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 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.