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The BMC Brief

January 30, 2014 Volume 3, Issue 2

BMC Reflects on Progress of Human Rights at MLK Celebration

On Jan. 22, members of the BMC community gathered in Hiebert Lounge for the annual celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. With the recent passing of former South African president and human rights icon Nelson Mandela, this year’s event took on an even deeper reflection on the progress of civil rights and equality. Rafael Ortega, MD, of BMC's Department of Anesthesiology and BUSM's Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, introduced the event's keynote speaker, Ravin Davidoff, MBBCh, BMC Chief Medical Officer. Davidoff shared his reflections on being born, raised and educated in a South African society deeply divided by apartheid, and how those experiences molded his choices, especially devoting his medical career to underserved patients, many of whom come to BMC.

Ravin Davidoff, MBBCh and Rafael Ortega, MD
Ravin Davidoff, MBBCh, and Rafael Ortega, MD

In 1948, apartheid laws established strict separation of the races in South Africa and this was the world Davidoff knew as he grew into a young man. Censorship was rampant and the government depicted antiapartheid organizations, such as the African National Congress (ANC), as communist. Men like Mandela who fought for civil rights were labeled as terrorists who threatened the very fabric of the country.

It was once Davidoff entered medical school, however, that his eyes were opened to the injustice of his society. The hospitals for blacks had extremely limited resources, he told the crowd. Patients arrived with diseases in advanced stages, many of which, such as scurvy and leprosy, were rarely seen in western societies due to the advent of modern medicine.

“Many of these illnesses and traumatic injuries were associated with the poverty, the neglect of rural patients in Africa. Coupled with their mistrust and reluctance to use the Western health care system, this resulted in very late presentation of diseases, so many of them preventable or treatable,” said Davidoff. “The formative days of my medical education made me painfully aware of the socio-political ramifications of apartheid.”

After Davidoff completed his medical internship, he joined the South African army to fulfill his required military obligation. At the time, the South African army was entrenched in border wars against neighboring countries and presumed terrorist groups. Sanctions were impacting resources to South Africa and as a military doctor trying to tend to casualties of war, he felt the consequences of his government’s politics.

“Out of 10 air ambulances, we only had one working where we could fly out to pick up casualties because we could not get the parts to repair the others,” he said. “I felt the ripple effect of the rise in the anti-apartheid movement and the real life effect of the world’s sanctions on South Africa.”

Witnessing the ravages of war had an impact on Davidoff and he made the decision to leave South Africa and come to the United States. It felt inevitable that the end of apartheid would be violent and bloody.

“I have to say, I could not dream big enough at that time and could not foresee a happy ending,” he said. “I watched from afar, worried about my Mom, relatives and friends who were still there, incredulous that the people I knew and loved were not smart enough to know that the end of white rule could only be violent.”

Davidoff arrived at Boston City Hospital (now BMC) in 1981. As he built his career here, he was wary of his premonition and stayed abreast of news from his home country. Then one day, the President of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk, released his sworn enemy and accused terrorist, Nelson Mandela, first from his exile on Robben Island to Pollsmoor prison, and then from prison altogether. These unprecedented actions initiated the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the move from a country divided by segregation into a diverse democracy. Astonished, Davidoff watched news footage of Mandela with his wife Winnie walking down the street with his fist outstretched. Davidoff says he was never happier to be wrong.

“I cried openly,” he said as he remembers seeing these first images of Mandela as a free man. “I knew almost nothing of the man, other than the labels pinned on him by the government, yet I was incredulous that this was happening during my lifetime.”

Contrary to Davidoff’s premonition, apartheid ultimately ended peacefully in South Africa, with de Klerk and Mandela going on to share the Nobel Peace Prize and Mandela himself being elected as President of South Africa in 1994. These steps toward progress changed South Africa for the better; as Davidoff demonstrated by playing a video of a diverse children’s choir singing the South African National Anthem before a statue of Mandela.

Moises Fernandez Via
Moises Fernandez Via played the piano 

“It is so fitting that we reflect on the remarkable man Mandela was and use today’s commemoration of Martin Luther King to honor these two great men,” Davidoff concluded. “They fought for similar causes at the same time on two separate continents. King’s ability to preach peace when there was so much violence around him, was truly remarkable and clearly an inspiration to Mandela.”

The presentation was followed by a classical piano performance by Moises Fernandez Via of the BU Arts Outreach Initiative. In an exercise to demonstrate the power of unity, Fernandez Via played the same song twice; once with a weight depressing only the black keys so they produced no sound and a second time without the weight in place so all keys were used. The first song was dissonant, sad and seemed incomplete; once the weight was lifted, the song was revealed to be Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. The performance illustrated the importance of unity to create harmony; regardless of the color of the piano keys, they made beautiful music together.

The annual event was sponsored by BMC’s Events Committee and the BUSM Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

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Windows 7 Computer Upgrade Starts in February

Starting next month, BMC will begin a year-long process to upgrade its Windows XP computers to new machines. The upgrade will include all desktop computers, kiosks (shared, common area) machines and laptops, and will replace current computers with ones that will run the Windows 7 operating system, Internet Explorer 9 and the Microsoft 2013 suite (Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint). Extensive support will be offered by Information Technology Services (ITS) to staff to ensure they smoothly transition to their new machines.

Windows 7 logo

The benefit of the new computers is that they will run faster, says Anibal Pais, ITS Project Manager.

“Staff will see a noticeable difference in the speed of their new machines and we think they will be pleased with the result,” he notes.

The upgrade is necessary due to the discontinuation of Microsoft support for Windows XP in April and in preparation for the launch of inpatient eMERGE, BMC’s new electronic health record system, in May.

The upgrade will be phased and scheduled with a department’s leadership to determine the best time with the least impact to its services. Computers that will run inpatient eMERGE will be upgraded first, followed by other areas of the organization.

BMC’s ITS group will conduct the upgrade, with teams deployed to departments and units to remove and replace current computers and ensure each user is back up and running smoothly. The team will provide on-site support for two weeks following an upgrade, with ongoing 24/7 support available through the Service Desk.

“Each area will be prepped with a list of items to complete before we arrive to upgrade the computers,” says Pais. “Once we arrive, we will install the new computer and make sure each user is connected to his email, document folders, Internet favorites and printer.”

Pais notes that educational materials will be available to users to help them adjust to their new computers. Those who experience issues will be able to call into a dedicated support line offered through the Service Desk (414-4500).

“We know it can be tough to transition to new technology and we will offer support in person, by phone and online,” says Pais. “Our goal is to get everyone up and running as quickly as possible.”

Work already has begun to upgrade eMERGE kiosk machines, which are located primarily in inpatient and outpatient areas, such as exam rooms, nursing stations and physician work areas. Some of these machines will come with larger monitors, due to eMERGE needs, while others may not be upgraded due to specific applications not being supported by the latest industry technology, such as the Anesthesia and OR Manager programs. ITS will, however, continue to support these programs.

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Inpatient eMERGE Training Begins in March

In a little more than 100 days, BMC will launch inpatient eMERGE, the hospital’s new Epic electronic health record (EHR) system. eMERGE stands for Electronic Medical Records Generation Excellence. The system will solve a long-standing challenge at BMC: disparate health systems that do not talk to each other. When inpatient eMERGE launches, it will provide a single, up-to-date health record for every BMC patient who stays at the hospital. A year later, in February 2015, BMC will go live with its outpatient eMERGE system, which will allow for the tracking of every patient who receives care at BMC.

For the past year, Information Technology Services (ITS) has been working to prepare inpatient eMERGE for its May launch. The configuration of the new system is progressing, along with the build of clinical content including order sets, oncology protocols, care plans and documentation templates.

“Including clinicians across all specialties in the clinical content build has been critical to the development of the system,” says Geralyn Saunders, RN, MSN, Chief Nursing Information Officer. “Their input ensures that the system will fit the needs of their work areas.”

The next step will be to train the 4,500 clinical staff who will use the system. Training will start March 24 and run for nine weeks, through the end of May. Training will be offered in classroom and online formats with the amount of training for a clinician varying by role and specialty. For instance, providers will be required to complete eight-10 hours of classroom training while most nurses will need to complete 16. All inpatient eMERGE users will need to complete their required training before they will be granted access to the system. All training hours will be scheduled and tracked in Healthstream, the hospital’s training system.

Training options include:

  • Classroom training: More than 1,500 sessions will be held on campus and led by a credentialed trainer (EHR facilitator). The required training is workflow-based per specialty.
  • E-Learnings: Short, online tutorials accessible on the eMERGE intranet section that are required to be completed prior to attending classroom training.
  • Playground: An online training environment that will be available in February to give users the ability to practice in the system.
  • Personalization labs: This is a provider-focused online training to assist in the build of favorites including order sets, documentation templates, preference lists and other individualized features.

“User training is a critical piece of successful adoption and the eMerge training team is working with the clinical leads and ITS analysts to assure training is workflow and BMC focused,” states Saunders. “The inpatient eMERGE training team’s goal is to assure that clinicians are ready to utilize the new system when we go live in May.”

The training schedule is available on the eMERGE intranet section. Registration is open and users will be signed up by their departmental managers or program coordinators.

Additional training information, such as training locations, directions to classrooms, e-learnings and the training contacts, are available on the eMERGE intranet section.

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What do you do, Chenier Aldophe?

Name: Chenier Aldophe 
Title: Supervisor
Department: Patient Care Support Center
Time at BMC: 9 years

Chenier Aldophe
Chenier Aldophe

What brought you to BMC?
I started at BMC as a temporary employee in radiation oncology to replace a staff member who was on an extended leave. When this person returned, I wanted to stay at BMC, so I took an opportunity in Primary Care as an Administrative Assistant.

What do you do?
Aside from supervising staff, I manage the daily flow of inbound and outbound calls, work with patients to address their questions and concern, and develop guidelines to improve our work.

What does the Patient Care Support Center do?
We handle scheduling and other care-related issues for 10 clinics at BMC, including Adult Primary Care and Women’s Health Group, Family Medicine, Geriatrics, Pulmonary, Renal, Rheumatology, Infectious Diseases, Bariatric Surgery, Podiatry and Cardiothoracic Surgery. We are essentially the gatekeepers for much of the hospital and the front door for the clinics we serve. We have 55 multilingual patient care assistants (PCAs) who schedule and remind patients of upcoming appointments and triage issues to a dedicated team of Support Center nurses. Every call is recorded in an online system and PCAs document all patient activity in Logician, BMC’s electronic medical record system, for providers. Our staff is trained in customer service and we are knowledgeable about the resources BMC has to offer. Since we opened in 2012, we’ve grown to answer up to 1,600 calls per day!

What are some of the Center’s successes?
Our goal is to deliver continuous, high-quality customer service to our patients, even as we expand to new clinical areas, with Cardiothoracic Surgery being our newest clinic. Our benchmark goal is to answer 80 percent of the calls we receive in 30 seconds or less, which we are able to achieve a majority of the time. Because of this success our abandonment rate, or the number of times a patient will hang up on us, is only 3 percent, which is far below our goal of 5 percent. We also do a lot of proactive outreach to BMC patients. One of the issues BMC is trying to address is the number of patients who do not show up for their appointments. If a patient misses an appointment, we reach out to them to collect data on the reason why he or she missed an appointment and use the information to improve our services here. We also ran a successful flu campaign where we reached out to our patients to let them know of the BMC resources available to combat the flu.

Is there anything you would like to share with the BMC community about the Patient Care Support Center?
Our call center is open seven days a week to assist our patients and their families in a professional, friendly way. Our goal is to improve interactions between our employees and patients, and we play a big role in contributing to a positive patient experience. We are here to help connect patients to BMC's resources, so don’t hesitate to contact us. We are open seven days a week, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

What do you like most about working at BMC?
I love the diversity of our patients. BMC is a big cultural and socioeconomic melting pot. What struck me when I first started working here was our motto, “Exceptional Care without Exception.” Whenever I deal with patients, I try to treat them as if it were my own mother receiving care here and try to make it a great experience for the patient, no matter what they are going through.

What activities or hobbies do you participate in to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
I live with my family in Hyde Park. I have two young daughters, age7 and 3, and a son on the way. I am heavily involved in my church through music, arts and youth groups. And I am passionate about playing and making music. My main instrument is drums, but I also experiment with percussions, keyboard and other electronic instruments.

Do you know a staff member who should be profiled? Send your suggestions to communications@bmc.org .

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What’s for Dinner?

Polar vortex or not, January is always one of the coldest months of the year! So warm up with this classic chowder recipe, courtesy of the Demonstration Kitchen’s Tracey Burg.

This classic, creamy comfort food should be a staple for your kitchen during these cold months. You can also whip up this delicious corn chowder in the summer when fresh corn is in season. Until then, though, think warm thoughts and serve it up with a salad to inject some color into your winter meals.

Classic Corn Chowder


  • 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups 1 percent reduced-fat milk
  • 1 14.5-ounce can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cup red bliss potatoes, skin on, diced (about 3 medium potatoes)
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans no-salt added whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped


  1. Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, red pepper and celery; sauté 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
  2. Add flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk and chicken broth; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Add potatoes, corn, salt and pepper and simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. Garnish with green onion.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Makes 4 1.5-cup servings

  • Calories: 216
  • Total Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Cholesterol: 5 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 32 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3 g
  • Sodium: 269 mg
  • Protein: 8 g

Do you have a recipe that you would like to share with the BMC community? Send it to communications@bmc.org and we’ll feature it in a future issue of the BMC Brief!

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In Their Words

Patients share their BMC experience

Dear Ms. Walsh,

I wanted to write to sing the praise of Dr. Andrew Salama. I recently had oral cancer surgery performed by this remarkable man. I grew up in the Boston area but had no experience with BMC. Something immediately clicked when I met Dr. Salama and, even with encouragement to get a second opinion at another Boston hospital, I went with my gut and chose Dr. Salama to perform my surgery. He is so skilled in addition to being a wonderful role model for his staff. He is perfect in a teaching hospital. His humbleness drew me to him along with his compassion. My sister passed away three years ago from cancer; she was treated at another Boston hospital. Her diagnosis was terminal from day one. I have been much luckier. I became very familiar with advocating for yourself with my sister and I love how Dr. Salama advocated for me! My case was rare. I feel so blessed to know Dr. Salama and be in his care. All of the nurses were fabulous and a special thanks to Waleed Said, Dr. Salama’s fellow. The Oral and Maxillofacial group is outstanding. BMC is No. 1 with me!

Walpole, Mass.

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News of Note

Nancy Gaden Named Chief Nursing Officer
Nancy Gaden, MS, RN, NEA-BC, joins BMC as Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer March 10. Gaden comes to BMC from Hallmark Health System, where she served as System Vice President, Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer. Prior to her tenure at Hallmark, Gaden served in senior Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer roles at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, South Shore Hospital and Milton Hospital.

Alastair Bell Named Chief Operating Officer
Alastair Bell, MD, has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Bell will oversee all clinical operations (with the exception of Nursing), Human Resources, Facilities and Support Services, Ambulatory Operations and Professional Services. Bell joined BMC in 2012 as Vice President for Strategy Implementation and for the past year has served as Senior Vice President for Operations and Strategy. He joined BMC from the Boston office of McKinsey, a highly regarded management consulting firm, where he was a leader in the firm’s North American Payor and Provider Practice and a central member of the team that worked with BMC to develop its strategic plan.

Jennifer Watson Named Vice President of Communications and Chief of Staff
Jennifer Watson has been promoted to Vice President of Communications and Chief of Staff. Watson joined BMC in 2010 as Chief of Staff and Communications, working to build and implement a robust internal and external communications agenda for the hospital, in addition to carrying out her Chief of Staff responsibilities. Watson previously served as Director of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She has also held senior-level communications positions for Partners HealthCare, US Senator John Kerry and the US Secretaries of Labor and Transportation.


Awards and Accolades

Gary J. Balady, MD
Gary Balady, MD

Gary Balady, MD, Director of the Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Labs and Preventive Cardiology at BMC and Professor of Medicine at BUSM, has been selected the recipient of the prestigious 2014 American Heart Association (AHA) Paul Dudley White Award. The award, named in honor of one of Boston’s most revered cardiologists, Dr. Paul Dudley White, a founding father of the AHA, is given annually to a Massachusetts physician who has made a distinguished contribution to the Association’s mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. For the past 20 years Balady has been involved with both the local and national AHA. Locally he served as President of the Greater Boston Division and the Founders Affiliate. Nationally he has served as Chair of the Council on Clinical Cardiology, member of the Physical Activity Committee and the more recent Advocacy Coordinating Committee, Chair for the Fellowship and International Members Task Force, and as chair or member of many AHA writing groups on the topics of cardiac rehabilitation and exercise testing. He is presently an Associate Editor for AHA’s journal, Circulation. In 2010 he was recognized as a superb clinician when the AHA named him Physician of the Year.

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Media information after hours: 617.638.8405

Boston Medical Center
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4th Floor
Boston, MA 02118

Fax: 617.638.8044

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