Taking a community-centered approach to management to generate better outcomes for patients in Baltimore County
Dr. John Chessare is the president and CEO of GBMC HealthCare, a private nonprofit that owns and runs the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Founded in the 1960s, GBMC is Baltimore County’s leading medical system, with nearly 1,300 physicians and more than 1,100 nursing staff serving community members at facilities throughout the region. In addition to the medical center, GBMC HealthCare also owns and operates Gilchrist Hospice Care, a nationally recognized hospice organization.
OFFIT KURMAN: Tell us about your background. What made you decide to focus on bringing quality management systems to health care?
JOHN CHESSARE: I am a pediatrician by training, and early on in my career I was in academic medicine. I went to the University of Michigan School of Public Health to get more training in research design and biostatistics. While I was starting my career as a general academic pediatrician, I got turned on to health care management because I had the good fortune of having as one of my teachers at Michigan a man by the name of Avedis Donabedian, who is accepted as the father of quality improvement in health care. He told us that health care could be so much better, but it was about leadership and design. He set up this famous framework structure: process outcomes.
I was seeing patients and I was redesigning systems. As I was going, I was getting more management responsibility, and then my wife graduated from medical school, finished her residency, we had four kids,and we wanted to get back closer to the grandparents on the East Coast, so we left Toledo and went to Albany. And at Albany Med, I really started my career pretty much in management full time. I went on to Boston Medical Center, which is the teaching hospital of Boston University. I was the chief medical officer there and spent a lot of time redesigning systems. Health care is full of really smart people who care, but every day they work in broken designs because of poor leadership and poor management. I have spent a lot of time trying to help redesign systems to get better outcomes.
I left my chief medical officership to try my hand at running a hospital. I was running one of the Catholic hospitals in Boston and then my boss got into trouble. We wound up on the front page of the Boston Globe above the fold for eight straight days. Before I knew it, I was the interim president of the six hospital system. The archdiocese eventually sold the hospital company to a private equity firm, and I am delighted to be here at GBMC.
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