Friday, July 26, 2019

Town Hall Meetings: narrowing the gap between the front office and the front line

I recently began holding annual Town Hall Meetings with the assistance of Anna-Maria Palmer, Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer. These meetings are a way for us to share information about our healthcare system, to hear from our people about what matters to them, and to discuss how we can continue to improve.

The larger the organization, the harder it is to communicate with everyone, so we schedule these face-to-face gatherings as one vehicle for letting people know what is going on and to listen to what is on their minds. Some of the meetings are held in the Civiletti Conference Center, and we also travel to physician offices, departments, and units throughout the system. We want to hear from our colleagues in the hospital, in GBMC Health Partners, and in Gilchrist.

We welcome everyone to come with questions and ideas, and I encourage all GBMC staff members to attend at least one of the 19 scheduled meetings that run through October 7. If a manager would like us to come to a unit or department, please contact Richelle Tighe at and we will be happy to schedule a meeting.

Some of the important topics we will be covering include:

An update on our system goals
The results of our recent employee engagement survey
Facilities improvements

Again, these meetings provide an opportunity to ask questions, raise issues, share information, and clarify key objectives. If you would like to submit a question prior to the meeting, please submit it via email to Richelle Tighe at

The value of these meetings is directly related to your participation, so we look forward to seeing you there! The detailed schedule is available on the GBMC InfoWeb page. Please mark your calendars!

Congratulations Laurie Beyer
I’d like to congratulate our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Laurie R. Beyer, BS, MBA, CPA, who was recently named by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of 106 hospitals and health system “CFOs to Know” in its 2019 list of top performers. The annual list is curated from CFOs nationwide who lead financial departments at health systems and community hospitals.

More Accolades
A few weeks ago, I mentioned how the GBMC HealthCare system had received significant recognitions from two print media outlets. Now I am pleased to announce that GBMC was selected by the readers of Baltimore’s Child magazine as the “Best ER for Kids” and “Best Place to Deliver a Baby.” Congratulations to everyone in Maternal-Child Health for your outstanding work!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Taking Performance Improvement to the Next Level Using Lean Tools

Since April, a team led by Rhonda Wyskiel, Director of Performance Improvement and Innovation, has redesigning the care of medicine patients from the time that they arrive in the Emergency Department through their inpatient admission and discharge from the hospital. The team has included the people doing the work: physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses, other clinicians, and support personnel. The goal is to take what we have learned over the last six years in our use of Lean Daily Management (LDM) and redesign further while building a strong accountability model for executing change to drive us faster towards our vision.

Rhonda told me: “This innovative care redesign work that we have embarked on is some of the most meaningful work that I have done to date in my career, namely because it is building off GBMC Lean Daily Management, which has fostered a culture of improvement in the organization in a way that is palpable. The key stakeholders and frontline staff who have been eagerly immersed in this work are energized in a way that is contagious.”

The new design is much more granular. Team members started by creating job instructions for the most important tasks and visual management boards that the team will update as they do their work. Managers will document that their people have been educated on the standard work and learn daily why the standard work was not completed. This will prompt them to create the next test of change using the model for improvement. Implementing the new system will be done in steps. The current units affected are the Emergency Department, Medical Intensive Care Unit, and Unit 45. Once the new system is rolled out and a new steady state is achieved, it will be spread to the other medicine units and then on to the rest of the hospital. This is a fabulous next step for us as we get better at getting better! I want to thank Rhonda, and all who have been working with her for this great work.

The Yanks Are Coming to The Yard
Circle Wednesday, August 7th on your calendars for this year’s GBMC Night at the Yard & Birdland Social Night. This year’s game should be interesting as the Orioles are taking on my beloved New York Yankees. I root for the Orioles except when they are playing the Yankees. I am preparing myself to be a good sport that evening.  I think we will have a good time together regardless of the final score.

Please join me and your colleagues – and bring your family and friends too – to this year’s GBMC Night at the Yard & Birdland Social Night. For more information or to get your discounted tickets to the game and for your Orioles-themed giveaway (one per ticket), go here. Hope to see many of you at “The Yard!”

Friday, July 12, 2019

Celebrating under the Summer Sun

Every single day throughout the year, our doctors, nurses, technicians, and all employees at GBMC work to move us closer to our vision to serve everyone the way we want our own loved ones served. This week, we took time to have some fun and thank our staff at our Employee and Volunteer BBQ for everything they do day-in and day-out in our system of care. The annual event allows our staff to step back, relax, and spend time with coworkers in a casual setting. This year, we also celebrated with a special Western theme.

As always, the festivities kicked off in the morning for our day-shift staff, with a continuation of the party in the evening to allow our night-shift staff to be recognized as well. Everyone enjoyed watching their coworkers sing karaoke and cool off with snowballs from the Kona Ice truck, all while fitting with the Western theme of playing horseshoes, lasso roping games and new this year – riding a mechanical bull. I hope everyone had the chance to try to stay on the bull for 8 seconds! I had a hard time getting on, but I made it through 52 seconds. I was glad that I was still in one piece after I fell off!

We also once again hosted a Legacy Chase Ribbon Contest in which departments, units, and practices decorated 3ft x 2ft three-dimensional awareness-shaped ribbons for the chance to win a pizza party. A round of applause to all the teams who participated! All ribbons were judged and the following teams were declared the winners of the three groups:

  • Best Departmental/Unit Theme:  X-Ray
  • Best Legacy Chase Theme: Quality and Patient Safety
  • Best Cancer Awareness Theme:  Oncology Support Services

I also want to give a special thanks to our Philanthropy Team, led by Jenny Coldiron, our Human Resources Team, led by Anna-Maria Palmer, and our Marketing and Communications Team, led by Greg Shaffer, whose planning made the fabulous employee BBQ possible for all of us once again. Your hard work brings us all together to move closer to our vision to provide the care to every patient, every time, that we would want for our own loved ones.


ICYMI: I talked to the Daily Record recently about how we can do even better in U.S. healthcare. Below is an excerpt, but you can read the full version here.

Before Dr. John Chessare took over as president and CEO of Greater Baltimore Medical Center nine years ago, the hospital’s board asked him whether GBMC could remain independent at a time when other hospitals across the state and the country were consolidating.

Chessare told them that it could, but it would require the hospital to commit to a transformation of how it cared for people, including an increased focus on treating people before they ever came to the hospital.

“My basic premise is the average man on the street in Baltimore has no idea, has no idea that health care could be so much better if we could just redesign care to get closer to what the patient actually needs,” Chessare said. “There’s no doubt (we) do a great job in the hospital, but we are not doing what we need to do in the management of chronic disease.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

One Patient One Record – An Update

It’s been close to three years since we went live with Epic as our electronic medical record (EMR), a “big bang” across the entire GBMC HealthCare System. And, I will admit that there were many “growing pains” along the way. Today, patients truly now have only one record at GBMC. It is without question that our success has been based on much hard work over the years and a big team effort.

That effort was recognized two years ago when we were presented with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics Stage 7 Award; we became one of only two organizations in Maryland to achieve this for both the inpatient and ambulatory settings. This accomplishment was due to the commitment and the hard work of the GBMC staff, including our highly skilled team of physicians, nurses, other clinicians, and IT professionals.

We have now been recognized again. Epic recently awarded us with Magna Cum Laude status in its Honor Roll Program. The recognition program is based on achieving continuous improvements in patient outcomes, quality of care, workflow efficiency, and financial performance. This is a unique distinction that is not held by many across the United States.

To talk about the award and what it all means, I've asked Dave Hynson, our Chief Information Officer, to discuss this with me in this week’s blog.

Dave, first let me start off by congratulating you and your team! Briefly tell us more about this award and why is it significant for our healthcare system?
Thank you, Dr. Chessare, for your kind words and for highlighting our recognition from the Epic Honor Roll program.  This achievement was truly a team effort.

Reaching Honor Roll status is based on strategies, lessons learned, and best practices distilled from Epic’s experience serving healthcare organizations There are three levels of program achievement based on the number of components completed: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude. The GBMC Epic team participated in this program in March and successfully obtained Magna Cum Laude! GBMC is now one of the three Epic organizations to date to have received this award for 2019.

Can you tell us how we were able to achieve this recognition?
The GBMC Epic team reviewed the Honor Roll requirements and created a workgroup that established leads for each portion of the Honor Roll checklist. Action plans were then created, and meetings held with key operational stakeholders to review the criteria and evaluate the benefits to GBMC and align the work with our quadruple aim. Through strong collaboration and communication, we implemented functionality within Epic that streamlined care delivery for our patients and enhanced end-user workflow. In addition, we further engaged patients as active members of their care team with tools that allowed them to self-schedule appointments, review their test results, and read notes from their providers in MyChart.

What are some of the next steps to help us receive the Summa Cum Laude distinction?
As we continue to leverage the Epic software, one of the main components is the infrastructure and meeting the standards for system response time and performance. Fast system response time and downtime preparedness increases productivity and better care delivery for our patients. By maximizing the performance of the system, the team can ensure that it is built for user efficiency and patient safety, so the focus can remain on our four aims. 

What are some helpful changes for our staff and patients, or important upgrades to Epic that might be taking place in the near or distant future?
We have moved to quarterly upgrades that allow us to incorporate enhancements and refuel the system more regularly. We have an upgrade planned for October 23rd of this year and new features will be introduced at that time. The team is working to identify the enhancements now and then will partner with operations to create a roadmap for development, conduct end-user testing, and offer any training necessary before implementing the changes.

I sincerely thank Dave and his entire team for all they do every day to reach our vision of being the community-based health system where every patient, every time gets the care that we would want for our own loved ones. I applaud them for their commitment and their excellence!

Accolades from Near and Afar
I am proud to announce a couple of significant recognitions from two print media outlets – one local and another national.

GBMC HealthCare was recently included in the inaugural Forbes list of America’s Best-in-State Employers 2019! GBMC was one of seven healthcare systems being recognized in the state of Maryland. The selection process was based on an independent survey from a vast sample of more than 80,000 U.S. employees working for companies employing at least 500 people in their U.S. operations. Employees were asked to rate their willingness to recommend their own employers to friends and family; participants were also prompted to evaluate other employers in their respective industries that stood out either positively or negatively.

The Baltimore Jewish Times also unveiled its list of “Best of Jewish Baltimore 2019” last week. GBMC was named “Best Hospital” by the readers of the Jewish Times.  I am truly proud of the great reputation we have among the Jewish community and for their trust in GBMC to meet their healthcare needs.

Stroke Center Award
I also want to congratulate our Primary Stroke Center which, under the leadership of Michael Sellman, MD, and Aaliyah Franks, RN, was recently selected for the 2019 AHA Gold Plus and Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite.  This award recognizes our Stroke Center’s strong commitment to quality stroke care according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines built on the latest scientific evidence.

The award is given by The American Heart Association (AHA) in recognition of hospitals that met specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. These measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. Before discharge, patients should also receive education on managing their health, get a follow-up visit scheduled, as well as other care transition interventions.

This award is the result of the hard work of our entire stroke team and demonstrates GBMC’s high level of commitment and expertise in caring for stroke patients. With an aging population, we are at the ready to provide superior care to all GBMC stroke patients, day in and day out. Great work & congratulations!

Happy Birthday to Us! 
I want to wish everyone in our GBMC family a safe and happy fourth of July. The Independence Day Holiday is the birthday of our great country..the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let's take some time to reflect on what we can each do to make our country even better than it is today.