Friday, May 1, 2015

A Time for Reflection

This has been a sad week for Baltimore. We have seen our city erupt in violence after the death of Freddie Gray. On Tuesday morning I saw a young GBMC colleague who is an African-American male and he looked a little tired. I asked him how he was doing and he told me that he hadn’t gotten much sleep because of the commotion in his neighborhood. I told him that I was sorry and that I was glad that he was safe and I thanked him for coming to work. I saw the same colleague the next day and he looked much better. He told me that he had gotten a better night’s sleep. He told me that the combination of the curfew and the presence of the National Guard had calmed his neighborhood. I again told him that I was glad that he was safe and I was happy to see him at work. What he said next stopped me in my tracks and had an immediate emotional effect on me. He apologized to me for what some people were doing in our city.

I felt very small and I didn’t know what to say. I live in the city, too, but my neighborhood was safe. There were no burning cars and no state police or National Guard. I agree with my GBMC colleague and President Obama that the people involved in looting and setting things on fire are in essence people who have perpetrated a crime. But, why did I deserve an apology? Why did my colleague believe that he owed me an apology? My young colleague appeared to want to take responsibility for the behavior of others. What was I willing to take responsibility for? So I asked myself what had I done to make our city, state, and country live up to the commitment of justice for all? What had I done to assure that all are treated with fairness and some are not singled out for abusive treatment? My answer was clear: not enough. The words of my young colleague caused me to rededicate myself to work for social justice, understanding, inclusion and helping others. I ask all in the GBMC family to do the same reflection.  To make an immediate impact, visit this webpage set up by the Mayor. It directs volunteers to specific areas where help is needed.

A few months ago we setup a diversity and inclusion task force. I hope that this group can help us break down barriers to dialogue and make GBMC a better place to work and by extension, our community a better…and safer….place to live.

The GBMC Cares Program

Doctors, nurses, and other clinicians are sometimes involved in episodes that hurt patients. We have become pretty good at racing to the aide of the patient, the “first” victim, and at improving systems to assure that the error can never again result in patient harm. But what have we done to help the “second” victim, the caregiver who now bears the emotional burden of the error?

When patients experience harm as a result of an error, It is also stressful for the caregivers—those who have dedicated their lives to helping others.  Caregivers, whether directly or indirectly involved, often feel tremendous guilt and isolation, which can lead to serious mental health issues.

Second victims are left feeling responsible for the event, sensing that they have failed or questioning their clinical judgment. It is critical to get timely support after such events. Earlier this month, under the direction of Carolyn Candiello, we launched a pilot program, called GBMC CARES, whose main goal is to provide “psychological first-aid” to our caregivers involved in a stressful patient event.   The program, developed by the Maryland Patient Safety Center in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Hospital Armstrong Institute, includes a rotating group of 20 volunteers from our hospital staff, who offer peer support for any staff member who encounters a stressful, patient-related event. CARES team services are free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the team is here to help:

• Increase awareness of the second victim problem
• Equip staff with healthy coping strategies to promote well-being
• Reassure and guide staff to continue thriving in their roles
• Identify other support 

I am proud to have this important program in our hospital.  We realize how critically important it is to have a mechanism in place to support our staff and improve our culture of safety. Help is now only a call or text away. To utilize the peer support services of the CARES team, call 443-849-CARE (2273).

A Well-Deserved Award

Congratulations to Colleen Moore our SAFE program’s Domestic Violence Coordinator!  Colleen will be awarded the Governor’s Victim Assistance Award: Outstanding Contribution to Victim Services.  The award recognizes outstanding work done in the area of victim advocacy and services that exceeds expected work responsibilities, and exemplifies a high level of commitment and dedication to the field of victims’ rights and services and to the victims themselves. Thank you for all your hard work at GBMC, as well as out in the community, Colleen.  Your recognition is well deserved!

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