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!