Thursday, October 31, 2019

Community Support for Sexual Assault Investigations

Earlier this week, I took part in a press conference led by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski that highlighted a $300,000 grant from Nancy Hackerman and the Hackerman Foundation to Baltimore County and the Baltimore County Police Department to aid cold case sexual assault investigations and improve current and future investigations. This funding will support the testing of rape kits taken before April 2018 and slides that have been stored at GBMC since the 1970s.

Readers of the blog may recall that in 2016, GBMC honored Dr. Rudiger Breitenecker as a Physician Titan. Dr. Breitenecker is credited with collecting forensic evidence that was ahead of its time. He founded GBMC’s Rape Care Center, a precursor to the hospital’s current SAFE Program, and he kept the pathology slides of the materials recovered from victims, which remain in storage to this day. Prior to joining GBMC’s department of pathology in 1967, Dr. Breitenecker worked as a medical examiner.

This new funding supports key recommendations from the Baltimore County Sexual Assault Investigations Task Force’s recently released final report to improve sexual assault investigations. The Task Force has a diverse roster of members, including our very own Laura Clary, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, CFN, CPEN, Program Manager of the GBMC SAFE/DV Program.


Nearly 13,000 physicians in the region voted for the physicians, in a variety of specialties, to whom they would send a member of their own family if they needed care. The Baltimore magazine annual “Top Doctors” issue was recently released, and it’s with a great deal of pride that I share this news with you: 110 GBMC HealthCare physicians, in 65 specialties, were recognized as “Top Doctors.” Several of these medical staff members were recognized in more than one category, and some have been recognized many years in a row!

Being recognized as a “Top Doctor” is an extraordinary honor because it is a selection by peers. We are so fortunate to have outstanding surgeons, internists, pediatricians, family physicians, and other wonderful specialists. Congratulations to all our physicians who were named 2019 “Top Doctors.” View a complete listing of our “Top Doctors” honorees here.

Speaking of Baltimore magazine, it's that time again - Baltimore magazine is collecting votes for its Excellence in Nursing issue. Please vote for nursing colleagues you most respect! The survey ends in late November and you can vote here. The results will be published in the May 2020 issue of Baltimore magazine and the winners will be invited to a special reception.

Congratulations to Dr. Blumberg
I want to congratulate Dr. Albert Blumberg, a retired GBMC radiation oncologist and one of our 50 Inaugural Physician Titans of Care, for recently being awarded the American College of Radiology Gold Medal for his extraordinary service to the College and to the discipline of radiology. Dr. Blumberg’s career spanned for more than 35 years at GBMC and he was part of a team that brought significant advances to the department. He truly deserves this recognition and we are proud of him for earning this prestigious honor.

Thank You, Readers, of Baltimore style magazine
Our medical center was recently recognized by readers of the publication as “Best Hospital.” I want to THANK all who voted for recognizing the hard work and dedication of our clinicians, support staff, and volunteers.

And yet another recognition….

Our Gilchrist Sub-Acute Unit was one of three units in Baltimore that received the highest rating on the U.S. News & World Report's 2019 list of the Best Nursing Homes. U.S. News & World Report released its annual report this week, which ranks nursing facilities nationwide on a 1-to-5 rating scale based on evaluations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, considering factors like patient care and safety outcomes, staffing data, and health inspection reports. The other two top-rated nursing facilities in Baltimore were the Maria Health Care Center and Transitional Care Services at Mercy Medical Center.

To read more about the award click here.

Happy Halloween! Here are some photos of our spirited staff dressed for the holiday: Radiation Oncology decorated as the Emerald City and our Maternal Child Health Nursing Leaders as Dominoes!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Good News for Individuals Buying Health Insurance

Many people have had “sticker shock” since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, when they have gone to purchase health insurance through the exchange. Well, this year, as we approach the annual open enrollment period, there is some good news; premiums are dropping by an average of 4% for 2020 plans. Here are some links to news stories if you want to learn more:

Obamacare premiums are dropping 4% for 2020 plans Premiums to Fall 4% in 2020

I am proud to announce that GBMC recently received the Surescripts White Coat Award, making it the first time we’ve earned this honor. The White Coat Award is Surescripts' highest recognition and it acknowledges organizations that are positively impacting patient safety, speed to therapy, first-fill adherence, and patient satisfaction by improving e-prescription accuracy.

Quality assurance in medication e-prescribing is vital in establishing a safer healthcare system. Optimizing the e-prescribing process can greatly improve care quality, reduce costs, and enhance patient safety—all while ensuring higher quality information every time the prescription data is used thereafter, such as in medication reconciliation

I want to congratulate Dave Hynson, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Cindy Ellis, Epic IT Application Director, Kay Everett, Epic IT Clinical Applications Manager, and all who were involved in helping us achieve this recognition.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Science and the Art of Medicine

This past week, I have done a lot of reflecting on the balance of standardization in healthcare processes and allowing experienced physicians and nurses to make decisions “in the moment” for their patients. My reflection was prompted by several conversations I’ve had with my colleagues about their challenges with creating this balance. While standardized processes are incredibly valuable, it’s difficult to standardize certain aspects of care, like the frequency of going into a room to check on a patient. We talked about the role of experts in healthcare and how they have to make decisions based on each individual patient.

In the early 20th century, when modern healthcare was still in its infancy, healthcare leaders began to realize that it was inappropriate for professionals to make treatment decisions that went against rigorously-researched best practices. Patients needed the assurance that their healthcare providers would follow scientific evidence and give them the best chance of recovering from their disease or injury. The Flexner Report of 1910 created standards for medical education and was seminal in creating a workforce of physician and nurse scientists, who were able to read the literature and distinguish facts from conjecture. The so-called evidence-based medicine movement began in the 1980’s and has continued to steer the industry away from autonomous experts making decisions however they saw fit.

At a meeting this week, a colleague was articulating the fact that some physicians are unclear in their role now that we have shifted towards becoming more standardized and protocolized. He also raised the concern that we may have gone too far in undervaluing experience.

My belief is that when we standardize what should be standardized, we create time for professionals to think about more complex decisions that cannot be standardized. When done correctly, standardization should be liberating for professionals, giving them the opportunity to use their experience as they search for answers to more complicated problems.

What do you think? Please let me know by responding to this blog.

Healthcare Security and Safety Week

Please join me in recognizing the GBMC security staff as this week is Healthcare Safety and Security Week (Oct. 13-19). This is a great time to thank those who keep us safe every day!

It is no easy task to protect the GBMC family on our campus, but it’s one that the GBMC security team does well, around the clock. They can be seen walking or stationed throughout our medical center from the emergency department to labor and delivery. Thank you to our security staff for their hard work and commitment, and the diligence they display in the practice of their profession.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

I want to thank Dave Hynson, GBMC’s Chief Information Officer, and his team for working hard to educate us about the threat of attacks on our computer systems and for continually working to minimize the harm from a potential attack.

Our ITS team has made great strides in defending our networks while preserving the efficient delivery of healthcare services. As technology and threats change, they are continually adjusting.

Remember…Don’t click links unless you are sure they are safe; don’t go to websites you aren’t familiar with, and ask IT for guidance if something doesn’t quite “seem right.” Let’s work together to keep our healthcare system safer from cybercrime. Thank you!

International Infection Prevention Week

This week is also International Infection Prevention Week (Oct. 13-19) and it’s a time to highlight the importance of infection prevention and raise awareness of everyone’s role in protecting the public from healthcare-acquired infections. Because of the significant rise in measles cases nationally, this year’s theme is: Vaccines Are Everybody’s Business.

Our Infection Prevention team members are healthcare professionals whose mission is to protect patients, visitors, volunteers, employees, and providers from healthcare-associated infections.

Please join me in thanking our Infection Prevention Department on a job well done!

Maryland and Our Nation Lose a Leader

On behalf of the GBMC HealthCare family I want to extend our condolences to the family, friends, and all of those touched by Congressman Elijah Cummings. He was a leader for Baltimore, Maryland, and our country. His advocacy on behalf of our community is irreplaceable.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

GBMC: A Leader in Breast Care

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so it’s fitting that I write about the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Care Center at GBMC. Since its inception, the Center has provided evidence-based care with kindness and compassion. Led by Director, Lauren A. Schnaper, MD, and Associate Director, Sara P. Fogarty, DO, the Breast Center team uses education and support to take some of the fear out of a breast cancer diagnosis. Aided by their colleagues, Angela M. Murrell, CRNP, and Barbara Raksin, RN, they have been delivering multidisciplinary care since before it was the standard for breast centers. The Center was designed with breast imaging capabilities and radiologists, who are experts in diseases of the breast, co-located within the breast surgeons’ office space. This facilitates quicker diagnoses through same-day needle biopsies and expert second opinions on abnormal imaging.

Patients learn about their therapeutic options and the incumbent risks and benefits. The team works to remove cancer and leave the smallest and least obtrusive scars possible, helping patients heal more quickly and mentally move forward after their treatment. The Center is proud of its cure rates and cosmetic results. Breast conservation is very important at our Center and the team’s mastectomy rate is less than 30 percent.

The Breast Center collaborates with other members of the GBMC Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, including social workers, integrative care providers, and oncology support staff. They also collaborate with medical and radiation oncologists and pathologists to diagnose, treat, and follow hundreds of women with new diagnoses of breast cancer every year. This group of talented professionals has an extremely collegial working relationship that allows them to provide outstanding and compassionate care to every patient. Let me thank them for all that they do for GBMC and for our patients.

Thank you!!!
This week, I would like to express my gratitude to the men and women who work hard to keep the patients and staff fed. This group of employees does much of its work “behind the scenes,” but the impact on our hospital and patient care is truly vital. So, as part of Healthcare Foodservice Week (Oct. 6-12), when you see members of our food service staff, please thank them and tell them what a great job they’re doing!

Please join me in celebrating all GBMC physician assistants (PAs) this week during National PA Week (Oct. 6-12). This is the week when PAs celebrate their profession and showcase the value they bring to today’s healthcare team. Let me thank our PAs for their commitment to their patients and for all their hard work every day.

This week is also Healthcare Supply Chain Week (Oct. 7-13), which celebrates resource and materials management professionals for their important contributions to healthcare. During Lean Daily Management (LDM) this week, I visited with our materials management team, led by Kendrick Wiggins, Kevin Edwards, our Supervisors of Materials Management, Brian Riemer, our Director of Materials Management, Ginger Brooks, our Clinical Manager of Value Analysis, and Michelle Bunty, our Purchasing Manager. I am so grateful for their work and that of those who work with them. We all benefit from the work of our entire supply chain team. Thanks for everything you do every day to assure that we have the supplies we need to get the job done.

Congratulations Dr. Semenza!!
I would like to congratulate Dr. Gregg Semenza, Director of the Vascular Research Program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering. He was one of a trio of researchers who, on Monday, was awarded this year’s prestigious Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. Semenza and his colleagues won this award for their pioneering work into how human cells respond to changing oxygen levels. Their research has been instrumental in understanding the mechanisms of disease, especially in anemia, stroke, myocardial infarction, and cancer. Congratulations Dr. Semenza!

Friday, October 4, 2019

A Well-Deserved Recognition

Earlier this week, I met with a few staff members from the Maryland Hospital Association (MHA) and talked about some of the major issues facing our state’s healthcare system. Toward the end of our conversation, one of the MHA employees congratulated me on all the transformation work that the GBMC HealthCare System is doing. We talked about many specific redesigns like our patient-centered medical homes and our most recent opening at the Helping Up Mission, as well as our Elder Care in the Home program and Gilchrist Center Baltimore. The MHA staff was particularly interested in learning about our Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) and Domestic Violence (DV) program. I told our colleagues how proud I was of this team and how much their work means to our community.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Our domestic violence program, led by Valerie Weir, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, CMSRN, Domestic Violence Coordinator, provides 24/7 in-house victim advocacy and serves more than 350 patients annually. Under the leadership of Laura Clary, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, CFN, CPEN, our SAFE program is also a key resource for victims of sexual assault and survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). At no cost to the patient, our SAFE and DV nurses focus on empowering survivors to begin the healing process, in addition to working toward ending sexual assault and IPV in the community.

Last week, several members of the GBMC SAFE and DV program presented at the 13th Annual Baltimore County In Plain Sight Domestic Violence Conference. This year’s event had approximately 250 attendees, which included representatives from several county offices, along with the Baltimore County Office of the States Attorney, Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County, and the Baltimore County Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee. Joining Valerie at this conference were her colleagues Roz Berkowitz, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, Lisa Brengle, BSN, RN, FNE A/P, Evelyn Kim, BSN, RN, FNE A/P, SANE-A, and Ashley McAree, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A. They presented on the topics of the neurobiology of trauma, non-fatal strangulation, and forensic nursing and human trafficking.

Let me thank them for their hard work and expertise, and for educating our community. Their work is being noticed and held up as an example for others to follow.

Another Great Legacy Chase

The 19th running of The Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs last weekend was a major success. Nice weather, beautiful horses, a scenic countryside setting, and many family and friends – there were more than 6,000 attendees this year – coming together created a spectacular event.

It was all for a good cause, as the more than $225,000 raised will go toward Oncology Support Services at the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute.

I thank all who attended and all who donated time or treasure. Special thanks to the GBMC Philanthropy and Marketing Departments, which worked so hard in putting the event together.

Congratulations, Dr. Ioannou!
I am proud to announce that JoAnn Ioannou, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, our Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer, was recently named a 2019 Woman to Watch by The Baltimore Sun.

Dr. Ioannou was one of 25 women selected by the newspaper. She was chosen because she has “positioned GBMC HealthCare at the forefront of a nursing revolution in which we celebrate nursing as an art form — the art of science, knowledge, and caring – and because of her passion for nursing.” Congrats JoAnn!