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!


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:

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

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

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 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 .

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.