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 or visit (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!  

--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!

--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!