Friday, February 23, 2024

Another Fantastic Black History Month Celebration

The GBMC Black History Month celebration continues! Last week, I shared that the Black Alliance
Employee Resource Group had been hosting activities and education throughout the month. This week, the group invited Naomi Mooney – a talented young pianist – to play classical and current tunes in a special live piano performance. 

Then, on Wednesday, they held the annual Black History Month celebration, which I – as well as so many across the organization – look forward to each year. Those in attendance enjoyed great food (as usual!) as well as enlightening entertainment including the vocal talents of the Owings Mills High School Concert Choir; intriguing spoken word poetry honoring the legacy of Henrietta Lacks by David Ross, Co-Founder of the 5th L; employee spotlight features on esteemed colleagues Bowler Lewis, Facilities Project Associate, and Ericka Easley, Primary Care Service Line Administrator; and a thought-provoking keynote address from our very own chair of the Department of Medicine Dr. Melvin Blanchard, who spoke eloquently about black pioneers in medicine.

In case you missed it, we will be posting a link to the recording on the Infoweb. Thank you to everyone who came together to put on this fabulous event for our staff! 

A Necessary Program for Our Community 

Recently, our team from the Randolph B. Capone Cleft Lip and Palate Program hosted its annual pizza party for patients and families. This growing event has been a tradition at GBMC for many years and provides patient families the opportunity to connect with each other, make new friends, and see their medical providers in a more comfortable, casual environment. Cleft lip and palate programs are not typically available in a community hospital setting. We are fortunate at GBMC to be able to offer this critical service to those who need it. I’m grateful to our cleft lip and palate team, under the leadership of Stephanie Boblooch, clinical program manager, and co-medical directors Drs. Antonie Klein, Patrick Byrne, John Caccamese, for the necessary services they provide. 

Click here to learn more about the program. 

Thank a Resident Day 

The Gold Humanism Honor Society has designated February 23 as “Thank a Resident Day.” Although my days as a pediatrics resident have long passed, I distinctly remember the challenging hours, responsibilities, and stress associated with post-graduate training. However, residency is a key component of medical training, and our residents are an integral part of our healthcare team. I am grateful for their dedication and am happy that GBMC gets to guide them during part of their career journeys. Be sure to take a moment to thank a resident today! 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Highlighting Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

I often talk about the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts within our health system, and today, I’d like to highlight some of the work in this realm that is being carried out by our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs are key to creating an inclusive culture that helps to foster a sense of belonging. These employee-led groups help to build community and provide a safe space for colleagues to network, advocate for what matters, and provide feedback for key business solutions. 
Our Black Alliance ERG has been hard at work with engaging activities for Black History Month, including trivia (pictured above), virtual listening parties featuring African American musicians, a live piano performance, weekly historical facts, and its annual Black History Month Event, which we look forward to each year. Stay tuned to the blog next week for a recap of this year’s event. 

Just last month, the Black Alliance ERG hosted a wonderful Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemoration with guest speaker Chrissy Thornton, President of the Associated Black Charities. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to offer her a tour of our new Louis and Phyllis Friedman Building this week! 

On Wednesday, our Greater Pride ERG hosted a Valentine’s Day Social (pictured below) to bring staff together for fun activities, crafts, and camaraderie. Attendees also had the opportunity to decorate hearts to add to a garland to share that we are proud of who we are at GBMC. 

Next month, we’re looking forward to all the activities being hosted by our Women Leadership Alliance ERG in honor of Women’s History Month. There will be great learning and networking opportunities as well as the chance to recognize our very own women of GBMC HealthCare during this year’s Women of Impact Awards. 

Although our ERGs are often known for the fun events they host, they are important reminders of our work culture, which fosters the sense of belonging and inclusivity that defines them. We look forward to developing even more ERGs in the future and welcome additional employees to join the three existing ERGs I highlighted above. If you are a GBMC HealthCare employee and are interested in joining an ERG, I highly encourage you to reach out to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team by emailing

National Phlebotomists Recognition Week 
National Phlebotomists Recognition Week is February 12-16. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the phlebotomists for the vital role they play in maintaining patient health and promoting lab efficiency and effectiveness. Please join me in sharing gratitude for their critical role within our healthcare system. 

Friday, February 9, 2024

Witnessing the Impressive Work of our General Surgery Team

At GBMC, we are extremely fortunate to have a strong and long-standing general surgery practice known as Finney Trimble Surgical Associates. The senior members include John “Jack” Flowers, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, President of GBMC Health Partners; Laurence Ross, MD; Francis Rotolo, MD, Division Head - General Surgery; and Joel Turner, MD, Chair - Department of Surgery. They are all outstanding surgeons and they have grown the practice and paved the way for success and positive patient outcomes throughout the years. Our next generation of general surgeons – Beatriz Briones, MD; Shauna Costinett, MD; Timothee Friesen, MD, Medical Director - GBMC Comprehensive Obesity Management Program, Director - Obesity Medicine Program; SaAda Seidu, MD; and Emily Watters, MD – continue to reshape the program to keep us at the forefront of surgical care for years to come. 

Last week, Emily invited me to observe a surgery that utilized GBMC’s brand-new robot, which we procured thanks to lead funding from the Kahlert Foundation and the Presbyterian Board of Governors, with additional support from individual grateful patients and advocacy of Chesapeake Urology surgeons Ronald Tutrone, MD, and David Goldstein, MD.  

To say I was impressed during my visit would be an understatement! I am used to hearing that our surgical team does fabulous work but seeing them in action took my understanding of their expertise to the next level. 

Every step of the case was expertly choreographed – from the presurgical time-out, when the team huddled to discuss the procedure and ensure patient safety, to the very end. It is the skill, attention to detail, and compassion of our team that makes our program stand out. I am happy that this incredible team now has more modern equipment to assist them in safely and seamlessly executing their work. The new robot is an impressive technology that juxtaposes my experience as a medical student – when I was helping to hold retractors during surgery but not able to see much. The robot is equipped with a console for the surgeon and the learner (which, in this case, was me), and the 3-D visualization was remarkable. Emily and her team demonstrated their skill and teamwork and were very kind in educating me along the way. 

Thank you to all involved in the procedure for delivering exceptional care to the patient and for teaching me more about the Robotics OR – Emily, Bing Wang, PA-C, first assist; Eliana Daniel, scrub tech; Heather Schmitt, RN, and Jennifer Gall, RN, circulators; and anesthesia staff Sanjay Trivedi, MD, and Ian Mores, CRNA. 

As I discuss our general surgery program, it seems fitting that February 4-10 is Perianesthesia Nurse Awareness Week! Thank you to our nurses working in pre-anesthesia and post-anesthesia care, ambulatory surgery, and pain management for caring for patients and their families. 

Friday, February 2, 2024

Sharing Our Work and Feedback with CMS

Earlier this week, we had the privilege of hosting several members of the iQuality Improvement and Innovation Group (iQIIG) in the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ) at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

Thank you to Anita Monteiro, Group Director; Paul Rosen, M.D., Medical Officer; and Scott Lawrence, D.C., Senior Policy Advisor, for taking time to talk with our staff and better understand our health system. During this visit, they were particularly interested in learning about challenges our staff face with supply chain, revenue cycle, and drug shortages.  

Our visitors joined us for our Lean Management System (LMS) rounds and shared their appreciation for our vision of whole system quality improvement. We accompanied them to our Maternal Newborn Health (MNH) Department so they could learn about the great work our MNH team is doing to reduce maternal morbidity and ensure equitable care, regardless of race

I always appreciate visits like these because they not only give us an opportunity to showcase our hard work, but they also give us a chance to have a voice in reshaping and improving healthcare delivery in our country. 

Reminder: Our New Berman Garage is OPEN! 

I know I mentioned this last week, but I’m so excited to have additional parking options that I want to
say it again – the brand-new Berman Garage is now open, adding ~400 more parking spaces to campus. Patients and visitors are welcome to park in the new garage regardless of where they’re heading on campus, but it likely offers the most convenience to those visiting the new Louis and Phyllis Friedman Building, Main Hospital, Physicians Pavilion West and radiation oncology. It is also an alternative for patients with appointments in Physicians Pavilion East if Iris Garage is nearing capacity. 

I’d also like to remind staff that, at this time, the Berman Garage is for patients and visitors only. Please continue to follow the employee parking policy and your regular parking assignments to ensure our patients and visitors have ample parking options. 

National Women Physicians Day 

National Women Physicians Day is February 3! I just wanted to take a moment to share my gratitude for all the women physicians on GBMC HealthCare’s medical staff.  

Friday, January 26, 2024

Enhancing the Experience of Our Workforce Family

There’s been a lot of work going on to make GBMC HealthCare a top employer in Baltimore. Thanks to the incredible work of our leaders, employee turnover rates are decreasing, we are using far fewer agency nurses as we have more nurses on-staff as part of the GBMC HealthCare family, and our employee engagement scores have risen year-over-year. 

One way we are continuing to improve our employees' experiences is by implementing Workday. This enterprise resource planning (ERP) software brings together many business programs that have historically functioned within separate systems. With Workday, we will manage and streamline various aspects of day-to-day business activities, such as human resources, finance, payroll, and supply chain. 

For our staff, this means that rather than going to multiple different systems to view their paystubs or complete common tasks such as performance reviews or required learnings, they can easily access within one system. Gone are the days of needing to remember multiple passwords for multiple platforms. 

Workday is just one example of the many ways we are investing in enhancing employee experience. We are excited that we’re rapidly approaching our launch date of February 1. As a reminder, I encourage all staff to stay up to date with their emails, as we are sending many communications with helpful tips and action steps to prepare for Workday. I’d like to thank Robert Schmollinger, Internal Audit Director, for his leadership of the implementation, as well as the multidisciplinary teams within HR, finance, payroll, and supply chain for the very detailed planning and effort taken to make this complex improvement possible. 

Our New Garage Is Opening! 

We’ve officially passed our inspections, and I’m excited to announce that the brand new ~400 space Berman garage is opening for patients and visitors on Tuesday, January 30 at 7 a.m.! This is a long-awaited enhancement to campus that will help alleviate many of our recent parking challenges. 

Let’s Go Ravens! 

It’s an exciting time for our Baltimore Ravens! Let’s go Ravens this weekend as they take on the Chiefs for the AFC Championship. And for all those Taylor Swift fans out there, I hope you get a sighting of Taylor watching from the stands too! 

Friday, January 19, 2024

Honoring the Legacy of the Late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last Friday, we had the opportunity to come together to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

This year’s theme was “Remembering the Dream, Creating Equity for the Generations to Come,” and
we had the pleasure of hosting guest speaker Chrissy M. Thornton, President and CEO of Associated Black Charities. Mrs. Thornton gave a wonderful and thought-provoking talk that contrasted equity versus equality. To sum up the difference, equality means everyone gets the same thing, while equity means everyone gets what they need to be successful, addressing individual differences and promoting fairness. 

We recognize the importance of equity at GBMC HealthCare – one notable example (which I know I’ve discussed many times recently) is our work in Jonestown. We didn’t just physically put a primary care practice in an underserved part of Baltimore City and then say our work was done. Instead, we also looked at social determinants of health and barriers to accessing care at that practice. We worked with local partners to get patients to and from appointments, get healthy groceries, critical medications like insulin, and more. We are providing the additional resources needed to address individual needs and ensure true health equity. It is this approach to equitable care that has helped us reduce our rate of uncontrolled diabetes in our Jonestown practice by 50%. This data really strikes me, as just yesterday I was listening to an NPR report noting that the number of amputations due to uncontrolled diabetes is on the rise nationally. Our work in advanced primary care and health equity is a part of the solution. 

I’m grateful for the work and sacrifices of people like Martin Luther King, Jr., who stood up so boldly for the marginalized people in our society. I feel incredibly fortunate to live in a city as diverse as Baltimore but recognize the harsh reality that there is much work that needs to be done to reach equality (and even more to guarantee equity). We still live in a divisive time, and it so important that we rally around each other as a society, recognizing our differences as strengths, and embracing all people of goodwill. 

Spirit of King Awards 
I would be remiss if I didn’t also recognize our employees and volunteers who were nominated for our annual Spirit of King Award for their service in the local community and for embodying the spirit and life’s work of Dr. King. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Deborah Cole, Gilchrist Chaplain, who was honored for her work with Living Classrooms. And kudos to each of this year’s nominees: 

Martine Bell, Clinical Manager - Advanced Practitioners 
Eyerusalem Hagos, Eligibility Coordinator - Gilchrist 
Devin Hopwood, Quality Assurance Administrator 
William “Bill” Hill, Volunteer - Gilchrist We Care 
Wayman Scott, Associate Director of DEI and Community Relations 

Honoring Dr. Kuldip S. Uberoi 
Last night, we gathered to honor Dr. Kuldip Uberoi, who passed away in November 2022. Dr. Uberoi performed general surgery at GBMC for many years and was highly regarded. Thank you to his colleagues and loved ones who came together in celebration of him, his long career, and the legacy he left through all those he influenced. We are grateful to Dr. Uberoi for the time he dedicated to patients. 

Art of Nursing Awards 
We’re collecting Art of Nursing Award nominations through Tuesday, January 30! I encourage all members of the GBMC HealthCare staff – whether you work in the hospital, GBMC Health Partners, or Gilchrist – to nominate a nursing staff member for one of the awards. It’s a great opportunity to recognize their outstanding skill and commitment to patients. Click here to learn more about each award or to nominate your nursing colleagues. 

Friday, January 12, 2024

An Update on COVID-19 (and Respiratory Viruses in General)

As locally and nationally we hear more about cases of COVID-19 (and a plethora of other respiratory viruses including RSV and the flu) rising, it felt like a good time to share an update on COVID on behalf of GBMC. 

Although we all tend to get a little worried when we hear about increased cases of COVID-19, it is important to note that we are in a different scenario than when this was a brand-new virus. Back in 2020, none of us had immunity to COVID-19 since it was novel. Now, years later, most of us have built some level of immunity to it through either having gotten the virus or through being vaccinated against it, or both. That means that if we do get infected with COVID-19, our immune system will get in action and we will probably experience it as we do other respiratory tract infections, with relatively minor symptoms and a full recovery. Those with certain risk factors may still experience more severe symptoms if they get COVID (or other viruses, for that matter). 

With that said, it is never a bad idea to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the numerous respiratory viruses currently circulating in the community. This is a simple measure anyone can take to protect themselves and to help protect those who are more susceptible to complications from respiratory illness. And of course, the importance of vaccination is paramount. I encourage all people get their flu shots, COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters as recommended, and RSV vaccines as appropriate. If you haven’t yet received your vaccinations, I encourage you to talk to your primary care physician. These vaccines are available at each of our GBMC Health Partners primary care practices. 

GBMC is carefully monitoring the situation, paying special attention to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maryland Department of Health, to make decisions about any necessary protective measures – such as masking in certain situations – that need to be taken. Currently, we have not re-instituted universal masking, but we are recommending that staff wear a mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illness when caring for a patient and when in patient-facing settings. We will keep everyone updated if our recommendations or requirements change.