Friday, January 27, 2023

Dealing with the financial realities of today

Healthcare organizations locally and nationally have been experiencing hardships since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic brought with it financial challenges that have persisted through today and have been amplified by an uncertain economy.

Unfortunately, the GBMC HealthCare system is not immune to these challenges. Like our peers, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the cost of labor and certain contracts and are greatly impacted by inflationary increases to the prices of critical supplies and services.

While our healthcare system has a strong foundation of financial assets and tremendous community support, we are operating in an unexpectedly higher-cost business climate and we must take actions to remain successful in this new environment. 

We have initiated many efforts aimed at reducing expenses and increasing revenue. In addition to these ongoing efforts, we announced a new Labor Expense Optimization Plan this week that will allow GBMC HealthCare to once again be profitable by January 1, 2024, at the latest. 

Some key elements of this plan include:

Aggressively recruiting nurses to ensure we have enough employed nursing staff and rely less on agency nursing support

Scrutinizing open positions and redesigning workflows for efficiency and cost reduction

Implementing a Voluntary Severance Plan (VSP) that enables a certain number of eligible employees in designated administrative and operational roles to volunteer for separation, while receiving a severance package to support their employment transition

If employees have questions regarding our Labor Expense Optimization Plan overall, they should follow their chain of command. 

I want to reassure you that we will overcome this challenge! Our board of directors and I are committed to ensuring GBMC HealthCare remains independent. We have held strong for nearly 58 years, and we’ll continue to do so. I am thankful for our incredible leaders, staff, and volunteers for standing united with us through difficult times. I’m also eternally grateful to our generous donors who believe so strongly in us that they help in every way they can.  

Through all of this, please know our promise to the community doesn’t change. We will continue to hold steadfast to our vision of providing every patient, every time with the care we would want for our own loved ones.

Friday, January 20, 2023

How Far We Have Come

The word "progress," by definition, means "forward or onward movement toward a destination." Over the years, LMS (and its predecessor LDM) has provided members of our leadership team various opportunities to see and applaud the work of our clinical and non-clinical staff in improving our healthcare system.  

For us to achieve our vision, leaders must have a curiosity about how things are actually working and to create the capability to learn from defects. 

Let me highlight the great work of our Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. They already function at high reliability, but nearly perfect is not good enough for them.   

Our laboratory is comprised of two specialized areas of testing: the Anatomic Pathology Laboratory and the Clinical Laboratory. Often, specimens are received by Specimen Receiving/Processing that require testing from multiple areas of the Laboratory. These specimens are considered “shared specimens.” An example of a shared specimen might be a cerebral spinal fluid requiring a cell count and differential (Clinical Laboratory - Hematology) and cytology studies (Anatomic Pathology Laboratory - Cytology). 

When the Laboratory was considering a project for LMS, one opportunity for improvement was the process of how these specimens are shared between departments. During calendar year 2021, the Laboratory documented 18 instances, out of thousands (a very highly reliable process indeed!), when one or more laboratory sections required additional time locating misplaced specimens. Worse, if the process wasn’t improved, an irreplaceable specimen could be misplaced, resulting in a poor outcome or delay in patient care.

Over the course of 2022, our lab staff implemented several process changes including:

  • Creating an over-arching shared specimen procedure to instruct all areas of the Laboratory on exactly how to handle such specimens.
  • Improving an outdated specimen routing sheet to include the exact types of specimen containers received and, if applicable, the volume of specimen received.
  • Improving the handling of shared specimens in the Clinical Laboratory areas to document exactly who received the specimens and at what time
  • Organizing and providing visual cues at refrigerators that store specimens to instruct staff exactly where to place specimens after testing
  • Improving handoff systems between the Anatomic Pathology Laboratory and the Clinical Laboratory

The result of these process improvements was a decrease from 18 delays during 2021 to only 3 in 2022. However, the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine continues to scrutinize workflows by employing process confirmations to reach a goal of zero shared specimen delays. By utilizing improved systems, including high level mistake proofing tools such as the routing sheet, organized and clearly labeled storage areas and visual cues, the laboratory has realized an 83% improvement, punctuating the success of the Lean Management System.

How far we have come when our colleagues exhibit the knowledge on the levels of mistake proofing and our understanding of engineering the science of patient safety and eliminating errors and, in turn, improve patient care!  

Sean Jones
Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This past Tuesday, we hosted our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, which commemorated Dr. King’s life and vision. This year’s program, titled "Why We Can’t Wait," featured jazz trumpeter and composer extraordinaire Sean Jones, Professor and Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute, along with live music from our very own Tiffany White, patient services assistant. 

After Jones’ speech, we presented the Spirit of King Award, which recognizes an individual who embodies the spirit and life's work of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and who is dedicated to serving their local community. The winner of this year’s Spirit of King award was one of our volunteers, Pat King. Please join me in congratulating him and all the nominees!

I am grateful to Lisa Walker, our Chief Diversity and Learning Officer, and my colleagues on the Diversity and Inclusion Planning Committee for their hard work on this magnificent event!

Friday, January 13, 2023

GBMC is Recognized as a Great Workplace for Diversity

The GBMC vision is to be the community-based true system of care that delivers to every patient, every time, the care we would want for our own loved ones. To achieve this, we know that our workforce must represent the community we serve and that all our people must feel included and valued as members of our team.  

With this in mind, I am happy to announce that GBMC was recently named to Newsweek’s list of America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity 2023 as one of the top 1,000 companies in the United States. We still have a lot of work to do to maximize the benefit of our diversity and to assure that everyone feels included, but this recognition shows that we are on the right path.

GBMC was among the top companies whose employees said truly value a diverse workforce. Newsweek partnered with Plant-A Insights, a provider of market research, to carry out an independent study of companies identified to excel in diversity and inclusion efforts. The company then evaluated over 350,000 company reviews across six economic sectors and 36 industries to gather further knowledge. Through an unbiased, independent, and anonymous review, companies were ranked in the 2023 list.

I am grateful that the ratings of our people put us among the best, but we still have a lot of work to do. We are led in these efforts by Lisa Walker, our Chief Diversity & Learning Officer, and her team, who have done a fabulous job in a very brief period to accelerate our efforts. I am also grateful to all my colleagues on the Diversity and Inclusion Council for their work in helping us build a people-centered culture where differences are respected and all employees from diverse backgrounds can thrive personally and professionally.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Working Together to Recognize and Eliminate the Waste of Waiting

The former prime minister of the United Kingdom, Benjamin Disraeli, once said, “Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” We have become fairly adept within the GBMC HealthCare system at testing change and implementing what is shown to be an improvement. But when we are in times of challenge, a legitimate question is: “Could we move faster in implementing improvement?”

Recently on LMS rounds, a leader articulated that she was trying to test a change that would reduce a significant amount of wasted effort (over processing) within her department, but it required meeting with another department to enroll their leader in the change. She was told that the other leader could not meet for three weeks.

I must acknowledge that I believe that all our leaders are working very hard and prioritizing their work can be a challenge. However, when one of our colleagues makes a request for assistance in getting rid of waste, as leaders we should do what we can to help expeditiously and be fearful of waiting. We must work to reduce our time to action when we have identified an improvement. 

Our mission at GBMC HealthCare is to provide health, healing, and hope to all we serve in the community. It is our privilege to serve others, and it is our vision to provide the best health outcomes and care experience with the least waste of resources and the most joy for those providing the care. Leaders should always work to reduce waiting if it is slowing down our progression toward our vision.

Thank you to the Kroh Center

Yesterday, I had a screening colonoscopy at GBMC. My experience from start to finish of the procedure could not have been better (and the screening was negative). Before I left the Kroh Center, the attending anesthesiologist returned to say to me that he did not know that I was the President of GBMC. I want to thank Dr. Niraj Jani, the Medical Director of the Kroh Center and Roel Tiberio, the Nurse Manager of the Kroh Center and all their team for their dedication to evidence-based care and patient safety.  

Thursday, December 29, 2022

A Challenging Year coming to a Close

As 2022 ends, I would like to thank all my GBMC colleagues for everything you have done as the pandemic waxed and waned, and as we dealt with workforce shortages and financial challenges. You never lost sight of our vision phrase and always stepped up to provide the care we want for our own loved ones to every patient, every time. 

Additionally, I want to thank our community for coming back to GBMC for care as the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 has been reduced, thanks in large part to people getting immunized. Our Emergency Department sustained volumes that have been the highest in our history while other local hospitals have seen reductions. 
Thank you for trusting us with your care. It is an honor to serve you.

Even though we experienced challenges in 2022, we accomplished a lot as well. Let’s reflect on a few of them:
--Readers of Baltimore STYLE magazine named GBMC “Best ER/Hospital” and “Best Vein Clinic”
--Our Primary Stroke Center was re-certified by the Joint Commission
--81 members of our medical staff across 40 specialties were named a “Top Doc” by Baltimore magazine 
--GBMC was recognized by the readers of The Daily Record as the Best Hospital in Maryland
--GBMC HealthCare was noted as a Top Health System to Work For by Forbes. A total of 262 hospitals and health systems were included and GBMC HealthCare was among Maryland’s top three!
--Baltimore's Child magazine "Reader's Choice" poll recognized GBMC HealthCare as Best ER for Kids,” “Best Pediatric Vision Care,” and “Best Place to Deliver a Baby.” GBMC was also named runner-up for Best Pediatric Hospital
--GBMC was recognized as one of America’s Best Maternity Hospitals 2022 by Newsweek
--We were awarded the Joint Commission Advanced Certification in Perinatal Care
--GBMC was recognized on the 2022 Honor Roll for the Executive Alliance - A Catalyst for Women Leaders in Maryland
--GBMC was named “Best ER/Hospital” and “Best Vein Clinic” in Baltimore Jewish Times list of “Best of Jewish Baltimore”
--Six of our nursing colleagues were recognized as winners in Baltimore magazine’s 2022 Excellence in Nursing! 
--GBMC HealthCare was recognized by healthcare supply chain leader Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) as a “Best 50” healthcare provider

This short list recognizes only a few accomplishments. What others shall we celebrate? Please share your thoughts.

I would like to again offer my heartfelt thanks to our doctors, nurses, other clinicians, and support staff, for your hard work on the frontlines and for your courage, strength, generosity, and perseverance. 

Let me say again that it is an absolute honor and pleasure to work alongside you, and I look forward to overcoming the financial challenges that face us and gaining from the opportunities that await us in the year ahead to continue our work toward our vision of being the true community-based system of care that can deliver to everyone the care that we want for our own loved ones

Wishing you peace, good health, and happiness in the New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Happy Holidays and Thank you!!

The holiday season is a great time to reflect on our accomplishments and our on-going challenges. 2022 has seen the GBMC HealthCare System rise to the occasion once again in serving our community with health, healing, and hope. Workforce shortages and the upward inflationary spiral of the cost of almost every input to the delivery of healthcare have placed significant stress on our system, but we continue to work on the promise of our vision to be the community-based system of care that can deliver to every patient, every time, the care that we would want for our own loved ones. 

Our clinicians, support staff and volunteers have led us through the toughest of times, and I am grateful to them. Their dedication and hard work in taking care of our patients is remarkable. I wish you all a peaceful and joyful holiday season. 

To the patients and their families who put their trust in us every day – thank you for making GBMC your healthcare partner. 

To our donors for their generosity – thank you for the countless initiatives you have funded and for believing that our region deserves specialized services and state-of-the-art technology even when health insurance resources are not there to cover it. 

Together, once again, we have advanced the quality of healthcare in our community, and we are excited to do even more in 2023 to further the health and wellness of our neighbors.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and a prosperous 2023!

Paul Celano, MD, FACP, FASCO, The Herman and Walter Samuelson Medical Director of the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, was recently appointed to the Maryland State Council on Cancer Control. The Council is a 25-member body appointed by the Governor that works to educate and advise government officials, public and private organizations, and the general public concerning policies, programs and innovations to reduce the incidence and mortality of cancer in Maryland.

Way to go, Dr. Celano!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Working to Attract Nurses to Our Team

Nurses are the backbone of a hospital. We are blessed at GBMC with an outstanding nursing staff. Like all other hospitals, however, we are having a difficult time having enough nurses to get the job done. We were already entering a shortage before the pandemic and COVID-19 only made it worse. The shortage has triggered a “call to the market” as salaries have gone up, and it will only be a matter of time before the supply of nurses catches up to the demand for them.

But what can we do in the meantime? We need to work to make GBMC the best place for a nurse to work so we can keep the nurses we have and attract nurses from other organizations. 

Every two weeks, I spend an hour welcoming our new people at employee orientation. My task at orientation is to begin to enroll our new colleagues in our vision. I was so pleased to see so many nurses at this week’s orientation.  

Our new Chief Nursing Officer, Angie Feurer, MSN, RN, NEA-BC; has been working with our Chief Human Resources Officer, Anna-Maria Palmer; and our Vice President of Marketing and Philanthropy, Jenny Coldiron; and their teams on creative ways to increase our nursing workforce. They have created a campaign titled “Discover the GBMC Difference” as a way to highlight the uniqueness of GBMC HealthCare. The photo (left) gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the recent recording of television spots that will start to air early next month. We also will distribute this message through various social media avenues, like Facebook and LinkedIn, and our employees can help us by sharing these posts with their social networks.

Also, we have restructured our supplemental positions so that nurses will be paid more according to their years of experience and will get increased rates for committing to work more supplemental shifts. This is allowing us to invest in our own nurses to take care of our patients rather than relying on agency nurses.  

In addition, we are rewarding our employees for assisting with our recruiting efforts . Employees can receive a $5,000 bonus for referring a full-time hospital bedside nurse who is hired at GBMC, and they can receive $2,500 for a part-time bedside nurse. At Gilchrist, we are offering a $2,000 referral bonus for day-shift nurses and a $4,000 referral bonus for night-shift nurses. Human Resources continues to attend career fairs at all area colleges and universities that train nurses. 

We are committed to ensuring that all GBMC nurses are compensated fairly. We offer many benefits to our nurses, including nursing scholarships, a loan repayment program, tuition prepayment for continuing education, and a last semester repayment program. GBMC has adopted a professional excellence model that allows nurses to learn and grow within their specialty and allows them to focus their interests on one of three tracks: quality and safety, education, or administration. 

Our healthcare system benefits from a talented and engaged nursing workforce, and we will continue to do whatever we can to attract and retain our nurses.