Friday, June 26, 2020

A Great Example of GBMC as a Learning Organization

I was on-call this weekend, so on Sunday, Father’s Day, I did Lean Daily Management. As I was driving in, I was lamenting the fact that I would not be running in the Father’s Day 5K with hundreds of others to raise money for our NICU, and I was feeling a little down.

On the walk, when I arrived at the Pharmacy board, I was greeted by Perry Shafner, the Lead Clinical Pharmacist. Perry presented the Board and he told me of the previous day’s performance with missing medications on Unit 46. Readers of the blog know the Pharmacy is among our highest performers in the use of 5-why problem solving. For many years, the Pharmacy has investigated missing medications in real time, Monday through Friday, during the day. After hours and on the weekend, however, they are not staffed to send someone to the unit to ask the questions and “see” the work in process. Perry told me that the previous day, FIVE medications were reported as missing on Unit 46 and they were all on the same patient.

He went on to tell me that upon hearing of the missing medications the previous day, our pharmacist and his colleague, Michele Sharkey, got the call and wondered “how could this have happened?” Michele checked the delivery report and it showed that the medications had been sent through the tube system to Unit 46. Even though it was the weekend, Michele knew that the best way to get to the cause of the problem was not to wait until Monday and have someone else try to figure it out, but instead, go to the Unit and investigate while the episode was still fresh in people’s minds.

Michele arrived on Unit 46 and found that the patient had been sent there from another unit earlier in the day. The Pharmacy realized this and sent the medication to the new unit, but the document that accompanied the medication still had the patient’s previous location. Another staff member dutifully sent the medication to the old unit, believing that they were doing the right thing. So, the immediate cause of the error was putting the document with the old location in the tube that was sent correctly to Unit 46. Having gotten to the bottom of the problem, Michele and the Pharmacy team are changing the standard work to assure that the accompanying document shows the correct location.

It is silly to believe that mistakes will never happen in a large, complex system. It is exciting to see how GBMC has become a learning organization that delights in finding the cause of a problem and in using its core competency, redesigning care, to make things better! Because of Michele’s curiosity and her learning in real time, the Pharmacy achieved our Four Aims Recognition Award

Thank you!!
So, I went home much happier and I ran a 5K on my own, and I want to thank everyone else who participated in our Virtual Father’s Day 5K & 1 Mile Fun Walk to benefit our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we created a VIRTUAL version of this annual event. Despite this change, we had approximately 450 participants, who helped us raise more than $55,000 to help our NICU continue providing high-quality care with the best technology.

Every day, moms and dads turn to GBMC’s highly trained healthcare professionals to care for their sick or premature babies because we provide the same care that we would want for our own loved ones. I want to thank our neonatologists, nurses, advanced practitioners, technicians, and others who dedicate their lives to the health of babies. I am grateful for your commitment to our NICU, even through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, June 19, 2020

A Great Doctor who now has Teammates to Improve Patient Outcomes

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Kenneth Greene, a general internist in private practice on the GBMC campus. Dr. Greene participates in the Maryland Primary Care Program (MDPCP), working with our Care Transformation Organization (CTO), the Greater Baltimore Health Alliance (GBHA). He has an excellent reputation and has been a primary care physician for many years. I was curious to learn about his experience in advanced primary care now that the Maryland Primary Care Model was giving him the resources to improve his patients’ outcomes.

Dr. Greene is an expert who has always been there for his patients, but his ability to do this has increased now that he has access to GBHA nurse care managers, care coordinators, and dietitians. He told me a wonderful story of a patient who was struggling to get her diabetes under control until the nurse care manager and dietitian helped her carry out the plan that Dr. Greene had developed. He also pointed out that the financial resources provided by the MDPCP were allowing him to take care of one of the social determinants of health – access to transportation. His practice now uses Uber to help patients with limited resources get to his office.

To watch the video of our conversation, click here.

I want to thank Dr. Greene for his many years of service to those in our community and for his trust in GBHA to help him deliver the care that we would want for our own loved ones to all his patients!

Get some exercise on Father’s Day for a great cause!
Another fundraiser for the GBMC HealthCare system is coming up in a few days – our 32nd Annual GBMC Father’s Day 5K & 1 Mile Fun Walk to benefit our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This is a wonderful event, where under normal circumstances, former NICU babies, families, staff members, community supporters, and friends come out to our beautiful campus and have some fun while supporting our NICU. This year, to keep participants safe, we are going virtual!

As you know, GBMC is a community-based system of care and we are lucky to have a fabulous NICU with excellent neonatologists, advanced practitioners, nurses, and other clinicians, working in a new unit with the most advanced equipment available. GBMC delivers more than 4,000 babies a year and approximately 400 of those babies are treated in the NICU. The equipment and staffing required to provide this care is expensive — our annual Father’s Day 5K raises funds to allow the NICU to continue providing high quality care with the best equipment. It also creates greater awareness of the strengths of our program and the wonderful expertise and commitment of our team.

GBMC gets tremendous support from the community because we are considered the best place to have a baby in our region. The care is expensive, and we need the community’s support to continue. We are incredibly grateful for the sponsors of this event and for all who participate.

So, please consider walking a mile or running a 5K and encouraging your family to do the same, anytime between Thursday, June 18, and Sunday, June 21. All you need to do is take a photo or video of your participation and share it with GBMC on social media and track your run through this form.

Please visit for further details. Remember that your support will directly benefit the more than 400 critically ill and premature babies cared for annually in GBMC’s NICU. Thank you!

…also, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers in our GBMC family!

Celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month throughout the world. It’s established to recognize and honor the history, diversity, and resilience of the LGBTQ community.

This month offers an opportunity for all of us to pause and consider that, while progress has been made to afford equal rights to all, there is still much more work to do. LGBTQ people deserve equal treatment in the workplace and throughout society.

At GBMC, we recognize that we must attract the best talent from around the region and maintain a culture where employees can bring their authentic selves to work every day. Inclusion has always been part of the GBMC culture. As a system, we feel that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Our policy of inclusion celebrates the diversity of our workforce.

Please join me in celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month!

Celebrating Survivorship, virtually!
For 28 years, our annual Cancer Survivorship Celebration has brought together more than 200 cancer survivors with their caregivers, friends, and family members who supported them through every step of recovery. In the face of COVID-19, an alternative option was offered to maintain the spirit of this important event while ensuring the health and safety of our community.

As a substitute to the annual in-person cancer survivorship celebration, Oncology Support Services at our Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute invited survivors to share their picture and become part of The Virtual Wall of Overcomers.

Of course, we were disappointed that we were not able to have the opportunity to be together, renew acquaintances, and celebrate both the survivors and their caregivers; however, this virtual option still provided everyone with a special way to celebrate.

I want to thank Felicity Kirby, RN, BSN, OCN, our Survivorship Coordinator, and all those involved in putting together this year’s virtual celebration and to congratulate all survivors, their families, and our caregivers!

Nice job!
The Baltimore Jewish Times recently unveiled its list of “Best of Jewish Baltimore.” GBMC was named “Best ER/Hospital,” “Best Pre-Birth Program,” and “Best Vein Clinic” by the readers of the Jewish Times. I am truly proud of the wonderful support we have in the Jewish community and for their trust in GBMC to meet their healthcare needs.

Friday, June 12, 2020

The Pandemic is Improving but We Can’t Let Our Guard Down

The number of coronavirus (COVID-19) positive patients in Maryland hospitals continues to decrease, and this week, the number dropped below 1,000 – the lowest number since April 10.

This is very encouraging news! The number of hospitalized patients is the single best indicator of the true rate of COVID-19 infection since we have not been able to test a large sample and many people don’t experience severe enough symptoms to seek medical care. Prior to open “drive through” testing centers, the positivity rates were inflated due to very selective testing. Now that testing isn’t limited to healthcare workers and patients experiencing symptoms, we are seeing a decrease in the percentage of positive tests.

We are thrilled that the number of infected people appears to be going down – this did not happen by chance. It is the direct result of physical distancing and proper hand hygiene. We should give ourselves a pat on the back for what we have accomplished, but there is no magic here. The virus is still active in our community and there is no significantly effective treatment. We must hold the ground we have gained and continue to stay at least 6 feet away from others, wear a face mask in public settings, avoid touching our face, and wash our hands frequently. We must do this until we reach herd immunity, which is when at least 95% of the population is immune to COVID-19. This won’t happen until we have discovered an effective vaccine – a process which could take years.

Giving Back by Giving Blood
Currently, blood supplies in our state and across the nation are running low. The impact of pandemic-associated blood drive cancellations and a host of other coronavirus-related circumstances have worsened the situation.

According to the American Red Cross, approximately 19,000 blood drives, equating to 540,000 units of blood, have been canceled across the country this year. There is no known end date to the fight against COVID-19 and the Red Cross needs the help of blood and platelet donors to maintain a sufficient blood supply.

On Wednesday, we held an employee-only blood drive to help alleviate the problem. Throughout the pandemic, the GBMC HealthCare System has received an incredible outpouring of support from the public and this blood drive was a way of giving back to the community.

The need for blood has lessened over the last few months as many surgical operations were delayed due to COVID-19. However, now that Maryland has safely entered Phase Two of the Roadmap to Recovery set forth by Governor Hogan, many elective surgeries are resuming and more people will be engaging in outdoor activities such as biking, boating, fishing, and running, which may lead to a spike in traumatic accidents. This makes it even more important that donors come forward.

I am so proud of the teamwork displayed through these drives and GBMC’s leadership in blood donation. I want to thank all of the GBMC employees who donated this week, and everyone involved in putting this drive together.

Kudos Dr. Ioannou!
Becker’s Hospital Review recently named JoAnn Ioannou, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, our Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), among the country’s Top 50 Hospital and Health System CNOs To Know in 2020.

The national healthcare publication recognizes that nursing executives and CNOs play a crucial role in a hospital or healthcare system’s success and Dr. Ioannou is one of only two CNOs in the Baltimore region to be chosen for this elite list.

Dr. Ioannou has served in her executive roles since 2015. Under her leadership, GBMC HealthCare has implemented a professional excellence model for its nursing staff with the goal of encouraging continuing education and creating clear pathways for career advancement. Dr. Ioannou’s passion for promoting nurses as healthcare leaders is evident to all who know and work with her. GBMC’s Nurse Residency Program, which supports and mentors newly-graduated nurses, is the only program in Baltimore accredited with distinction by the American Nurse Credentialing Center. This is the highest level of recognition awarded worldwide for nursing education programs.

Our Lymphedema Center was recently awarded the LE&RN (Lymphedema Education & Research Network) classification of Network of Excellence in Lymphatic Disease. The goal of the LE&RN Centers of Excellence program is to increase access to the best possible multi-disciplinary care for individuals with Lymphatic diseases (LD) and their families through a geographically diverse network of clinical centers. In addition to clinical and social services, the centers provide professional and lay education, participate in LD clinical research, and work with LE&RN to continually improve the lives of those affected by LD.

GBMC’s center, established in 2005, has grown exponentially since its founding. Our center treats more than 500 new lymphedema patients every year, follows thousands of established patients, and serves both inpatients and outpatients in our HealthCare System.

Congratulations to Alan Kimmel, MD, Medical Director, Virginia A. Moratz, OTR, CHT, CLT, Administrator and Clinical Director, and the entire team at our Lymphedema Center for the recent achievement.

For the second consecutive year, our healthcare system was recognized by readers of The Sun as Best in Audiology Services and Best Hospital. I want to THANK all who voted for recognizing the hard work and dedication of our clinicians, other staff, and volunteers, as well as for your confidence in our ability to treat every patient, every time, the way that we would want our own loved ones treated.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

We Cannot Accept Racial Injustice

Within the GBMC HealthCare System, we live by the credo justice for all. As members of the larger society, we must stand with like-minded people to demand justice for all in every facet of our society. We need to make our voices heard, peacefully, to move us closer to making this goal our reality. We must hold our elected officials accountable and work with them to create just systems.

I am appalled by the killing of George Floyd, and so many other African Americans before him, by those who do not accept our sameness. Skin color is a trait like other physical traits such as height, eye color and hair color that create our individual appearance and makes us each unique. I cannot accept injustice based on the color of someone’s skin. 

As the President and CEO of our System, I pledge to increase our efforts to serve those most in need, to welcome all to our facilities, to hire, mentor, and develop those who have been underrepresented in our workforce, and to treat everyone with respect. I will work closely with the members of our Diversity and Inclusion Council to see what more we can do to become a bigger part of the solution. I encourage you all to visit our Diversity & Inclusion Council homepage to learn more and I welcome you to get involved with the Council or to bring us your ideas by emailing

Racism has been with us since the beginning of our country and it affects us all. We must work together to eliminate it because it is not right, and it is keeping us from achieving the lofty goals that were set forth at the birth of our nation. I want to thank each one of you for everything you are doing to support all the members of our community.