Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Was a Spectacular Year for the GBMC HealthCare System!

As we come to the end of the year we should reflect on all that the GBMC HealthCare System has accomplished in 2015.  We celebrated our 50th anniversary and finished our celebrating with a beautiful gala with over 1,300 friends of GBMC in attendance.  The magical evening, which highlighted GBMC’s service to our community and vision for the future, was a smashing success. That night we announced that we exceeded our anniversary fundraising goal by raising over $54.7 million.  This will allow the GBMC HealthCare system to continue to build on the work of the mothers and fathers of GBMC some 50 years ago and to help us move even faster toward our vision. All those who worked hard to make our 50th celebration deserve my sincere thanks!

Here are some of our other accomplishments and highlights during 2015:

--We continued our transformation to an outstanding community health system that our patients experience as a system. We reduced serious safety events from 21/year a few years ago to 2 in the year ending June 30, 2015! We became the only health system in Maryland to know precisely what our diabetes composite score is for our more than 4,000 diabetics and we achieved the national 80th percentile in their care! Our employed physician group achieved their highest satisfaction scores ever for delivering patient-centeredness by increasing hours of availability and reducing waits and delays of all kinds! GBMC Hospital achieved its highest overall HCAHPS (satisfaction) scores ever! Gilchrist Hospice Care grew by more than 20% and is now serving 750 patients every day! We were recognized by Chet Burrell, president of CareFirst Blue Cross/Blue Shield, as being a lower cost health system with very high quality!

--Our Epic Team completed the build of our new electronic record and will now begin the testing phase prior to our October 2016 go-live. In October we will realize: One patient…One record for all served by our employed and GBHA aligned physicians, our hospital, and our hospice!

--More than 160 members of GBMC’s medical staff in 80 different specialty areas were recognized in the annual Baltimore Magazine “Top Docs” issue.  Once again, we had more physicians recognized than any other community health system in the region!  We are so fortunate to have outstanding surgeons, internists, pediatricians, family physicians, and other wonderful specialists.

-- In 2015, the Baltimore Magazine released a second list of exceptional medical providers, recognizing 50 of the region’s top nurses for their extraordinary contributions to healthcare. The inaugural “Excellence in Nursing” issue featured seven GBMC HealthCare nurses among the 50 awardees!

--Our fantastic volunteer auxiliary again contributed thousands of hours of service and tremendous success in fundraising through our Nearly New sales. Our Foundation ran a spectacular Legacy Chase steeplechase event that showcased our HealthCare system to the community.

-- We had the pleasure of having United States Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) join us for a tour of GBMC HealthCare’s Family Care Associates (FCA) and for a town hall conversation on helping families find novel healthcare options, the future of the Maryland Medicare waiver, and the continued evolution on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Some of our other achievements in 2015 included:

--Named as one of America’s Best Stroke Centers by the Women’s Choice Awards. The Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification recognizes centers that meet high standards for stroke care as determined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

--Our very own Laura Clary, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, CPEN, Clinical Program Manager for our SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination) Program was invited by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden to join him for his visit to the Maryland State Police forensics lab.

--CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) recognized GBMC as a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery, Spine Surgery and Knee and Hip Replacement. The designation is based on rigorous, evidence-based selection criteria established in collaboration with recommendations from expert physicians and medical organizations.

--We earned Gold Commendation and the 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award from The Commission on Cancer (CoC), an official accreditation body of the American College of Surgeons and nationally recognized as the standard by which cancer programs are judged.  GBMC received a perfect score for all standards and was one of only 20 U.S. healthcare facilities with accredited cancer programs to receive this national honor.

--Teamed up for the first time with WMAR-TV and raised over $440 and collected hundreds of toys for the 17th annual “It’s Kindertime Toy Drive.”  Thank-you to all the hundreds of employees and their families along with the many donors who helped contribute to the toy drive.

--For the second year in a row, a GBMC physician was honored with the Martin D. Abeloff Award for Excellence in Public Health and Cancer Control by the Maryland State Council on Cancer Control.  Dr. Gary Cohen, medical director of our Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, was presented with this year’s distinguished honor. This award is given annually to a Marylander who has contributed to reducing the incidence, morbidity and mortality of cancer through research focused on cancer control.

--The March of Dimes honored us for two significant milestones.  The first for reducing the number of elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy and the second in recognition of Prematurity Awareness Month our NICU’s management was recognized for their hard work and dedication in caring for babies, mothers and their families.

--We were also recognized and accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), an official accreditation body of the American College of Surgeons, and nationally recognized as the standard by which breast centers are judged, upon the review of approximately 15 different standards limited to breast centers and breast programs and covering similar categories to the CoC accreditation.

--We appointed the first female physician as division chief within the Department of Surgery-when Dr. Alyson Wells was named the new Chief of Plastic Surgery.

--We were honored to help the Hewitt family with the birth of children -- spontaneous identical triplets.  This kind of birth was incredibly rare and newsworthy since they were conceived without any fertility treatments.

-- Becker’s Hospital Review magazine has listed the Greater Baltimore Medical Center among the nation’s “100 Hospitals and Health Systems with Great Oncology Programs” in its compilation of leading cancer care providers in the United States.

--A three-year, full accreditation with commendation designation recently was granted to our Sandra and Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Care Center and its affiliated Advanced Radiology Breast Imaging Center by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). This is GBMC’s third consecutive NAPBC designation since its first accreditation in 2009.

So I think you will agree that GBMC HealthCare made great progress towards our vision in 2015! We have many, many people to thank for this. Our doctors, our nurses, other clinicians, and all of our non-clinical employees have done a fabulous job.  And lastly, we must thank our patients – you are the reason we do what we do. We are honored and grateful that you have chosen GBMC for your care.
I realize that these things only represent a small fraction of what the GBMC family did in 2015 to move us closer to our vision. All I can say is thank you! I look forward to all of our accomplishments to come in 2016. What other accomplishments would you like to highlight from 2015? Please share your thoughts below.

Best wishes to you and your loved one for a Happy & Healthy 2016!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Becoming Even More Available and Getting the Attention of Their Patients

Hats off once again to the great team at the GBMA Hunt Manor Office! They have achieved their highest ever patient satisfaction scores while seeing the most patients ever in this last quarter. Under the leadership of Robin Motter, DO, Joe Connelly, MD and practice manager Suzanne Auer, Hunt Manor has extended hours of operation to 8 PM Monday through Friday and added Saturday and Sunday hours and recently tested walk-in appointments for existing patients. They have once again shown that patients will only accept discontinuous care with “whomever” when they cannot get care from their usual source of care – people who know them, have their records and have earned their trust. Hunt Manor is improving their true patient-centeredness every day and I am very grateful to them for moving us towards our vision!

Giving back to our community
This year GBMC had the privilege of teaming up with WMAR Baltimore to collect toys and donations for the 17th annual “It’s Kindertime Toy Drive.” The drive was started by Pete O’Neal, an ABC2 Photojournalist.

In case you didn’t notice, for over a three-week period, various drop-off boxes were set up at our main GBMC Hospital campus and at each of our 10 primary care offices. To help promote the toy drive, people who donated towards the cause were entered into a raffle to win pre-screening tickets to the new film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. During the toy drive, one of the main characters, Chewbacca, came to visit our campus to get people excited about donating.

I just want to thank the hundreds of employees and their families along with the many donors who helped contribute to the toy drive. Over $440 was collected along with hundreds of toys which will be distributed by ABC2 to children and families living in the Eastern Shore, Baltimore City, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard and Anne Arundel Counties, and at the Ronald McDonald House and Kennedy Krieger.

I am very grateful to Nick Travelstead, committee chair for our Father’s Day 5K, who provided us with a group of his employees to load one of his vehicles to transport all the toys to WMAR-TV, Greg Shaffer, Kim Davenport and our Marketing Department who ran the drive for us. It is outstanding to see so many people give back during the holidays. Merry Christmas to all celebrating this week.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Improving Diabetes Outcomes

Primary care physicians and endocrinologists have always worked hard to manage their diabetic patients. But until recently, few physicians had the support that they needed to really help diabetics maximize their health. GBMC now has a designed system for maximizing the health and care of patients with chronic disease called the patient-centered medical home. In these advanced primary care settings, physicians do not have to act as “lone rangers.” The doctors have teammates called nurse care managers, care coordinators and medical assistants to help them get the job done.

The Greater Baltimore Health Alliance (GBHA), the parent organization of our employed and affiliated patient centered medical homes has been working very hard to treat every diabetic patient the way that we want our own loved ones treated. GBHA is one of the few healthcare organizations in the state that is measuring its performance on the “diabetes composite score.”  The score has been made up of elements that, if present, have been shown to increase the life span and functional capabilities of diabetic patients.  Currently, GBHA is in the top 15 percent of organizations nationally in diabetes care, and we are working hard to see that all of our patients improve their health.

As part of that care over the past two and a half years we’ve been offering a FREE series of two 90-minute diabetes education classes to our patients.  Patients who would benefit are identified by their primary care physician or care manager and are encouraged to attend the  series. Currently, these bimonthly classes are being held at GBMC Hunt Valley, Perry Hall and Family Care Associates' offices and coming in 2016 at Owings Mills. The classes are being led by Ellen Wallace, the clinical manager for our Geckle Diabetes Center, and are taught by the Geckle Center registered dietitians who are all certified diabetes educators. Each of the two classes uses interactive “maps” to provide a lively overview of Diabetes Self-Management (DSME). These introductory classes highlight the key message of living well with diabetes through DSME.

I want to commend Ellen and Dr. Robin Motter-Mast, our Chair of Family Medicine and Medical Director of our PCMH program for this very important educational initiative and am grateful to our diabetic patients for their participation and their willingness to “co-produce” their care. The more engaged and educated our patients become, the better their outcomes will be!

Recently, the local chapter of the March of Dimes visited our NICU, as part of their Day of Gratitude effort, to show appreciation for our staff and to bring awareness to the issue of premature birth. The March of Dimes presented our NICU team with a plaque as an expression of thanks to the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals for all they do each day as they care for newborns and their families.

Under the leadership of Dr. Howard Birenbaum, the medical director of our NICU, along with Dr.Maria Pane, one of his neonatology partners, our NICU team is doing an excellent job in the fight to decrease the number of preterm births and to ensure that preterm infants are given the best chance possible for a healthy future.

We are honored to receive this recognition AND I am extremely proud of our NICU team of physicians and nurses for this wonderful accomplishment.

In The Spirit of The Holidays, Please Donate A Toy...
This year, we are a proud sponsor of the Kindertime Toy Drive! Each year, toys collected for the Kindertime Toy Drive are given to children at the Ronald McDonald House and Kennedy Krieger as well as children in need in the Baltimore area.  Please don’t forget to donate a new, unwrapped toy at any GBMC drop-off location.  You have until Friday, Dec. 18th!  Remember, that if you donate a toy you can enter for a chance to win one (1) of fifty (50) pairs of tickets to an advance screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Dec. 17th.  For more information, please visit:

Wishing all those who are celebrating the Festival of Lights a very Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Senator Cardin visits GBMC

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of welcoming U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D—Md.) to the GBMC campus for a tour of our Family Care Associates (FCA) practice. The Senator was interested in seeing this patient-centered medical home because it is a model of innovation.

We then held a town hall meeting that focused on the need for more healthcare innovation to help the U.S. move towards the national triple aim of better health and better care at lower cost. At the town hall meeting, we also discussed the future of the Maryland Medicare waiver, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other health care issues. Joining Sen. Cardin and myself, for the tour and meeting, were Ms. Bonnie Stein, GBMC HealthCare Board Chair; Bennett Beres, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of GBMA; and Dr. Robin Motter, Chair of our Department of Family Medicine.

It was wonderful that Senator Cardin chose GBMC to visit because he has really been an advocate for our state, in Washington, DC, and because he is very knowledgeable about health care. The Senator recognizes that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect but that it has really helped the country move towards a more value-driven system. He has worked hard over his career to shape legislation to ensure that all Marylanders are able to receive first-class medical and dental care.

During Senator Cardin’s visit of the FCA practice, Dr. Sarah Whiteford and Dr. Ben Hand really did an excellent job in leading the tour and showcasing how their practice was designed to minimize waste. They pointed out how there is no patient waiting room and that almost everything happens in the exam room from check-in to check-out. Dr. Hand showed the Senator how the rooms are replenished with supplies from the outside and “off-stage.” You could see that Senator Cardin was intrigued by the design principles used in the construction of the practice and how it had led to a truly better patient and provider experience.

The town hall session was really an important part of the event, because it provided us with a great opportunity to hear from Senator Cardin and for us to educate him on our great system of care, our outstanding specialists, surgeons, nurses, and other clinicians and what we have accomplished to date in population health and advanced primary care. John Ellis, our Senior Vice President for Strategy served as the moderator of the session. I presented the overview, Bonnie presented the governance perspective and Dr. Motter presented our results so far.

The Senator began his remarks by saying that GBMC is very dear to him as his two granddaughters were born here and that as our representative he is proud of what GBMC has been able to do to improve care.  He also outlined how under the Medicare waiver, our state has saved the federal government billions of dollars. During the question and answer session with Senator Cardin the subject matter ranged from promoting programs for frail elders to the impending nursing shortage and access to care.

I enjoyed the Senator’s visit and I think it was a big win for GBMC. Senator Cardin said: “I am going to brag about GBMC on the floor of the US Senate” and “…we’re (the federal government) trying to take what GBMC has done and implement it on a national level.”

We should all be very proud of what we have accomplished to date!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. It is a day to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. For me, it is a very long list.

The GBMC family has a lot to be thankful for as well.  We have a beautiful campus, state-of-the-art technology, and great doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and support staff working in the hospital, at GBMA and at Gilchrist Services. We should be thankful for the volunteer auxiliary and all that they do to help us achieve our vision. GBMC has phenomenal support from the community. Wonderful examples of this are our GBMC HealthCare Board, the Philanthropy Committee, and the Gilchrist Board.  Our governance bodies are made up of individuals who are dedicated to the mission of GBMC – a mission of health, healing and hope for our community.

In this, our 50th anniversary year, we must also show our gratefulness for our donors who have pledged more than $54 million to help us achieve our vision.

But we should show the most thanks to our patients who entrust us with their care. They give us the joy of service to them in their most vulnerable moments. Without them, we would have no mission or vision.

On Tuesday of this week, after LDM rounds, Joann Ioannou, our Chief Nursing Officer, read a letter from a grateful family written to the SICU staff.  In the letter, the family spoke of how hard it was to see their loved one in intensive care and thanked the SICU staff not only for their care but, also their kindness. On listening to the letter, I realized that the SICU team was treating this family the way they wanted their own families to be treated and it brought a smile to my face.

I really have a lot to be thankful for.

I wish everyone in our GBMC family a Happy Thanksgiving.

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Very Busy Nurses Sit Down To Speak with Patients

During our daily visits, to Unit 35, on our Lean Daily Management walks over the last few months, Nurse Manager, Kathy Bull and her team have been telling us about their learning as they were testing a new communication strategy.  They began sitting at the bedside of each of their patients for “one minute” each shift and having a conversation with the patient about his or her care. I say “one minute” in quotes because they quickly learned that the conversation always took more than one minute.  The Unit 35 team had to figure out how to fit these discussions into their work.  They were already extremely busy in meeting the patient’s needs, but, they saw an opportunity to hear what the patient thought and to get to know them a bit better as the inpatient stay progressed.  

For the months of August, September and October, Unit 35 has had the highest patient satisfaction scores in any quarter since they started measuring!

In addition, all of the nurse communication questions showed the same pattern! The patients are saying that they really appreciate that the nurses are finding the time to sit with them and discuss the care.  I am so proud of the Unit 35 team and I am very grateful for their fantastic work in treating everyone the way they want their own loved ones treated.

Congratulations to the medical director of our Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, Gary I. Cohen M.D., FACP, who earlier this week was honored with the Martin D. Abeloff Award for Excellence in Public Health and Cancer Control by the Maryland State Council on Cancer Control. This award is given annually to a Marylander who has contributed to reducing the incidence, morbidity and mortality of cancer through research focused on cancer control. Dr. Cohen is an incredible physician who is dedicated to serving his patients. He truly deserves this recognition and we are proud of him for earning this prestigious honor. Please congratulate him the next time you see him!

I am also proud to announce that this is the second year in a row that a member of the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC was given this award. In 2014, Robert K. Brookland, MD, FACR, FACRO, GBMC’s Chairman of Radiation Oncology was also honored.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Our Phenomenal Physicians are Recognized…Again

GBMC has always been known as an organization with outstanding physicians. This was again confirmed when more than 160 of our physicians, in 80 specialties, were named in Baltimore Magazine‘s “Top Doctors” listings for 2015.  Once again, we had more members of our staff on the list than any other community hospital in the region and several of our medical staff members were recognized in more than one category and some have been recognized many years in a row.

In preparing its annual list of “Top Doctors,” Baltimore magazine surveyed more than 10,000 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.  The annual Top Doctors recognition isn't another popularity contest – the list is chosen by people who really know about the quality of care being delivered.  And, it’s clear that with over 160 members of GBMC’s medical staff on this list, the medical community recognizes the excellence of GBMC’s physicians.

In addition, the magazine also highlighted one of our obstetrician/gynecologists, Dominique Allen, M.D.  She was one of four eminent doctors, from a pool of approximately 500 physicians in the Baltimore area, selected to be profiled in the current TOP DOCS issue.

I congratulate Dr. Allen and all GBMC’s Top Doctors - we are extremely proud to have such excellent, caring clinicians on our team and very grateful for all that they do to care for our community.

To view a listing of our “Top Doctors” and to learn more about who they are, please visit under the “Find a Doctor” link.

And speaking of GBMC’s great medical staff, I had the privilege earlier this week of participating in the celebration of the career of Charles P. (“Pat”) Wilkinson, MD and his retirement from GBMC.  Dr. Wilkinson, one of our Physician Titans and an internationally known specialist in the treatment of retinal disorders, was the long-time chair of our Department of Ophthalmology.  The department has been fortunate to have Pat as the Chair since 1992.  Under his leadership GBMC’s ophthalmology department program became a place that is well known in the region for treating patients with the latest evidence-based advances in the field. Teaching the next generation of ophthalmologists was also an important part of Dr. Wilkinson’s work. He has mentored many residents from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland residency programs.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Wilkinson on his distinguished career at GBMC and thanking him for all that he has done for GBMC, our young physicians in training and most importantly, our patients.

Recognizing Colleagues: Radiologic Technology Week & Forensic Nurses Week
This week is both “Radiologic Technology Week” and “Forensic Nursing Week” and I would like to thank all of our registered technologists (R.T.s) and our forensic nurses for their important roles in providing serving our patients as if they were their loved ones.

R.T.’s perform diagnostic imaging examinations and administer radiation therapy treatments. They are educated in: anatomy, patient positioning, examination techniques, equipment protocols, radiation safety, radiation protection and basic patient care. They may specialize in a specific imaging technique such as: bone densitometry, cardiovascular-interventional radiography, mammography, MRI, nuclear medicine, sonography or general radiography.  They are the teammates of our radiologists and radiation oncologists.

Forensic nurses are specially trained and certified examiners who care for adolescent and adult victims (ages 13 and older) of sexual assault.  Forensic nurses complete a full assessment of the patient, obtain potential forensic evidence and provide antibiotic therapy, emergency contraception and resources for crisis counseling and support services.  Our forensic nurses, as part of our Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Program, also speak at middle schools, high schools, and college campuses in an effort to influence the behavior of youths to make safe choices in their social interactions.  Our forensic nurses are also an instrumental part of the Baltimore County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and work closely with local law enforcement agencies in cases of sexual assault in our community.

Please join me in thanking Phil Komenda, our Director of Imaging and Cardiac Services, and Laura Clary, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, CPEN, our Clinical Program Manager for the SAFE Program, and their teams for all their hard work and for their important role in caring for our patients.

Thanking Our Veterans on Veterans Day and Every Day
This past Wednesday, we set aside a day to honor the millions of American military veterans who have honored us with their service.  We paused to salute all who have served and honored the tremendous sacrifices made by members of the U.S. armed forces and their families to preserve our freedom. I know that I speak for all of us at GBMC in offering our sincere gratitude for the personal sacrifices, past and present of all of our service men and women.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Our Patients have Voted: GBMA is Delivering Better Care

It has now been five years since the GBMC HealthCare Board conducted its visioning retreat. I remember the conversation among those in attendance. Everyone had great things to say about GBMC and its physicians, nurses and staff. But everyone had at least one story where our service to a patient missed the mark.  Frequently the stories were about waits and delays or about poor communication.

Last Wednesday, during our monthly leadership meeting, I had the opportunity to see just how far we have come in our Aim of Better Care for everyone’s loved ones. Danielle Da Silva, Ambulatory Service Line Administrator for Greater Baltimore Medical Associates, was showing the group how GBMA was doing on its better care goals. Danielle showed that our employed physician practices had an overall patient engagement score of 93.4 which is at the 89th percentile nationally and at the 91st percentile in our region!
This outstanding improvement in service has not happened by chance.  It is due to the hard work of our practice managers, lead physicians and all of the members of their teams.  They have extended hours of operation, improved at using the patient portal, improved patient flow within the office and improved  their communication skills across the board.  I am so proud of all of them and grateful for all of their hard work.

I must particularly call out a group of “unsung heroes”…our medical assistants.  These are the people who work alongside our physicians in the office, getting the patients ready for the visit, taking their vital signs, making sure that they have had their immunizations, etc. In this quarter, the medical assistant overall score was 94.7 which at the 85th national percentile!
As I studied the data, our scores have gone up in every area of the survey! Our GBMA colleagues are truly making the care better every day and helping us get closer to our vision. Please give them a pat on the back when you see them and thank them for all that they are doing for our patients.

National Medical Staff Services Professionals Awareness Week
This week is “National Medical Staff Services Awareness Week,” and I would like to acknowledge and thank all of our medical staff services professionals (MSPs) for playing an important role to our healthcare organization and its physician members, and their contribution and dedication in preserving quality patient care.

MSPs are experts in provider credentialing and privileging, medical staff organization, accreditation and regulatory compliance, and provider relations in our diverse healthcare industry. They credential and monitor ongoing competence of the physicians and other practitioners who provide patient care services in hospitals, managed care organizations, and other healthcare settings.  MSPs are a vital part of our healthcare team and are dedicated to making certain that all patients receive care from practitioners who are properly educated, licensed, and trained in their specialty.

Please join me in thanking our MSPs for their hard work and for their important role in caring for our patients.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Young Physician Calls Out A New Cause of Health Care Disparity

Since the formation of GBMC 50 years ago, we have always valued graduate medical education.  I have spent most of my career in academic medicine and teaching pediatric residents and medical students in pediatrics.  The act of being a teacher keeps you on your toes because the learners ask you questions and you realize that you don’t know everything and you have to seek out the information.   So, graduate medical education has always been a gift to GBMC and having smart, young, people—the next generation of physicians - around can only help us get to our vision faster.

Recently, I was glad to attend our Institutional Graduate Medical Education Committee meeting. The Chair of the IGME, Brian A. Kaplan, MD, FACS, who is also chairman of The Department of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery at GBMC is leading the group and helping us reflect on and continually improve our training programs.  During the meeting, we discussed many issues and one of our residents raised the issue about how we can better serve “underserved” populations and remove disparities in care.  Immediately, I started to think about disparities across racial and ethnic groups. We need to work to reduce these disparities but the resident added a new reason for some people not being able to get care - high deductible health insurance plans.  These are the type of plans where someone may have to pay $2-$3,000.00 out of pocket before the insurance kicks in. Our resident physician colleague was talking about how this was precluding some of her patients from getting the care that they needed.

Why do these high deductible plans exist? Well, one reason is that many people believe that you have to make patients “feel the pain” of high cost to get them to shop for better prices and therefore make producers work to lower their prices. When we shop for a car, we always look for the best price for the type of car that we are looking for. I am sure that letting patients know what the price is does have some affect. But I also know that in Germany, for the most part there are no co-pays or deductibles and their costs are about 40% lower than ours. I also believe that it is very hard for an individual patient to know what they are actually buying. Most patients don’t have enough knowledge to know what they really need let alone judge the quality from one provider to another. There is no JD Powers for medical care (Although hospital compare is a good start: ).  I believe that it is sad that we feel compelled to put the onus for lowering the cost of care on the patient. That is why I am so proud of GBMC HealthCare and our third aim …to provide care with the Least Waste. We have the knowledge and the ability to change our care delivery system to get the waste out so the patient is not stuck trying to do this for herself. Our patient centered medical homes, where teams led by physicians with nurse care managers and care coordinators have reduced the cost of care to Medicare beneficiaries by more than 10% over the last 3 years!

I am grateful to my colleague resident physician for being concerned about her patients being able to get the care they need. I am very grateful to all of our residents and faculty for helping us build a better delivery system and for their excellence in learning and teaching. We still have work to do in removing care that doesn’t add to health and in becoming more efficient at what does add to health so that fewer employers will need to have high deductible plans for their employees.

Case Management Week 
Recently, we celebrated all GBMC case managers during National Case Management Week. We are very grateful for all that they do to help our patients.

Case and care managers provide clinical assessment, care coordination, patient education, counseling, case monitoring/clinical pathway management, discharge planning, resource management and patient advocacy.  They are recognized experts and vital participants of the collaborative team, who engage and empower people to understand and access quality, efficient healthcare, as well as enabling cost-effective outcomes.

Our Case managers deliver dedicated assistance to our patients, their care teams and GBMC day in, day out.  Please join me in thanking our case managers for their hard work and for their important role in caring for our patients.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Celebrating GBMC's History & Future

Last Friday night, we celebrated our 50th anniversary with a beautiful gala with more than 1,200 people in attendance. The magical evening, at the Baltimore Convention Center, highlighting GBMC’s service to our community and vision for the future, was a smashing success. I want to use my blog this week to share with you the thoughts that I shared with those who were in attendance.

GBMC has a glorious history and it has a very bright future because of its people.  
Our physicians, our nurses, and the rest of our staff are the lifeblood of our organization. They have all helped GBMC to stand the test of time.  For 50 years, they have been committed to bettering patients' lives by working to keep them well and healing them when they are sick.  For the next 50 years, we will work with them to continue to build the system where every patient, every time gets the care we would want for our own loved ones. But the GBMC family is bigger than just the staff members.

We must remember that GBMC was created by members of the community- volunteers who gave of their time and resources because they saw a need. Today our volunteers’ gifts of time and our donors' gifts of treasure are more important than ever. Their gifts help to assure that our clinicians have what they need to get the job done in our mission of health, healing and hope.

So to all of the GBMC family let me say it is your commitment, dedication and hard work that has transformed a Towson hillside into a mecca of compassion, caring and healing. You are the heart and soul of the GBMC Healthcare System.

GBMC recently received a gracious $5 million gift from The Kahlert Foundation. We are beyond grateful to the Board of the Foundation, to Greg and Roberta Kahlert, and to Greg Kahlert's late parents Bill and Yvonne, because you have been so generous to GBMC.

It is our intention to use this $5 million gift toward designing and constructing, along with our partners at Chesapeake Urology, a new building on our campus that will house up to 16 urologists and provide them with the facilities to deliver cutting edge care. And with this $5 million gift, I also have the immense pleasure of making another announcement, a crowning achievement for GBMC. We have not only reached, but exceeded, our anniversary fundraising goal of $50 million. Thanks to all of you, we raised $54,730,109.

Let that accomplishment hang in the air for a moment. Please recognize the significance of this achievement. $54 million to allow the GBMC HealthCare system to continue to build on the work of the mothers and fathers of GBMC some 50 years ago and to help us move even faster toward our vision. Let me also thank Delbert and Gina Adams and the Gala Committee, Bonnie Stein and the 50th Anniversary Committee, Greg Shaffer and his phenomenal marketing and communications team, Sam Heffner, Frank Palmer, Jerry Focas, Heidi Berman and the Philanthropy Committee, and last, but, not least Jenny Coldiron and her fantastic philanthropy team. What a great job!

So let’s celebrate our half-century of compassionate care – the GBMC Healthcare System is here to serve … and we have only just begun!  Thank You!

To view additional photos from our 50th Anniversary Gala, please visit:

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Wonderful Week for GBMC

It’s hard to believe that our 50th Anniversary Gala is tonight! I remember asking Jenny Coldiron, our VP of Philanthropy, and Mike Hartnett, our then Director of Marketing and Communications, in the spring of 2012 to begin thinking about how to best celebrate 50 years of service to our community. Jenny and her team have done an outstanding job. Greg Shaffer, who took over for Mike when he left, and the marketing and communications team have really “hit it out of the park.”  In the summer of 2012, Harry Johnson, then our Board Chair, asked Bonnie Stein to Chair the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee. Bonnie and the Committee got to work and have overseen a wonderful year-long celebration of our history and the people who have made GBMC what it is today. I am very grateful for all of their work.

So tonight is the big night…the 50th Anniversary Gala. Delbert and Gina Adams and the Gala Committee have really done a fabulous job. It will be a great party to reflect on what we have accomplished and to springboard us into our future and all of the work yet to be done as we fulfill our mission and move closer to our vision.

Patient Safety is our promise!
On Tuesday, we had Sorrel King, of the Josie King Foundation, with us for the day. Josie, Sorrel’s daughter, died because of medical errors. Sorrel created the Foundation in Josie’s memory and has dedicated her life to helping hospitals get safer. Sorrel gave a powerful presentation to a packed Civiletti conference center at noon and then presided over our first “Great Save” celebration where all those who had been honored for their work as part of Great Save Wednesdays were recognized on Tuesday evening.  Six of these individuals were given the Josie King Hero Award by Sorrel, Bonnie Stein, our HealthCare Board Chair, John Saunders, MD, our CMO, Carolyn Candiello, our Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety, and me. We are grateful that Sorrel has the courage to recount Josie’s story and that she spent an entire day with us. Winners of this year’s Josie King Hero Award are as follows: Namhui Burchett, Carolyn Hart, Patricia Kelly, CRNP, Katherine Lynch, RN, Megan Newsome, Dr. Ali Ozhand and Dr. William Zirkin.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Patient Centered Medical Home Comes Alive!

A core competency of the transforming GBMC HealthCare System is advanced primary care through the use of the Patient Centered Medical Home model. Dr. Mark Lamos, the medical director of GBMA and GBHA, and Dr. Robin Motter-Mast, the Chair of Family Medicine and medical director of PCMH have done a superb job of building our system from the ground up!

I have featured Family Care Associates and their new office built to support PCMH in this blog and I have covered work done at Hunt Manor and Hunt Valley previously. Six months ago, Dr. Kevin Ferentz assumed the role of lead physician at our Owings Mills Primary Care Center and Kevin has led a number of improvements since then.  

From his first day, Kevin started a change in culture at the office. He began by getting to know his staff and engaging them in a dialogue and he started addressing their concerns immediately. Kevin instituted monthly team and individual meetings where he shared data on the practice’s performance on our four Aims (clinical outcome data, work output, and patient engagement scores). He also began giving regular feedback to his colleagues on issues such as chart completion and following up with patients on lab values in a timely fashion. Kevin worked with his team to hold each other accountable for respectful behavior. A goal of this work is to transform the clinical staff into a cohesive, empowered group of “owners.”  By creating an increased sense of pride and allowing the staff to practice at the top of their abilities and licensure, the team can accomplish more and get more joy from their work.

Dr. Ferentz and his team are proud of the increased hours of operation (Including Saturday and Sunday hours for all appointment types) and new services offered at the practice. These include well-woman services, care for children of all ages, and minor surgical procedures and cryotherapy.  The practice now offers a broader range of treatments for those who are battling obesity. They now also have a Diabetic Clinic, the brainchild of Dr. Elena Ghiaur.  The Owings Mills team has seen that their patients clearly appreciate the new services as evidenced by improvement in their patient engagement scores. 

Dr. Ferentz attributes much of the improvement in the practice to his working relationship with his practice manager – Holly Carrington.  Holly joined the practice at “the right time” and Kevin credits her with doing a great job of helping him implement the vision. Dr. Ferentz added that he and Holly make all decisions regarding the practice in tandem and their ability to problem solve is based on open and on-going communication, combined with mutual respect.  

So, what are the goals for the Owings Mills practice for the next six months?  Dr. Ferentz envisions an additional office on the first floor of the building to accommodate his new partner Dr. Kevin Carter.  According to Dr. Ferentz, Dr. Carter’s arrival has already had a major impact, given his easy going attitude and his incredible work ethic. Both Drs. Carter and Ferentz share the same belief that “the secret to caring for the patient is caring for the patient.”  Dr. Ferentz expects that Dr. Carter’s practice will be the beginning of a much larger family practice on the first floor.

Dr. Ferentz believes that his team has already created a better working environment and improved care for their patients.  He is truly proud of his staff’s commitment and the practice’s achievements, but, acknowledges there is much work still left to be done! When you see Kevin, thank him and his team for their leadership. 

Come join the celebration!!
This coming Saturday, Sept. 26 we will have the 15th annual Legacy Chase steeplechase event at Shawan Downs. This event has become an annual tradition of steeplechase racing and family-friendly fun that draws more than 7,000 equestrian fans, friends and families from across the region.  Legacy Chase has become an annual social event; combining the excitement of steeple chasing with the beauty of the countryside. There’s more to the event than great horse races, there’s something for everyone – from live music to antique car displays and tons of kids’ activities including a stick pony race. Stretched across 300 acres of green meadows at Shawan Downs, Legacy Chase attracts visitors of all ages. Past attendees will gladly tell you that you don't need to be an avid steeplechase fan to have fun. Make it a family event and come and enjoy a day in the country.

Proceeds from the event will benefit oncology support services at the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute.  The Institute is the only comprehensive community cancer program certified with distinction by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer in the Baltimore region. GBMC has invested in talent and technology to provide the best for oncology patients. Whether they are in need of outpatient, inpatient, home care, hospice or survivorship services, the more than 2,000 new cancer patients annually at GBMC get the best care.

For more information, visit  I hope to see you there!

Thank you & Congratulations!!!

Last week, we enjoyed a wonderful celebration – the annual Employee Recognition Dinner, where we recognized nearly 500 employees for milestones in their employment with the organization.  This was a very important night, because we need to recognize our people for their dedication. It’s also a reminder to me of my duty to look to create opportunities for our staff to grow within our organization.

Fifty-nine employees were recognized for working at GBMC for 30 years or longer – including 38 recent retirees! This shows incredible dedication. In addition we also recognized 36 individuals who have been with us for a quarter of a century; 25 employees who have spent 20 years of their career at GBMC; 76 employees celebrating 15 years; 111 employees celebrating 10 years and a 159 employees celebrating five years of service (Including me, my how time flies!).

The band “Don’t Stop” with our own Landri Hardiek, from Oncology Support Services, as lead singer did an outstanding job and got many up on their feet and dancing throughout the evening. A number of our people participated in the entertainment including Deloris Tuggle, Lisa Griffee, Rachel Ridgely and the Jackson 5 (Dione Harrison, Ronnie Goode, Gloria Calderon, Holly Carrington and Alida 

Many thanks to Benita Robinson and the 
planning committee for all of their hard work. You all did an outstanding job!

Congratulations once again everyone and THANK YOU for your commitment to GBMC and our patients!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

An Outstanding Leader Joins the GBMC Senior Team

The entire GBMC Family is delighted to welcome this week our new senior vice president for patient care and chief nursing officer (CNO), JoAnn Z. Ioannou.

JoAnn is taking the position vacated this summer when Jody Porter retired. Jody’s dedication and insight were instrumental in GBMC HealthCare’s growth during her tenure.  Please join me in wishing Jody and her husband, Peter, all the best in their retirement.

JoAnn is a seasoned and dedicated nurse and manager who brings a vast amount of nursing and leadership experience to her position and to our organization.  Prior to joining us, she was the director of Neurosciences/Psychiatry Nursing at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Joann worked her way up the nursing ladder at Hopkins.

During her career, JoAnn has developed an outstanding record of implementing new programs and services while improving the quality of patient care.  Her background and skills will serve us well in this position.

So, please join me in welcoming JoAnn to our team.

Environmental Services Week 
This week is Environmental Services (EVS) & Housekeeping Week (Sept. 13—19) and I want to take time to recognize the contributions of our EVS staff.

We must all be grateful for the hard work and dedication of those who keep our facility clean.

Our EVS employees play a vital role in infection control, patient safety, and patient satisfaction.

There are over 100 EVS associates working “around the clock” at GBMC in a variety of roles servicing over 1.2 million square feet of facility.  So, please join me in honoring all the men and women of EVS.

Let's Unite to Help Our Community Through The United Way
GBMC HealthCare was founded to meet a need in our community. We give back every day by offering our patients exceptional care – the same care we’d want for our own loved ones. However, we shouldn’t stop there. Each year, we partner with the United Way to give back to the community in ways that go beyond the walls of our facilities.

This year, as we reflect on the 50 years of service we’ve provided, I encourage all of our employees to consider making a pledge as part of this year’s United Way campaign, which will run until Wednesday, Sept. 30.

No donation is too small. Even a few dollars or cents given each pay period via payroll deduction can have an impact and help someone.

For more information, please visit or if you would like to donate, please go to

I made my pledge. Will you join me?

Our Wonderful Chaplain Reaffirms His Priesthood
This past Saturday, I had the honor of participating in the reaffirmation of the priesthood of John Joseph Hart (2nd from left), our beloved chaplain, as
he has become a priest in the Episcopal Church. Please thank and congratulate Joe when you see him!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Make Sure Your Voice is Heard

With the August 31st deadline quickly approaching, I wanted to kindly remind you all to do your part and complete our annual Employee Engagement and Safety Survey.  The survey can easily be accessed through the icon on any GBMC desktop computer (see pic on right) or by clicking on this link

This year, the survey company, Press Ganey, will know who completed the survey so that your response can be assigned to the appropriate unit or department. But Press Ganey will not give any identifying information to anyone at GBMC. Your individual responses to the questions will not be shared! If you do, however, choose to include additional comments, these will be shared with your manager, but, your name will not be given.  Again, identifying yourself is important to ensure that your responses are appropriately linked to your department.

If you want to be included in a weekly drawing for a $100 prize, be sure to enter your name after you complete the survey.

Please complete the survey.  We use the information to see what we can do to make GBMC a better organization in which to work and a safer healthcare system for our patients. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How Do You Want Your Mother’s Care to Be?

We are working towards our vision of becoming the healthcare system where everyone, every time, is treated the way we want our own loved ones treated. The most important thing that we want when our loved one is sick is the best possible health outcome. But the second most important thing we want is the best possible care experience. We want our loved ones to be well informed by people who care; we don’t want long waits and delays; and we want the care in a clean, respectful environment.

About a decade ago, the federal government began requiring hospitals to ask their patients a standard set of questions after discharge so that patient satisfaction could be compared across hospitals. This system is called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems or HCAHPS.

The HCAHPS survey asks discharged patients 27 questions about their hospital stay. The survey contains 18 core questions about critical aspects of patients' hospital experiences (communication with nurses and doctors, the responsiveness of hospital staff, the cleanliness and quietness of the hospital environment, pain management, communication about medicines, discharge information, overall rating of hospital, and would they recommend the hospital).

So, the HCAHPS scores are the answer to the question “Are we getting closer to our vision under the aim of better care?” Another way to look at it is “Would you bring your mother to GBMC rather than another hospital because the evidence was that she would be always treated with respect and kindness?”

Some people argue that we should not pay attention to patient satisfaction scores because they are not often correlated with outstanding clinical process and health outcome measures. I think that this is silly. Health outcomes and care experience are two separate dimensions. If for a given hospital they are not both excellent, it just means that the hospital is not effectively working in one or the other or both. It clearly does not mean that being excellent in patient satisfaction causes worse clinical outcomes!

So where do we stand? Well, our overall score has been about average over the course of the last fiscal year. We clearly have work to do because we don’t want our loved ones going to an average hospital. But it is not because our people don’t work hard or don’t care. Our staff works very hard and they do care. When our scores are not excellent it is because our systems need some work. One of our dis-satisfiers is waiting for discharge. Why do patients wait so long after being told that they are ready to go home? It is because we have not designed a system to get the work done expeditiously. The doctors and nurses are working very hard doing other things.

I don’t think that we have done a good enough job enrolling our people in this care improvement work. We have not clearly stated what we are trying to do and given our staff time to discuss it and declare after the discussion that they will be fully engaged in this work. This is our biggest obstacle to improving the care….having the staff not see it as a burden but as a way to not only make the patients happier but to also make their work easier.

We have begun to hold focus groups in our departments and units to foster the enrollment process. The staff is being asked questions like:  “What are the barriers you find when you are trying to provide care to the patient that you would want for your own loved one?”

It doesn’t take long in these discussions before someone raises the question about staffing. It is unreasonable to think that we can do the work well if we are overwhelmed. We must make sure that we have the right number of workers to get the job done. But, we also need to make sure we get rid of wasteful steps to make sure that we are not bringing in more staff to do rework. An example of this is the “missing medication” problem that we have made such great progress on. I am still concerned that nurses are spending too much time looking for medications that they need. If they are spending a lot of time on this, it is not a good idea to bring in another nurse so that we can get all of the nurse work done. It is much better to unburden the nurse of the rework of calling the pharmacy multiple times and then giving the medications late.

Please get involved in improving our care to patients. It isn’t about the HCAHPS score, it’s about giving everyone what you want for your loved ones. Thank you for your hard work and please let me know what you think.

Congratulations to our team at the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, who under the direction of Dr. Gary Cohen, were among 20 accredited programs nationwide to receive the mid-year 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA) from the Commission on Cancer (COC) of the American College of Surgeons.

According to the COC, award criteria are based on qualitative and quantitative surveys conducted during the first half of the year and the purpose of the award is to raise the bar on quality cancer care, with a goal of increasing awareness about care choices for cancer patients and their loved ones. In presenting this award, the COC recognizes the outstanding quality of cancer services that the Berman Cancer Institute continues to provide to our patients.

Earlier this summer, our Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute and Sandra and Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Care Center along with its affiliated Advanced Radiology Breast Imaging Center were all given a three-year, full accreditation with commendation designation from the American College of Surgeons.

Please thank all of our team involved in the care of cancer patients and congratulate them on these deserved recognitions!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Making GBMC A More Diverse And Inclusive Company To Work In

Over the past nine months, a group of GBMC employees has been meeting to begin to discuss how to make our system an even better place to work. The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, led by Deloris Tuggle, Vice President of Human Resources, Bonnie Stein, Chair of the GBMC HealthCare Board, and me, has been discussing how to make our workforce more diverse at all levels and representative of the community we serve. In addition, the group has been discussing how to make everyone feel “included.” The best companies not only hire people of diverse characteristics and backgrounds, they also work intentionally to make their people  feel welcomed and not isolated.

The Task Force has created a draft Diversity and Inclusion Plan for this fiscal year and is presently interviewing candidates for the Director of Diversity and Inclusion position within our Human Resources Department.

It is often said that an organization cannot achieve its vision without a fully engaged workforce. To get everyone fully engaged, everyone must feel included. You will hear more as we find our new Director and begin acting on the plan over the next few months.

We get what we tolerate.

I threw a temper tantrum on Monday morning. I was walking down the hall to our first stop in Lean Daily Management when I came upon a stained floor where something had clearly dripped from a trash bag or trash cart from Unit 38 all the way to a closet outside of Radiology. Many GBMC employees were walking on the dirty floor (and had walked on it for a number of hours from the looks of the stain). I was upset for two reasons: the first was that we have not learned to get rid of trash carts with holes in the bottom - or we were still transporting bags not in carts; and the second (and more concerning thing) was that many of my wonderful GBMC colleagues had walked on the floor after the spill but had not taken action to get the mess cleaned up. What if your mother was sick and you were escorting her to Radiology along that corridor and she had seen the filthy floor? How would you feel? How would she feel?

Whose job is it to get the floor cleaned up?

I went and found an environmental services worker who gave me a mop and I began to mop the floor. Within minutes many people came and told me that I should not have to clean the floor and an environmental services crew took over and made the floor look beautiful. I have no problem cleaning the floor and I don’t mind pitching in when everyone is busy. That is not the point. The point is that no one should walk by a dirty floor. The first action is to call housekeeping and expect that the floor is cleaned expeditiously. If it cannot be cleaned by EVS quickly, then I believe that everyone should be ready to grab a mop. If we look the other way when we find things that are not the way we want for our own loved ones, then we will get more of what we tolerate – in this case dirty floors. What do you think?

2015 Employee Engagement and Safety Survey

Please complete our annual Employee Engagement and Safety Survey.  The survey is open through Monday, Aug. 31 and can easily be accessed through the icon on any GBMC desktop computer (see pic on right) or by clicking on this link
And, if you want to be included in a weekly drawing for a $100 prize, be sure to enter your name after you complete the survey.

Identifying yourself is important to ensure that your responses are appropriately linked to your department. The survey is completely CONFIDENTIAL, and your individual responses to the questions will not be shared! If you do, however, choose to include additional comments, these will be shared with your manager but your name will not be given.

Please complete the survey so that we can learn what we can do to make GBMC an even better place to work. Thanks!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Growing Surgery at GBMC

GBMC has always been a great surgical hospital. We have always had outstanding surgeons, nurses, physician’s assistants and technicians and they work very hard. Since the downturn in the economy and employers putting higher co-pays and deductibles in their insurance plans, there has been a reduction in the rate of many elective procedures. This, coupled with the fact that Maryland hospitals are now paid on the basis of a global budget, has given some people the impression that GBMC is not interested in attracting new surgical patients. Nothing could be further from the truth.

GBMC wants every patient in our community who needs surgery to have their procedure at GBMC if we are capable of providing it. Under the leadership of our Chair of Surgery, Dr. Jack Flowers, the Surgery Service Line has been strategizing to continue to improve the quality and efficiency of surgery at GBMC and to attract new surgeons and new patients.  Many will recall that last summer, after storms knocked out the electric power at both GBMC and St. Joseph’s, both institutions had to cancel surgeries. Since then, GBMC has spent close to $3 million to upgrade and reroute our ventilation and air conditioning systems and connect our generators to the systems maintaining cooling and humidity control to the operating rooms and our central sterile supply areas. We have had at least one power outage this summer but surgeries were not affected by the storm because we are now prepared.

We are beginning a study of our operating rooms to make them more efficient and make it easier for the staff to get the work done. We are also adding surgeons to our team in growth areas.

Just this month, a new bariatric surgeon, Gustavo (Gus) E. Bello, MD, hit the ground running in our Comprehensive Obesity Management Program.  Dr. Bello completed his residency at the Pennsylvania State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center where he served as chief resident in General Surgery.  Prior to joining GBMC Dr. Bello served as the Medical Director of the Uniontown Hospital Weight Loss Surgery Center.

Todd M. Melegari, MD, recently joined the Orthopaedic Specialists of Maryland practice at GBMC. Dr. Melegari earned his medical degree at MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine and he completed his residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.   Dr. Melegari is board-certified in Orthopaedic Surgery and was previously employed with Easton Orthopaedic Group at Coordinated Health in Pennsylvania.

Please join me in welcoming Drs. Bello & Melegari to the GBMC family.

New Physician Leaders at GBMC

Alex Munitz, MD, GBMC’s Chair of Radiology and Phil Komenda, the Director of Imaging and Cardiac Services have announced the appointment of Ethan Spiegler, MD, FACP as medical director for the Division of Nuclear Medicine and John Werner, MD, DABR, as medical director for Interventional Radiology.

Dr. Spiegler is a well respected and highly regarded physician in the Nuclear Medicine field.  He was instrumental in bringing PET CT imaging into the community setting by overseeing and directing the first units with Advanced Radiology and St. Agnes. He was co-author of the ERASE trial to risk stratify patients with chest pain with acute perfusion imaging in the emergency department.

Dr. Werner, who will be working to expand our Interventional program, has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and has many years of experience in the field of Interventional Radiology. While attending medical school, he was also working at the NIH’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics. Upon graduating from medical school he went on to complete his Radiology Residency at Albany Medical Center (that place sounds familiar to me) where he served as chief resident and then completed his Vascular and Interventional Radiology Fellowship at Johns Hopkins.

We are pleased that these outstanding physicians have joined the GBMC team and we look forward to the expansion of both programs under their leadership.

On a separate note, one of our beloved employees, Eric Melchior, earlier this month retired as our executive vice president and chief financial officer.  Eric’s 15 year GBMC career was stellar and highly impactful.  His dedication and insight were instrumental in GBMC HealthCare’s growth and financial success during his tenure.

Please join me in wishing Eric and his wife, Lynnette, all the best in their retirement.  Eric will truly be missed.

I am also pleased to announce that Robert “Bob” Thornton has assumed the position vacated by Eric. Prior to joining GBMC, he was the president of Patronus Healthcare Business Solutions in Tampa, Florida.  Thornton was also employed for 15 years as the executive vice president of finance and CFO for Bayfront Health System, a large, urban, multi-facility healthcare system in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Under Thornton’s leadership, Bayfront financed a campus expansion including a new women’s center, a heart center, 12 new operating room suites and a new eight-bed cardiovascular intensive care unit. He was able to deliver these projects, which greatly enhanced Bayfront's capacity in key clinical areas, while improving the system’s overall financial reserves and credit profile.

New Chief of Plastic Surgery

Congratulations to Alyson Wells, M.D., F.A.C.S. who was recently named as the new Chief of Plastic Surgery.  Dr. Wells is the first female physician appointed as division chief within our Department of Surgery.  She is replacing the retiring William Crawley, M.D., D.D.S., F.A.C.S., who headed the division since 2009.  She has researched extensively and published many professional papers in the fields of facial plastic surgery, organ transplantation and cancer.
Dr. Wells, an active medical staff member at GBMC since 2003, will be overseeing the work of 30 board-certified plastic surgeons on staff with practices that cover the entire spectrum of plastic surgery.

2015 Employee Engagement and Safety Survey

Please participate and complete our annual Employee Engagement and Safety Survey, which starts on Monday, August 3.  Your participation in the survey is vital so that we can learn what we can do to make GBMC an even better place to work.

Last year’s survey responses were used to generate significant change across GBMC HealthCare.  A few of these improvements included:  The creation of many unit-specific action plans; Implementation of a comprehensive Talent Management system, which includes career development planning; the Four Aims Recognition Program and the Perfect Attendance Program; and many celebrations of our staff throughout our 50Th Anniversary year including last week’s Employee, Physician and Volunteer Barbecue!

So thank you in advance for completing the survey!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Celebrating in the Summer!

There’s no doubt that the work of healthcare is hard. We spend so much time working to achieve our vision, to provide the care to everyone, every time that we would want for our own loved ones  that we sometimes forget the importance of stepping back for a moment to reflect on and to celebrate what we have achieved, together as the GBMC team. So, the timing was just right last week for our annual physician crab feast and our employee and volunteer BBQ.  These two events were great opportunities for our physicians, staff and volunteers to come together to celebrate what we have accomplished together, while also having some fun and enjoying comradery!

On Tuesday evening, after the triennial medical staff meeting, 156 physicians gathered under the tent for the annual crab feast. It was a great time to get together with long time friends and also to meet the new members of our medical staff!

On Wednesday, our Philanthropy Team, led by Jenny Coldiron, and our Marketing and Communications Team, led by Greg Shaffer, put on a fabulous day-long barbecue! The festivities began very early in the morning. The Philanthropy Team delivered breakfast to the night shift on the inpatient units. Lunches were delivered to offsite GBMA practices and Gilchrist home care staff were given food coupons that they could use at their convenience.  At 11 AM, the barbecue began. Hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, ice cream and many drinks were served. There were spectacular karaoke performers and bean toss participants. It was a great opportunity to party a bit together and leave our work behind even if only for an hour or so.

It’s fun to let go occasionally and celebrate each other and all of our accomplishments together. I think we should make the barbecue an annual event. What do you think?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Saving Medicare and Taxpayers (at least) $16,440,000 Annually While Improving Health and Care and Adding Joy

We formed the Greater Baltimore Health Alliance (GBHA) in 2012 so that our employed and private practicing physicians could participate in programs designed to help us reach our quadruple aim of better health outcomes and better care experience with less waste of resources and more joy for those providing the care. The first program with which GBHA contracted was the Medicare Shared Savings Program that came into being as part of the Affordable Care Act.

So how are we doing at making Medicare beneficiaries healthier and happier with their care? Are we saving any money? Are those individuals taking care of our patients any happier?

We now have more than two years worth of data and the results are pretty impressive. We serve roughly 12,000 Medicare beneficiaries in this program. In 2012, just before we started the program, Medicare costs for our patients were averaging $12,653 annually. In the first quarter of 2015, GBHA Medicare patients had an average annual cost of $11,283! Other accountable care organizations have also done well, but they have seen the average cost per beneficiary go up by approximately 1.4 percent (see the figure below).

This is a phenomenal accomplishment! Nationally, in the four decades from 1970 to 2010, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew at approximately the rate of growth of the Gross Domestic Product plus 2.7 percentage points annually, or in the range of 5.7 percent. . Not only are we not seeing the cost per beneficiary increase, but GBHA has actually reduced it by 10.8 percent over the past two years. With a $1,370 decrease per beneficiary and 12,000 beneficiaries served, we saved $16,440,000! That is not counting the projected five percent annual increase that was projected.
We have done this by reducing emergency department visits by 12 percent (see below),

and overall admissions to the hospital by 26 percent!

Our Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) are doing an excellent job of improving the health of their patients. Our physician-led care teams are holding themselves accountable for delivering evidence-based care to everyone-not just Medicare beneficiaries. These care teams receive monthly “scorecards” to track their progress, and meet regularly to see how their patients are doing and decide what they could do next to move closer to perfection. GBHA is one of the few healthcare organizations in Maryland that is measuring its performance on the “diabetes composite score.”  The score is made up of tracking five items that, if present, have been shown to increase the health of diabetic patients (Hemoglobin A1c in range, blood pressure in range, cholesterol in range, non-smoking, and utilizing a daily aspirin or blood thinner). GBHA is now in the top 15 percent of organizations nationally in diabetes care, and we are working hard to see that all of our patients have evidence-based screening tests completed. For example, our care teams are working on “tests of change” to see that everyone who should have had a colonoscopy performance-based on demographics such as age, medical history and other factors – has had one.

Additionally, the patient satisfaction scores for patients of our employed physicians have never been higher.

What about the joy of those providing the care? This is the hardest thing to measure, but anecdotally, the primary care physicians are happier that they now have the support of a team to get the work done.  We are no longer judging our primary care physicians solely on the number of patients they have seen, but are now supporting them in their quest for value-driven care.

We have many more metrics of health outcomes and care engagement that show improvement and I am so grateful to everyone on the GBMC team that is driving us closer to our vision.

Our community is taking notice. We are achieving better health and better care at lower cost and our team is finding more joy in its work. We still have more improvement work to do but I am so proud of all that has been accomplished so far.  Thank you!