Thursday, November 24, 2011

“All the things we have to be thankful for”

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s important to take a minute and step back from our hectic everyday lives to think about to all the things we have to be thankful for. This is especially true if you are an organization or an individual in a time of financial hardship, when it’s much easier to focus on the problems than on the wonderful gifts that many have.

And the GBMC family needs to think about the wonderful gifts and abundance we have  - a beautiful campus, state-of-the-art technology, and great doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and support service staff. Generally we have nice facilities, although there are some areas we’re working to spruce up a bit.  Our GBMC family is very strong, with many longtime loyal employees, 36 of whom were recognized earlier this fall for careers of 30 years or longer here.

We’re serving a community who can pretty much access us and has the resources available that they need which is not true for all health systems, such as those who are serving underserved communities where people have phenomenal needs outside of healthcare.  While we do have some of that need amongst our community, the Health Services Cost Review Commission generally pays us less so they can apply more money to other organizations and provide resources where they are needed more.

I also want to extend a “Thank You” to the employees who worked on Thanksgiving, or who are working during the extended holiday weekend, caring for our patients and helping support their loved ones and visitors. Healthcare is a 24/7/365 business, and it can be especially difficult for people to be hospitalized during the holiday time.  I know our staff and volunteers went the extra mile to make sure our patients felt like they were being treated like family, and that is greatly appreciated and valued.

A “Thank You” also to all the GBMC HealthCare system employees who generously donated to the organization’s recently-completed United Way drive.  It’s too early for us to have a total amount of money raised, but with the various fund raising activities (candy sales, raffle, jeans days, basket bingo) we know that those who are less fortunate in our community will benefit from your generosity and support.

Finally, on behalf of GBMC HealthCare, I’d like to extend best wishes and good luck to our neighbor and Towson Four partner Towson University, whose football team takes on Lehigh University on December 3 in the second round of the NCAA Football Division I playoffs.  Go Tigers!

What are you thankful for during this time? Please share your thoughts below.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Celebrating the Life of Etna Weinhold, a GBMC Icon

ICON [ahy-kon] – a person or thing regarded as a symbol of a belief, nation, community, or cultural movement.

As many of you already know, GBMC lost one of its icons last week. Etna Weinhold, Clinical Manager of Units 25/26 – Postpartum, was a symbol of the GBMC community. Sadly, she succumbed to cancer on November 10.

I had the good fortune of knowing Etna, and although we didn’t work together closely for a long time, it was obvious to me from day one that she clearly and deliberately embodied GBMC’s values. And she did so for each of the 40 years that she worked here. I chose to dedicate this installment of the blog to Etna’s memory because her lifelong commitment to caring for so many – family, friends, fellow Americans, employees, patients and their families – was truly remarkable and, in fact, iconic.

A former field nurse in the United States Army Nurse Corp, devoted wife, mother of four and grandmother of eight, Etna literally touched the lives of thousands of people. In her role as clinical manager of the postpartum units, she helped revolutionize the way that new mothers at GBMC recovered from childbirth by making their rooms more comfortable, like home or a hotel. Improvements also featured accommodations that allowed fathers to stay in the recovery room with their wives and newborns, which many women consider a necessity today, and “hidden” medical equipment to create a less sterile atmosphere. These approaches made a big difference to women and their families.

Etna herself was a comforting presence to those on her unit. Her attentiveness and genuine interest in every patient was evident.

In a recent tribute to Etna, news reporter Kerry Cavanaugh summed up the feelings of many, saying, “I was one of more than 4,000 women to have a baby at GBMC that year [2008], but when Etna knocked on my door and introduced herself, she made me feel like the only patient on the unit.” I can say without hesitation that Etna worked tirelessly to provide the kind of care she would want for her own loved ones. There was also a beautiful tribute to Etna in today's Baltimore Sun.

At the funeral home on Monday afternoon, I was moved by the number of Etna’s colleagues who approached me to share stories about the impact she had on their careers and lives. By all accounts, she was always looking out for the best interests of her staff, her patients and GBMC, always enjoying her work and taking pride in it, always committed to serving others.

Keeping Etna in mind, I’d like for all of us to take some time to reflect on our own lives and the way in which we care for others. Let’s strive to follow her lead.

If you have your own stories or memories of Etna that you’d like to share, you are welcome to post them in the comments section.

I’d also like to take a moment to recognize the group of volunteers who made the fall 2011 Nearly New Sale an outstanding success. They, too, have made a significant commitment to caring for the community and GBMC.

Did you know that it takes 75 to 80 dedicated Nearly New volunteers (plus 30-40 extra “day” volunteers who help on the sale days) more than 12,500 hours to prepare for, hold and clean up from each sale? Under the leadership of Nearly New Chair Loretta Reynolds and Director of Volunteer Services Cynthia Fager, the team not only accepts donations, but sorts and prices them, stocks them on shelves/racks, sells them and counts the money, then starts the process over again.

At a special celebration event held at the Elkridge Club last Friday for the Nearly New volunteers, it was announced that the recent fall sale raised $143,140, topping all previous sales! This brings the total amount raised between spring of 2000 through fall of 2011 to an astonishing $2,930,540, which has all gone directly to GBMC’s Volunteer Auxiliary Patient Care Fund. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who participates in these sales.

Lin Hardy ,Nearly New Treasurer, announces the sale's total.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Experience The New "Greener" GBMC Dining Room

One of the most important things I can do as the head of GBMC HealthCare is listen – not only to our patients, but to our staff as well.  Our internal customers represent an important constituency and often have excellent ideas that will help us improve as an organization.

One such idea came from a SICU nurse last year, who shared with me her concerns about the length of time it took for her to get a meal in the dining room because of the long lines at the cashier, and that she barely had enough time to pick out something and eat it before she was due back on the unit taking care of patients.  The cafeteria management team got on it and installed faster cash registers and added new lines at peak times.

Now we have the opportunity to shave a few more seconds off the process by offering a payroll deduction option. Swiping your ID completes the transaction in about one second! Employees can fill out a form, available in the dining room, and within days they will be approved. I’ve signed up and encourage our employees to do the same.

This is just one of several improvements we’ve made recently in the dining room – we’ve come a long way toward making the dining experience more enjoyable for our guests and staff.  There are new menu items, combo meals, and sauté specials; we’ve increased the selection of healthy foods and beverages and are now offering Dunkin' Donuts coffee.  There is new furniture in the dining room, and paper menus have been converted to new electronic menu board monitors, which reduces the amount of paper, laminating sheets, sign holders and ink we would require to produce menus.

In addition to the electronic menus, there are a number of other zero waste initiatives recently completed in the dining room.  We’ve converted condiment packets to Heinz-branded pumps, introduced a coffee creamer pump, converted all medical intern / resident pink meal vouchers into reloadable cards, and are composting kitchen waste at a local facility and not placing with municipal waste.

This week, new recycled fiber Earth-friendly trays were unveiled.  Similar to the trays that many are familiar with from sports stadiums or concert venues, the trays are biodegradable and can be placed in regular trash when the customer is done eating.    Believe it or not, this will help us save thousands of dollars a year!

Of the 3,000 traditional hard plastic trays that Dietary purchased last year, there are only a few hundred left.   At almost $3 per tray, that’s a lot of money that literally just “walks away” every year when people take these trays from the dining room back to their work areas and don’t return them. So please remember – if you are talking “lunch to go”, take a new recyclable tray.  It will help the earth and help us save money.  Better yet, if you have just a sandwich and a drink, perhaps you can do without a tray to carry the meal back to your area.

Mike Forthman, L, with an older-style tray, and Dr. John Chessare, R, with one of the new recyclable trays.
Kudos to our “Green Team”, led by Mike Forthman, Vice President of Facilities and Support Services and to the Dietary team led by Matt Tresansky, Director of Food and Nutrition Services and Ryan O’Hara, the dining room’s retail manager, for implementing these changes which are designed to reduce waste, shrinkage, and cost while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction. Be on the lookout for more improvements planned for the near future!

Do you have any ideas on how GBMC can become a “greener” or “leaner” organization? Please share your thoughts below.

Finally, my heart goes out to the members of the GBMC family who were injured “in the line of duty” when they were assaulted by patients recently while providing care. The safety of our staff, patients, and visitors is of paramount concern.  Unfortunately, incidents such as these are a problem across America’s healthcare system, with many studies reporting hundreds of healthcare workers being assaulted each month nationwide. In the past year-and-a-half, GBMC has implemented several strategies to make the environment as safe as possible, and in concert with our employees utilizing Safe Behaviors and following the designs for safety that have been set up, we are determined and committed to make our systems of care and our workplace safer. As a result of these attacks, we will again review our practices and policies and make changes to make GBMC safer.

Friday, November 4, 2011

GBMC Once Again Has Dozens Of “Top Docs”

We’ve always known that one of GBMC’s phenomenal strengths was the quality of its medical staff, which was again confirmed when more than 100 of our physicians were named in the just-released Baltimore magazine “Top Docs 2011” survey in the November issue.

In preparing its annual list of “Top Doctors,” Baltimore magazine surveyed more than 6,500 area physicians in Baltimore City and seven surrounding counties and asked where they would send a member of their family for care in a wide variety of specialties.  This important question is at the very center of GBMC’s vision of providing each of our patients with care in the same manner that we would want for our own loved ones.  

I’m proud to report that 104 physicians with GBMC privileges in 69 different specialties earned recognition in this prestigious listing, including four physicians who were each listed in two different categories.

It’s quite an accomplishment for these physicians. Patients generally rate their doctors on bedside manners because they really don’t have the ability to rate them on other factors such as diagnostic skills or therapeutic knowledge, but to be recognized by your peers as a quality doctor is really quite a statement and is something I would personally aspire to. 

I’d like to especially highlight our department chairmen, chiefs, and medical directors who were recognized by Baltimore magazine:

George Apostolides, M.D. (Colo-Rectal Surgery)
Fred Chan, M.D. (Medical Director, Inpatient Services)
Gary Cohen, M.D. (Medical Director, Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute)
Neri Cohen, M.D. Ph.D. (Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery)
Reginald Davis, M.D. (Division Head of Neurosurgery)
John Flowers, M.D. (Surgery)
Allan Genut, M.D. (Chief , Division of Neurology)
Harold Goll, M.D. (Anesthesiology)
Francis (Bing) Grumbine, M.D. (Gynecology)
Brian Kaplan, M.D. (Otolaryngology)
Victor Khouzami, M.D. (Obstetrics)
Peter Liao, MD. (Medical Director, Comprehensive Obesity Management Program)
Alexander Munitz, M.D. (Diagnostic Radiology)
John Saunders, Jr. M.D. (Chief Medical Officer)
Lauren Schnaper, M.D. (Medical Director, Sandra and Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Care Center
Melissa Sparrow, M.D. (Clinical Director, Pediatric Inpatient and Emergency Services)
Jeff Sternlicht, M.D. (Emergency Medicine)
Harold Tucker, M.D. (Chief of Staff)

In addition, the Baltimore magazine “Top Docs” issue highlights several other GBMC physicians – including Sudeep Pramanik, M.D., an ophthalmologist whose expertise helped restore vision for a woman who had undergone 13 unsuccessful surgeries and hadn’t seen properly in four decades.

A full list of GBMC “Top Docs” is available at Top Docs.  To find a physician that is right for you and your loved ones, simply click the “Find a Doctor” link on our homepage or call 443-849-GBMC (4262).

Please share your thoughts below about your experiences with GBMC physicians, especially any of our “Top Docs.”