Those Who Care for Others

Last week was National Hospital Week, and it was a great time to celebrate our hospital and acknowledge those that serve our community. Hospital Week, which dates to the early 1920s, according to the American Hospital Association, “celebrates hope and healing, and the hospitals, health systems, and the women and men who support the health and well-being of their communities through dedication and care from the heart.”

We use continuous improvement and Lean principles in our healthcare system, and we focus on key processes to improve clinical outcomes and the patient care experience, while driving out waste and creating more joy for those providing the care.

Lean Daily Management (LDM) has been a huge success for us, and through our daily rounding, we’ve also narrowed the gap between the “front office” and the “front line.” I have had the opportunity to get to know many of our front-line team members throughout the system who are studying problems and testing changes, allowing us to have open conversations with one another about how we can continue to move toward our vision. I am constantly reminded that we need everyone on the team in order to achieve our vision, from parking lot attendants, grounds crew, patient access reps, and billing staff, to transporters, environmental services workers, food service workers, security personnel, social workers, care managers, physicians, nurses, clinicians, volunteers, and all other non-clinical and administrative employees. Each member of the GBMC family is a very important part of our work.

Last week, we celebrated Hospital Week with an ice cream social day and other observances, and I want to sincerely thank all the members of our staff, our Board of Directors, volunteers, and everyone else who has helped us improve our designs and make our system of care more reliable to move us closer to our vision: to every patient, every time, we will provide the care that we would want for our own loved ones.

Second ”A” In a Row!!!

Last Wednesday, it was announced that GBMC received its second consecutive ”A” grade from The Leapfrog Group.
The Leapfrog Group is a national hospital safety organization that grades hospitals twice a year on how well they protect patients from errors, injuries, and infections. The grades range from A through F based on safety measures in place and the hospital’s actual performance in preventing harm. The goal is to give the community a tool to use in selecting a hospital.

The Leapfrog Group rates over 2,600 general acute care hospitals across the country, including 40 in Maryland. Earning an “A” is not an easy achievement –  we are one of only 10 hospitals in the state to receive this high mark.

This recognition validates our strong commitment to the vision of providing our patients with the care that we would want for our own loved ones. While we are proud of this consecutive honor, we will not stop our improvement work until we achieve zero harm. I want to thank our entire team for all that it has done to move us to this point. I also want to thank Laura Hines, RN, SCNR, Director of Clinical Quality Outcomes, and Carolyn Candiello, Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety, for their tremendous work in culling the data for the survey. Great work, everyone!

Oh! What A Night!
I had the privilege of attending our recent annual Art of Nursing celebration on May 9. This was a special evening for our nursing staff. It was a great opportunity to thank our nurses for all they do for GBMC and its patients every day, and to have some fun!

Caring for sick patients who have many needs requires physical and mental stamina. 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.

I would like to thank everyone involved in the very successful Art of Nursing celebration, especially our Marketing and Communications team and our Philanthropy team.

Thank you!
The Kahlert Foundation recently agreed to endow The William E. Kahlert Research and Discovery Fund to support oncology clinical research with a $1 million pledge.
This fund was created by the late Bill Kahlert, for whom the William E. Kahlert Physicians Pavilion North was named in 2018.

Bill developed a strong relationship with Dr. Ronald Tutrone and Dr. Paul Celano during his battle with cancer.  To demonstrate his gratitude to Dr. Celano and the oncology team, he established a fund to promote multidisciplinary medical research. The fund has helped GBMC increase enrollment in oncology clinical trials by 25% and endowed a Urologic Research Fund to support research efforts under the direction of Dr. Tutrone, which was the first endowment of its kind at GBMC.

Although Bill and Yvonne have passed away, their son Greg, his wife, Roberta, and their children, Heather and Scott, have continued their family’s support of GBMC and giving in honor of the great care they have received at GBMC. 

I want to thank them for their recent endowment and I am extremely grateful for the ongoing support from The Kahlert Foundation. Thank you, Greg, Roberta, Scott, and Heather, for continuing your family’s support of our work in the community.

Friday, May 10, 2019

GBMC Nurses Recognized for Their Excellence

This week is National Nurses Week, a time to reflect on the many talented nurses throughout the GBMC HealthCare System. Through their expertise and dedication, they drive us closer to our vision every day.

Nursing requires selflessness and commitment. The more than 1,400 nurses in our hospital, in Gilchrist, and in GBMC HealthPartners give of themselves to make the experience better for those they serve.

We have been able to retain our experienced nurses and recruit new nurses due to the vision of JoAnn Ioannou DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, our Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. JoAnn, who recently appeared on our Facebook Live program, To Your Health, does an excellent job in assuring that our nurses are recognized for their value to our system. JoAnn has overseen the creation of a professional development model for nurses that helps them choose their career direction and grow and develop their skills. Please take some time to watch the interview below.

Nursing has always been a marvelous profession and it is exciting to see so many young people choosing nursing as a career. I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to all of our dedicated nurses for bringing health, healing, and hope each day to our patients and to our community. Thank you!

Congratulations are in order
In case you haven’t heard, SEVEN GBMC nurses were recently recognized in Baltimore magazine's 2019 “Excellence in Nursing” issue!
Nominations were submitted from across the region and 50 winners in 21 specialties were selected by a panel of nurse advisors. This is truly great recognition for GBMC HealthCare and our exceptional nursing staff. Please join me in congratulating the following nurses:

Mark Fisher, BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN – Emergency Department
Kristine Baker, RN – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Kenneth Griffith, CRNA – Anesthesia
JoAnn Parr, MS-HCM, BSN, RN – Care Management and Continuing Care Services
Elaine Dougherty, RN, WCC – Wound Center
Kristin Trawinski, MSN, RN – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Jennifer Spahn, MSN, RN, NEA-BC – Nursing Education

The fifth annual “Top Nurses” issue is already on newsstands. Get it to learn more.

Also, it's that time again when Baltimore magazine is collecting votes from area physicians for its “Top Doctors” issue. Docs, please vote for the colleagues you most respect! The survey may be found here.

Thank You, Readers, of The Sun
Our healthcare system was recently recognized by readers of The Sun as Best in Audiology Services and Best Hospital. I want to THANK all who voted for recognizing the hard work and dedication of our clinicians, other staff, and volunteers, as well as for your confidence in our ability to treat every patient, every time, the way that we would want our own loved ones treated.

GBMC Health Partners LDM Celebration
Earlier this week, I attended the GBMC Health Partners Lean Daily Management (LDM) celebration, which showcased more than a dozen poster presentations from 14 multispecialty practices. Each practice highlighted an improvement that they achieved using LDM problem solving to generate improvements in one or more of our four aims. The clinical teams used the Model for Improvement with Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) cycles. Additionally, the Neurosurgery and Perinatal Associate practices gave a presentation that focused on the teamwork in their departments with both metric selection and the creation of sustainable standard work. I want to congratulate Dr. Harold Tucker, our Chief Medical Officer and President of GBMC Health Partners, Evelyn Bowmaster, BSN, RN, CPHQ, CBN, Director, Quality and Patient Safety for Physician Practices at GBMC, Carolyn L. Candiello, Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety, and all the event volunteers for putting together such a wonderful celebration!

Golfing for A Cause
The annual GBMC Golf Classic was held this past
Monday at Turf Valley Country Club. The sun made an appearance and the weather was just right as more than 180 golfers “hit the links” to help raise funds for continuing education in the GBMC HealthCare system.

Countless hours were spent by the entire golf tournament committee preparing for this great event that grossed more than $192,000. I’m very grateful to everyone who helped us raise the money and to those who came out to play. Kudos to the entire golf committee, co-chaired by Laurie R. Beyer, MBA, CPA, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and David Brierly, Client Executive for Sodexo, as well as Jenny Coldiron, the GBMC Foundation staff, and all who volunteered at the event.

Friday, May 3, 2019

A Word of Caution in Overriding at the Electronic Drug Dispensing Cabinet

In December 2017, a nurse in a prestigious academic medical center used the “override” function in an electronic medication dispensing cabinet to get a medication to sedate a patient who was anxious about going into an MRI scanner. The nurse had been sent to the radiology suite to quickly administer a medication to calm the patient and get the study done. The nurse used “override” because the nurse did not find the medication on the patient’s profile. The nurse typed “Ve” into the search function and removed vecuronium, a paralyzing agent, from the cabinet and gave it to the patient. It was only later when the patient’s condition deteriorated in the scanner and the patient subsequently died that it was learned that vecuronium had been administered when the nurse had intended to give Versed, the trade name for midazolam, a sedative.

This is obviously a very sad case, but it was made even worse in January of this year when the nurse was indicted for murder. Following the notion of the Just Culture, punishing the nurse for this error would only be justified if his/her action was intentional or if there had been a reckless disregard for the standard procedures that other nurses in the same situation would have followed. Assuming there was no malicious intent, imagine how the nurse feels. He or she is clearly a second victim.

I don’t know all of the facts of the case, but none of the news reports suggest the nurse was trying to harm the patient. They all suggest that the nurse did not realize she had taken the wrong drug. I don’t know if another nurse in that particular hospital would have used the override in that situation, but I am concerned that in many hospitals, it would have been. Why do I believe this? Because all too often, we are concerned about speed and efficiency and we give our people the message that they need to move quickly to get the job done. We do not spend enough time coaching staff about our safety systems and making it clear with both our words and actions that safety is more important than speed. 

In the typical hospital case, there are 4 steps in the process to administer a medication to a patient (by the way, neither in my medical school education, nor during my pediatrics residency did anyone fully explain this sequence to me and the importance of all the steps). First, the licensed physician or advanced practitioner orders the medication. Next, the pharmacist checks the patient’s record for allergies and incompatibilities, as well as the dose and route of administration. He or she then verifies the order. Next, the pharmacy dispenses the medication. The drug dispensing cabinetry saves time because the drug does not need to be transported from a central location. The act of verifying the order in the computer tells the machine what to dispense. The nurse then does a final check that the patient, drug, dose, route, and time are correct and administers the drug to the patient. The drug dispensing cabinet has an override function because the manufacturer wants to allow the medication to be removed and administered quickly, if necessary, before ordering and verifying have been done.

In a true clinical emergency, time is of the essence. Think of a patient coming into the ED in full cardiac arrest. In this case, the provider running the code is giving verbal orders and other team members are getting the drugs (generally from a code cart) and administering them without the verification step. But what do you think about the case of the anxious patient? Is this truly an emergency? It is easy to see retrospectively that if the nurse had not used the override or if it was not even an option, and instead the nurse had waited for an order for Versed and its verification, this tragedy would not have happened.

At GBMC, we have some emergency medications in some drug dispensing cabinets, and therefore, we do not want to eliminate the ability to override. However, we do want to eliminate non-emergency overrides.

Our pharmacy leaders study the use of the override function at GBMC. Vaishali Khushalani, PharmD, GBMC’s Medication Safety Officer, has shared with me the insight gained by our daily medication override reviews. Most overrides that are occurring before a provider has entered the order are not for emergency medications; rather they are for acetaminophen (Tylenol), amoxicillin, and ibuprofen (Advil). In addition, there are many overrides within a minute or two of the order being entered. This does not give the pharmacist enough time to review and verify the order. The provider can order a medication “STAT” and the administering nurse can ask for a drug as “high priority.” In the month of April, there were 3,609 STAT/high priority orders and the average time to verify high priority/STAT medications was 6 minutes. There were 78,415 total medication orders in April and the average time to verify all medications was 12 minutes. While I am sure the mean performance includes some outliers, I believe that these are reasonable times to wait for the extra protection of the pharmacist verification step.

Vaishali and her colleagues are working closely with our nursing leaders to learn more about the reasons for the use of the override. They want to assure there are no significant delays in the verification of ordered medications so that we can eliminate non-emergency overrides. This ensures that patient needs are met without compromising patient and staff safety.

Our physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, and pharmacists work extremely hard to get our patients what they need. We must all work together to make our system even safer than it is today. What do you think?

Way to go, Gilchrist!

Gilchrist was recently awarded the 2019 Health Care Hero Award for “Advancements and Innovation in Health Care” by The Daily Record. This award honors organizations and individuals who have played a major role in improving the quality of healthcare in Maryland. Recognized for “its professional achievements, community involvement, and inspiring change,” Gilchrist was applauded for its innovative patient care programs, which focus on meeting the needs of the seriously ill in our community. This includes home-based elder medical care for those who have difficulty physically making it to the doctor’s office.

Congratulations to all our Gilchrist colleagues for their hard work and for getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve!

Above and Beyond…

I want to extend my appreciation and gratitude to James Wilkins, a GBMC security officer, who was instrumental in helping a patient of ours reunite with his family.

Officer Wilkins was at home when he recognized a photograph from an Endangered Missing Person alert as a GBMC patient. The patient, who suffers from dementia and other medical conditions, was unfortunately separated from his family.

When James saw the alert on Facebook, he immediately notified the Aberdeen Police Department. The police positively identified the missing man, who was eventually reunited with his grateful family.

I want to THANK Officer Wilkins for his quick thinking to ensure this patient's safety and for doing his part, outside of his place of employment, to reunite this man with his family.

GBMC Employees Helping Our Community…

It’s no secret that we have some amazing GBMC employees who freely volunteer their time and do wonderful work in the community.

I was recently made aware by David Vitberg, MD, Division Chief of Medical and Surgical Critical Care Medicine, that GBMC NICU Nurse Manager, Kristin Trawinski, and Labor & Delivery Nurse Manager, Rachel Farbman, graciously volunteered their time for a very important training session with Baltimore County Fire Department's (BCFD) EMS providers. The event was attended by both career and volunteer EMS personnel.

Two BCFD paramedics presented during the training session a case of a complicated neonatal delivery. Although neonatal resuscitation is a rare call in the EMS world, EMS providers must be prepared for these low frequency, profoundly high-acuity emergency calls as the first link in the emergency medical system.

After the presentation of the case, a roundtable conversation took place between the two EMS presenters, Kristin, Rachel, and the audience. The lecture was also live-streamed to providers around the county.

The training, according to Dr. Vitberg, who is also Deputy Medical Director for Baltimore County Fire Department, was incredibly well-received by all in attendance, and as Kristin’s and Rachel’s colleague, he was extremely grateful they joined him at this event.

Thank you, Kristin and Rachel, for being stellar representatives of our Maternal Child Health Services and of GBMC!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Orthopaedic Care that You Would Want for Your Loved Ones

GBMC recently earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

We are only the third hospital in Maryland to earn this distinction. The advanced certification is for Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers seeking to elevate the quality of their care.

We underwent a rigorous onsite review in late January 2019, when Joint Commission experts evaluated compliance with advanced disease-specific care standards and total hip and total knee replacement requirements, including orthopaedic consultation, and pre-operative, intraoperative, and post-surgical orthopaedic surgeon follow-up care.

Valid for 24 months, this advanced certification is evidence of the high standards of GBMC and our commitment to continually improve. Led by Leroy Schmidt, MD, our fabulous team of orthopaedists, advanced practitioners, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, primary care providers, and other clinicians has generated outstanding outcomes with an excellent care experience.

In the past, joint replacement surgery meant a possible hospital stay of 1 to 2 weeks with significant post-operative pain, a significant risk of infection, and a lengthy recovery. Advances in joint replacement surgery have substantially reduced post-operative pain and complication rates, enabling us to discharge most patients after an overnight stay. I am happy to report that the risk of infection has been significantly reduced. In the past six months (September 2018-February 2019), we had 117 hip surgeries with 0 infections and 222 knee surgeries with 0 infections.

Our Enhanced Recovery After Surgery program (ERAS) allows for outpatient joint replacement surgery in selected cases. And, now we’ve started the Episode of Care Improvement Program (ECIP) to further improve the care experience and reduce waste. This innovative approach allows us to better prepare the patient for surgery and to eliminate the need for inpatient rehabilitation. Members of the care team educate joint replacement candidates about medical conditions that can negatively affect the outcome of their surgery and how to better manage these pre-existing conditions. In addition, the patient's functional mobility and support system is assessed to assure that they can receive their physical therapy in their dwelling rather than in a skilled nursing facility.

In addition to Dr. Schmidt, I want to thank all the members of our Joint & Spine Program for helping us attain this major achievement, especially April Asuncion Higgins, RN, BSN, CMSRN, Joint & Spine Program Coordinator, and Joy Reynolds, RN, Nurse Manager U58, and Joint & Spine Program.

It’s Medical Laboratory Professionals Week!
This week is Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. Medical laboratory professionals play a vital role in the diagnosis of disease and are key members of our healthcare team. These colleagues work out of the limelight and don’t often get the credit they deserve. I am so proud of our lab team, which has always demonstrated excellence. We are truly blessed to have an outstanding team of pathologists, technicians, phlebotomists, and staff.

Make Sure Your Voice Is Heard!
Please complete the employee engagement survey! This is a tool to make GBMC an even better system in which to work. The April 29 deadline is quickly approaching.

The survey is administered by Press Ganey, which compiles the data for us. So far, 63% of our colleagues have responded. The survey is anonymous and confidential. If you choose to include additional comments, these will be shared with your manager, but your name will not be given.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Angela Wilson, at

Remember, we need your opinion! And thank you to those of you who have already taken the survey!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Beautiful Voices at GBMC!

This past Tuesday was World Voice Day, a day which serves as a reminder of the value and significance of vocal health in everyday life and encourages the public to act to improve or maintain good voice habits.

Last Friday, I enjoyed the second annual World Voice Day vocal showcase with special guest
performances by members of Technicolor Motor Home, a Steely Dan tribute band, in the Civiletti Conference Center!

This employee-only event, allows members of the GBMC family to display their singing talents. The concert showcased 15 incredibly talented performers, who sang songs from multiple genres. I was really impressed with the great vocal talents from across the GBMC system.

I want to congratulate Dan Sherwood, MS/CCC-SP, HSE, our clinical vocologist at the Johns Hopkins Voice Center here at GBMC and his colleagues for their hard work in putting this great event together. I’m looking forward to next year!

GBMC Is Again Represented in the Daily Record’s Top 100 Women
I am proud to announce that three members of the GBMC family were honored by The Daily Record as Top 100 Women.

Heidi Kenny-Berman, Esq., HealthCare Board of Directors member and Philanthropy Committee Chair, Elizabeth Dovec, MD, FACS, FASMBS, bariatric surgeon and Medical Director for the GBMC Comprehensive Obesity Management Program, and JoAnn Z. Ioannou, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer for GBMC Healthcare, were all honored for “outstanding achievement in professional life, community leadership, and mentoring.”

Congrats to all three of these GREAT  leaders!

Happy Holidays
On a final note, the GBMC HealthCare family sends its best wishes to everyone celebrating the start of Passover and Easter.

Friday, April 12, 2019

We are Grateful for Our Volunteers – National Volunteer Appreciation Week 2019

This week we are celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week and we are so grateful for all that our volunteers do to help us meet our mission of health, healing, and hope.

With more than 1,100 volunteers serving the hospital and Gilchrist, we have one of the largest volunteer auxiliaries in Maryland. Every day, our volunteers share their talents and spread kindness throughout our hospital. They are all accomplished members of our community and we couldn’t achieve our vision of providing to every patient, every time the care that we would want for our own loved ones without them. 

Over the last 50-plus years, our volunteers have donated approximately four MILLION hours of service and raised more than 25 million dollars to support patient care at GBMC!

So please, when you meet a GBMC or Gilchrist volunteer this week please take the time to say, “thank you” for all they do.

Donate Life Month

April is Donate Life Month, which brings awareness to the need for organ and tissue donors and honors those who have already donated. Earlier this month, I was privileged to be part of a very special ceremony at GBMC. We and The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland held a flag raising ceremony to honor the memory of donors as we celebrated their gifts of life to others.

Today is the National Donate Life Month Blue and Green Day. The goal is to bring awareness to the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through their donations. I hope that you all wore blue and green!

Every ten minutes, a person in the United States is added to the national organ donation waiting list, which has approximately 114,000 people on it. One person’s donation can make a huge difference for the people on this list. A single tissue donor has the potential to improve the lives of 50 people and one organ donor can save up to eight lives!

Please remember that you have the power to save lives. April is the perfect time to register as a donor if you haven’t already. Those wishing to register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor can do so at the MVA or at

Helping our SAFE & DV program…
I want to thank everyone who participated in our fourth annual “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event. We had close to 500 participants and we raised more than $90,000 for our Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) and Domestic Violence (DV) program! Last Saturday, under beautiful sunny skies, participants walked a mile around GBMC’s campus to shed light on and show support for an extremely important issue for women and men of all ages. Click on the image (left) to watch a video summary of our event.

Registered nurses in GBMC’s SAFE program are specifically trained and certified by the Maryland Board of Nursing to provide care for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence of all ages in a confidential, non-judgmental atmosphere. At no cost to the patient, these nurses focus on empowering survivors to begin the healing process, in addition to working toward ending sexual assault and intimate partner violence in the community.

This year, our team decided to change the name of the event to “Walk A Mile in Their Shoes” to reflect that our healthcare system, and our SAFE and DV program, treats patients of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. When MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center’s pediatric program closed last year, GBMC immediately decided to create a child abuse team to fill the gap in services for children. It was the right thing to do. We couldn’t walk away from the need to care for and protect the most vulnerable segment of our population…children.

Prevention is key to putting an end to sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Our SAFE team has worked hard to expand across our healthcare system and into the community, and our primary care and emergency department teams have been trained on the signs of abuse and the steps to take when they see red flags.

The success of this year’s event would not be possible without the support of our generous sponsors, donors, and walkers. I was really impressed to see many of the football players from Stevenson University came out to support our program.

We understand the necessity of our Walk a Mile event and I am proud that GBMC continues to be a leader in helping the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and in educating the community to reduce these attacks. I want to thank Dr. Fred Chan and Bonnie Stein and our committee members, along with the GBMC Philanthropy Department, Marketing Department, our Volunteer Auxiliary, and all parties, who worked together to make this year’s event another success!

We want to hear from our employees…
Every year, we ask our people to complete our Employee Engagement Survey. This year, the theme is Let's Get Better Together, and our goal is to have 80% (or more!) participation.

We need to know what you think to make the GBMC HealthCare system an even better place to work. We know we have the best employees at GBMC, Gilchrist, and GBMC Health Partners and we can't wait to hear your feedback!

Earlier this week, you should have received the survey link in your employee email. The survey is open through Monday, April 29, and it will only take a few minutes to complete. I ask that all our employees complete the survey. Please respond honestly, as the survey is completely CONFIDENTIAL. If you include additional comments, these will be shared with your manager, but your name will not be given.

Thank you for helping us make GBMC an even better employer. If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Angela Wilson,

Thank you so much for taking the survey.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Walking with a Purpose

The numbers tell the story. One in three women and one in six men in the United States have experienced sexual violence in her or his lifetime. These are not just numbers, though. They are real people – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, spouses, friends – whose lives are forever impacted. For this reason, our Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) and Domestic Violence (DV) Program is expanding to care for more survivors, including a growing number of children.

I am writing about this in the blog this week to ask that you consider participating tomorrow and register NOW for the Walk a Mile in Their Shoes event! Online registration closes at 2 p.m. TODAY, but in-person registration WILL BE AVAILABLE tomorrow prior to the start of our event.

Learn more about the program by clicking the image below and watching Valerie Weir, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, CMSRN, SAFE & DV Program Coordinator, discuss how to stop teen dating violence and sexual assault on BMORE Lifestyle.
Valier Weir Discusses Sexual Assault
Please click here to register before 2 p.m. today! I hope to see many of you walking with a purpose tomorrow!

Remembering Those Who Served
Last Saturday, Gilchrist held its second annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration honoring the brave men and women who served during the Vietnam War. Hundreds of Vietnam War Veterans attended the event, which provided a day of healing for them and their families. It also gave others in attendance the opportunity to thank those who served and give them the welcome home that they deserve.

Gilchrist is proud to honor and support those who have served in the United States Armed Forces and has honored thousands through their salute to service and pinning ceremonies. Over 10 percent of Gilchrist’s hospice patients are veterans. Gilchrist’s Welcome Home celebration honors the veterans in their care and in the community, recognizes the unique needs of these veterans, and thanks them for their sacrifice and service to our country.

In addition to Vietnam War Veterans, the Welcome Home Celebration had several extraordinary Iraq War veteran speakers who shared their messages of hope and healing. Captain George G. Forrest, a community hero who saved many of his soldiers’ lives when he served in Vietnam, was the emcee. Other speakers included: Cathy Y. Hamel, MA, President of Gilchrist, Lt. Diane Carlson Evans, USA-Army Nurse in Vietnam, Founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project, and the first woman in U.S. history to spearhead a campaign to place a national monument in Washington, D.C.; Senator John Astle, USMC-Marine, Vietnam veteran and sponsor of state legislation, and Governor Larry Hogan who signed a bill in 2015 that established March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in Maryland.

Congrats to Gilchrist for hosting this great event and thank you to all those in attendance for your service!

Let’s Go O’s!
Yesterday was opening day at Orioles Park at Camden Yards and I was graciously invited to the Oncology Services Opening Day Luncheon Celebration, which has become a wonderful annual event that brings joy to our oncology team and their patients. The food (hot dogs, mac and cheese, pretzels, salads, etc.) was delicious and I really enjoyed the singing of our National Anthem by Rocelle Feria, RN!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Connecting the Addicted to Treatment

GBMC has just completed its first year of the SBIRT program. SBIRT, which stands for Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment, is as an evidence-based, comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention for individuals with risky alcohol or drug use, and the timely referral to more intensive substance abuse treatment for those who need it.

Over the last year, we have screened every adult who has come through our Emergency Department (ED) for addiction. If they screened positive, we have offered them a brief interview with a peer recovery coach; someone who has had an addiction and is in recovery. The peer recovery coach provides non-clinical services intended to aid patients with getting into treatment. The coaches work as part of the ED team to provide education about the risks of the unhealthy behavior and, if indicated, help the patient get to a recovery program with a warm handoff.
GBMC was asked by The Maryland Department of Health to participate because screening helps to identify those at-risk individuals who have not previously sought substance abuse services. Research has shown that a brief intervention helps some people change their behavior around substance use, even when they are not thinking about changing. Please join me in thanking our peer recovery coaches:

Daron (Ron) Brodie – Community Outreach Peer Recovery Coach
Latanya (Tanya) Hill- Peer Recovery Coach (PRC)
Jessica Pieper- Peer Recovery Coach (PRC)

Thanks to Our Physicians!
Today is National Doctors’ Day, when we reflect on the hard work of our physicians and thank them for their dedication.

To celebrate Doctors' Day at GBMC, we had breakfast earlier this morning and those physicians in attendance could visit several wellness stations. This afternoon, we are holding an ice cream social in the physicians’ lounge as another way to show our appreciation for their tireless efforts.

So, as we celebrate National Doctors’ Day, please join me in thanking our physicians for all that they do to drive us closer to our vision: To every patient, every time, we will provide the care that we would want for our own loved ones.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Improving Our Emergency Department

GBMC has an outstanding Emergency Department and the community knows this. While the region is seeing about the same number of ED visits as last year, our ED visits have increased by 10%! This is because people know the quality of our care and that we are working to become the healthcare system where every patient gets the care we want for our own loved ones. Emergency Medical Technicians and ambulance drivers know that we are welcoming to them and that we are actively working to improve our efficiency every day.

We also know that we need to make changes to our physical plant. From all the sounds coming from our Emergency Department concourse, you can tell that there are renovations taking place. We started this work a few weeks ago.

The changes are designed to reduce delays in admitting patients by improving flow. Stacey McGreevy, our Vice President of Support Services, Russ Sadler, our Manager of Capital Resources and their teams have been working hard to make the transition as easy as possible for our patients and employees.

The Emergency Department Entrance renovation will allow for wider hallways, greater patient privacy, a re-designed registration area, and improvements to overall workflow to provide better patient through-put during the registration process. By relocating the main registration desk, creating more efficient triage rooms, and adding a secondary waiting area for triage and registration, we will be better able to register patients without having long lines resulting in cramped hallways. The design team included physicians, nurses, and registrars.

I want to thank everyone involved with these renovations as well as our patients and employees for their patience while we improve.  The target date for completion of the project is June 30, 2019.

March is National Professional Social Work month and I want to extend my appreciation to our fabulous GBMC social workers.  I am always amazed by the resourcefulness and fortitude of this group. Our social workers deal daily with the many challenges that come with the social determinants of health and without them, our system would come to a near standstill.
They have helped GBMC attain low readmission rates and have designed a system that assures that our patients with advanced illness receive the continued support they need after they leave our hospital. Please take the time to say, “thank you” for all they do!

P.S. March 29 is Doctors’ Day – do you have a physician you’d like to honor or recognize for exceptional care? If so, please go to

Friday, March 15, 2019

Celebrating Patient Safety Awareness Week

This week is Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 10-16).  This annual recognition is meant to urge the public to learn more about healthcare safety and for hospitals to share their work on patient safety and safety culture. The goal is for healthcare systems to improve patient safety while developing lasting partnerships among staff, patients, and the community.

Safety is at the core of our vision. We owe it to our patients to keep them free from harm when they are in our care. We have come so far in eliminating error, but we still have so much to do.

We have worked hard to create a just culture, in which we begin from the premise that humans will make mistakes and they should not be punished unless they are consciously violating safe practices. We console those who make an error and we coach those who drift away from safe practices. We build systems to catch human error so that the mistake doesn’t reach the patient. A good example of this is scanning all medications to make sure that the drug has been ordered by a provider and verified by a pharmacist to prevent giving a patient the wrong medicine.

We are delighted to work in partnership with our patients. Patients and family members play an important role in preventing harm. At GBMC, we educate patients on their disease processes, we teach them about their medications, and we encourage them to ask questions. An informed patient, who is comfortable speaking up, is less likely to experience harm.

Here are some facts that the GBMC family can be proud of:
--We were one of only eight hospitals in Maryland to receive an ‘A’ in The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Grades in 2018. These grades measure how well hospitals protect patients from harm.
--We’ve only had ONE surgical site infection for hip and knee replacement surgeries since January 2016. Prior to that, we had averaged approximately one surgical site infection per month.
--Unit 36 and Unit 58 have been Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI)-free for over four years.
--Unit 45 has not had a Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI) since 2012 and Unit 35 has been CAUTI-free since 2013.

These results did not happen by chance. We put evidence-based standard work in place to prevent these episodes and we hold ourselves accountable to follow the standard work. Whether staff members have direct or indirect contact with patients, everyone plays an important role in preventing harm. I want to thank all our GBMC physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, and everyone in our system for their tireless efforts as we work towards zero harm.

Come Out and Walk for A Great Cause!
Did you know that one in three women and one in six men in the U.S. have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime? To raise awareness on this very important issue, we are holding our annual Walk a Mile in Their Shoes event during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

This powerful event, which takes place on Saturday, April 6, is hosted by the GBMC Foundation and presented by the GBMC Volunteer Auxiliary. It’s a great opportunity to educate the community about sexual assault and domestic violence. Participants will walk one mile around GBMC’s campus to shed light on this extremely important issue.

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes, which financially supports our SAFE and Domestic Violence Program, has continued to grow over the past four years. We are proud of the impact that this program is having, and we are grateful for all the community support that allows GBMC to provide these necessary services across the region.

I want all of you to consider walking with us and/or financially supporting the event. For more information, please visit:

Advanced Practitioners Week
This year GBMC is celebrating advanced practitioners in a very unique way. The theme of the week was “The Resilient Practitioner: Wellness and self-care for those who care for others.” The theme was inspired by the book, “The Resilient Practitioner: Burnout and Compassion, Fatigue Prevention and Self-Care Strategies for the Helping Professions.” The week-included a variety of wellness and resilience-based activities such as: flower arranging, pet therapy, yoga, eating cupcakes, and making essential oil sprays. Today, we ended with a ceremony to honor advanced practitioners who exceed expectations in skill and professionalism. GBMC is the home to more than 150 advanced practitioners who apply their skill and hard work every day to move us closer to our vision. Happy Advanced Practitioner Week!