Friday, May 29, 2020

Slowly Returning to Normal

Researchers at Harvard University have studied COVID-19 and weather data and have concluded that warmer temperature and moderate outdoor ultraviolet light exposure may offer a modest reduction in the reproductive number. You will recall from my blog of March 27 that the reproduction number essentially tells how many people will be infected by each person who becomes infected with, in this case, COVID-19. A number less than one will ultimately lead to there being no one left with the disease in the population. If the number is greater than one, it means the number of infected people will grow. The three things that affect the reproduction number are the number of days that a person is infectious, how many people the infectious person will encounter (the contact rate), and how likely is it that the person being contacted will contract the disease (how infectious is the virus?). It is this last variable that the weather impacts, because once outside the body, the hotter temperatures and the ultraviolet light from sunnier weather negatively affect the virus.

So, the Harvard researchers believe that warm weather by itself will help us, but it won’t be enough to allow us to stop social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Many then ask, “will we get another wave in the fall?” No one really knows. Theoretically, the virus will get somewhat more infectious again, but the real question is “will we let our guard down?” 

If we let our guard down, it’s fair to say that COVID-19 infection rates will rise. So, let’s commit to maintaining social distancing and washing our hands!

Our new procedural testing center (temporary buildings in Lot F - across from Physicians Pavilion North) are being used to test surgical patients for COVID-19 up to 5 days prior to their scheduled procedures. I am happy to report that the center has been very successful. As of Thursday, we tested more than 320 patients with only 2 positive COVID-19 cases. The surgical procedures for these two individuals have been postponed until they are fully recovered. 

I want to congratulate our Primary Stroke Center, under the leadership of Michael Sellman, MD, and Aaliyah Franks, RN, which was recently selected for the 2020 American Heart Association’s (AHA) Get With The Guidelines® (GWTG)-Stroke: Gold Plus with Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll. 

The award recognizes hospitals that meet specific quality measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. This recognition means we have achieved 85% or higher adherence in all measures for transient ischemic attack (TIA) and a rate of 90% compliance or higher for at least 12 consecutive months for diabetic patients. The award also recognizes 75% or higher compliance with five or more measures to achieve the Plus Award.

This award is a testament to our Stroke Center’s strong commitment to reliably providing care according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines built on the latest scientific evidence.

I want to thank all our clinicians for their hard work and dedication to achieving this level of performance. Great work and congratulations!

Go on a walk or a run for a great cause!
Another fundraiser for the GBMC HealthCare system is coming up and this one is to benefit our hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

To maintain social distancing guidelines, this year’s annual event will take place VIRTUALLY!

The event, presented by the GBMC Volunteer Auxiliary, has raised more than $1.75 million for GBMC’s NICU over the past 31 years and offers GBMC employees, volunteers, and the community an opportunity to support the more than 400 critically ill and premature babies treated annually. All proceeds from the event will benefit the GBMC NICU to help acquire specialized equipment, provide quality facilities, and employ a team of talented doctors and nurses who work around-the-clock to help these babies while providing comfort to their parents and family members.

As you can imagine, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families of infants in our NICU are facing tougher challenges and bigger emotional struggles. Currently, parents are only allowed to visit one at a time, making it difficult for them to deal with the emotional hardships of having an infant in the NICU.

We are so proud of our NICU, and with your help, we can continue to support them.

If you’re interested in participating with your family or friends, please visit to register and get additional information. The virtual race takes place anytime between Thursday, June 18 through Sunday, June 21, 2020, at 11:59 P.M. Thank you!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Another Information Technology Recognition

It’s been more than three and a half years since we went live with Epic as our electronic medical record (EMR) across the GBMC HealthCare System. Today, our patients have one seamless record at GBMC. Without question, our success is due to a lot of hard work and a big team effort.

Last year, GBMC was recognized with Magna Cum Laude status in Epic’s Honor Roll Program. This recognition was earned for achieving continuous improvements in patient outcomes, quality of care, workflow efficiency, and financial performance. We also achieved a score of 9 out of 10 on the Epic Gold Star program. The Gold Star program exists to incentivize Epic users to get the most out of the software’s capabilities. Very few organizations achieve nine stars.

Now, I am very proud to announce that GBMC is the only recipient to date, to receive the highest award of Summa Cum Laude in Epic’s Honor Roll Good Maintenance Grant Program. This is the highest level of achievement for Epic users!

To achieve Summa Cum Laude we needed to have completed all eight components of the program to prove that we were drawing the most value from our Epic software investment. Those components are:
• Ease of use for providers
• Enterprise data and analytics
• Financial
• Health information exchange
• Infrastructure stability and performance
• Patient experience
• Population health
• Staying current with the latest features

I am honored to receive this award and I want to congratulate Dave Hynson, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Cindy Ellis, Epic IT Application Director, the entire Epic team, and all the clinicians and support staff for helping us achieve this remarkable recognition.

It’s That Time of Year…
Baltimore Magazine is collecting votes for its TOP DOCTORS issue. Docs, please vote for the colleagues you most respect! The 100-plus specialties have been revamped for this year’s issue, so there are new specialties and specialty groupings. Please remember that the more physicians participate, the more likely it is that the GBMC HealthCare System will be well-represented in this year’s winner's list. The survey may be found here. Thank you!

Honoring Our Heroes
This weekend we commemorate Memorial Day — the day that has been designated to remember the sacrifice made by those who dedicated their lives to defending our freedoms and the safety of our nation. We honor all our veterans and their commitment to safeguard our security.

GBMC HealthCare is fortunate to have many veterans on our staff working in all three of our work systems. They bring extraordinary talent, training, and experience to our organization. We also have employees with family members serving in the armed forces on our team.

On this Memorial Day, let us be mindful of our heroes — living and dead. Let this be a moment to recognize our nation’s champions with appreciation and respect.

Friday, May 15, 2020

It Takes a Big Team: Celebrating National Hospital Week

The GBMC HealthCare System is different from other systems because our vision is so tightly aligned with what our owners want. Who are our owners? They are the members of our community. We create systems to deliver what people need and we use our core competency of redesigning care to adapt our systems when those needs evolve.

We are very fortunate to have an excellent hospital as part of our system of care: Greater Baltimore Medical Center. I want to celebrate it and all those who work in it.

This week (May 10-16) is National Hospital Week, when America takes time to recognize and thank our hospital workers. The American Hospital Association has designated this year’s theme as “Where Health Comes First.”

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is particularly important for all members of the community reflect on the value of a hospital. We have certainly seen an outpouring of support for our clinicians and support staff over the last few months.

Celebrating National Hospital Week provides an opportunity to thank all the dedicated individuals – physicians, nurses, therapists, engineers, food service workers, volunteers, administrators, and so many more – for their contributions. I am very grateful for all that our hospital team does every day.

I also want to thank our community, GBMC’s owners, for the opportunity to provide them with the care that we would want for our own loved ones, especially during these difficult times.

It Wasn’t Easy, But We Did It!
Recently, it was announced that GBMC received an “A” grade from The Leapfrog Group.

The Leapfrog Group is a national hospital safety organization that grades hospitals, in a range from A through F, twice a year on how well they protect patients from errors, injuries, and infections. They rate over 2,600 general acute care hospitals across the country, including 40 in Maryland. The grades are meant to provide a measuring stick for choosing a hospital for care.

Earning an “A” is not easy – we are one of only 12 hospitals in the state to receive the highest mark. This validation is especially important now as many people are avoiding or delaying medical care out of fear of COVID-19. The public needs to know that GBMC is in an elite group of the safest hospitals in the state and we are doing everything we can to keep them safe. I am very proud of this honor and our team.

We will take a moment to celebrate, but we will not stop our improvement work until we achieve zero harm. I want to thank our entire clinical team, Laura Hines, RN, SCNR, Director of Clinical Quality Outcomes, and Carolyn Candiello, Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety, for their efforts in collecting the data for the survey. Great work, everyone!

Corvettes on Our Campus
On Wednesday, many of you saw a parade of Corvettes travelling across the GBMC campus.

To salute our doctors, nurses, other clinicians, and support staff, the NCRS Mason-Dixon Corvette Chapter conducted a “thank you” drive-through ending with a roar by the main entrance of the hospital. The thunderous sound from Corvette engines entertained the on-lookers and was greatly appreciated by our employees.

Over the last two weeks, COVID-19 responders, essential workers, and healthcare personnel across our state have been honored with tributes that included the deafening sounds of fighter jets during flyovers by the US Navy Blue Angels, US Air Force Thunderbirds, and the Maryland National Guard A10’s. This Corvette caravan was special in that it specifically recognized GBMC employees for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic.

I want to thank Steve and Eileen Lesser, along with all the members of the NCRS Mason-Dixon Corvette Chapter, for bringing joy to our staff with this thoughtful event.

Friday, May 8, 2020

A Salute to Our Nurses

When the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that 2020 would be the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, no one realized just how appropriate it would be. The work of nurses in the battle against COVID-19 has been extraordinary this year. The pandemic has shined a spotlight on their selfless efforts. Another reason to celebrate in 2020 is that Tuesday, May 12, marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

This week is National Nurses Week, a time to thank the many talented nurses throughout the GBMC HealthCare System for their tireless dedication to serving others. Their expertise, hard work, and caring drives us closer to our vision every day. Please join me in extending a special thanks and warm wishes to all of our nurses who continue to live our mission of health, healing and hope for the community. Our nurses make a difference!

Cheering and Applauding
To kick off National Nurses Week, many of our employees joined together (with appropriate social distancing, of course!) to honor our nurses and to celebrate them for all that they do for our patients, especially during this time of crisis.

I want to thank all my colleagues who stood with me to recognize our nurses by applauding, cheering, and holding signs as they arrived for their shifts at the hospital.

If you would like to honor a GBMC nurse, you can participate in our Nurses Week Food Drive to help the many people experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis. Please consider donating non-perishable food items at the main hospital screening stations (Main entrance, Bus Loop - closest to Einstein's, Bluebell Park, OB, ED/Lily Garage) until Wednesday, May 13. All collected food items will then be delivered to the Maryland Food Bank.

GBMC HealthCare on the “new radio”
Our Marketing department has done an excellent job in promoting the GBMC HealthCare System in unique ways. They have used social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and created partnerships with media outlets like WMAR-TV and WBAL AM radio.

Now, the Marketing team has taken us to one of the hottest media platforms in America – podcasting. Earlier this year, “To Your Health,” previously a Facebook Live show, was transitioned into a monthly podcast that can be heard here and on podcast networks such as iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

I think now is the appropriate time to mention this podcast as the latest edition focuses on the nursing profession and gives insight on how treating patients has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Angie Feurer, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Director of Critical Care, Emergency Services, and Medicine at GBMC, who is featured on the program, does an excellent job explaining what has changed in nursing over the last few months and what it’s like to be a nurse working in a hospital during these unprecedented times.

Give it a listen! I think you will find it interesting and informative.

Way to go, Cate!

This year in celebration of National Nurses Week, The Baltimore Sun profiled nurses from various hospitals in our region. I am proud to say that our hospital was very well represented by Cate O’Connor-Devlin, BSN, RN, our Performance Improvement and Patient Experience Administrator. If interested you can read Cate’s profile in The Sun here.

Those who know Cate are aware that she is not one to welcome the spotlight and prefers to do what she loves without any fanfare. I’ve heard her say many times, “it’s no big deal, I am just doing my job.” On the contrary, Cate lives our vision phrase of treating every patient, every time, the way we would want for our own loved ones. Thanks for your commitment, Cate, and congrats on your recognition.

I also want to extend my kudos to Kristin Metzger, one of our nurses at Gilchrist, for also being highlighted by The Sun.

Earlier this week, The Daily Record announced their “2020 Health Care Heroes” winners and I am proud to announce that two members of the GBMC family were honored.

These awards highlight individuals who have played a major role in improving the quality of healthcare in Maryland. They are recognized for “professional achievements, community involvement, and inspiring change.”

I want to congratulate Dr. Tony Riley, Chief Medical Officer of Gilchrist, for being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Beverly Ruiz, MS, CRNP, team lead for the Elder Medical Care Home Program, who was selected for the Nurse Practitioner of the Year Award.

Congratulations to all our colleagues for their hard work and for getting the acknowledgement they so rightfully deserve!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Unsung Heroes During The COVID-19 Crisis

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put a major strain on every hospital’s supply chain and I realized that I have taken the GBMC supply chain for granted. A well-functioning materials management system is a prerequisite in caring for patients. Every day, we need medications and other medical and surgical equipment like masks (N95, ear loop procedure, surgical tie, and others), isolation and surgical gowns, PAPR disposable head covers, and face shields – to name just some of our supplies.

Our system team, led by Brian Riemer, Director of Supply Chain, has always worked closely with suppliers to secure materials and with our logistics partners to manage and mitigate any potential disruption to the delivery of supplies. This work has become much more difficult during the COVID-19 crisis. Because of the team’s excellent work, our clinicians have had what they need to care for our patients. Here are some examples of their work:

Supply Chain – COVID-19 Highlights

The Supply Chain team manages 383 different items that are in very high demand and have inventory shortages. Some of these high-use items are either out-of-stock or have allocations of 30% or less than our normal usage. Each of these items requires the Supply Chain team to search for alternative products or sources. In addition to the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfecting wipes have become very difficult to obtain. The team has worked with Infection Prevention and other clinical teams to identify eight different alternatives to our standard disinfecting wipe.

The Supply Chain team explored and vetted 164 alternate source vendors to provide PPE. These are not normal suppliers to the healthcare industry. This vetting process is necessary to avoid scams and determine who can deliver high-quality products in a timely manner. It involves investigating FDA registrations for overseas factories and validating documentation for importing medical products to ensure that counterfeit or substandard products are not brought in for use by our clinical teams.

The Supply Chain department purchased materials for and coordinated the assembly of 15,000 face shields. It was a huge effort with team members enlisting the help of their families to prepare the materials prior to assembly. This included cutting elastic and foam pieces to length in their homes! The Alternate Labor Pool was then used to assemble the face shields.

The team used local distilleries to source more than 300 gallons of hand sanitizer to supplement GBMC’s Purell supply.

The Supply Chain team worked closely with GBMC Health Partners and Gilchrist to obtain supplies and share them across the organization. GBMC Health Partners has been maximizing PPE orders with their distributor, even if the practices do not currently need the materials. Gilchrist has then been able to utilize those excess supplies to serve hospice patients.

Materials Management created spaces on the 5th floor of the main hospital and in the warehouse building on Farmhouse Hill to manage the influx of PPE and other materials. GBMC  expanded beyond its just-in-time delivery model to store large quantities of PPE and other supplies that have been imported in bulk. The team manages 700+ inventory items daily.

Please join me in thanking these unsung heroes for all they do!

Thank – you for your support!
Over the past few weeks, there has been an outpouring of support for healthcare workers at GBMC, in our state, and across the nation – they have truly stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team needs the community’s continued support, which is why we are participating in a global day of giving and unity, known as Giving Tuesday Now, on Tuesday, May 5th. All funds raised on that day will benefit the GBMC HealthCare Workers Fund and help our employees. Please consider participating. Thank you!