Thursday, August 29, 2019

What I did on my summer vacation 2019

It’s important from time to time to spend time with family and to recharge your battery by resting and enjoying things other than work. So, this week I’ve been away, and I want to share a bit of what I have been up to.

Every morning, after making my coffee, I have spent an hour or so reviewing our Baldrige application. I know, I know, this doesn’t sound like leaving work behind, but our site visit is in a few weeks and reading the application makes me very proud of all that we have done using our core competency of redesigning care to move us closer to our vision.

I have also had a good time playing golf with my wife, Tracey, and going out to dinner. I have enjoyed jogging along the harbor where I ran into some ducks (almost literally).

But the highlight of the week so far was going with my son, Mike, to see Breaking Benjamin. Thanks to the band’s relationship to the GBMC SAFE program (see my previous blog post here) and the kindness of Ashley McAree, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, human trafficking liaison, with GBMC’s SAFE program, we met the members of the band and watched the concert from the stage after being invited by Breaking Benjamin’s lead singer, Ben Burnley! This has really been an excellent vacation!

Career Growth for Our Great Nurses

We are in a nursing shortage. Our population is aging, and we need more nurses. Nursing is a very demanding profession that requires selflessness and commitment, and the 1,200+ nurses across the GBMC HealthCare System exhibit these characteristics every day.

Our nurses stay with the GBMC Healthcare System for an average of 11 years. Under the leadership of our Chief Nursing Officer, Dr. JoAnn Ioannou, GBMC has created new career pathways in nursing to make it easier for a nurse to spend her or his whole career with GBMC.

In September, we are offering our nurses two internal networking events, hosted by the Workforce Planning Committee and our Human Resources Department, that will be an opportunity for nurses to explore different internal career pathways.

Matt Ayers, RN, PHR, Director of Talent Acquisitions for GBMC HealthCare recently sat down to tell us more about the upcoming networking events, slated for Tuesday, Sept. 10th and Thursday, Sept. 19th from 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. in the Civiletti Conference Center. Click here to listen!

Congratulations Dr. Sunness!

I want to congratulate Dr. Janet S. Sunness, Medical Director of the Richard E. Hoover Low Vision Rehabilitation Services, who recently achieved the major milestone of having treated 5,000 patients. Dr. Sunness is a prolific clinician-researcher in maculopathy and has provided significant contributions to her field, most specifically in the understanding of and defining parameters in clinical trials for the “dry” form of advanced age-related macular degeneration. Dr. Sunness expressed her thanks to GBMC, the Department of Ophthalmology, and The Richard E. Hoover Low Vision Rehabilitation Services for “being a warm home for me, that has allowed me to help patients clinically and with research.” Actually, we should be thanking Dr. Sunness for being a fantastic clinician and researcher and for helping to improve her patients’ quality of life!

Labor Day

As our country celebrates the hard work of the American people this Labor Day holiday, many of us will enjoy a three-day weekend. But, many of my colleagues will be working. Please let me thank all the phenomenal people of the GBMC HealthCare System for their labor towards our vision. Thank you!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Our SAFE Program Visits Our Nation’s Capital

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has categorized human trafficking as a “modern-day form of slavery,” and human trafficking is considered a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry on the rise in all 50 states. According to a recent report by the U.S. State Department, our country is, once again, ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking.

Last week, Laura Clary, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE, our SAFE clinical program manager, Ashley McAree, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, our human trafficking liaison, and Valerie Weir, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, CMSRN, coordinator for GBMC’s domestic violence program, presented at a conference, which focused on human trafficking trends, how agencies are combatting the issue on local, regional and national levels, and human trafficking case studies and available resources. The seminar was held by the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium (NTIC), sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a critical strategic initiative for sharing information across a range of natural and manmade threats.

GBMC is the first hospital in Baltimore County, and one of only a few in our state, that has an official policy and protocol in place for responding to victims of human trafficking. Our SAFE program was the only one in the Maryland/Washington DC region to present at this seminar and to offer insight on the healthcare response to this devastating issue. Laura and her team talked about our SAFE program and how it’s available on a 24/7 basis for confirmed human trafficking cases coming into the Emergency Department, as well as for consultations throughout the hospital. They also discussed best practices for the identification and treatment of victims of human sex trafficking at a hospital.

I want to congratulate Laura, Ashley, and Val for being part of this important conference and for their efforts to help raise awareness and to combat this problem.

Shedding our normal colors for…

Green and white are GBMC’s colors, but on Wednesday, August 28, we will be subbing our normal colors for lavender in honor of the 19th annual Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs event!

This event annually benefits the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute. Money raised allows us to continue our investment in talent and technology to provide the best for our oncology patients. In addition to the treatment patients receive, they also gain support from GBMC's Oncology Support Services team, which provides free counseling, education, and connections to organizations that help patients and families shoulder their burden during their treatment.

Why lavender? Lavender is the color that represents all cancers. I encourage all our staff to participate by wearing lavender clothing, accessories, or shoes! You will also see many different areas of our campus going lavender that day in promotion of our Legacy Chase event. For more information, visit here.

Blood Drive…Thursday, August 29th
Blood donation is vital to our ability to care for our patients. Please consider giving blood at our next American Red Cross Blood Drive slated for Thursday, August 29. Help us reach our goal of 100 pre-registered donors! The drive is from 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will take place in the Civiletti Conference Center. Register here to donate. Participants have the chance to win some great prizes! It’s easy, it doesn’t take much time, and you will literally be helping to save lives.

We recognize that there are individuals who are ineligible to donate for various reasons. If you or someone you know is ineligible to donate, ask a friend to donate on your behalf (you will both receive the perks)!

I am always very proud of the teamwork displayed through these drives, helping GBMC to be a leader in blood donation. I hope you all consider coming out and helping us with this very important endeavor. Thank you!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Do you have what you need to meet your goals today?

We have been using the technique called Lean Daily Management (LDM) for over six years. It has been a great way to create a company of focused problem solvers and to narrow the gap between the “front office” and the “front line.” At the end of every visit to an LDM board, the executives ask those who have just presented, “do you have everything you need to meet your goals today?”

We ask this question because we want to know if anything is making it hard for us to deliver the kind of care that we want for our own loved ones. If something is missing or broken, we want to address it right away. The Senior Team (the vice presidents and me) don’t deliver care. Our role is to thank those who do, to foster problem-solving and care redesign to get us closer to our vision, and to remove barriers to the provision of care. “Do you have everything you need to meet your goals today?” is a way to identify barriers that the local leader has not been able to take care of on his own or by working up the standard chain of command.

At a town hall meeting this week, I was reviewing our core competency of redesigning care with some nurses and nursing technicians. I was reflecting on the first day of LDM, back in 2013, when I learned that their unit had 38 missing medications during the preceding 24 hours. I told them that I felt like crying that day because we were letting them down. So much of their precious time was spent searching for something that should have been there. At the town hall meeting, I was very happy when the nurses told me that we had made their jobs easier after redesigning the medication delivery system. Missing medication is now a rare event on their unit! Over the past six years, we have become much more competent at redesigning care and care delivery systems.

I still believe that we have a lot of work to do to make sure that our people have what they need to meet their goals every day. We are actively working to fill vacancies to make sure that all of our units are fully staffed, and we have enough people to do the job right. I have noticed instances where people wait until LDM to report missing resources or broken processes. If you notice something that isn’t working, report it to your supervisor right away.

What do you think? Do you have what you need to meet your goals today? Please let me know by replying in the comments. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Nurse Icon Retires

This week we hosted a gathering to celebrate the career of Justine Kellar, RN, BSN, CENP, Director, Critical Care, Emergency Services and Medicine. Justine is retiring after 44 years of service to GBMC!

I remember writing about Justine in this blog back in 2010, shortly after I arrived in Baltimore. At that time, Justine had already given so much to our hospital as a staff nurse and nursing leader. She had excelled in patient care and was revered by her peers as an outstanding colleague, but what struck me the most was what the young nurses thought about her. These early-career nurses saw Justine as a mentor and a trusted adviser. I have come to understand through the years that Justine is a mentor to many, many nurses. Her younger colleagues knew that advice from Justine was of incredible value and that she would always look out for them.

When a person has served a healthcare organization for so long, I always reflect on how many patients they have helped and how many lives they have changed because of their care. With Justine, I must also reflect on how many careers she has helped to develop. The entire GBMC family is grateful for all that Justine has given us through those 44 years and we wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement!

A Flood and a Ball Game

I once again saw the commitment, patience, and diligence of our staff in action at GBMC this week. Sunday night, due to a water pressure issue stemming from the Baltimore City water system, Unit 34 (a general medicine floor) flooded. Our team of nurses acted swiftly as the water quickly began to rise to their ankles, moving patients to different units and continuing to monitor their conditions seamlessly throughout the disruption.

Situations like this remind us that things do not always go as planned; it is important to be able to adapt to changes and issues around you and to keep moving forward.

I would like to thank all the staff members of Unit 34 and their manager, Jill Silbert, RN, for their fabulous work and flexibility during this challenging situation. I would also like to thank Stacey McGreevy, Vice President of Support Services, David Brierley, Director of Sodexo Services, and Dr. JoAnn Ioannou, Chief Nursing Officer, for their on-site management of the situation, as well as all of our clinical, environmental, facilities and support services staff for rising to the occasion. Let me thank Eaze Restoration and their local rapid response crew for quickly coming to our aid and working to restore Unit 34 so that we may care for patients there as soon as possible.

Last night I attended our annual GBMC Night at the Yard & Birdland Social Night with many GBMC staff members, friends, and family. While I usually root for the Orioles, last night they played my beloved New York Yankees. It was a fun night at Camden Yards! I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to connect with our staff outside of the hospital setting and I hope everyone in attendance had a wonderful time.

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Surprisingly Well-Designed System

Last week, I was hurrying through Baltimore Washington International (BWI) airport on my way to attend the summer meeting of the American Hospital Association (AHA). I clearly had enough time to catch my flight, but I wanted to get something to eat before going to the gate. I checked my bag and headed for TSA screening. I showed the agent my ID and boarding pass and put my carry-on on the belt. I was about to walk through the screening device when I realized that I had my favorite GBMC ballpoint pen in my shirt pocket and my office keys in my pants pocket. So, I stepped back, grabbed a plastic bin, put the pen and keys in the bin, and pushed it into the screening machine. I then walked through, grabbed my carry-on, and headed to the food court.

Approximately 20 minutes later, when I had just passed through the boarding pass check and was on the jetway in line waiting to get on the plane, I realized that I had not grabbed my pen and keys at the TSA screening! I recognized that I did not have enough time to leave the line, explain what had happened to the gate agent, run back to TSA screening to get the pen and keys and run back to the plane. My heart sunk. I clearly could have gotten a new GBMC pen but the keys… I had a bunch of keys that would have taken me a long time and many steps to replace. 

I had visions of multiple phone calls that would go unanswered, offices that were closed, personnel showing their lack of caring about my plight, and me confronting a barrel full of lost keys and other items…I was not looking forward to what I would need to do that would probably all be futile.
But was I pleasantly surprised! When I got to my seat I googled “lost items BWI” and found a website that told me what to do if I had lost an item at TSA screening, in the airport, or on the plane. I chose “at TSA screening” and called the phone number listed. I got an answering machine with a message that told me to leave my name and phone number and that I would get a callback.

The next morning, while at the meeting I got a call from an agent at TSA lost and found at BWI. She asked me a few questions to assure that I was the owner of the pen and keys and then sent me an email immediately with my choices for getting them back. I could make an appointment to come and get them, I could send someone with the proper ID to get them, or TSA would bring them to the UPS store at the airport and UPS would deliver them to my home at my expense. This last option was the most attractive to me, so I called the UPS number on the email. A very courteous UPS employee answered the call and told me he would email a form and if I filled it out and sent it back (of course with my credit card information) they would be happy to deliver my keys. I completed the form and emailed it back. When I didn’t hear back from the agent in a couple of hours, I called him back. He reassured me that the pen and keys were already on their way to my home. This was validated by an email a few hours later showing me on a map the location of my items.

The next morning (and before 10AM as UPS had promised), my wife texted me with the following photo (she sent it because she too was incredulous).

I was really surprised that the TSA Lost and Found system was reliable and customer-focused. A story that started with my absent-minded error, had a happy ending. Thank you, TSA and UPS!