Tuesday, November 24, 2020

We did it!

I received a phone call recently from the United States of America Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, informing me that the GBMC HealthCare System has achieved the Malcolm Baldrige Award for Performance Excellence! We could not share this information with you until today because we had to wait until the Secretary sent out his public news release.

All I can say is “wow.” I am so happy and grateful to all my GBMC brothers and sisters for your hard work, your wonderful expertise, your embrace of our vision, and your willingness to design systems to help us get there. 

Our Board of Directors, led by our Chair, Mr. Fred Hudson, is so proud of all of you and they are also grateful for your efforts. They know that this award is a testament to your commitment to serve every patient the way you want your own loved ones served. Fred and the Board also realize how challenging this has been during the pandemic, which makes achieving the award even more remarkable!

I need to thank all of you, but there are a few people that deserve to be called out. Keith Poisson, our now retired Chief Operating Officer, did a marvelous job as the “Chief Implementer.” Carolyn Candiello, our Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety, and Lisa Groff Reuschling, DNP, RN, our Clinical Director of Women and Children’s Services, did a masterful job of writing the application and guiding us through all phases of its review. The Quality Department all worked overtime during the site visit. So many people stepped up to the plate when it was critical to do so, but sadly I cannot highlight all of them in this blog. 

We are just the third organization in our State to achieve the award and the first in healthcare! (The other two Maryland all-time winners were Montgomery County Schools and Howard Community College.) 

Since 1987, the Baldrige Award has been the highest recognition for performance excellence in the nation. It is the nation’s only presidential award for performance excellence, recognizing U.S. organizations and businesses that have shown an “unceasing drive for innovative solutions to complex challenges, visionary leadership and operational excellence.”

Words cannot express the pride that I feel for this organization and for our physicians, nurses, other clinicians, support staff, and volunteers who contribute every day to our serving the community with health, healing, and hope, and in educating the next generation of clinicians. You have now received the highest recognition in the country for your efforts. Thank you! 

We will continue to use the Baldrige criteria to help us move faster towards our vision, but let us savor the moment. 

It’s no fun when the computers go down
A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Harold Tucker, informing me that our computer systems were down. My first thought was the worst-case scenario – that we were under a cyberattack. I knew that the U.S. was on heightened alert for such attacks. 

Out of an abundance of caution regarding system reliability and integrity, GBMC’s leadership took measures to protect essential systems and data by proactively taking systems off-line. Happily, our findings discovered no evidence of malicious behavior, but our team had to go to downtime procedures to care for patients. Returning to the paper world is very difficult, and much of our standard work had to be changed on the fly. Approximately 9 hours after our systems were taken down, we started to restore them, and by mid-afternoon we were back to standard operations. We now believe that last week’s event was due to a computer storage issue and we have already added more storage. We will continue our forensic examination to assure that we reduce the probability of this happening again. 

I am so grateful to everyone for their work to get through the downtime. Let me thank our physicians, nurses, and other clinicians, who did not let the computer failure negatively affect patient care. 

I also want to thank Dave Hynson, GBMC’s Chief Information Officer, and his team for always 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. Let me thank our ITS team for their rapid response to the problem and for the many hours they worked through last weekend to get things running again and assuring they had made the correct diagnosis. We are better off because of their on-going efforts. 

Finally, let me ask all of you to not let down your guard! Cyberthreats continue, and we must always be ready. Thank you.

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