Thursday, June 24, 2021

Back to the Future: Entrance A to Become the Main Entrance Again

I have been joking for a few years about the hospital’s main entrance being Entrance B. Some of you know that this has not always been the case. In the past, the bus loop entrance at the East Pavilion walkway, Entrance A, was the main entrance. 

Since the new three-story addition will be built in front of our current main entrance, we need to create a temporary main entrance until the new addition is complete. At that point, we will have a beautiful new grand entrance. 

We have been in the design and planning phase of the Promise Project for over a year, and now it’s wonderful that we are moving into construction. The first phase will involve trenching for the new utility lines that will connect to Charles Street. The Rose Parking Lot will be closed beginning July 19, but the handicap parking in the front of Entrance B will remain open. In late August, Entrance B and the remaining handicap parking will be closed in preparation for the groundbreaking. To accommodate our patients, we will be increasing valet services, transport services, and creating additional handicap spaces.

We have also started the schematic design phase of the Sandra R. Berman Pavilion and garage. We are involving representatives from all departments relocating to the consolidated cancer center building. We anticipate that this design work will continue well into August with the goal of finalizing construction documents in the Spring of 2022.  

I am really looking forward to the three-story addition which adds 60 new patient rooms that will accommodate patient and clinical staff needs and have advanced sound proofing. To get this done, we will have to make many changes to patient and staff flow throughout our campus. For more information, please visit

Thank You!!!
This past Sunday, we held our 33rd annual GBMC Father’s Day 5K and 1-Mile Fun Walk. It was a gorgeous day and it was great to see so many families IN-PERSON on our beautiful campus. For more than three decades, this event has been helping to raise funds for GBMC’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 

I want to thank the more than 450 participants who spent part of their Father’s Day with GBMC and helped raise more than $105,000. In 33 years, the 5K has raised close to $3 million for critically ill and premature babies.

Let me also thank the GBMC Volunteer Auxiliary and all the amazing volunteers who made this event happen as well as GBMC’s NICU doctors, nurses, technicians, and others who dedicate their lives to the health of babies. I greatly appreciate the many “graduates” of our NICU and their parents who came out to show their support on Sunday. 

Baltimore Magazine
Physicians…It's that time again! Baltimore Magazine is collecting votes for its TOP DOCTORS issue. Docs, please vote for the colleagues you most respect! The survey may be found here.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Why is GBMC Requiring all Our People to be Vaccinated Against the Coronavirus by September 1? What if it was your loved one?

Imagine if your immune-compromised daughter came to GBMC for her cancer chemotherapy and she contracted COVID-19 from a staff member who was not vaccinated. She needed to be transferred to the ICU and intubated. How would you feel? Would you accept the fact that it was the right of the staff member not to take a vaccine that would have prevented spreading the virus to others?

I want to again thank all the GBMC teams for their fabulous work fighting the pandemic. Even before there were vaccines, many of you put your own health at risk in caring for those infected with the virus. This came as no surprise to me because we know that healthcare is a calling of service to others. 

The scientific community raced to identify the infectious agent causing the disease and quickly created a vaccine to prevent sickness and death from it. Virologists, immunologists, and epidemiologists worked tirelessly to complete randomized controlled trials of vaccines to see if they could create at least one that was safe and effective. Early on, when the numbers of people treated were relatively small, there was plenty of room for doubt. Then, as millions of people across the world were given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine with minimal side effects, their effectiveness at preventing serious illness and death became clear. At that point the scientific community, led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, started encouraging all people to be vaccinated. 

The most current information regarding the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines is so profound that the risk of harm from the vaccine is miniscule compared to the risk of serious illness or death in those not immunized. Now, it is time for us to call the question, “Is it ok for a healthcare worker to not be immunized and risk illness and death for themselves and and patients?”

The Maryland Hospital Association (MHA) gathered its members together to consider the question thoughtfully. Led by the scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, the members of the MHA responded “no.” The administrative wheels at the Food and Drug Administration do not turn quickly, so it may be some time before all the reviews required for full FDA authorization beyond Emergency Use have been completed. But these vaccines have extensive data, which has been scrutinized by experts in the fields of infectious disease and immunology, supporting their safety and effectiveness because of the millions of doses that have been given under Emergency Use. The vaccines are on their way to complete authorization – it’s just a matter of time. We at GBMC, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, and others have decided to mandate the vaccine now because we want to minimize the chance that more daughters, sons, sisters, and brothers are harmed by COVID-19. 

Mandatory vaccination policies are not new to hospital staff and colleagues, and those who are not able to be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons will be required to apply for an exemption, like we do for influenza and varicella and a host of other vaccines.  

GBMC HealthCare, like the other hospitals in Maryland, is an institution grounded in science. We believe in evidence-based medicine and we create standard work according to the evidence. We welcome people to come forward with new theories, but we make our decisions based on the preponderance of the evidence. As the evidence changes, we adjust our decisions. 

As many people will head back indoors this fall, and the delta coronavirus becomes prominent in Maryland, we may see epidemics of disease among those who have not been vaccinated. We must be ready for this possibility. 

Resources to help answer questions about the vaccine, safety, side effects, and more can be found here or via our Employee Hotline form. To make vaccination as easy as possible, employees may receive the vaccine through GBMC by completing this form, which is also located on the Infoweb. Alternatively, the COVID-19 vaccine is available through your GBMC Health Partners primary care provider and it is also offered throughout the community. You can even text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) for a listing of clinics in your neighborhood. Please note that if you receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside of GBMC, you will be required to provide proof of vaccination to Employee Health, as we do for influenza vaccine. 

I have been fully vaccinated, as has my whole family. Thank you for working with us to keep our patients and each other safe. 

Juneteenth, the new federal holiday
President Biden signed legislation yesterday making today the first federal Juneteenth holiday in our nation’s history. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an annual holiday observing the end of slavery and marks the day when people in Galveston, Texas, received news of emancipation. 

Let’s use this as a day of reflection and advocacy to stand firm against systemic oppression and racial inequities in our country. 

The Passing of a Great Physician
Yesterday, I attended the funeral services for Joseph Patrick Connelly Jr., MD, family physician at GBMC’s Hunt Manor practice, who passed away last week. Dr. Connelly cared for patients for almost 40 years and has been a member of the GBMC family since 2009. He loved being a physician and had such amazing devotion to his patients. We will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Carla, and the rest of Joe’s family.

Go on a walk or a run for a great cause!
This Sunday, June 20, we’re holding the 33rd Annual GBMC Father’s Day 5K & 1 Mile Fun Walk, now with both in-person and virtual options, to benefit the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  

We are fortunate to have a fabulous NICU with excellent clinicians and cutting-edge equipment. The equipment and staffing required to provide the care for our sick or premature babies is expensive and the funds raised from our annual Father’s Day 5K defray these costs. Please support this year’s event and consider walking a mile or running a 5K. Encourage your family to join you! Please visit for more information and to register or donate to the cause. Remember that your support will directly benefit the more than 400 critically ill and premature babies cared for annually in GBMC’s NICU. Thank you!

…also, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers in our GBMC family!

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!