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Meeting Community Needs with Expanded Center

March 1, 2017
Big ideas sometimes start small. At GBMC, it began with a doctor imagining how to best care for a patient. "What if?" and "why not?" grew into a philosophy of world-class medicine delivered to an entire community. Opening the doors of the William A. and Jarnetta Kroh Center for Digestive Disorders became a reality as a result of one doctor's passion and the generosity of one very special donor. And thanks to that commitment to patients and exceptional care, today, we have an opportunity to expand the dream even further.

More than 7,000 cases come through the Kroh Center annually, the most of any community hospital in Baltimore. In addition, there is anticipated growth in patient referrals from GBMC Primary Care Practices as they proactively reach out to the 19,000-plus patients eligible for a colonoscopy.

Several factors coming together point to a marked increase in volume, including the aging population, the retirement of community gastroenterologists and increased referrals of complex cases. In fact, these factors are already affecting our volume as we have met patient volume projections not anticipated until after 2020. Our thoughtfully-considered plan is to relocate and expand the Kroh Center into the Sherwood Surgical outpatient center to create a 19,000-square-foot unit that will have state-of-the-art scopes and equipment as well as 24 thoughtfully-designed procedure and recovery rooms.

We are proud Dr. Niraj Jani, Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, Director of Kroh Endoscopy Center and Director of GI Oncology at GBMC as well as many GBMC doctors, nurses, techs, schedulers, architects and construction managers adopted the use of the Lean methodology "3P" (Production, Preparation, Process), a powerful design tool which allows for collaboration and brainstorming. This method has helped us wisely plan for this significant project that will require a $8 million investment. So how did we get from half a room in GBMC's outpatient clinic for GI services to an $8 million expansion project?

Like we said, big ideas start small. Gastroenterology was in its infancy when, in 1976, a young doctor named Ibrahim Razzak took half a room in GBMC's outpatient clinic, then separated from dermatology by a curtain, and began to realize his dream. With one gastroscope and a single non-clinical nursing assistant -- the remarkable Agnes Hall -- Dr. Razzak pioneered a leading GI department that to this day focuses on quality, patient-centered care. He recruited top physicians, nurses, technicians and staff. He championed continuing education and modern facilities.

Dr. Jani and the GBMC Endoscopy team
He remained devoted to quality control and healthy outcomes, being accessible to patients with Saturday hours and continually investing in top-line equipment and technology. But no matter how fervent Dr. Razzak's commitment, forethought and dedication was, one physician couldn't do it alone. In 2000, Bill Kroh came to GBMC for an endoscopy for dysphagia. At that time, GI services were performed in two rooms in the Sherwood Surgical Center. Mr. Kroh was astonished he had to recover from his GI procedure in a hallway (no pre-op or recovery bays existed). He promptly told Dr. Razzak, "You need money."

Bill and his wife Jarnetta hailed from humble backgrounds. They were grateful for what they had achieved in life and wanted to give back to benefit others. The Krohs were committed to supporting GBMC, a privately-funded community hospital, and made a generous gift that established the William A. and Jarnetta Kroh Center for Digestive Disorders. Before Dr. Razzak's retirement, he wanted to ensure he left his burgeoning enterprise in capable hands. He recruited a physician, a gastroenterologist who he felt had the knowledge and leadership to provide top quality professional services, as well as guide the necessary changes and continue to lead the unit to maintain GBMC's position in the community: Dr. Niraj Jani.
The Kroh Center has flourished under Dr. Jani's leadership. He and his amazing team have successfully continued to deliver the high-level care patients are accustomed to receiving at GBMC. But if GBMC does not respond to our growing need, we will be unable to meet the increased demand and patients will choose to go elsewhere. Colon cancer is highly preventable. If screened and detected early, the five-year survival rate of colorectal cancer is higher than 90 percent. We can and should assure patients receive live-saving screening!

Learn how you can support the historic expansion of the Kroh Center and make our legacy your own. Please call Kate Thorne, Director of Philanthropic Engagement, at 443-849-2794 or email kthorne@gbmc.org.

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