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Married to Each Other and the Idea of Better Patient Care for Baltimore

March 31, 2022
Two doctors walk into a meeting of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine and find both love and a shared passion for patient care.

Melvin S. Blanchard, MD, FACP, Chair of Medicine at GBMC HealthCare, and his wife, Erica N. Johnson, MD, an Infectious Disease Specialist, Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine, met because of their shared roles as educators. When the opportunity to support GBMC’s capital campaign, The Promise Project, presented itself, they saw it as an extension of the relationship-based, patient-centered care delivery method they consistently stress with their residents.

“I remember when Melvin first showed me the sample room of what the individual patient spaces are going to look like that was on the first floor of GBMC,” Dr. Johnson said. “As The Promise Project comes to fruition and I’m thinking about how you can optimize care delivery in a space like that, there’s just so much opportunity and so much potential there. That was one of the important perspectives about the value of the project, and one of the reasons we wanted to contribute as a family.”

Increased square footage is the tactic, but the outcomes are far greater and more impactful. In the first 24 hours of a hospital stay, patients interact with up to 25 different members of the care team. The spacious rooms will allow more collaborative care delivery, increase treatment options, and will improve comfort levels for patients in an environment that leads to a better healing experience overall.

“We choose to go into medicine as doctors to make a positive difference in the lives of others. When patients come into the hospital, they are looking for improvement in how they feel, improvement in how they function, and improvement in their outcomes. To these ends, a patient’s experience in the hospital is critical and important,” Dr. Blanchard said. “The Promise Project is about providing a better experience for the patient, making it easier for teams to function in the environment for care delivery – nurses and all other disciplines. I do believe that having the right physical environment helps the team function better and deliver better care.”

Dr. Johnson has the unique perspective of looking at GBMC and its progress from the lens of a Baltimore native as well as a physician at another notable healthcare institution in the city. Her decision to give back to GBMC is personal.

“I’ve had family members who have received care at GBMC,” Dr. Johnson, who is also Associate Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Education in the Department of Medicine at Hopkins and Chair of the Infectious Disease Specialty Board at the American Board of Internal Medicine, said. “I believe in GBMC’s commitment as an organization to the communities of Baltimore and improving health, and I saw this as an opportunity to be a part of that larger mission.”

Dr. Blanchard’s first tie to Baltimore is Dr. Johnson. But in just a short time since November 2019 when he became Chair of Medicine, which includes oversight of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at GBMC, Dr. Blanchard has been committed to the goal of consistently delivering the best medical care and teaching others how to do the same.

The change to the GBMC mission statement to include “educating the next generation of clinicians,” which occurred just two months before his arrival, resonated with him because he strongly believes continuous learning is congruous with better patient outcomes and overall medical care. Dr. Blanchard, who also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, the national home for internal medicine educators and leaders across the continuum of medical training, believes education is a commitment to patients now and in the future. The same is true for The Promise Project.

“GBMC has a longstanding commitment to excellence, delivering the best care to everyone who walks through the doors,” Dr. Blanchard said. “That’s exemplified by the Malcolm Baldrige award, and I do think this construction, this building, is an effort to push the envelope, continue to be a leader in the area of care delivery and set a standard for others in the region and nation to follow.”
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