Thursday, June 25, 2015

Leadership and Better Health Outcomes

This week the GBMC Obstetrics team was recognized by the March of Dimes for having eliminated pre-term (before 39 weeks gestation) elective births.

No one questions inducing pre-term labor or doing a pre-term cesarean section for good medical reasons. But if you induce enough pre-term vaginal births or do enough pre-term cesarean sections for the convenience of the family or members of the care team, you will eventually harm a baby who has retained lung fluid and must receive intensive care. This has never been a big issue at GBMC but under the leadership of Dr. Victor Khouzami, GBMC’s Chairman of Obstetrics and Director of the Women’s Service Line, it has now been many months since we had a pre-term elective birth.

This achievement was recognized through the presentation of a banner from the March of Dimes, the Maryland Patient Safety Center and the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.  The banner will be displayed within the hospital – indicating our strong commitment to improving the quality of care for moms and babies.

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


This past Sunday, I spent part of Father’s Day running at the 27th annual GBMC Father’s Day 5K. It was a great day and I was fortunate again to have my daughter, Caroline, running with me.

I was humbled to see so many dedicated members of the community and the GBMC staff come out and run for this terrific cause – raising money for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  I want to thank the more than 800 participants and I am proud to report that this year’s event helped to raise more than $160,000 to help support the NICU babies and their families.  

I also had the opportunity to meet some of the “graduates” of our NICU and their parents and so many other wonderful people.  I was thrilled to hand out awards to the winners as well.

I must admit that the outpouring of community support was incredible and I truly felt so much pride for the wonderful volunteers as well as GBMC’s NICU doctors, nurses, technicians and others who dedicate their lives to the health of babies.  In 27 years, the GBMC Father’s Day 5K has raised more than $1.9 million for critically ill and premature babies and that has helped us over the years purchase lifesaving technology and services for our NICU babies and their families.  GBMC’s NICU is one of the largest in the area, caring for over 400 babies annually.  In honor of GBMC’s 50th anniversary celebration, this year’s race fundraising goal was $200,000 to mark the 200,000 babies born at GBMC since 1965, the year it was founded. So, if you want to contribute it’s still not too late to give – you can go to and click on the "Register" link. Donations can be made this week and will close July 1.

I also want to thank everyone involved in our community Wellness Fair which featured health-related vendors, as well as a "Baby Doll/Stuffed Animal Hospital" for injured dolls and bears to receive loving treatment and repairs as needed. Additionally, MIX 106.5 Radio was on-site with its Friends and Neighbors van playing music and sharing prizes. The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore was also present with fun animal friends for the kids’ area. Great work everyone!!!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Running for GBMC’s Tiniest Patients

One of the biggest annual events for the GBMC HealthCare system is coming up.  On Sunday, June 21st, we’re holding the 27th Annual GBMC Father’s Day 5K & 1 Mile Fun Walk at the GBMC campus to benefit the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

In honor of our 50th anniversary celebration, this year’s race fundraising goal is $200,000 to mark the 200,000 babies born at GBMC since 1965, the year it was founded.  Since 1965, approximately 20,000 babies have slept in its incubators, used its Human Milk Bank, warmed in its Giraffe beds and snuggled under its blankets.  Our NICU, under the direction of Howard Birenbaum MD, and Eva Stone, RN, provide outstanding care to premature and sick newborns. Not only is the event a great fundraiser but it is also a wonderful opportunity to see so many thriving children and adults who are NICU graduates.
As part of the 50th anniversary celebration with the community, this year's GBMC Father's Day 5K race will feature a Wellness Fair, open to not only race participants, but the entire community!  The Wellness Fair will be open from 7 a.m. - 12 p.m. in the South Chapman parking lot featuring health-related vendors, as well as a "Baby Doll/Stuffed Animal Hospital" for injured dolls and bears to receive loving care treatment and repairs as needed. Additionally, MIX 106.5 Radio will be on-site with its Friends and Neighbors van playing music and sharing prizes.

I encourage you to sign up today and visit I’ll be out there running, come join me! Your support will touch more than 500 critically ill and premature babies cared for every year in GBMC’s NICU and help us during our 50th anniversary year, in celebrating the healthcare system GBMC has become!

…also, Happy Father’s Day to all of the Fathers in our GBMC Family!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The World is One Village

Last weekend, I participated in the 3rd annual Middle East Forum for Quality Improvement in Health Care in Doha, the capital of Qatar on the Persian Gulf. The conference was sponsored jointly by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). The IHI was started more than 25 years ago by Drs. Donald Berwick and Paul Batalden. It is currently involved in projects in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia and is the world’s foremost organization for health
care improvement. Hamad Medical Corporation operates eight hospitals in Qatar and provides most of the care in that country. I gave a plenary address to the 2,500 delegates and also taught a workshop on patient flow with, my friend and colleague, Dr. John Boulton. John directs quality improvement at Hamad General Hospital in Doha. He visited GBMC as an IHI fellow in 2013.

I had never been to the Middle East before, so I was not sure what to expect and the trip was quite an adventure. I arrived in Doha after a 13-hour flight from Dulles. The Doha airport is very new and has all the amenities. The city has an incredible skyline with many 20 to 30-floor skyscrapers most of which have been built in the last decade. There is a sprawling landscape with homes for the 1.8 million inhabitants of the country, 300,000 of which are Qataris and the others are immigrant workers. Being in the desert, all of Qatar’s water comes from desalination. It is amazing how much green space there is in the city as it must all be irrigated by Doha’s complex system.

I stayed in a beautiful hotel in the center of the city that was attached to a very large indoor shopping mall that was complete with an ice skating rink! When I told a Qatari that I was surprised to find an indoor skating rink, he told me that since it was so hot there during the summer people stayed inside where it was air-conditioned or they went to the mall. While I was in Doha, it was above 100 degrees every day and it did not go below 80 at night. 

John gave me a tour of the sprawling campus that contains both Hamad General and the Women’s Hospital, where they deliver 12,000 babies per year. The two hospitals see a combined 1,500 emergency department patients per day! There are almost no primary care offices so everything goes
to the ED.

The amount of construction going on was incredible. There were cranes everywhere building schools, universities, hospitals, homes and office buildings. Since this was going on in the desert, sand was blowing everywhere. Qatar is scheduled to be the site of the 2020 Soccer World Cup Tournament, so the country is working hard to have its infrastructure in place by then. Outside of my hotel, an elevated metro line was being built. Transportation lines will be necessary for the World Cup and also to move Qatar’s growing population.

The Middle East Forum for Quality Improvement in Health Care meeting was at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC). The Center was completed a few years ago and it was huge. Disney on Ice was also performing at the QNCC while we were there. It was amazing to see families from all over the world with little children going to see the show.

The conference focused on patient safety, clinical quality, patient engagement and patient flow. Some of the highlights were the 200 posters presented mostly by teams from Hamad, a plenary by ex-astronaut, physician, diver and now hospital executive in Canada, Dave Williams, and one by Mark Gallagher, a Formula One racing executive. This presentation was a fascinating recounting of how Formula One had gone from having on average one driver death per year to no fatalities over the last eight years by studying the root causes of all mishaps and by applying human factors analysis to make the racing much safer.

I used the theme “The World is One Village” in my plenary address on flow. I wanted to leave the delegates from HMC with the message that the science of patient flow applies everywhere and we all struggle with the same issues (although the magnitude of the problem may be quite different.) There is a great need for dialogue and understanding in the world, and discussing how to solve the healthcare dilemmas of a country was a great opportunity for beginning this dialogue. I was also honored to be presenting as a plenary because my friend and mentor, Dr. Berwick, was presenting the day’s other plenary.

I learned so much during my trip and made many new friends. I was glad to have been a part of the conference, but I am also happy to be back home with a reinvigorated sense of pride for all that we do in our healthcare system at GBMC. I have greater appreciation for all that we have going for us.