Sutter Health Restructures with Emphasis on Patient Experience, Innovation

Posted on Oct 23, 2014 in Transformation

Physician and nurse leaders key to operational changes and improved patient care

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 23, 2014―Sutter Health today announced an innovative patient-centric reorganization of its system structure, elevating physician and nurse leaders to new senior-level roles and placing increased focus on improving the patient experience across Sutter’s not-for-profit network of physician organizations, hospitals and home health operations.

Key elements of the new organization design include a two-division operating structure and the creation of an office of innovation designed to speed development and adoption of new approaches to patient care.

“Last year we asked more than 2,000 managers from around our Sutter Health network what one thing would enable us to remain strong and stable in today’s fast-changing highly competitive world of health care,” said Sutter Health President and CEO Pat Fry. “Our leaders agreed that we must deliver a consistent best-in-class patient experience. With our not-for-profit mission, vision and values as a foundation, we re-imagined our structure to empower employees, leaders and doctors to deliver a consistent, personalized experience to patients and families, no matter where they interact with Sutter Health.”

Patient Experience

Don Wreden, M.D.In January 2015, Don Wreden, M.D.,chief medical group transformation officer for Sutter Health, will become senior vice president for patient experience. Dr. Wreden served for more than a decade as president and CEO of Sutter Medical Group in Sacramento. In his new position, he will serve as the clinical partner of Sutter Health Chief Operating Officer Sarah Krevans, formalizing one of many clinical and administrative partnerships (also known as dyads) that are central to the new organization structure.

Stephen Lockhart, M.D.Also in January, Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer for Sutter Health’s East Bay Region, will become the network’s chief medical officer with responsibility for quality, safety and clinical standards across the care continuum. Dr. Lockhart, a board-certified anesthesiologist, previously served as chief administrative officer at the St Luke’s campus of California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco and as CPMC’s medical administrative director of surgical services. Dr. Lockhart will serve as the clinical partner of a new Sutter Health chief nursing officer, who will be named later.


Sutter Health’s operations, which Krevans oversees, will shift in April 2015 from a five-region structure to a two-division model—the Bay Area and the Valley.

“This new alignment of patient care operations reflects how consumers travel and access health care, how physicians practice and how health plans and employers purchase health care services,” Krevans said.

Sutter affiliates currently organized within the Sacramento Sierra and Central Valley Regions will become part of the new Valley Division. Those within Sutter’s current West Bay, East Bay and Peninsula Coastal Regions will form the new Bay Area Division.

Jeff GerardJeff Gerard, president of the Peninsula Coastal Region for the past six years, will lead the new Bay Area Division as president. Gerard earlier served as chief operating officer for Mills-Peninsula Health Services and as chief financial officer for the Peninsula Coastal Region. 

James ConfortiJames Conforti, president of the Sacramento Sierra Region, will oversee the new Valley Division as president. Previously, Conforti served as CEO of Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, CEO of Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in the Central Valley and CEO of Sutter Medical Foundation operations in Yuba City.  

Linda KhachadourianAs part of the reorganization, Sutter Health will also place greater emphasis on process discipline and “Lean” performance management in launching new patient care and operating initiatives around the network. Accordingly, Linda Khachadourian, a leader in Sutter Health’s strategy and business development department for the past 25 years, will assume the new position of chief enterprise transformation officer in January.

Medical and Market Networks

Through a new Medical and Market Networks function—unique among health care systems—Sutter Health will align its externally facing products, services and networks for key institutional customers, including employers, insurance brokers and health plans.

Jeff Burnich, M.D.Sutter Health’s Sutter Health Plus health plan, Sutter Select self-insured health coverage product, and wellness and health management services will fall under this function.Jeff Burnich, M.D., senior vice president and executive officer of the Sutter Medical Network since 2007, will assume the role of senior vice president of Medical and Market Networks in January.

Sutter Health’s reorganization will incorporate other features, including a greater focus on innovation to allow better development and dissemination of promising ideas that benefit patients—within Sutter Health and elsewhere.

Sutter Health’s reorganization was informed, in part, by recommendations from a diverse “design team” of administrative and clinical leaders from various parts of the network.


Ebola Virus Preparation and Updated CDC Guidelines

Posted on Oct 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

The not-for-profit Sutter Health network of doctors, hospitals, home health and other service providers released the following statement in response to newly released guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to the treatment of patients with the Ebola virus and the safety of staff who might care for these patients.

“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our employees, physicians, patients and communities,” said Sutter Health Chief Medical Officer Gordon Hunt, M.D. “Sutter Health’s Ebola Virus Response Planning Team has taken significant steps to prepare for the screening, isolation and treatment of Ebola patients—and our efforts continue. We’re constantly monitoring updated guidelines from the CDC and others, and we’re incorporating the newest information into our training, protective equipment and response plans.

“Many of the provisions in these most recent CDC guidelines are already included in our existing Sutter Health protocols, which we’ve distributed and trained against. We continue to work to repeatedly train and drill our caregivers, with an unwavering commitment to the safety of our healthcare professionals.”

“Among the protocols and action steps already underway:

  • Our revised policy calls for no skin exposure for anyone treating a patient with the Ebola virus or anyone who might come in contact with the patient or the patient’s bodily fluids.
  • Our policy continues to call for a monitor, buddy and checklist system for donning and doffing personal protective gear.
  • We continue to train across our network, starting with high-risk areas such as emergency departments, admitting, obstetrics and ICUs, and extending into other areas of care. We are reassessing supplies around our network and working to ensure that all of our hospitals have on hand a supply of the newly announced protective gear. All of our hospitals have personal protective equipment outlined in the original CDC guidelines.
  • In advance of this week’s CDC announcement, we anticipated the possible need for more extensive protective equipment and we began contacting vendors last week to place orders. We requested accelerated delivery, and in the meantime, our integrated network of care can quickly transfer equipment from one facility to another based on need.

Read More

Sutter Hospitals Seismically Safe; Prepared for Future Earthquakes

Posted on Oct 17, 2014 in Expanding Access, Scroll Images, Transformation

SutterHospitalsTwenty five years ago today, an earthquake severely shook the San Francisco and Monterey Bay regions. Measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale, the Loma Prieta quake killed 63 people and caused 3,750 injuries. Hospitals across the Sutter Health network immediately went into “disaster mode” to care for the community, including Sutter-affiliated Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland and Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, which combined treated 157 patients that day.

Committed to the safety of patients, employees and community members Sutter Health made the strategic decision in the years following the Loma Prieta quake to build or replace hospitals rather than retrofit older facilities. This long-term multi-million-dollar investment in our communities ensures residents have state-of-the-art inpatient and ambulatory health services they need.

Since 2000, Sutter Health invested more than $7 billion in hospital construction to meet and exceed the safety requirements set forth by California’s seismic safety law Senate Bill 1953. The law requires California hospitals remain operational after a major earthquake. This year alone, Sutter’s invested an estimated $1.2 billion in major earthquake safety-related hospital replacements and renovations, along with new physician clinic construction projects and patients safety technology.

Each of Sutter’s major hospital construction projects use proven seismic engineering, taking into account the unique needs of the building and surrounding communities. Recently completed hospitals include: Mills-Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital in Santa Rosa and Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.

Additional projects underway include: Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center in Sacramento and California Pacific Medical Center’s campuses at Van Ness and Geary and St. Luke’s in San Francisco.

Visit Sutter Health’s website for more information about Sutter Health’s construction projects.

Ebola Preparedness

Posted on Oct 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees, physicians, patients and communities. Our Ebola Virus Response Planning Team has taken significant steps to prepare for the screening, isolation and treatment of Ebola patients, with an unwavering commitment to help ensure the safety of our nurses and other frontline staff.

Based on current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, we have policies, procedures and action plans in place at hospitals, care centers and patient call centers across our Northern California network. Our Ebola Virus Response Planning Team widely distributed and reinforced these policies and action plans for our frontline health care workers. Our work to repeatedly train and drill continues.

Our multidisciplinary team consists of infection preventionists, infectious disease specialists, and critical care, emergency department and emergency preparedness experts. The team closely monitors this rapidly evolving situation and any emerging guidelines from federal, state and local agencies, including the WHO, CDC and CDPH. Team members will continually update our policies, procedures, action plans, human resource protocols, training and drilling, as new learnings arise from other parts of the nation or world.

In addition, we are actively engaging with local, state and federal elected leaders as well as public health officers, and other health care systems to share action plans and best practices. This work continues to help ensure a coordinated community response to the Ebola virus.

Sutter Health has taken multiple steps to prepare for the Ebola virus disease. For example:

  • An Ebola Virus Disease Action Plan: This plan establishes a unified framework for our organization’s preparation and response to the Ebola virus.
  • An Ebola Virus Disease Emergency Operations Plan Policy and Procedure: This plan details the necessary steps to triage, admit and care for a patient known or suspected to have the Ebola virus.
  • Ebola Virus Disease Screening Protocols: As a first step toward identifying the Ebola virus, our protocols call for proactively screening for fever and asking patients about their travel history and symptoms. These screening protocols are in place at entry points to our network, including emergency departments, hospital units, urgent care centers, primary care doctors’ offices and surgery centers, as well as through our home health care professionals and call center representatives.
  • An Ebola Virus Disease Emergency Department Guide: It outlines specific roles and responsibilities for emergency department staff to help prevent the spread of the disease to health care workers, patients and visitors.
  • Approved Ebola Virus Disease Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Register and Instructions: Clinicians must wear specific PPE at all times when caring for a patient suspected of having the Ebola virus. As of today, equipment includes gloves, gowns, shoe covers, eye protection and face masks. To help ensure the safety of our staff, we are providing training and instructions on how to properly don, doff and dispose of PPEs, using a buddy, monitor and checklist system. We will continually update our procedures and practices as new learnings arise. Our hands-on training specific to the use of PPE starts with employees most likely to care for an Ebola patient and extends to other personnel, as appropriate.
  • Ebola Virus Disease Response Training: Preventing the spread of any infectious disease is ongoing in our care centers. Doctors, nurses, clinicians and staff participate in emergency drills. Across our network, we’re actively training all admitting and clinical personnel to identify and isolate a potential patient with Ebola virus. We’ve also begun more in-depth training for those most likely to provide care and treatment to a patient with Ebola virus. Depending on individual roles and responsibilities, employees receive training in the form of hands-on practice, tabletop and in-depth drills, demonstrations, online tutorials, town hall meetings, informational videos and materials, and frequent updates.

Helpful Information about Ebola

Posted on Oct 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

On Oct. 1, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Texas Health Department confirmed the first case of the Ebola virus diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia, Africa. The CDC continues to work closely with Texas health authorities and remains confident about containing any potential spread of the illness.

To date, this is the only case diagnosed in the United States. California has no confirmed cases of Ebola virus and no patients admitted to any California hospital are considered at high-risk for Ebola virus disease. The CDC emphasizes that the risk of contracting Ebola in the United States remains extremely low.

Sutter Health’s top priority is always the safety and wellness of our patients and employees. Preventing the spread of any infectious disease is ongoing in our network’s care centers. Over the past couple months, Sutter Health and its affiliates have developed comprehensive and specific workplace and patient care guidelines regarding the Ebola virus. We’ve developed protocols detailing screening and care of patients, safety guidelines for staff and other practices such as isolation procedures, hand washing and the use of personal protective equipment for staff. Read More

Sutter Health Supports American Red Cross Fire Relief-Efforts with $100,000 Donation

Posted on Oct 2, 2014 in Community Benefit, Scroll Images

Kathleen Weis, CEO of the American Red Cross Capital Region, talks to local firefighter. Courtesy: American Red Cross

Kathleen Weis, CEO of the American Red Cross Capital Region, talks to local firefighter. Courtesy: American Red Cross

To help support fire-relief efforts across two Northern California counties, Sutter Health made a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross Capital Region Chapter.

The donation helps aid American Red Cross’ ongoing efforts to provide food, shelter and other resources for those affected by the massive King Fire in El Dorado County, as well as the Boles Fire in Siskiyou County. Since mid-September the two fires combined to burn nearly 100,000 acres, causing thousands to evacuate and destroying dozens of resident homes and commercial buildings.

“We hope our donation will help bring relief to the families and others directly affected by these devastating wildfires in Northern California,” said Pat Fry, president and CEO of Sutter Health. “We also give our heartfelt thanks to the brave firefighters and volunteers working round-the-clock to bring safety to our communities.” Read More

Sutter Health Earns ‘BOLD’ Recognition for Excellence in its Leadership Development Practices to Improve Healthcare

Posted on Oct 2, 2014 in We're Awesome

National Organization Acknowledges Sutter for Preparing Leaders to Transform Healthcare

The National Center for Healthcare Leadership (NCHL) identified Sutter Health as a top 10 “BOLD” healthcare organization using evidence-based leadership development practices to achieve excellence and improve the quality of healthcare in their communities.

“We place a high priority on investing in our emerging and established leaders, whose ideas and innovations help shape the healthcare of tomorrow—here in Northern California and across the world,” said Pat Fry, Sutter Health president and CEO. “Formal recognition for this work pays tribute to the thoughtful research and planning of our talent organizational development team at Sutter Health University.”  Read More