Thursday, June 10, 2021

Six Months Later

Last Sunday was exactly six months to the day of the cyber-attack when criminals brought down all our computer systems. The GBMC HealthCare System rose to the occasion and cared for patients nonetheless.

On Monday, we held a virtual town hall that focused on the impact of the cyber-attack on our staff and our work to rebuild our computer systems. We are doing this which allows for efficient patient care while better protecting out network from another catastrophe. If you could not attend on Monday, you can watch the recorded town hall here (only viewable on the Infoweb) or participate in this coming Monday’s Cybersecurity Town Hall follow-up.

I want to thank Joshua von Rueden, JD, our Director of Information Security & Technology, along with Rodney Graves, our Cybersecurity Manager, and their teams who have sacrificed so much over these six months, to rebuild our data centers and workstations. They have been working non-stop in leading the restoration process of our computer systems by investing heavily in next generation, leading-edge security systems to enhance our security posture. As Josh mentioned during the town hall, we have learned much from the attack and have committed both full-time engineers and financial resources to ensure we are deploying the safeguards we need against constantly changing threats. Josh and Rodney also stressed the addition of new protective capabilities such as processes for constant cybersecurity threat detection and mitigation and the creation of a new cyber defensive posture.

During the update, Neri M. Cohen, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Information Officer of GBMC Health Partners, provided a review, from a clinician’s perspective, of what we have done to rebuild our systems and how people can get information about the on-going improvements. Dr. Cohen also emphasized that our focus remains on system-wide needs before individual needs. These specifically include increasing IT capacity – power, computing, memory rebuilding and adding core infrastructure – that will work safely and securely from anywhere. 

I am grateful for the work of Dave Hynson, our Chief Information Officer, and his team for recreating our efficient computer systems in a new, more secure way. I am also grateful for the hard work and patience of our staff, especially our physicians, nurses, and other clinicians as we rebuild. 

We learned a lot from the cyber-attack and we will become stronger because of it. Please remain vigilant and do not click on links unless you are sure they are safe. The December attack started with a phishing email, so it is critical to report any suspicious emails to IT. If you have any questions about our computer systems or when a tool will return, please ask your manager. He or she will raise the issue with the appropriate work system leader – JoAnn Ioannou for the Hospital, Cathy Hamel for Gilchrist, or John Flowers for GBMC Health Partners. Our work system leaders meet with Dave Hynson and the IT team regularly. If some issue needs to be addressed sooner, they will change the priorities accordingly. 

Celebrating Pride Month
June is Pride Month and I want to take a moment to reflect on the many contributions that members of the LGBTQ community make to our society and to our mission within GBMC HealthCare. I would like to acknowledge the efforts, struggles, and the dignity of all members of the LGBTQ community.

Inclusion has always been part of the GBMC culture. Our policy of inclusion goes beyond employment practices and protections and celebrates the diversity of our workforce. The varied backgrounds of our employees make us a stronger team and move us towards our vision more quickly.  

Please join me in celebrating Pride Month!

Way to go!!!
Congratulations to all members of the GBMC Family who had either their children or grandchildren graduate high school or college this year. Some members of our staff were even graduating themselves. Congratulations on your achievements and my best wishes as you continue to grow and enhance your careers.


Friday, June 4, 2021

Recognizing Our Teammates for Compassion

This week we recognized members of our team for their kindness and caring at our annual Compassionate Caregiver Award Ceremony. 

In April 2007, Dr. John Adams, a past Chief of Pathology, brought The Schwartz Center Rounds to GBMC. The rounds were created by Kenneth Schwartz who died of lung cancer in September 1995. Shortly before his death, he founded the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, which is dedicated to strengthening the human connection at the heart of healthcare. In 2014, GBMC renamed the rounds in honor of Dr. John Adams. 

The intention of the rounds continues as it was first envisioned by Kenneth Schwartz and Dr. Adams – to bring together professional caregivers and offer sessions designed to support, validate, provide guidance, and educate those who are presented with difficult social and emotional issues in patient care.

At the annual Compassionate Caregiver ceremony, we honor GBMC employees who have brought our vision to life by representing the care envisioned by Kenneth Schwartz and Dr. Adams. We choose staff members throughout our organization who embody what it means to be an advocate for patients, an example for their colleagues, and someone who shows true empathy and caring through their interactions. True compassion is the ability to relate, empathize, listen, and care for a person in need.

This year’s winner of the Nancy J. Petrarca Compassionate Caregiver Award was Kimberly Blay, DNP, CRNP-PC, a Neonatal Advanced Practitioner. This award is named for and in honor of a close friend of Dr. Adams. Thank you, Kimberly for all that you do for babies, their families, and your peers.

We are fortunate that in the GBMC family we have so many colleagues who inspire us and remind us of the innate goodness in people. I would also like to congratulate and thank those individuals nominated for this year’s Compassionate Caregiver Award including:

Andrea Carson, LPN – Gilchrist
Olivia Constantino, CNA – Unit 38
Meg Craun, OTR/L – Acute Care and Rehab
Patricia Flanagan, LCSW-C – Gilchrist
Evette Matthews, BSN – SAFE & DV Program
Nihkolle McGirt – GBMC Health Partners Owings Mills
Samantha Morquecho, BSN – Emergency Department
Cate O’Connor-Devlin, BSN – Patient Experience
Kelly Riddle, RT(T) – Radiation Oncology
Laurence Ross, MD – General Surgery
Kelly Truax – SAFE & DV Program

You can view the event here.

Thank you all for demonstrating the kind of expert, compassionate care that we would want for our own loved ones. 

Kudos to Dr. Ioannou
I want to congratulate JoAnn Ioannou, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, for being presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award from Stevenson University. The award is presented to a graduate who “demonstrates the Stevenson tradition of excellence through personal accomplishment, professional achievement, and humanitarian service.”

Congrats Dr. Ioannou on this well-deserved recognition!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Helping Those Who Are Struggling with Depression and Anxiety

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Everyone has moments of sadness and/or anxiety but millions of people suffer from overwhelming and recurrent anxiety that severely affects their lives. Physicians, nurses, and others in healthcare are not immune. The pandemic has created much new stress in our industry. We have seen an increase in depression and anxiety leading to increases in substance abuse and in suicide. If you or someone you know is suffering, there are many ways to get help. GBMC offers the following resources:

Our GBMC CARES Program is available with trained, on-call physician mentors. Call 443-849-2273 (CARE). This is a free and confidential service.
Our Chaplains are available for one-on-one and team debriefings, as well as confidential support. The phone number for Spiritual Support Services is 443-849-2054.
Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for confidential one-on-one debriefings. Call 1-800-437-0911, email clientservice@carebridge.com or visit www.myliferesource.com (access code 9SJ87).
Our Gilchrist Grief Counseling services are available with support groups, workshops, and events. Call 443-849-8251 or 443-539-4086 (Howard County).

Please take care of yourselves and please be kind to your work colleagues who may be struggling with anxiety or depression. You never fully know another person’s experience. Other mental health resources can be found here.

Go on a run or walk for the NICU
It’s almost June and the pandemic is hopefully fading into the sunset, so I am looking forward to an actual in-person Father’s Day 5K! (Have you registered?). The race, which is happening on June 20 from 8-11 a.m., benefits our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. There is still a virtual component for those who can’t join us in person!

Let Us Not Forget
This coming weekend is the “unofficial” start to the summer travel season. While many of us are heading to see family, to the beaches or to the pool, let’s remember that Monday is Memorial Day. This special day gives us the opportunity to honor those who have given their lives in service to our country. On Memorial Day, please take a moment to honor our veterans for their commitment to safeguarding our security.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Dance Center and Our Cancer Team Live Our Vision

This week, I received a letter from the grateful wife of a patient from our Milton J. Dance Jr. Head and Neck Center, expressing their deepest gratitude for the outstanding work of Dr. Ray Blanco and other members of the Dance Center team. The letter made me realize again how lucky I am to be the CEO of the GBMC HealthCare system. Even during the pandemic and the cyberattack, I have received many letters, emails, and thank you cards for the work of our people who do extraordinary things for our patients. 

This patient came to us after feeling a lump in his neck back in mid-October 2020. His primary care physician at first treated him for an acute infection, but when the lump persisted, the physician ordered an ultrasound and referred the patient to a specialist at another hospital. The patient and his wife were not happy with the care he received at the other hospital. The patient’s wife then called her otolaryngologist, Dr. Andrew Goldstone. She wrote:

Dr. Goldstone, who I am lucky enough to call my ENT, without hesitation referred me to Dr. Ray Blanco, a head and neck surgeon, with your Milton J. Dance Jr. Head and Neck Center. Within minutes my husband had an appointment for the next day and all paperwork had been emailed to me along with telephone verbal follow through (and this is where our amazing cancer journey began!).

As I progress with our incredible experience at GBMC, I want to mention that we were more than aware of the hardship that was placed on GBMC with both COVID restrictions and ultimately a cyberattack. Yet at NO TIME was the compassionate care and attention given us compromised in any manner.

Dr. Blanco was more than thorough. His attention to every detail was absolutely flawless. He was kind, compassionate, and very detailed in what we needed to do. When we left Dr. Blanco after that first appointment, we had the confidence, peace of mind, and a sigh of relief that we were in the right hands.

Due to COVID restrictions, I was not allowed to be with my loved one during his surgery. Dr. Blanco told me that someone would be calling me periodically. Dr. Blanco kept his word. I received several calls as the surgery progressed, and I was updated through each procedure. When the surgery was over, Dr. Blanco personally called me and explained in detail what he had done, as well as what the next steps would be.

We had been told that Dr. Blanco would be stopping in to see my spouse the day after surgery to check on his swallowing. I thought to myself, really ...on Thanksgiving weekend someone would be checking on him? Well, as promised; I received a call that he was in the room with my husband checking on his swallowing and that he would be able to come home on Sunday. He was released on Sunday as promised.

When first faced with a cancer diagnosis, there's fear and trepidation. I can convey to you that Dr. Blanco, Dr. Tang, Dr. Neuner, Dr. Sinada (and their respective staff) and our incredible team at the Dance Center, we were never alone. Not for one moment. Not for one second. I can honestly say, we felt we were at home with these amazing people. They did everything for us, guided us through every step always with caring compassion. How important did they make us feel!!!!

Gratitude to Dr. Sinada and his expert dental skills in guiding my husband through that aspect of his cancer. 

Since the surgery, we have been treated with truly the most supreme care one could ever imagine. The fabulous staff at the Infusion Center, and our beloved Dance Team who took care of both of us. We were never alone. While at this time, chemo is completed, we do want to give our gratitude and praise to the Infusion Center staff.

Our gratitude as well to wonderful Dr. Tang and her staff for their wonderful care, expert, and kind attention to my loved one and for always keeping me updated and informed.

We now have the additional privilege of monthly zoom meetings with Dorothy Gold, Karen Ryniak, and the amazing cancer support group we have met through them. We feel like we have a new group of friends to share cancer experiences.

Dr. Chessare, suffice to say, we are so overwhelmingly pleased with the care we got at GBMC that we hope to be able to use your hospital for all future medical concerns. When I proudly share with others the care and treatment we received at GBMC, they're all amazed (or, our friends who already are patients at GBMC just nod their heads in agreement!)

We thank you, Dr. Chessare and we thank each of your healthcare professionals, from Dr. Goldstone's first return call to me, we couldn't be more grateful. Every single person we've met along the way has shown us the most genuine and sincere compassion (even the manager in your gift shop)! Our heartfelt love and gratitude for each of you. God Bless!

What else can I say? What an outstanding example of GBMC living up to its vision. Our vision is about a relationship between a physician, his or her team, and a patient. It is about a promise to that patient to work with him or her to maximize his or her health. It is about having the time to reflect on patients’ health between visits, to make sure that they are getting what the evidence says will keep them well.

The letter above is a great example of teamwork and rallying around a patient and their family! We need to continue our work to make this happen for every patient, every time. I am very grateful for all my colleagues involved in this case. I know how hard they work and I want to thank them for not forgetting why they do what they do.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Hospitals have made great improvements in their systems

This week (May 9-15) is National Hospital Week. The American Hospital Association has designated this year’s theme as “Inspiring Hope through Healing.” During this week, we thank all our team – physicians, nurses, therapists, engineers, food service workers, environmental service workers, volunteers, administrators, and our support staff for their efforts to drive us towards our vision. I am very grateful for all that our hospital team does every day.

I have been reflecting a lot recently about the improvements made over the last decade in hospital care. At GBMC, and in other hospitals across our nation, hospital-acquired harm has been significantly reduced. We have many fewer catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line-associated bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonias, wound infections, and we have seen improvements in the rate of many other harms. How did we achieve this? Well, we have always had fabulous clinicians, but now they work in better designed systems. As an example, we now have standard work for the introduction and maintenance of urinary catheters. It is this standard work, carried out by well-trained and hard- working physicians, nurses, and other clinicians, that has led to the reduction in catheter-associated urinary tract infections. 

It was not that long ago that other industries looked down on healthcare because of the unreliability of our systems. Now, much of healthcare design is as good as or better than other industries in the private sector. This weekend, I had a less than optimal experience with U-Haul. I was moving a family member to a new city as she is about to start a new job. We had ordered the truck, a dolly, a hand-truck, and two packs of furniture pads online several weeks before the move. Last Friday, we got a call that the U-Haul dealer that we had ordered the truck from to say that they would not have a truck the next morning at 7 a.m. as promised. They told us to go to another dealer that didn’t open until 10 a.m. When we arrived at the other dealer dutifully at 10 a.m., we were told by an adjacent merchant that they didn’t open until 10:30 or 11 a.m. When the U-Haul employees finally arrived, they told us that they had a truck but no hand-truck or dolly. We took the truck without the other helpful equipment because we had no other choice. 

This experience reminded me of the adage attributed to Dr. Paul Batalden, one of the early leaders of the healthcare quality movement: “Every system is perfectly designed to get exactly the results that it gets.” U-Haul has some work to do on its systems. I am happy that hospitals have made great progress on their systems, especially at GBMC. I am also glad that during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the community has developed a renewed sense of the value of hospitals to the community. 

On Wednesday, we celebrated our employees with our annual ice cream distribution and Hospital Week gifts. I want to thank Richelle Tighe, Executive Assistant, to Anna-Maria Palmer, our Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, for putting together the social and for doing her part to spread joy within our system. 

Thank you!
May is also Critical Care Awareness and Recognition Month. It is a time to recognize critical care teams across our country. Again, it is particularly important to thank our ICU physicians, nurses and other clinicians for taking care of the very sick during the pandemic. 

I would like to extend my thanks to our critical care team!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Honoring Our Nurses After a Very Difficult Year

This week is National Nurses Week (May 6 – 12), and I don’t think a week is enough time to recognize all the valiant efforts of our nurses over this past year. We are blessed to have phenomenal nurses in our inpatient units, our operating suites, our outpatient areas, our physician practices, in our hospice, and in elder care. They have stepped up every day and cared for our patients even though we were hit with a pandemic and a horrific cyber-attack.

The 2021 theme of National Nurses Week is “Frontline Warrior.” This theme recognizes how nurses have spent the last 17 months working under extremely hard conditions and have remained committed to their jobs and dedicated to their patients. 

Last night, we celebrated our nurses at our annual Art of Nursing event. Because of the pandemic, we were not able to hold a gala indoors but that did not stop us! We were decked out in 1950’s attire which, included poodle skirts, letterman’s jackets, t-shirts, and pedal pushers. Bengie’s Drive-In Theatre in Middle River was decorated in theme to celebrate our nurses. 

In addition to having some safe fun outdoors, we formally celebrated the nominees and winners of the 2021 Art of Nursing Awards. Congratulations to the winners and to all those who were nominated!  

THEY ARE LISTED HERE:
--Clinical Assistant Support Award – Inpatient: Linda Dardozzi / General Operating Room
--Clinical Assistant Support Award – Outpatient: Ronnie Goode, CMA / GBMC Health Partners Primary Care - Owings Mills
--Mrs. Norman H. Baetjer, Jr. Nursing Graduate of the Year Award: Alexandra Fockler, BSN, RN / Pediatrics
--Evidenced-Based Practice in Nursing Award: Elenor Scheide, BSN, RN and Emily McCall, RN /Labor and Delivery and Medical Oncology/Telemetry (Unit 46)
--Patient- and Family-Centered Care Award: Cate O'Connor-Devlin, BSN, RN / Patient Experience
--Diversity in Nursing Award: Mary Sebastian, BSN, RN / Medical/Telemetry (Unit 38)
--Nurse Leader Award: Roel Tiberio, BSN, RN, CGRN / Endoscopy
--Nurse Clinician of the Year Award: Tracy Hickman, CHPLN /Gilchrist Hospice Care

I want to thank everyone who attended this year’s festivities, and I would really like to thank everyone who was involved in making this year’s Art of Nursing so successful. Thank you! 

Celebrating our Advanced Practitioners
Last week, we braved the wind and celebrated the hard work of our outstanding Advanced Practitioners at an event in a tent on the South Chapman parking lot. Under the leadership of Megan Shackelford, MSN, CRNP-AC, our Advanced Practitioners play an important role on our care teams in the delivery of care to our patients in our three work systems. Their efforts do not go unnoticed – they are incredible teammates to our physicians, nurses, and other clinicians!

THE AWARD RECIPIENTS ARE LISTED HERE:
--Family Centered Care Award: Amanda Wiese, CRNP / Integrative Palliative Medicine
--Advanced Practitioner Leader of the Year: Deborah Jones-Shook MSN, CRNP, CDE / GBMC Health Partners Primary Care -- Hunt Valley
--Advanced Practitioner of the Year: Justin Kirk, PA-C / Emergency Department.
--Advanced Practitioner Team Player Award: Jooyoung Lee ACNP-BC, MS, CCRN, RNFA / Internal Medicine/Surgery
--Advanced Practitioner Diversity and Inclusion Advocacy Award: Louise Hansen DNP, MSN, CRNP-AC / NICU
--Cynthia Arnold Scholarship Award: Lindsay Klinefelter, PA-C / Labor & Delivery

On behalf of the entire GBMC HealthCare family, I want to thank our Advanced Practitioners for their hard work in service to our patients and their commitment to our community.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Mother’s Day is a day that we set aside to reflect on motherhood and thank our mothers for their love and support. So to all the mothers, within the GBMC HealthCare family, thank you and enjoy your day!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Campus Change Begins to Accelerate

I remember my first impression of the GBMC campus 11 years ago – I was immediately impressed by its natural beauty. I was also a bit confused about where the main entrance was because it was a bit understated. Well, we are now entering a phase of major construction on our campus. We will retain the natural beauty, but GBMC is about to get a facelift of sorts. 

Last week we closed entrance “A” at the East Pavilion to begin widening the roadway to create our temporary “main” entrance. We also opened our new Newborn and Specialty Care Nursery. On Tuesday, I took a tour of the 10,000-square foot unit with Russ Sadler, Manager of Capital Resources, Jodie Bell, MSN, RNC-LRN, IBCLC, Assistant Director of Women’s & Children’s Services, and Lisa Groff Reuschling, DNP, RN, Clinical Director of Women and Children’s Services. I was really impressed! 

This new unit will house babies who are not well enough or big enough to go home, but don’t require NICU-level care. We have long been known for child and family-centered care, and this new space was built with our newborns and their parents in mind. The unit can handle up to six babies at a time and it features private rooms for every patient. Included in the unit are sleep rooms that allow both parents to stay overnight with their baby. Another key revision includes a centralized nurse station to increase workflow efficiency. We deliver more than 4,000 babies a year and some of them need to spend some extra time with us. I want to thank everyone responsible for adding this beautiful space that can help families bond with their child before heading home. Thank you!

This is the first of the so-called “enabling” moves for the Promise Project. We have now vacated Unit 47, the old NICU, and have started reconstructing it to house our Integrative Care Unit, which is presently on Unit 36. Once Unit 47 is complete, we will re-do Unit 36 and then move Unit 34 into that space. The current Unit 34 must be closed before we start constructing the 3-story addition for the Promise Project. 

We will break ground this September for our three-story hospital addition and, in the spring of 2022, we will begin construction on our new parking garage with the two-story medical office building on top of it. This new building will be called the Sandra R. Berman Pavilion thanks to a significant gift from Sandy and Malcolm Berman. The Berman Cancer Institute will move to this new building when it is completed. 

Other construction projects include work on our new Allan Parsons Infusion Center for our Cancer Institute on the second floor of the William E. Kahlert Physicians Pavilion North, and the completion of our new imaging center on the ground floor of the East Pavilion. There is a lot going on and I can’t wait to see it all come to fruition!  

Occupational Therapists (OT) Impact in Patients’ Everyday Lives
Since April is Occupational Therapy Month, I am pleased to take this opportunity to recognize the occupational therapists across our system who are making a difference in the lives of adults and children. Our therapists and therapy assistants provide functionally-oriented treatment that helps individuals of all ages after an injury, illness, or medical procedure. Their work promotes healing, increases strength and endurance, and teaches patients how to prevent further pain or injury. Their specialty care can help their patients achieve a higher level of independence.

I want to sincerely thank all the OTs and OTAs for their incredible work and for their unwavering dedication to our patients!

Congratulations!!!

Recently, The Daily Record announced their “2021 Health Care Heroes,” and I am proud to announce that several members of the GBMC HealthCare System 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 Ashley McAree, MSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, Human Trafficking Liaison for GBMC’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) and Domestic Violence (DV) Program, who was selected as Nurse of the Year, and most recently as a Top 100 Women by the same publication, and Lori Mulligan, Director at Gilchrist Hospice Care, for being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Here are the other winners: 

Workplace Wellness Program of the Year:
Gilchrist

Nurse Practitioner of the Year:
Tracie Schwoyer-Morgan, DNP, MS, ANP-BC
Gilchrist

Physician of the Year:
Aaron J. Charles, MD, CMD, CHMD
Gilchrist

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

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Coming Together for a Cause

I want to thank everyone who participated in our Walk a Mile in Their Shoes event this year. We had close to 250 participants and raised more than $77,000 for our Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) and Domestic Violence (DV) program

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Walk A Mile event was held virtually over a 17-day period during which participants walked or jogged and logged their miles. They then shared their journey to spread awareness of the impact of sexual assault and domestic violence in our community on social media. In an outpouring of community support, we reached 5,028 miles walked, surpassing the goal of 2,891 miles, which represented the number of patients who received help from the SAFE & DV Program in the last five years. 

In support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we also conducted a multi-faceted campaign with local artists and businesses. Core Cycle Studios of Timonium hosted an in-person, socially distanced fundraiser centered around building awareness for the number of children treated by GBMC. Led by studio owner Heather Chilcot, seven teams of two rode 94 miles, representing the 94 children who were assault victims treated by GBMC’s SAFE & DV Program in 2020. In addition to these teams, other participants registered to cycle or participate in a barre class for one hour. Overall, Core Cycle Studios raised over $2,000.

Baltimore artists, Beth-Ann Wilson and Amy Shrestha, each graciously donated a one-of-a-kind butterfly painting that was raffled off to support our SAFE & DV Program. The butterflies represent victims emerging from their personal tragedies, ready to face life with newfound strength. Over 100 people entered the raffle, raising $3,426! 

Locally owned Mason Mayes Boutique also donated 10% of all sales from this past Saturday to our program and raised $500.

The success of this year’s event was made possible by the commitment and generosity of our walkers, donors, sponsors, and local businesses. Your backing of our SAFE & DV program is truly appreciated and shows your ardent support of the hard work of our forensic nurses. Together, you allow us to continue serving those in need and educating the community. Thank you!

I want to also thank Dr. Fred Chan, Bonnie Stein, and our committee members who worked together to make this year’s event such a success! Click here  to watch (or re-watch!) this moving event. In the video, GBMC’s experts give insight into the work being done by the program and the personal experiences that they have had with victims.

Wishing All of You Were Here
This week, we are celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week. It is an opportunity for our organization to recognize and thank our volunteers for the significant contributions they make to our health system by generously donating their time and talent. 

When the coronavirus hit last spring, our healthcare system made the difficult decision to halt our volunteer programs for the safety of our volunteers, patients, and staff. Even though most of our volunteers are still at home, we do have a few back on campus in low-risk areas. 

This week, in honor of our volunteers, I was able to attend the “Drive Thru” appreciation celebration and to say, “thank you.” It was a great event and I was reminded again that at GBMC we are truly blessed to have such a fantastic volunteer auxiliary. For those volunteers who are still at home and who couldn’t attend this event, please know that you are never far from our thoughts and that your smiles and the special talents you bring are truly missed. 

…And It’s Medical Laboratory Professionals Week! This week is also Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (Apr. 18 – 24). These behind-the-scenes heroes are essential members of the patient care team who play a vital role in the diagnosis and prevention of disease. We are very fortunate to have an outstanding team of pathologists, technicians, phlebotomists, and support staff. Thanks to our lab personnel for all that they do to drive us towards our vision!

Friday, April 16, 2021

What might go wrong?

In previous blogs, I have discussed preoccupation with failure, which is one of the fundamental concepts of high reliability, or error rates close to zero. Preoccupation with failure is a concept in high-risk industries where the team constantly thinks about how things might go wrong in order to prevent bad outcomes. This is the opposite of assuming that things will go right. When we are preoccupied with failure, we are constantly scanning the work environment and looking for small signs that something is wrong.  

A non-clinical example might be stopping to put a covering over a spill on the floor out of concern that someone might slip on it and fall, rather than assuming that people will see it and walk around the spill or that someone else will clean it up.  

This week, I learned a lot about a great clinical example of preoccupation with failure. Our Pharmacy team is using our Lean Management System to redesign the system for replenishing a code cart after its use. The purpose for this is twofold: we want all code carts to contain the required supplies, so clinicians can use them properly in an emergency situation, and we want to avoid resupplying a large batch of code carts at the end of each month due to expired medications. The team has reviewed the list of required supplies for the carts and created standard work for assuring that everything that should be in the carts is there. They have also created an accountability for training system and a mechanism to check that the standard work is being followed when the carts are refilled. 

To get to very high reliability, we must be mindful and be preoccupied with failure to change the way we see our work. Rather than assuming all is well, we need to watch for signals that a bad outcome may be developing and see “near misses” as opportunities to improve our systems before a catastrophe happens.

Three of Our Own are in Maryland’s Top 100 Women
I am proud to announce that three esteemed members of the GBMC
family were honored by The Daily Record as Top 100 Women.

This year’s selection was special for us because Christina Fitts, a member of our Board of Directors, Ashley McAree, MSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, Forensic Nurse Examiner, and Carolyn Candiello, our Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety, were all honored for being “actively involved in their communities while also mentoring the next generation of leaders.” 

Congratulations Christina, Ashley, and Carolyn, we are very proud of you! 

Let’s Go for A Walk
Did you know that our Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) and Domestic Violence (DV) program treated 641 victims – 94 of them children – in the year 2020? The COVID-19 pandemic has had an overwhelming effect on the severity and frequency of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and child abuse within our community.  April is recognized as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month to raise public awareness about sexual violence, educate communities on how to prevent it, and highlight response programs available to the public.  

This year, we are having our 6th Annual Walk a Mile in Their Shoes event, hosted by the GBMC Foundation, which financially supports our SAFE and DV Program. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and to avoid bringing large groups together, we decided again to create a VIRTUAL version of this event.  

Walk a Mile has continued to grow over the years and I am hopeful that, despite these unprecedented times, this year will be no different. Our goal for this year is to reach 2,891 total miles walked, to represent the 2,891 patients who received help from the SAFE and DV Program over the last five years.

We are proud of the impact our program is having, and we are grateful for all the community support that allows GBMC to provide these necessary services across the region. So, I ask everyone to walk or run a mile (or more) and to encourage their friends to do the same, anytime between now and Saturday, April 17, for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. 

If you’re interested in participating in our virtual walk or want to donate to our SAFE and DV Program, it’s not too late. Please visit www.gbmc.org/WalkaMile for further details. Thank you! 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Being a Part of the Solution

Recently the GBMC HealthCare system increased the minimum hourly pay rate for employees to $15 per hour along with providing employer-paid short-term disability insurance (40% of base earnings up to $695 a week). We are in a very tight labor market, so making our company more attractive to workers makes good business sense. An even better reason to make these changes is because it is the right thing to do for our employees. 

There are many hard-working people in our community who are struggling to make ends meet. We hope that raising the minimum wage to the living wage for Maryland will help. GBMC is also happy not to increase the employee’s portion of the health insurance premium for our platinum plan again for fiscal year 2022. This, too, is a benefit to all of our people. 

Despite the financial and operational challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, our decision to increase the minimum wage, offer employer-paid short-term disability, and hold constant the employee’s contribution to health insurance costs are evidence of our commitment to our people and of the attention we pay to the results of the employee engagement survey. Please complete this year’s short survey if you have not done so already! The survey is open until this Monday, April 12, and is completely CONFIDENTIAL. We cannot identify individual responses. If you do, however, choose to include additional comments, these will be shared with your manager. Your name will not be given. Thank-you.

Flag Raising Ceremony
Every ten minutes, a person in the United States is added to the national organ donation waiting list. One person’s donation can make a huge difference for the people on this list. A single tissue donor has the potential to improve the lives of 50 people and one organ donor can save up to eight lives!

April is Donate Life Month, which brings awareness to the need for organ and tissue donors and honors those who have already donated. Earlier this week, I was privileged to be part of a very special event at GBMC. In partnership with The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, we held a flag raising ceremony to honor the memory of donors and celebrate their gifts of life to others.

Please remember that you have the power to save lives. April is the perfect time to register as a donor if you haven’t already. Those wishing to register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor can do so at the MVA or at www.donatelifemaryland.org .

Thursday, April 1, 2021

What do you think about the GBMC HealthCare System as an employer?

This week, we began the 2021 Employee Engagement and Safety Survey that is brought to us by the Gallup Company. It is very important for us to hear from our people about how the company is doing as an employer. It has been a tough year for all of us with the pandemic, the cyberattack, and labor shortages. We have not had the time to focus on many issues outside of these emergencies; however, GBMC has worked hard to keep our people financially and physically safe. We take the survey results very seriously. This year, we worked hard to avoid furloughing people and added short term disability insurance as a benefit – in large part because of input from last year’s survey. 

Please complete the survey. It is CONFIDENTIAL. We cannot identify individual responses. If you do, however, choose to include additional comments, these will be shared with your manager. Your name will not be given. Thank you for helping to identify opportunities for further improvement, to judge the value of changes we made since the last survey, and to make GBMC an even better place to work and a safer health system for all. 

National Doctor’s Day
March 30th (this past Tuesday) was the annual Doctor’s Day celebration. On this day, we thank physicians for their commitment to serving those in need. During a year with an unprecedented public health crisis, we have seen bravery, commitment, teamwork, flexibility, and dedication from GBMC physicians. 

We thank all the surgeons, hospitalists, ED physicians, primary care doctors, and specialists throughout GBMC for all that you do every day to help GBMC move toward our vision: To every patient, every time, we will provide the care that we would want for our own loved ones.

Celebrating Women’s History Month
On Wednesday, we completed the celebration of Women’s History Month, an annual declared commemoration that highlights the contributions of women to our society. GBMC HealthCare thanks the women on our team who have served our community since our inception. 

Lisa Walker, our Director of Learning and Organizational Development, Diversity, and Inclusion, and her team put together a series of videos of some of the amazing women at GBMC who deserve to be recognized not just in March, but throughout the year. Click here to view the videos. 

Denouncing violence against the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Community
We stand united in solidarity with those opposed to the recent episodes of anti-Asian racism and violence. GBMC HealthCare denounces the horrific incidents in Atlanta, GA, and the recent loss of life in Boulder, CO. We are stronger when we embrace everyone. GBMC re-commits to equity, diversity, and inclusion for our workforce and communities we serve.  

Happy Passover and Easter
This is a week of religious reflection and celebration, and the GBMC HealthCare family sends its best wishes to our Christian staff members celebrating Easter this Sunday as well as our Jewish staff members observing the eight-day festival of Passover. For GBMC staff members working during their spring holiday, special thanks for taking care of those who are ill during this time. I am grateful for all your efforts. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Moving Proximate

The GBMC HealthCare System realizes that we must be a part of the healthcare equity solution. We are building a new home for the Gilchrist Center Baltimore at Stadium Place to continue to give disadvantaged residents of Baltimore the same access to outstanding end-of-life care that the rest of us have. We moved into Baltimore City, at the Helping Up Mission (HUM), our inner-city primary care center, to aid the residents of that program and to provide advanced primary care to members of the community. 

The growth at HUM, has been slow, in large part, due to the pandemic. But this week I got great news from Erlene Washington, our Vice President for Physician Practice Management and Chief Operating Officer of GBMC HealthPartners. Amerigroup, the Medicaid serving HMO, has let us know that the number of their members in our practice has grown to 1,100!

Those insured by Medicaid often have difficulty finding doctors. Physicians in private practice rarely take Medicaid because the fee-for-service payments are too low for them to cover their costs. So, those on Medicaid are usually only left with hospital-based clinics that have limited hours and long waiting periods for appointments.

Our practice on East Baltimore Street is welcoming everyone in the community. We are providing advanced primary care there because we believe that everyone deserves the care that we want for our own loved ones. I am so grateful to Ericka V. Easley, MHA, Senior Ambulatory Practice Manager, and James Baronas, MD, Medical Director, for getting us to this point. It is our intention to learn from this practice, work with partners like Amerigroup, reduce waste, and change the payment system. We will then work towards adding other sites within the city. We must get proximate to the problem to be a part of the solution!

Friday, March 19, 2021

A Focus on Safety is a Prerequisite to the Best Health Outcomes

This week is Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 14-21). During this week in the U.S., we have a national education campaign for promoting patient safety practices. At GBMC, we commit to achieving the best possible health outcomes for our patients and we know that we cannot do this without developing highly reliable systems that prevent harm to those in our care.

Students of safety know that atypical situations create higher risk of harm. The COVID-19 pandemic is one such atypical situation and therefore it is even more important this year to draw attention to patient safety work. 

For the past year, our physicians, nurses, and other clinicians have stood up against the pandemic while being alert (preoccupation with failure) to new potential causes of harm. One of these potential causes has been the absence of visitors. During usual times, family members at the bedside often bring forward important information for their loved one’s care. Our teams have had to redesign the system of including the family in the patient’s care by doing things such as using MyChart bedside for video meetings. Then with the cyberattack, we added safety nurses to our units for double checks that are usually done by our computer systems. 

I am so proud of how our people have used our core competency of redesigning care to keep our patients safe during the pandemic and the cyberattack. 

Our patient safety measures were tested once again last Friday. You can imagine the thoughts that were racing through my mind when I got the call that we were experiencing another IT outage. Luckily, the outage was not the result of a malicious attack but was due to an electrical failure in our main data center. Thanks to the hard work of Jim Keyzer, CHFM, our Director of Facilities, Mitchell Scholtes, Assistant Director of Facilities Operations, and their team, our systems were restored after several hours, and we were back to standard operations. I also want to thank Dave Hynson, GBMC’s Chief Information Officer, and his team for doing their part to help get our systems functioning again.

It is in these times of crisis that we must redouble our efforts to create highly reliable systems. The hard work and good intentions of our well-trained people are necessary but insufficient to achieve our vision. It is also critical that we work in highly reliable and well-designed systems with significant redundancy. We need redundancy to prevent catastrophe and recover from the failure of a specific piece of the system. 

Our patients trust us to care for them in their most vulnerable moments, and it is our duty to provide them with the best possible health outcome, which presupposes that we won’t hurt them. This week, please take the time to reflect on what we are doing to improve patient safety and to celebrate the amazing work we have done in the past year.

THANK YOU!!!
March has been designated as Professional Social Work Month, and this week also happens to be Human Resources in Healthcare Week (March 15-19).

Our social workers are critical to our work in identifying and mitigating issues with an individual patient’s social determinants of health like lack of insurance, homelessness, and food insecurity. Our human resource professionals work hard to develop policies to recruit and retain great people for our team. Both groups have faced significant challenges brought on by the pandemic. 

Please take the time to thank our social workers and our human resources staff for all that they do to move us closer to our vision!

Friday, March 12, 2021

A Great Example of How Team Training Using Simulation Improves Outcomes and adds Joy

Healthcare is a high-risk industry – just like commercial aviation and nuclear power. Unlike these other two high-risk endeavors, healthcare has only recently learned the importance of training as a team in a controlled, safe environment. 

When I was a resident physician a few decades ago, the adage was “see one, do one, teach one.” I was involved in many high-risk events like resuscitating a newborn baby or doing a total volume blood exchange on a sick premature infant. Generally, I was allowed to do these procedures without supervision after seeing one of them done. The notion that I should train to do the procedures with the teammates who would be assisting me was a foreign concept. There was very little discussion about the risks to the patients of having a relative novice do the procedure. It was assumed that I knew what I was doing and that I would be vigilant. 

I am so glad that things are not like that anymore. Healthcare now understands what commercial aviation has known for decades. When lives are at stake, competency and readiness cannot be taken for granted. In addition, we now recognize that no one person can do everything and that no one is perfect. We need teams! At GBMC, we are blessed to have a state-of-the-art Simulation Center – just like pilots and co-pilots train in – so that individuals and teams can practice. This way, when the time comes, they are ready. Every procedure has risk, and we want to know that what should happen, happens, and what should not happen, doesn’t. This is the definition of high reliability. 

Recently, I was told a story that made me very proud and underlined just how far we have come in our quest for the highest level of patient safety and high reliability. 

A few weeks ago, we had a very busy day in our intensive care units. The units were close to full capacity as we had an influx of patients from our Rapid Response Team (RRT). One of these patients had a very low heart rate at 60 beats per minute and was going in and out of consciousness. During the three second pauses between beats, the patient’s eyes would roll back, and he would become unresponsive.

David Vitberg, MD, our Director of the Division of Medical and Surgical Critical Care, along with ICU nurses Michelle Braun, Lauren Walsh, Erin Saunders, and Mike Porter, jumped into action. With the support of his team, Dr. Vitberg inserted a sheath and transvenous pacer. Within a few minutes everything was complete. The pacer wire was in, the patient was being paced at 70 beats per minute, and thereafter he remained completely stable. The team was elated. They had smoothly and effectively performed a life-saving procedure. It was a procedure that they do very infrequently, but because they had trained to do this in the simulation lab as a team, it went off without a hitch. 

Dr. Vitberg told me that “It was spontaneous, authentic, mutual happiness for our patient and our team. The success of saving a man’s life felt great! We all knew something special had happened and we all knew "why.

This man is still living today in large part due to the interdisciplinary simulation training where Dr. Vitberg and his ICU team practiced the insertion of a transvenous pacer. 

I’m so proud of these ICU colleagues for their teamwork and I am grateful to our leaders Dr. Vitberg and Nurse Manager, Rachel Ridgely, RN, and to Deborah Higgins, RN, MS, Manager of the Simulation Center, and to Dr. Donald Slack, Director of Medical Education of the Simulation Center, for seeing to it that training happens and that team learning is achieved. 

Turning blue to raise awareness
You may have noticed the blue wall lighting coming down the concourse from the Lily Garage into the hospital and a shade of blue shining on our main sign on Charles Street. This was done, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society (ACS), Colon Cancer Coalition and Fight Colon Cancer, to shine a bright light in recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to support patients, increase awareness, raise screening rates, and save lives. 

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women. Unfortunately, ACS statistics show that due to COVID-19, colonoscopies declined nearly 90 percent in April 2020 from the previous year, which could result in an additional 4,500 deaths from colorectal cancer in the next 10 years. If you are due for one, please make sure that you schedule your colonoscopy as soon as possible Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented through timely screening and removal of pre-cancerous polyps.

I want to thank Brian Fitzpatrick, our Energy and Facilities Manager, and his crew for their work in turning our lights blue. I hope it encourages people to get screened when they are due!

Friday, March 5, 2021

The Big Reveal of Our New Patient Room

Over the last couple of weeks, the question “what is going on?” has been echoed by many visitors and staff as they walked through our main lobby. One visitor jokingly asked one of our employees, “Is the Wizard of Oz hiding in there?” There was no wizard – it was a mockup of the future of inpatient care at GBMC.

On Tuesday, the mystery of what was behind the curtain was solved, as I was joined by Dr. JoAnn Ioannou, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, our Executive Vice President for Hospital Operations and Chief Nursing Officer, and Stacey McGreevy, CPA, our Vice President of Support Services, for a LIVE virtual tour of the full-scale model of one of our new Promise Project patient rooms! The Promise Project is a three-story hospital addition which will feature 60 spacious patient rooms across two inpatient units, a modern lobby and reception area, healing garden, chapel, and more. 

We have been in the design and planning phase for over a year, and many disciplines have been involved. The mockup was built to showcase the new room design and to generate excitement about the project as we get ready to move to the public phase of fundraising. 

The new rooms will be quite spacious (double the size of our current rooms) to more appropriately accommodate patient and clinical staff needs and will have advanced sound proofing to facilitate the rest and healing process. Other improvements include more storage for patient belongings and a new bathroom that is ADA compliant, allowing for easier use by all patients. 

One of the biggest improvements in the rooms is a result of lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The unit design will provide us with the ability to make each room a negative pressure room, which will help us protect against infectious diseases. We will be the only hospital in Maryland to have units with this ability. 

I am very proud to be at the forefront of innovation with our new patient rooms that will support the extraordinary work of our physicians, nurses, and other staff. This is an investment to move us closer to achieving our vision – to every patient, every time, we will provide the care we would want for our own loved ones. I encourage you all to visit the model of our future patient rooms and to finally get a look at what was behind the curtain!

COVID-19…One year later
March 5th marks the one-year anniversary of Governor Hogan announcing the state’s first cases of COVID-19 and declaring a State of Emergency. Since then, hospitals and health systems began battling COVID-19 as cases spread across our state. 

I continue to be grateful to our entire GBMC team for all they have done to stand up to the virus. We still have work to do, but the pandemic is abating thanks to good hand hygiene, social distancing, the wearing of masks, and people getting immunized. 

I am also grateful to our patients and the communities we serve, for their unwavering support and commitment to GBMC. Whether it was donating masks, providing food to our front-line workers, offering prayers for our team members, or acting in other ways, big and small, to show their gratitude and their care for our people, it has been truly inspiring. Thank you!

Friday, February 26, 2021

A Conversation with an Outstanding Baltimore Couple

Every year, GBMC celebrates Black History Month. Over the past few years, the need to truly celebrate the achievements of Black Americans and commit to work for social justice has become more important than ever. We have seen far too many episodes of racial injustice across our nation. I think getting to know each other is the best way to begin to bring people together. Every February, we take time to learn about African American history, culture, and the outstanding achievements of Black Americans that often go unrecognized. 

On Thursday, I had the privilege of serving as the host for a virtual celebration with UMBC President Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, and Mrs. Jacqueline C. Hrabowski. Dr. Hrabowski became the president of UMBC in 1992 and was named by President Barack Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Dr. Hrabowski has also been named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME and one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report. Mrs. Hrabowski is the former Vice President of Corporate Community Involvement at T. Rowe Price, and is a passionate community volunteer and advocate in her own right. 

I truly enjoyed my time interviewing the Hrabowskis. As I said to them during the interview, they are so accomplished as individuals and I was very impressed with their dedication to helping others. Their joy “jumped” through the screen. It was an exceptional chance to discuss their personal stories along with our theme for Black History Month, that we carried over from our Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration this year: “Getting into Good Trouble-Restoring and Uniting Humanity” based on the mantra of the late congressman John Lewis. It was also an opportunity to discuss the accomplishments of African Americans in our nation and locally. You can watch the video here.

Our Black History Month celebration honors the marvelous accomplishments of the many great African Americans whose work impacts our daily lives. It was my honor and pleasure to host this event and I want to express my appreciation to Dr. and Mrs. Hrabowski for joining us. I am grateful to my colleagues on the Diversity and Inclusion Council and our Black History Month Committee for putting together an outstanding celebration and helping bring us together. I want to also thank The Baltimore City College Choir for their wonderful performance. Thank you!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Keeping Our Hospital Cool

In my blog I usually write about healthcare. This seems reasonable since we are a healthcare organization, but there are things that we take for granted like having heated buildings in the winter and cooled buildings in the summer. Recently, I spent some time with Jim Keyzer, CHFM, our Director of Facilities. Jim was showing me two of our chillers that needed to be replaced. These devices are huge! It is a true feat of modern engineering to be able to dismantle the old chillers and replace them with new ones within an existing building. See Jim’s answers to my questions below.

How old are the two chillers we are replacing and why are we replacing them?
Steam absorption chillers have a life expectancy of 20 years and due to our great boiler engineers, we have kept them running for 26 years. We are replacing them for two reasons: 1) because they are well beyond their useful life and 2) we need many more tons of cooling for the Promise Project.

When is the replacement taking place and how long will installation of the new ones take?
We started the project beginning in December 2020 because it must take place during the heating season. It could never be accomplished during the summer months. We expect the new electric chillers to be operational by late April 2021.

What is being required for the replacement to take place?
Hundreds of hours of planning and design, most of which must be done during the winter months.

What is its main function of the two steam absorption chillers for the hospital and what is the difference between the new and old ones?
The two old absorption chillers run on steam to make chilled water, which is the most inefficient way to do it. In fact, we use more steam in the summer for cooling than in the winter for heating. The two replacement electric chillers have state-of-the-art design and technology, and as a result, we anticipate millions of dollars in energy savings in the upcoming years.

Why did we install such energy inefficient steam absorption chillers in the past?
In the past, we did not have enough power to run electric chillers, and we did not have emergency generators with enough capacity to run the electric chillers in the event of a power failure. Through purchasing two of the most energy efficient chillers and implementing numerous energy saving initiatives, we now have enough electrical power to run them. GBMC also upgraded the emergency generator capacity with a new electrical generator plant, which now enables us to run the new chillers on the emergency generators when needed.

I am so grateful to Jim and his team for all that they accomplish while the work of healthcare continues unabated! When you see our boiler engineers and the rest of our facilities staff, please thank them!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Another Physician Titan Steps Down From a Leadership Role

It is time to celebrate the work of yet another physician leader at GBMC.

After more than 14 years at the helm, Francis C. Grumbine, MD, has stepped down as Chair of Gynecology. I am very happy to report that he will continue his clinical practice at GBMC. Dr. Grumbine came to GBMC in the fall of 1982 and became Chair of Gynecology in 2006. He is known as a superb and compassionate physician and researcher. Under his tenure, our gynecology department has grown significantly, in large part because of his outstanding clinical skills and reputation in the Mid-Atlantic region. He has served on countless committees and worked tirelessly to assure outstanding clinical outcomes in his department. 

Joan L. Blomquist, MD, has been elected by the medical staff as our new Chair of Gynecology. Joan was previously our Chief of the Division of Urogynecology. Dr. Blomquist has been on the GBMC medical staff since 1996 and has been the leader of the urogynecology division since 2012. I am delighted that Dr. Blomquist, who is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a locally recognized expert in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, is our new Chair. She is an outstanding clinician who is known for her dedication, tremendous skill, and compassion for patients. She has also done an excellent job as the Medical Director of the Women’s and Outpatient Surgery Center. Dr. Blomquist will build on the work of Dr. Grumbine as she implements her vision for Department of Gynecology at GBMC. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Blomquist as she takes on her new role.

Art of Nursing Nominations…
Nursing is often referred to as the art of science, knowledge, and caring. At GBMC HealthCare, we celebrate the Art of Nursing and each of its components through our Nursing Recognition Program.

The work of nurses in the battle against COVID-19 has been extraordinary. The pandemic shined a spotlight on their selfless efforts and I want to sincerely 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. Our nurses make a huge difference!

Nursing staff throughout the GBMC HealthCare system, whether serving in the hospital, in our ambulatory practices, or with Gilchrist, are encouraged to apply or nominate a colleague by visiting here. Non-nursing staff members are also encouraged to submit nominations to recognize a nursing colleague. Last year we honored and celebrated our nurses with a virtual ceremony, in 2021 we are planning a socially distanced in-person gathering. Stay tuned for more information on this year's special event

Please submit your nominations as soon as possible! The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 5. Let’s show our nurses, who work so hard every day to make sure others receive the care they need, our gratitude. Thank you! 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Passing the Baton in Radiology

Over the past two months, the Senior Team and I have been preoccupied with our dual challenges of recovering from the cyber-attack and providing care throughout the pandemic. This should not excuse me from recognizing people for their incredible service to GBMC and our patients. Recently, my good friend and colleague, Alexander Munitz, MD, stepped down as our Chairman of Radiology after serving for 29 years. I am very happy to report that he will continue to serve our patients as a radiologist, while enjoying a lightened schedule.

Dr. Munitz came to GBMC in 1986 and assumed the role of Chairman in 1992. During that time, he oversaw tremendous growth in imaging studies in our health system. I have often reflected that the quality of radiology at GBMC is outstanding, in large part due to the expertise of Dr. Munitz and his colleagues, but also because of his stewardship of the department. I will miss him at Leadership meetings, but I am delighted that we will still have the benefit of his work in serving our patients. 

Please join me in thanking Dr. Munitz for his years of service in leadership, and in welcoming Dr. John Werner as our new Chairman of Radiology!  

Evidence of Progress in Fighting the Pandemic
Over the past three weeks, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has steadily decreased. While this is a good sign, as the number of people hospitalized is still our best predictor of infection rate, it leaves us with a number of questions: Why are hospitalizations declining? What has changed? Is it because we are having fewer gatherings? Is this an early sign of the effectiveness of vaccination? No one is quite sure what these answers are. Regardless, I want to thank everyone for maintaining social distancing, wearing your masks, washing your hands, and getting immunized when there is an appointment available for you.   

Thank you!
Earlier this week, our grounds crew was out in full force. The team did its usual fantastic job removing snow and ice to make our campus safe. Our facilities team made sure that everything remained in working order during the inclement weather, and our environmental service and food service teams were extraordinary in their ability to keep GBMC clean and fed. 

I want to thank everyone for their commitment and effort to get the job done for our patients and our community. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Welcoming New Colleagues

I have been addressing new employees at orientation for many years. I believe that it is very important for me to present our vision as an organization to get people started well. In doing this, I am essentially taking them through the beginning steps of our Leadership System.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, meeting with new employees at orientation has been difficult. For a few months we presented a previously recorded version of my session. Then we moved to a virtual session. In December, after the cyberattack we were not able to meet even virtually. So, I was very happy on Monday of this week to return to the virtual interaction. 

I began by telling our new people about who we are as a company and presented our three work systems. I then spoke about our mission and values before getting into the history of our vision, our vision phrase, and our four aims. 

I try to engage the participants in conversation to begin their enrollment process. During this week’s orientation I spent a few moments speaking with Amy Martin, a registered nurse, who will be working in our Pediatric ED/Inpatient Unit. I was excited to hear that Amy was returning to GBMC. She had worked here for 17 years, starting in 2003 as an Administrative Assistant. Amy then moved to a role in patient access. She eventually attended nursing school and achieved her RN in 2018 and started her career in pediatric nursing. Amy left GBMC last December, but told me that she decided to return “because I missed my home away from home, which includes Pediatrics and GBMC itself.” Amy continued: “I missed the support and encouragement I received from my coworkers that was tremendous all throughout my nursing journey. I am excited to be back. I am looking forward to seeing so many people, and to work in Pediatrics again. I am also looking forward to all the new, exciting projects in the works for GBMC like the planned addition.”

Amy’s story made me start to think, “what is it about GBMC that allows us to retain members of our workforce, especially nurses, and inspire some who have left to come back?”

There are many reasons like our size and our focus as an independent community health system that enables us to foster a “high-relationship” workforce. We focus on developing a relationship with each employee and do this through our ongoing listening posts to hear “the voice of the employee.” We conduct our 45-day post hire interviews, have our Employee Relations Council and our Diversity & Inclusion Council, and we hold “Lunch with the CEO” monthly. We’ve expanded our daily LDM and LMS rounding, to include weekends. 

For nurses in particular, we create an environment of fellowship and “belonging” through our Art of Nursing celebration. Our career ladder in nursing gives individuals an opportunity for personal growth.

I was excited to welcome all our new employees and to welcome Amy back. I was reminded that our people are what make GBMC great and that we must always be working to create even more joy in our workforce by making GBMC a better place to work. 

Roll ‘em up for Round Two!
This past Monday, 28 days since vaccine doses first were given within our health system, our employees returned to get their second dose. Receiving that second dose is critical to get a strong immune response against COVID-19.

We distributed the second-round, of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, to healthcare workers, which included doctors, nurses, clinicians and all other support personnel, who have already received the initial vaccine dosage. I was really encouraged to see our healthcare workers getting their second dose, because it helps bring us closer to returning to normal.

We’ve been moving as quickly as possible to vaccinate our workforce, our patients, and the community. We are following the State’s rollout plan. Maryland has now authorized many new sites for vaccine distribution and the bottleneck is now the number of doses available. 

I am immensely proud of the work our team has done under the direction of Harold Tucker, MD, our Chief Medical Officer, Yuliya Klopouh, our Director of Pharmacy, Sophia Powell, our Director of Employee Health, and Eve Bowmaster, GBMC HealthPartners Director of Quality and Patient Safety, to get people vaccinated to help put an end to this pandemic.

With that said, I want to emphasize to the public that it is still very important to follow the preventive measures that have been stressed to help stop the spread of the virus. Everyone, including those who receive the vaccine, should continue to properly wear a mask, avoid group gatherings, maintain physical distancing, and practice proper handwashing. Thank you!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Ushering in the Promise of a New Year With ‘The Promise Project’

When GBMC opened in 1965, our medical center was marveled at by the community – private patient rooms were unheard of at the time. Yet, 55 years later, these same patient rooms have lost their wow-factor. Out of a growing need for more spacious rooms on our medical units that could accommodate team-based care, advanced technology, and visits from loved ones, we began planning for a hospital addition, and the Promise Project was begun. 

The Promise Project will allow GBMC’s physical structure to meet the same exceptional standards as our people and our systems. Achieving the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award shows that we are excellent at redesigning care. And, despite the challenges of 2020, mired in a global pandemic and a cyber- attack, GBMC remains firmly focused on building a healthcare system that meets the needs of our community now, and in the future. 

With this massive endeavor, we’re continuing the promise that our founders made 55 years ago – to always put the patient first and to move us closer to our vision of treating every patient, every time, the way we want our own loved ones treated.

Making A Grand Entrance
The new, three-level addition will add 60 new patient rooms that are designed for collaboration while providing a quiet space for medical patients, who are frequently elderly and have complex illnesses, to rest and heal. Patient rooms will include ample space for medical equipment and advanced technology, room for medical teams to gather and deliver care, and space for loved ones to visit comfortably. 

The rooms won’t just be larger, they are also designed with the lessons we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, incorporating the ability for greater isolation capacity for patients with infectious diseases. If we learned anything from the past year, it’s that technology – and our ability to care and connect with patients and loved ones virtually – plays a vital role in healthcare delivery. The Promise Project will take telemedicine to the next level with built-in screens at the bedside to extend capabilities to include virtual visits with loved ones. 

While construction on the Promise Project begins in the summer of 2021, our teams are already making the moves that are necessary to get ready for this new addition to our medical center. We’re working diligently to safely move existing units in the hospital to accommodate the massive construction phase. The grand opening of the new addition is planned for the summer of 2023! 

When all is said and done, we’ll not only gain 60 new medical rooms and a new parking structure, but also a grand main entrance that complements the natural beauty of GBMC’s campus and welcomes our patients, families, visitors, and staff to our world-class medical center. 

The Promise Project is an amazing feat, building upon the already exceptional care our teams provide each and every day. It will provide room to continue growing so that we can meet the needs of our community far into the future. I welcome you to take an in-depth look at the promise of the future at GBMC by visiting https://www.gbmc.org/promiseproject. See for yourself how we’re redesigning care for generations to come. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccination: It should be easy, right?

In last week’s blog, I mentioned that Governor Hogan was concerned that hospitals and local health departments were not vaccinating fast enough. He cited issues ranging from the federal government not sending as many doses as initially predicted, to the lack of logistical and financial help for local health departments.

I am proud of our team for how quickly they setup a system for vaccine delivery and for how well it has been operating. As of today, all GBMC HealthCare System employees and all our medical staff members have had the opportunity to get the first dose of vaccine if they have wanted it. Yesterday, we began immunizing the other large component of our workforce, our volunteers, to include our Board Members. 

The State has correctly wanted to get hospital staffs and first responders vaccinated first. This has now essentially been completed. At this point, however, there has been a hesitancy from the State to allow us to use remaining doses to vaccinate others. The federal government has suggested that we begin immunizing everyone over 65, but the State has not authorized us to do that at this time. As of last night, it appears that the State is now moving towards a plan to begin immunizing everyone over age 75.

I believe that the best path forward is not to come up with the perfect sequencing of vaccine administration. At this point, we should pivot to immunizing as many people as we can, as fast as we can. The bottleneck should be vaccine production and not distribution.

We are all concerned about the rising number of cases and the increasing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, so it is important to move quickly on the best strategy to end the pandemic – immunization.

If any of you are interested in getting more information about the pandemic and our work to end it, I hope you join me for a special COVID-19 WebEx on Thursday, January 28, at 11 a.m. I will provide an update on the situation at GBMC, throughout Maryland, and the country, and plan to discuss and answer your questions on the vaccine. Please register and submit your questions ahead of time at this link

Friday, January 8, 2021

Working Without all the Tools

This week we continued the restoration process of our computer systems and things are getting back to normal. I have been the president of GBMC HealthCare for more than 10 years, and I must say that the last month has been the most difficult time of my tenure. We are so dependent on the smooth flow of information to meet our four aims, and information was ground to a halt when the cybercriminals brought down our entire network. 

But at the same time, this past month has been one of the most rewarding times during my 10 years in our system. I have seen incredible resilience, dedication, teamwork, redesign on-the-fly and tremendous leadership acts. Our people have been fabulous! We each had moments where we lamented our lot in life, but for the most part, people stood up to the simultaneous evils of the pandemic and no working technology and continued to treat every patient as if they were our loved one. 

Once again, I would like to thank our nurses, physicians, advance practitioners, other clinicians, IT professionals, and support staff for everything you have done. Many people did new jobs or took on new responsibilities to get us through the crisis. 

We all take for granted the technology that helps us do our work in a safer way and more efficiently. We will learn from our most recent experiences and come out of this even stronger. 

What is your most significant learning from the cyberattack? Please share it as a comment below. 

Increasing the Pace of Vaccination
On Tuesday, Governor Hogan voiced his disappointment on the speed at which hospitals were vaccinating their staff against the coronavirus. 

At GBMC, we were in the second group of hospitals to get vaccines and I am so proud of our Team led by Sophia Powell, RN, our Director of Occupational Health, and Dr. Harold Tucker, our Chief Medical Officer for the excellent system that they have built for getting vaccinated. I got my shot this week and things went very smoothly. We have now given the vaccine to close to 2,000 of our people. We look forward to vaccinating our patients and other community members as soon as we get the go-ahead from the state.