Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Moving Proximate

Baltimore is a fabulous place. We have the natural beauty of the Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay, world-class universities and museums, many fabulous neighborhoods, a growing number of excellent restaurants and the return of a marvelous jazz scene, among many other wonderful traits. (Super Bowl. Anyone?)

But we also know that our wonderful city has its challenges. Our crime and murder rates are unacceptable. While suburban Baltimore is well served by the healthcare community, many of our inner-city neighborhoods lack primary care. Experts have stated that to make significant inroads on a social problem of scale, you must move closer to the problem. You must “get proximate.” https://www.carnegiefoundation.org/blog/empathy-and-social-justice-the-power-of-proximity-in-improvement-science/

So, the GBMC HealthCare System is doing just that. Last Friday, we held a reception to celebrate our newest advanced primary care practice in Baltimore City that has been serving men dealing with substance abuse who are residents at the Helping Up Mission (HUM).

We partnered with HUM because they needed us to deliver accountable primary care to their residents and to get ready for the opening of their new facility, currently under construction, that will serve addicted women and their children. 

Since June, under the direction of James Baronas, MD, Medical Director for GBMC Health Partners at Helping Up Mission, the facility has delivered advanced primary care to more than 500 of HUM’s clients and more than 1,500 graduates, who are encouraged to continue their recovery and remain accountable through the HUM Alumni Program.

When we agreed to build a patient-centered medical home at HUM, we did it under the condition that we could use the site to also serve the Jonestown neighborhood – to move proximate. There's just a huge need for people living in this community to get the medical care they need from experts who will hold themselves accountable for our four aims along with those they serve.

Under the guidance of Harold J. Tucker, MD, Chief Medical Officer and leader of GBMC Health Partners, and Erlene Washington, Chief Operating Officer of GBMC HealthPartners and GBMC Vice President for Physician Practice Management, our team-based approach to care will help to bring the neighborhood back.

And as I have mentioned previously in this blog, what makes this relationship even more special is it brings GBMC back to its roots; the site of GBMC at Helping Up Mission once housed the Presbyterian Eye, Ear & Throat Charity Hospital, one of GBMC's founding institutions.

Please join me in celebrating the official opening of our newest practice and congratulating Dr. Tucker, Dr. Baronas, practice manager Ericka Easley and their excellent staff at HUM, along with Mr. Robert K. Gehman, Helping Up Mission CEO, for moving proximate to help those in need. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!
I would like to wish a happy Thanksgiving to all my GBMC colleagues. Thanks for your expertise, hard work, and compassion that helps us move closer to our vision of being a community-based health system where every patient, every time, is treated the way we would want our own loved ones treated. I am also grateful for the community of patients who entrust their care to us.

I also want to extend a “Thank You” to our people who are working on Thanksgiving, or during the extended holiday weekend, caring for our patients and helping to support their loved ones and visitors.

Again, wishing you all a joyful Thanksgiving!

P.S. What are you thankful for during this time? I’d love to hear about it – please leave me a comment!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Recognition for an Outstanding Service to Our Community

GBMC has a long history of caring for women and their babies before, during, and after childbirth. We are very proud of our obstetrical services (with good reason!).

The Joint Commission began offering Advanced Perinatal Certification a few years ago. So, we decided to apply for this special certification. We were also very interested in the improvement opportunities inherent in comparing our current performance against best practice standards. We submitted our application this past July, and this week we hosted two Joint Commission Surveyors for our site visit.

I attended the opening session and continue to be very impressed with all that we are doing to deliver the kind of care that we would want for our own loved ones. I also attended the closing session, during which the surveyors complimented Dr. Victor Khouzami, our Chair of Obstetrics, and Lisa Groff, RN, our Director of Women’s Services, for the excellence of our perinatal program. While we have not yet received the official word, I am convinced that we will hear that we have achieved the certification, and when we do, we will be the first and only hospital in Maryland with this distinction. We are confident that through this process, we will improve our program to provide even better care for future patients and their families. Congratulations to all!

Tribute wall recognizes historic and significant impact of volunteers 
On Wednesday, we held a dedication of our new tribute wall to recognize the historic and significant impact of our volunteers. The tribute wall provides a glimpse of the unique history of the GBMC Volunteer Auxiliary and how a community of volunteers helped bring the organization to life in the early 1960s. It celebrates the role of volunteers in the growth of GBMC HealthCare through the decades, including the creation of Gilchrist in 1994. Tribute is also payed to those volunteers who have reached significant milestones in their individual volunteer journeys.

Today, their legacy is a system of care that includes more than 1,000 volunteers who donate their time and talent to GBMC HealthCare. Since 1963, our volunteers have given more than 3,376,000 hours to support the patients of both GBMC and Gilchrist and have all played a unique role in the delivery of care. Many of them have loved ones who received care, or they have been patients themselves. As patients and volunteers, their voices are represented in every aspect of care delivery. They serve on numerous committees, including the Patient and Family Advisory Councils, Quality and Safety, Medical Ethics, Spiritual Support, Philanthropy, and many others.

Our volunteers give selflessly to others, and they understand the value and importance of a friendly smile and the comfort of kind words in the healing process. The efforts of our volunteers are rewarding for them, in addition to being of great service to our patients and employees. I’m extremely grateful for their dedication and hard work and for the wonderful job they do.

I want to thank Carmen C. Baeza, GBMC Director of Volunteer Services, and everyone who helped to make this wall possible, especially our Philanthropy Department.

GBMC Thanksgiving Day Turkeys and the Community
As part of our time-honored tradition, GBMC provides turkeys for our employees and volunteers across our healthcare system to share with their families during Thanksgiving. While many on our team receive their turkeys, many choose to donate their turkeys to local charities. Chaplain Joe Hart and his team work along with our community partners to forge relationships of support during various occasions and holidays throughout the year. Thanksgiving is a season when we donate turkeys to the Assistance Center of Towson Churches, the William S. Baer School for Children with special needs, and the Maryland Food Bank. These agencies have food assistance programs and our turkey donations assist in supporting families in need. In this season of gratitude, we are thankful for our staff and volunteers who support our community in this way.

Speaking of giving…Two weeks ago, I wrote in my blog about gun violence and how it’s a public health issue. Earlier this week, I was informed that for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, our Internal Medicine Residency Program donated their GBMC turkeys and canned food to an organization that helps mothers who have lost their children to gun violence. The loss of a child is any parent’s greatest nightmare, and I hope this donation helps to ease their grief and allows them to find comfort when they’re feeling anything but thankful. You can learn more about this organization from their website tearsofamotherscry.org

Debbie Jones-Shook, CRNP, recently received the 2020 American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Maryland State Award for Excellence. This prestigious award, founded in 1991, is given annually to a dedicated nurse practitioner in each state who demonstrates excellence in their area of practice.

Debbie will be recognized for her achievement during the 2020 AANP National Conference in June 2020. She has been a certified registered nurse practitioner with GBMC since her graduation in December 1999. She was inspired to pursue an advanced career in nursing because she wanted to have a more active role in the care of patients. She told me that “becoming a nurse practitioner allowed me to continue to use my nursing skills of patient care and education, but further enabled me to work with and build relationships with my patients, educate, guide, and follow them through their life span.” Recently, she also became certified as a diabetes educator, which has further improved her care to her patients.

Congratulations Debbie!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Recognized Yet Again!

As you all remember, we hosted nine examiners from the Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Program in September. The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) manages the Baldrige National Quality Award.

We were selected as one of only 12 organizations to be granted a site visit this year. The examiners came to validate what we put in our application and they also looked for best practices to highlight on a national stage for others to follow. They visited all three of our work systems: Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Gilchrist, and GBMC Health Partners. Everyone went out of their way to tell them our story.

Today, I am honored to officially announce that although we did not achieve the Baldrige award, we have earned a Category Best Practice Recognition for Leadership! This category examines how senior executives guide and sustain the organization and how the organization addresses governance, ethical, legal, and community responsibilities. The GBMC HealthCare System was the only organization this year to receive recognition in leadership and to receive a category best practices recognition for 2019.  We are now officially the first healthcare system in Maryland to be recognized by Baldrige for best practices.

This national recognition validates our work in designing systems to achieve better results.  Receiving this recognition from the Baldrige Award judges strengthens our efforts to redesign care and move us closer to our vision and promise “to every patient, every time, we will provide the care that we would want for our own loved ones.” We have learned so much through the years as we have implemented the Baldrige criteria. Our work is not finished, and we will continue our journey of improvement.

I want to again express my profound gratitude to all members of the GBMC family for your efforts to highlight our outstanding healthcare system. I cannot name all of those who worked so hard for us to achieve this recognition, but I do want to name a few. Carolyn Candiello, our Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety, and her whole team in the Quality Department worked tirelessly, as did Lisa Groff, RN, our Clinical Director of the Women and Children service line. Keith Poisson, our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and all our operational leaders did a fabulous job as well. Let me also thank the rest of the Senior Team and all my clinical colleagues and support staff in the hospital, at Gilchrist, and in GBMC Health Partners. You all should be very proud of this achievement.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Gun Violence is a Public Health Issue

This week, I participated in a webinar led by Mr. Michael Dowling, the President and CEO of Northwell Health in New York, on gun violence. Mr. Dowling wrote a letter to healthcare CEO’s on this topic that was published in the New York Times.

Listening to Mr. Dowling, I started to reflect on the reality of gun violence in Baltimore. Seventeen people were shot in Baltimore over the weekend of October 11-13 and we are on pace to have our fifth consecutive year with 300 homicides or more. Many of these homicides are the result of gun violence. And although there are individuals working on the problem, there is no real public outcry for this to be fixed.

Our new Police Commissioner, Michael Harrison, is working on a new anti-crime initiative, but the police force can’t solve this problem on their own. The community must work with the police to get criminals and guns off the streets. We know that this is necessary but insufficient to end violent crime. We must also work on the root causes of despair, gang membership, and marginalization. We must rebuild our neighborhoods, improve our schools, and create more viable jobs in our city. This will clearly not be easy, but with the concerted efforts of members of the community, we can make real progress.

In his comments, Mr. Dowling drew a comparison between the outcry about injury and death from vaping with the relative silence on gun violence. He laid out a game plan for healthcare leaders to advocate action from elected officials and the community. I believe that we all must become more involved and I am going to learn more about what we, in the GBMC HealthCare System, can do to reduce gun violence. What do you think?

Thanking Our Veterans on Veterans Day and Every Day
On Monday, we will commemorate Veterans Day. We enjoy our freedom because these individuals were ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. Please join me in thanking all members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families who have served and made tremendous sacrifices to preserve our freedom.

Acknowledgements for this week
This week, we are recognizing various members of the healthcare team here at GBMC. Let’s celebrate Medical Surgical Nurses Week (Nov. 1-7), National Medical Staff Services Week (Nov. 3-9), and National Radiologic Technology Week (Nov. 3-9). Please join me in thanking each of these colleagues for helping us provide the care we would want for our own loved ones to every patient, every time.