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.

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