Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Meeting With a Man on a Mission

Last week I had the pleasure of spending some time with Dr. Samuel Ross, the CEO of Bon Secours Hospital in West Baltimore. Sam and I have been comparing notes about necessary changes in our national healthcare system. He visited GBMC a few weeks ago and I made a trip to see his operation.

Bon Secours serves a community with a very high unemployment rate and a median household income of $23,070. While the infant mortality rate in Maryland is 7.9 per 1,000 live births, it is 18 per 1,000 births for the population served by Bon Secours. The mortality rate for cancer is 50% higher than in the rest of Maryland and the mortality rate for heart disease is almost double what it is in the rest of the State.

Dr. Ross took me on a tour of Bon Secours. Every member of his team that I met, from the guard at the entrance to the nurses in the ICU, were upbeat. It looked to me like they were all following their leader and they were on a mission. They appeared ignorant of the fact that the odds were stacked against them – they were determined to beat those odds and lessen the burden of disease in their community. No one lamented the age of the facility…but they were very proud of their robot that allows them to use telemedicine to improve care in the intensive care unit. Dr. Ross showed me the “COWS”- computers on wheels -  that are connected to the new single database electronic record that they are about to roll out. He explained to me that they would not have been able to purchase this system without the help of the Bon Secours system.

I reflected on how lucky I was to not have the same burden of poverty and rate of chronic illness in the community served by GBMC. Sam and I spent some time thinking about how we could learn from each other and we committed to looking for areas in which we could collaborate – I think it would be fantastic if we could help Dr. Ross bring advanced primary care to the Bon Secours neighborhood. There are many hurdles to get over but we will look for ways to make this happen. Sam and his team are on a mission, and I am betting on them.  

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