Vacation: A Time To Reflect

What does a hospital CEO do while on vacation? Read, enjoy the beach and some music, and reflect on the healthcare system and how GBMC is making changes to benefit patients and providers.

by Dr. John B. Chessare

CEO, Greater Baltimore Medical Center

I have been on vacation this week. I am enjoying sleeping a bit later than usual, reading, going to the beach, and relaxing. I am also enjoying some extra time with my family and friends that I don’t see too often. We are going to three concerts this week. I will show my age by saying that we will see Joe Walsh and Steve Miller. Lyle Lovett is popular with a broader age range, though.

Vacation is also a great time to reflect (Maybe it’s the trance-like state you can get into at the beach staring out at the waves). I am reflecting about how lucky I am and how great it is to be part of a team at our health system that is working to build on what is right in American health care and is in action to change what is not. We are watching the Olympics. I marvel at how talented these athletes are and the pain they feel when they make human errors and see their dreams slipping away (U.S. men’s gymnastics) and how elated they are when they achieve the dream (Missy Franklin).

While watching the Olympics I am also watching the commercials. Hospital advertising is big on television here (somewhat bigger than it is in Baltimore). Last night, I saw a number of glitzy (and undoubtedly very expensive) ads for a hospital company touting “the new care”. I was wondering what was new? Did the patients see it as better? Did it lead to better health for individuals or the community than the “old” care? Or at least did the patients perceive that it was easier for them to navigate, especially when they had chronic disease? We should be desperate as a nation to make care less costly. Was this “new care” less costly? Did the people that worked for this company, especially the doctors and nurses believe that the “new care” made it easier for them to treat patients so that they could realize more joy in their practice?

But I realize that it is easy to be critical. I am reflecting on my own behavior and wondering what could I do better to move GBMC towards better health, better care, lower cost and more joy, faster? The email keeps coming. Yesterday I got an email from Sue Bowen, our Nursing Director of Maternal and Child Health. Sue had done a marvelous job developing a solution for parents of babies in the NICU who may stay with us for months. Our daily parking fee can add up if you are coming and going multiple times in a day over many weeks. Now, after a number of days, parents will get a parking card and will not have to pay. I subsequently got a thank you email for the work of Sue and her Team from a father who was grateful that we now had a parking solution for him. He will now have a somewhat better experience of his baby’s care at lower cost to him.

I have been reflecting on last week’s learning for our new Performance Improvement Masters and the great work they did in mapping the value streams for patients from the time they entered the Emergency Department until they got to a bed on an inpatient unit, for patients moving from the PACU to an inpatient bed, and for a patient getting discharged from the hospital. Right now, we have people working very, very hard in processes that don’t work as well as they might. I am very excited about the redesigning that is happening in these critical areas. I am reading the book: Leading the Lean Enterprise Transformation by George Koenigsaecker, so that I can be a better participant in these efforts.

Oh well, a few more days of sun and then back to work.

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