Senior Well-Being: How to Maintain Mental and Physical Health While Sheltering in Place

Posted on Jun 1, 2020 in Affiliates, Eden Medical Center, Scroll Images, Wellness

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. – As shelter in place restrictions are gradually eased this summer, people are still being advised by public health officials to stay home as much as possible and to maintain physical distancing. While some restrictions are loosening, the virus is still circulating in the community and it remains dangerous—especially for older people. Sheltering in place can help keep you safe, but for some it can have a downside too, leading to feelings of isolation, loneliness or even depression.

During the pandemic many older adults have found new ways to stay connected through technology, others may not have access to the internet at home or may not feel comfortable with video calls or social media platforms that could help keep them connected to friends and family.

What can be done? Recognizing feelings of isolation, loneliness or depression is the first step in alleviating them. Taking some simple actions can help make sheltering in place more tolerable.

James Chessing, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist at Sutter’s Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, says, “Sheltering in place is certainly a major challenge, but still only a challenge, one of many that a senior has dealt with in his or her life. Framing it that way calls to mind the coping skills that were used to surmount past challenges, as well as the memory of having succeeded in dealing with other tough situations. While the current situation may certainly be different, the skills or coping devices used in the past may be applicable now. Remembering that feeling of success may give hope.”

Dr. Chessing’s tips to help older people stay socially connected while maintaining physical distance include:
• set up regular phone call check-in times with loved ones
• become pen-pals with a friend or relative
• take advantage of the pleasant summer weather and set up outdoor seating (spaced the minimum six feet apart) to enjoy face-to-face conversations
• get some training or coaching on how to set up a video visit or talk via FaceTime—try asking a your adult child or a tech-savvy teenage grandchild

Just as human connection impacts mental health, so too does physical health. It’s important to your mental health to maintain your physical well-being. One strategy to keep your physical health strong is to maintain a regular schedule, says Pamela Stoker, an injury prevention specialist with Eden Medical Center’s Trauma department.

“Maintaining a regular daily schedule can provide comfort, familiarity, and health benefits. We recommend creating a daily schedule with regular mealtimes, regular bedtime and wake-up, and regular exercise. Irregular meals and sleep can have a negative impact on your hormone levels and medication responses. An irregular schedule can also cause your blood sugar to fluctuate, which can lead you to make unhealthy food choices—like reaching for cookies when you’re tired. And changes in sleep patterns, like staying up late one night and going to bed early the next, can affect metal sharpness, lower your energy level, and impact your emotional well-being.”

“The good news is that regular exercise helps keep your body strong, protects you from falls, and improves your mood,” says Stoker.

Adding to the feelings of depression and loneliness can be the feeling of lack of control, says Dr. Chessing. Even before the pandemic, some older people may have struggled to maintain independence while accepting the help of family and friends. Well-meaning family and friends may try to be helpful by delivering groceries or handling other errands in order to keep you safe from the virus, but this help may cause feelings of discomfort. You may not want to rely on others too much and you may feel your independence is slowly being stripped away. It is important to discuss these feelings with loved ones; remind them of your strengths, while acknowledging your own limitations. As Dr. Chessing reminds us “having open communication will allow you to explore the facts and weigh the risks in order to make informed decisions about behaviors.”

In uncertain and distressing times such as these, you or someone you love may find that it’s not enough just to stay connected with others and maintain a regular schedule—you may find professional help is needed. In the extreme, feelings of depression, loneliness, and lack of control can lead to destructive behaviors like excessive drinking, violence or self-harm. That’s why Dr. Chessing recommends staying in close contact with your doctor and reaching out for help if you feel overwhelmed.

The hardest part may be asking for help, but help is available without judgement.

Call your doctor or call:
Friendship Line California 24/7, toll free: 888-670-1360. Crisis intervention hotline and a warm line for non-emergency emotional support for Californians over 60. The phone line is staffed with specialists to provide emotional support, grief support, active suicide intervention, information and referrals.
Crisis Support Services of Alameda County, 24/7, toll free, 1-800-260-0094. Additionally, Crisis Support Services of Alameda County has expended service to include friendly visits by phone for home-bound seniors.

Even as Communities Open Up, Keep Your Distance

Posted on May 27, 2020 in Safety, Scroll Images

It may have felt re-energizing to see and hear many Americans gathering at beaches, pools, parks and other public places this past Memorial Day weekend, but health experts caution others to not let their guard down.

“As communities across Northern California start to reopen, we need to remember that COVID-19 hasn’t stopped being infectious,” said Conrad Vial, M.D., chief clinical officer for Sutter Health. “We can’t undermine the physical distancing measures that have been implemented and the impact they have had on slowing the spread of the virus.”

Protecting Yourself, Loved Ones and Friends

Now more than ever, Northern Californians need to remain vigilant about their safety and their health. Bill Isenberg, M.D., Ph.D., Sutter Health’s chief quality and safety officer, shares these important reminders:

• Limit gatherings of any kind. Now is still not the time for parties or potlucks, but virtual gatherings continue to be a viable option.

• Be mindful of your physical space. Always practice physical distancing and stay at least six feet away from others.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Wear a face covering or mask when inside public buildings and businesses.

Respiratory Care Clinics: How Dedicated Exam Spaces Limit the Spread of Viruses

Posted on May 26, 2020 in Carousel, Expanding Access, Innovation, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Quality, Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

BAY AREA, Calif. – Its second nature for people visit their doctor’s office or an urgent care center when they’re sick — or are worried they might be. In early March doctors across the Sutter Bay Medical Foundation prepared for patient demand at these locations by developing Respiratory Care Clinics (RCCs); an outdoor exam experience that keeps potentially contagious people distanced from those that aren’t, while allowing all who need in-person care to receive it.

“We always knew patients would have concerns that were serious enough to need an in-person exam, but not urgent enough for a trip to the emergency room,” said Kurt Vandevort, M.D., inter-regional medical director for the Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group, part of the Sutter Medical Network. “As community-based providers this middle level of care is our core competency, so it was incumbent on us to find a way to keep providing it, safely.”

By March 16th the Sutter Bay Medical Foundation had established fifteen RCCs in cities across the Bay Area, each seeing patients with COVID-19 concerning symptoms (or who reported a potential exposure to the coronavirus), outside of a nearby medical building that needed to stay open and clean for patients with urgent or medically necessary needs unrelated to COVID.

A month into their operation reporters from The Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle took notice and wrote about these MASH-like clinics. Now, as Sutter Health resumes more routine patient visits, the RCCs will continue to separate patients with respiratory symptoms from those without, to reduce the risk of exposure to viruses, including the novel coronavirus. Read below to learn more about how the RCCs work and what to expect if you are directed to one.

Call First 

Sutter Health is focused on helping ensure patients have access to the right level of care to match their medical need, but we also understand that sometimes that’s hard for people to gauge. That’s why Sutter Health set up the COVID-19 Advice Line at 1-866-961-2889.

Staffed by a team of nurses from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., seven days a week, every caller is screened for symptoms linked to coronavirus. Callers are then directed to the most appropriate level of care based on the severity of their symptoms. Patients may be directed to self-monitor at home, to see a provider by video visit or to come to an RCC location where they can receive an in-person exam.

“By linking the RCCs to a pre-screening process (by phone or after a video visit) we can ensure patients coming to RCC do need to be seen in-person, and aren’t ill enough to go straight to the emergency room,” said Dr. Vandevort, who is also the medical director of the RCCs established throughout the Palo Alto Medical Foundation footprint. “When patients arrive at the RCC we also have some information about their chief concerns, thanks to notes entered in our electronic medical record.”

Different, by design 

A physical exam in a parking lot or garage is strange, but the safety that these setting offer is worth the weird-factor. “To protect patients, staff and the community we designed the RCCs to first and fore-most prevent transmission of any virus from a contagious person; that’s why most of them are outdoors and anyone who comes within six feet of the patient is in full personal protective equipment” said Dr. Vandevort. “At the same time we took great pains to try to make the experience similar to what patients are used to when they go to the doctor or urgent care.”

The outdoor RCCs all have a contact-free arrival process, allowing patients to drive-up and call a phone number to “check-in” for their appointment. At every stage of the visit the patient is distanced from others by either staying in their car or in a marked off space within an exam bay.

In addition to an initial temperature check, patients will have their lungs listened to with a stethoscope, have their blood oxygen saturation checked, have their medical history and medications reviewed, and may be tested for coronavirus or the flu if symptoms indicate they should be. Depending on medical need, patients will also receive additional tests and procedures, including imaging scans, blood draws, heart monitoring and more.

The few indoor RCCs are all in buildings, or sections of buildings, that can safely be separated from other areas where patients who don’t have respiratory symptoms are being seen. The indoor RCCs have implemented all the necessary transmission precautions to ensure that spread of a virus from patient to patient or patient to staff is prevented.

Not Just COVID Care

In addition to screening and treating respiratory complaints, the RCCs have filled another important role; addressing non-respiratory related issues reported by patients who have symptoms linked to COVID (fever, cough, shortness of breath). “Just because COVID-19 is here, that doesn’t mean that other illnesses and injuries go away,” said Dr. Vandevort. “One of the best things about the RCCs is that you are being evaluated by a physician who can treat a wide variety of minor illnesses or injuries, prescribe medications or make a dosage change to an existing medication, and otherwise address a whole host of concerns. It’s what we do every day, and in these safe settings, we can keep doing our job even for patients who may have a virus and be contagious.”

In the short time the RCCs have been up and running, doctors staffing them have made unexpectedly important diagnoses and delivered increasingly complex care. “We’ve seen and treated conditions ranging from an appendicitis, to a swallowed fish bone, to an infection requiring IV antibiotics. We’ve done a lot of good.”

Twice the Team 

It’s not easy to run two clinics (one regular and one RCC), simultaneously, just feet apart, but for the safety of our patients and providers that is what we’ve done. “We had to reassign doctors and nurses so we had coverage in both the RCC and the regular urgent care at the same time, some staff now act as a front-door attendants making sure that patients are directed to the right clinic based on their symptoms, and others are runners shuttling supplies between the two spaces.”

All this investment was made for one reason: to prevent the spread of illness. But the RCCs have had several secondary benefits too.

“We’re also helping to preserve hospital capacity by keeping patients from going to the emergency department unnecessarily.” You wouldn’t normally go to the ER for a fever, and the RCCs make sure our smart use of resources stays intact, even during a pandemic.

At the same time, the RCCs have helped refer patients to a higher level of care when that was needed. “Our job is to help stabilize people so they can safely return home, but when their symptoms are serious we help get them to the hospital.”

Study Shines Light on COVID-19 Racial Disparities

Posted on May 21, 2020 in Expanding Access, Research, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Differences in How People Access Care Contribute to Inequalities

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads throughout the U.S., evidence is mounting that racial and ethnic minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups are bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and death. Here in California, African Americans are about 6% of the California population, but make up 10.3% of COVID-19 deaths where race/ethnicity is documented.

To better understand how this issue impacts patients in Sutter Health’s network, and to help develop solutions, Sutter’s Advancing Health Equity team undertook a thorough data analysis of the not-for-profit system’s COVID-19 patients. The resulting study, published today by the journal Health Affairs, revealed that African American COVID-19 patients are 2.7 times more likely to be hospitalized than their Non-Hispanic White counterparts, and they tend to arrive at Sutter healthcare facilities sicker and with more severe symptoms.

The findings underscore the fact that race and ethnicity still play a pivotal role in determining how and when care is accessed. Despite having health coverage, African American COVID-19 patients may not seek testing and care until it is an emergency requiring hospitalization.

Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped a Band-Aid off of the structural inequities that exist within our society – we must address these disparities right away because the cost of not addressing them is measured in human life,” said Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer at Sutter Health. “With lives on the line, we as a state can and should do better in connecting minority patients to culturally competent care – that is why Sutter Health has committed to advancing health equity and this study is just one part of our mission and work. We have a moral obligation to do so and must work together to meet this moment and lean into the opportunity to advance health equity for generations to come.”

The study, “Disparities In Outcomes Among COVID-19 Patients In A Large Health Care System In California,” was conducted using Sutter’s electronic health record (EHR) data to characterize COVID-19 tested and confirmed cases by key sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, including self-reported race and ethnicity, across the 22 Northern California counties served by Sutter’s network.

A number of factors uniquely position Sutter to offer early insights into the reasons for the disparities in health outcomes that have been noted nationally. As an integrated healthcare delivery network serving more than 3.5 million patients a year, Sutter had been studying healthcare disparities for close to three years when it became one of the first in the nation to treat patients with COVID-19. And Sutter’s integrated system-wide electronic EHR includes race/ethnicity data throughout its service area, which is one of the most diverse regions of the country.

Sutter Health also operates in an environment that is one of the closest to universal healthcare coverage of any state in the U.S., mitigating one of the known causes of healthcare disparities – unequal rates of medical coverage – and making other factors driving disparities more visible. But coverage is not the same as access, and the higher hospital admissions and mortality rates for African American COVID-19 patients in California revealed by the study illustrate that expanded healthcare coverage is not enough to resolve health disparities.

Kristen M.J. Azar, RN, MSN/MPH

“The real value of the study lies not in the disparities it reveals but in its utility to inform our work to develop solutions that will address the equity gaps we are seeing with programs such as community outreach and engagement in at-risk neighborhoods,” said Kristen M.J. Azar, RN, MSN/MPH, Sutter Health’s lead author for the study and research scientist within the Sutter Health Center for Health Systems Research. “This pandemic underscores the need to develop innovative solutions that are specifically tailored to address the unmet needs of those at highest risk.”

Sutter has extensive experience looking for and analyzing disparities within its own network and beyond.

The results of the COVID-19 study mirror the patterns Sutter observed in a 2017 study about African American patients with asthma and how they access care. The asthma study found 72% of patients drove up to eight miles to a hospital emergency department to access care, even though they lived within one mile of a primary care clinic. We observed they were doing so because of a lack of culturally competent care.

After reviewing the findings of the 2017 study, Sutter developed its Advancing Health Equity Adult Asthma Program. Since the program began in April 2017, nearly 600 African American patients suffering from asthma attacks have been connected to a respiratory therapist to participate in the asthma program. As a result, very few have returned to the emergency room. The asthma program serves as a model for trusted outreach, education and treatment in a public health crisis – and how they can reduce health disparities.

Provider organizations like Sutter Health are on the front lines and, while not able to address all of the complex societal factors at issue, can play a unique role in developing solutions. For example, as part of its commitment to advancing health equity, Sutter developed a novel metric, the Health Equity Index (HEI), to identify and quantify disparities in outcomes across patient groups and develop targeted interventions to enhance equity. Through the HEI, our Advancing Health Equity team is taking major steps, like those detailed here, to build on the benefits of our integrated network of care to further health equity within the Sutter system and across the country.

Our health equity work and the findings of the study released today highlight the importance of community-based outreach and access to culturally competent care within the African American community, which hold the promise of reducing disparities. Additional research is needed to understand where healthcare disparities exist, what drives them, and what targeted interventions work best to address them. Sutter remains committed to continued advancement and leadership in this field.

How to Weather the Storm: Top Tips for Improving Personal Resiliency

Posted on May 20, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness


SACRAMENTO, Calif. –During tough times, the ability to bounce back from hardship comes in handy. But what if mental resiliency is not someone’s strong suit?

Urmi Patel, PsyD

Urmi Patel, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and director of clinical care for Sutter Mental Health and Addiction Care, defines resilience as “the ability to cope mentally and emotionally with trauma or difficulty, and quickly get back to a state of equilibrium.” And the good news is, according to Dr. Patel, “In general, people have the ability to grow their resilience. It’s not an innate capability, it can develop.”

So how does one develop more personal resiliency? In a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, “Resilience: 15 ways to weather life’s challenges,” Dr. Patel offers her top tips for improving one’s ability to bounce back from adversity.

Additional Resources:

People who feel their emotional condition is serious should call their doctor or go to Mental Health America’s website, which offers tips and resources for people who feel stressed, anxious or depressed.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7: (800) 273-8255

TrevorLifeline for LGBTQ Youth in Crisis 24/7: (866) 488-7386

California Peer-Run Warm Line 24/7 for Californians Needing Emotional Support: (855) 845-7415

Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Welcomes New CEO

Posted on May 18, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Uncategorized

OAKLAND, Calif. – David D. Clark, FACHE, begins a new role as chief executive officer of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit integrated network of care, on May 18. Clark served as interim CEO at Alta Bates Summit for the past year.

David D. Clark

“David Clark is an engaged and tireless leader who quickly immersed himself into all levels of the medical center’s operations when he assumed the interim CEO role at Alta Bates Summit a year ago. Since joining Sutter, David has built a diverse, cohesive, and values-driven team focused on strategy development and deployment, community relations, and operations improvement with a focus on patient-centered care,” said Julie Petrini, president and CEO of Sutter Bay Hospitals.

Clark is an accomplished healthcare executive with more than 25 years of leadership, including 15 years as CEO in various hospitals and health systems spanning rural, urban, academic medical centers, and integrated health systems.

Prior to joining Sutter, Clark served in executive roles at three different integrated health systems: Intermountain Healthcare as regional vice president and CEO in Provo, Utah; Trinity Health as regional president and CEO in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and CHRISTUS Health as senior vice president/chief administrative officer in Corpus Christi, Texas. Clark has provided interim healthcare leadership, executive coaching and consulting for hospitals, health systems, physician groups, and other organizations. Before his interim CEO position at Alta Bates Summit, Clark was interim chief operating officer for El Camino Health in Mountain View.

Clark grew up in Chico, California. He earned an MBA in Health Organization Management from Texas Tech University and a B.S. in Finance from Brigham Young University.

Program Designed to Attract Docs to Rural Areas Receives Accreditation

Posted on May 15, 2020 in Community Benefit, Expanding Access, Scroll Images, Sutter Amador Hospital, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Uncategorized

The Sutter Rural Residency Program received a U.S. grant last year and this week was accredited and is ready to screen applicants. Leaders involved in the program include, from left, Dineen Greer, M.D., program director of the Sutter Family Medicine Residency Program; Sutter Amador Hospital CEO Tom Dickson; HRSA regional administrator Capt. John Moroney, M.D; Jackson Mayor Robert Stimpson; Sutter Valley Area Chief Medical Officer Ash Gokli, M.D.; former Sutter Amador CEO Anne Platt; and Robert Hartmann, M.D., longtime Amador County internal medicine physician and an instructor in the Rural Residency Program.

JACKSON, Calif. – Sutter Amador Hospital’s Rural Residency Program this week received accreditation from ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education), the organization responsible for accrediting all graduate medical training programs for physicians in the United States. This Sutter Health program is designed to bring more primary-care physicians to rural regions, which have been hampered throughout the country by a shortage of family doctors.

The ACGME accreditation allows the Sutter Health Rural Residency Program to begin screening and selecting residency applicants. Those selected – two each year for six total in the program – will complete core inpatient training in Sacramento during the first year, with their next two years on the campus of Sutter Amador Hospital and in community medical offices.

The goal of the Sutter Health program is to develop a sustainable, accredited rural training track in Amador County and to ultimately expand the area’s rural primary-care workforce. In Amador County, there is a high need for primary-care physicians (PCPs) in the area as the ratio of the population to one PCP is 1,760-to-1; the ratio throughout the state of California is 1,280-to-1, according to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps website.

“This is welcome news for Amador County, as it will provide an influx of bright, young physicians into our community to care for our families and should give us a steady supply of primary-care physicians for years to come,” said longtime Amador County internal medicine physician Robert Hartmann, M.D., who will be one of the instructors in the Rural Residency Program. “This is a major collaborative accomplishment between Sutter Amador Hospital, Sutter Medical Group physicians and the Sutter Family Medicine Residency Program.”

The Rural Residency Program was made possible through a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which allows not-for-profit Sutter Health to expand its successful Sacramento-based physician residency program to Amador County as part of the federal agency’s efforts to provide better access to quality medical care in rural areas.

Since its inception in 1995, the Sutter Family Medicine Residency Program has graduated 139 physicians, all of whom passed their Board Certification assessments on the first effort. Currently there are 21 residents in the program, and the Amador County program will expand the program to 27 residents.

“We are working to strengthen the physician pipeline throughout our integrated network so our patients receive the same high-quality care no matter where they live,” said Dineen Greer, M.D., program director of the Family Medicine Residency Program. “We have combined a strong, dedicated core faculty, community preceptors, innovative curriculum and access to Sutter hospitals so that our residents develop the skills needed to be outstanding family physicians and leaders in their communities.”

The accreditation was welcome news for the state legislators who serve the Gold Country. State Sen. Andreas Borgeas said: “The physician shortage continues to be a prevalent issue in Amador County and many rural areas of California. I offer my sincere congratulations and gratitude to Sutter Health on the program’s latest achievement, and for its targeted effort to bring much-needed family practice physicians to our community. This is a significant step to help expand access to quality care for our communities in the beautiful, remote areas of our state.”

State Assemblyman Frank Bigelow echoed Sen. Borgeas’ sentiment. “Sutter Health has long supported hospitals in more rural regions of California and they understand how family doctor shortages can have a negative impact on a community’s health,” Bigelow said. “I am so pleased they are pursuing this program and continuing their investment in bringing needed primary care physicians to Amador communities.”

Drs. Greer and Hartmann expect the program to be successful in filling the need for well-trained, community-minded primary-care physicians in Amador County and the greater Mother Lode region.

“The medical students applying for this residency opportunity will enter the program with a strong desire to serve in rural communities,” said Dr. Hartmann, “so their career focus will be the health and well-being of families in our towns and smaller cities. This is great for the future of health care in our community.”

For more on the Sutter Family Medicine Residency Program, go to www.suttermd.com/education/residency/family-medicine

Guy Fieri Serves up Meals and Thank-You’s to Hospital Staff

Posted on May 15, 2020 in Scroll Images, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital

SANTA ROSA, Calif. – Celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s bright smile and goatee may have been tucked behind a cloth mask while serving meals to medical staff at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, but make no mistake, his iconic bleached-out tips, tattooed arms, and jovial attitude were on full display.

For Fieri, a wildly popular Food Network show host and a resident of Sonoma County, giving back to hospital staff boils down to one local supporting fellow locals.

Dubbed the ‘Mayor of Flavortown’, Fieri’s lunchtime menu for staff did not disappoint. Out of his camo-colored Knuckle Sandwich food truck, he served up more than 600 meals to staff, including pulled pork sandwiches, penne pasta, grilled vegetables and hearty green salads.

Due to social distancing, Fieri could not hand off each meal face to face. Rather, unit managers came out to the truck collect the food boxes and t-shirts for their staff. To make it personal, Fieri autographed and wrote ‘good job’ on each box.

Fieri made the meal donation a family affair by including his wife, two sons and Knuckle Sandwich crew.

“This is for all those in there working hard day and night,” said Fieri. “This is for them.”

Fieri continues to use his celebrity for helping during the COVID-19 pandemic. He recently teamed up with the National Restaurant Association to raise more than $23 million for struggling restaurant workers across the country.

Nurses Give Blood—Encourage Others To Do The Same

Posted on May 15, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Scroll Images, Wellness, Year of the Nurse

SAN FRANCISCO – During 2020’s Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, front-line workers at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) continue to give back.

At the hospital’s Van Ness campus in San Francisco, healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses and staff, took part in a blood drive hosted by Vitalant.

The drive was open to all Sutter employees and held in a large conference room to allow for social distancing.

Interventional radiology technologist Lauren Hamilton said while donating, “I always try to give blood as often as I can. You can save multiple people’s lives in one donation.”

Nearly 60,000 units of red blood cells are transfused in patients across Sutter Health each year. Donated red blood cells do not last forever; they have a shelf-life of up to 42 days.

There is currently a national blood shortage due to COVID-19, which is why CPMC continues to host blood drives at least once a quarter.

“It’s incredibly important and a very easy way to give back to society,” beamed Hamilton, who has the universal Type O blood.

According to The American Red Cross, O negative is the most common blood type used for transfusions when the blood type is unknown. For this reason, it’s used most often in cases of trauma, emergency, surgery and any situation where blood type is unknown.

California Pacific Medical Center, part of Sutter’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, has three campuses in San Francisco: Davies, Mission Bernal and Van Ness. CPMC’s state-of-the-art Van Ness campus hospital opened in March 2019.

First Responders Salute Eden, Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation Healthcare Heroes

Posted on May 15, 2020 in Affiliates, Eden Medical Center, Scroll Images, Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation

CASTRO VALLEY, CALIF. –It was a wonderful afternoon for a joyful first responder parade to salute and thank the dedicated Eden Medical Center and Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation nurses, doctors and staff working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Two mounted officers from East Bay Regional Parks, riding Domino and Guinness, lead off the parade. They were followed by dozens of first responders representing the Alameda County Fire Department, California Highway Patrol/Castro Valley, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, East Bay Regional Parks and FALCK Northern California ambulance.

In turn, about a hundred Eden and SEBMF nurses, doctors and staff members held handmade signs, waved and shouted their appreciation back to the first responders in a heartfelt show of mutual support.

Stroke and Heart Attack Rapid Response: Timing is Everything!

Posted on May 13, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

May is National Stroke Awareness Month

If you or a loved one is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.

SAN FRANCISCO –Fear of exposure to COVID-19 shouldn’t keep you away from the emergency department – especially if you’re experiencing signs of stroke or heart attack.

Sutter emergency departments have COVID-19 precautions in place and the capacity to treat those in need. Safety measures include masking patients; keeping patients with COVID-19 symptoms away from common waiting areas, entrances and other patients; arranging for environmental service staff to perform extra cleaning and disinfecting; visitor restrictions (with a few exceptions) and requiring all staff to have their temperature taken before each shift. (Read more here.)

Each year, thousands of people come to Sutter emergency departments with stroke or heart attack symptoms.

David Tong, M.D., director of the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center Stroke Program and regional director of stroke programs for Sutter’s West Bay Region said in a recent interview with The Mercury News, that as a result of people avoiding hospitals for fear of exposure to the coronavirus, some things like CAT scans or MRIs may be easier to schedule now than they were six months ago.

Time is of the essence for treatment of strokes and heart attacks in order to forestall long-term consequences.

With Stroke, Time = Brain
“For strokes in particular, the faster you treat the patient, the better the outcome,” Tong says. “This is not the time to ignore important symptoms because you’re going to miss the opportunity for treatment. We have all appropriate emergency department and hospital protocols in place to keep patients safe.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke and how to respond is with the acronym F.A.S.T.:

F = Face drooping: Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
A = Arm weakness: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = Speech difficulty: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred?
T = Time to call 9-1-1: If a person shows any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. Stroke treatment can begin in the ambulance.

With Heart Attack, Time = Muscle
Experts warn “time is muscle” with heart attacks. The longer treatment is delayed, the more damage can occur to the heart muscle – and the chances for recovery decrease.

According to Brian Potts, M.D., medical director of the emergency department at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s Berkeley campus, the most common symptom of heart attack for men and women is pain or discomfort in the chest or in other areas of the upper body (in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach). Other symptoms include shortness of breath (with or without chest discomfort); breaking out in a cold sweat; nausea or lightheadedness.

“It’s vital to treat heart attacks as soon as possible. Our best-case scenario is a patient who comes to the emergency department as soon as symptoms begin. Many people rationalize away chest discomfort or jaw pain as a momentary digestion issue, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” says Potts. “If you’re in so much pain or discomfort that you’re wondering, ‘should I go to the emergency department?’ the answer is probably yes.”

Data Detectives Track the Pandemic

Posted on May 13, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Expanding Access, Innovation, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Quality, Research, Scroll Images, Transformation

Like a shadow lengthening at sunset or a dark cloud slowly obscuring the sun, the novel coronavirus has the potential to spread silently before positive tests confirm diagnoses in people infected with the virus.

To help get ahead of the curve and prepare Sutter’s integrated healthcare system to manage a potential surge in infections or a re-emergence of novel coronavirus later this year, Sutter leaders are collaborating with researchers and statistical analysts to track infection rates in the Sutter patient population and predict the course of viral spread.

Sutter researchers are experts in data analysis who leverage current and new methods aligned with Sutter privacy safeguards. Their work helps strengthen Sutter’s response to the pandemic. Here’s how:

1. TRACK THE VIRUS: Sutter Health Biobank
Sutter researchers are exploring ways to detect the novel coronavirus before it spreads further, by assessing exposure rates in Sutter’s patient population. This effort is led by Gregory Tranah, Ph.D., Scientific Director of CPMC and Director of Sutter’s Center for Precision Medicine Research.

The COVID-19 Seroprevalence and Surveillance Study will identify blood and serum samples from Sutter Biobank volunteer participants that show antibodies against the novel coronavirus. “Seroprevalence” means the level of a virus or other pathogen in a population, as measured in blood.

“Understanding the surge of infection rate and spread is an important part of preparedness. Epidemiological studies of emerging COVID-19 infections can help determine the burden of disease, develop better estimates of morbidity and mortality, and guide return-to-work and personal-safety decisions based on exposure history,” says Dr. Tranah.

The Sutter Biobank has been enrolling patient volunteers to give blood samples when a blood draw is ordered for clinical reasons. From early December 2019 through March 21, 2020 over 700 Biobank participants had blood samples drawn and archived.

“These samples provide Sutter with a unique opportunity to perform population-based surveillance of COVID-19 exposure when the virus began to spread in Northern California. They represent highly diverse patient data from Sutter’s integrated network. This is meaningful information that will allow us to determine the rate and timing of peak exposure and leveling of exposure rate,” says Dr. Tranah.

“Further, we can use the Biobank samples to find potential evidence of a resurgence of COVID-19 infection this fall. Earlier detection means we can plan for early containment of the virus.”

2. MONITOR VIRAL SPREAD: COVID-19 Surveillance
Researchers and statistical analysts at Sutter’s Center for Health Systems Research (CHSR) are collaborating with Sutter’s Enterprise Data Management, Informatics, Information Services and other operational departments to perform much-needed surveillance on the COVID-19 pandemic and provide insights to Sutter leaders.

Each morning, the CHSR team prepares reports for all Sutter hospitals on the number of patients who have tested positive or are suspected of being positive for COVID-19. They also track total hospital capacity and intensive care unit bed occupancy to help front-line staff with surge-capacity planning.

“Surveillance helps us understand how COVID-19 may be spreading amongst the patients we care for and our healthcare workers, and how we can prepare for potential surges in viral infection rates in the coming months,” says Alice Pressman, Ph.D., MS, Co-Director of CHSR.

Dr. Pressman and her colleagues at CHSR are developing the COVID-19 Universal Registry for Vital Evaluations (CURVE)—a centralized resource for research and quality improvement activities for COVID-19 disease surveillance and modeling, as well as health services and epidemiologic analyses.

“The registry will allow us to conduct research to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare system, Sutter patients, and our community of employees and healthcare workers,” says Dr. Pressman.

This registry develops the structure for the minimum necessary data to be used for each project, securely within the Sutter network. In turn, the knowledge gained can help to inform patient care and operations as Sutter continues to face COVID-19.

In support of Sutter’s Advancing Health Equity initiative, the CHSR team studied the demographics and clinical characteristics of COVID-19-infected individuals and their outcomes, which helped identify patient subgroups that may be more vulnerable to the disease. Early results indicate there may be inequities by sex, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

“Research during a pandemic is vital to determine which parts of our communities and sub-groups of patients are most affected, so that we can allocate resources and care for our most vulnerable patients,” says Dr. Pressman.

3. A MATHEMATICAL CRYSTAL BALL: Statistical modelling to help predict the future of viral spread
One of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is that scientists don’t fully understand the impact of the virus or its prevalence in our communities.

“One way to help answer these questions is through statistical modeling,” says Dr. Pressman. “We can use infectious-disease models as tools to help us predict the future of the novel coronavirus spread and the potential impact of social distancing and containment efforts on flattening the curve.”

Dr. Pressman and her team are collaborating with researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington to understand the models IHME has published for California state COVID-19 data. “We hope to apply these models to our system to help us allocate healthcare resources and make decisions about future containment efforts.”

Data crunching to help halt a pandemic:
Surveillance is the systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of health-related data. For surveillance of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, Sutter is using surveillance systems to monitor COVID-19 disease across the system. Surveillance and biobanking can help:
• Monitor the spread and intensity of COVID-19 disease
• Understand disease severity and the spectrum of illness
• Understand risk factors for severe disease and transmission
• Monitor for changes in the virus that causes COVID-19
• Estimate disease burden
• Produce data for forecasting COVID-19 spread and impact
• Improve patient care and help improve Sutter’s response to the pandemic

Preventative Services Get Back on Track

Posted on May 12, 2020 in Scroll Images

Providers and patients reconnect for healthcare support during COVID-19

As California begins cautious steps to resume day-to-day life in the state amid the ongoing concerns of COVID-19, essential services like healthcare are signaling changes of their own.

After weeks of planning, the Sutter Health network has begun expanding clinical services for preventative care and those with medically necessary, time-sensitive procedures and appointment needs in the locations supported by local guidance and public health orders.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot and reinforces that our health is precious. We need to do everything we can to protect it,” said Theresa Frei, CEO of Sutter Valley Medical Foundation. “As we begin our phased approach to reopening, we encourage people to take advantage of the summer months to focus on preventative services to promote their best health now.”

Medically necessary, time-sensitive procedures for many people include mammograms, colonoscopies and skin exams. These services complement other ongoing offerings including vaccinations and well-baby visits. Sutter’s expanded clinical services will also help patients with chronic or complex diagnoses like diabetes or high blood-pressure resume needed care that can’t always be managed from afar. Preventative care helps keep chronic health issues from becoming something emergent or acute.

Sutter Health has taken careful steps to make clinics safe and patients feel welcome upon returning to network care centers. Sutter has adopted universal masking for staff and patients, set up temperature check stations for staff, increased frequency of cleanings and moved furniture to promote physical distancing in waiting rooms. Patients with worrisome symptoms are seen in special clinics to where there are added safety measures for staff and patients.

Digital documentation and check-in options are also available for Sutter patients, which helps cut down on wait-times and get patients into exam rooms more quickly. EZ-Arrival lets patients provide and verify check-in information in the safety of their homes. Hello Patient uses GPS to detect when patients have arrived at a Sutter facility. Patients simply tap on the arrival button on their mobile device to indicate they are ready to be seen. Both services are available to patients who are signed up for Sutter’s online patient portal, My Health Online.

“This safety-first approach helps us support patient needs while allowing us to continually monitor personal protective equipment and testing capability to ensure we can provide care safely and remain prepared for a surge should the number of COVID-19 patients begin to increase again,” said Conrad Vial, M.D., chief clinical officer for Sutter Health. “We are confident that we can broaden our clinical services and still maintain surge readiness.”

Video visits remain an option for patients who have routine care needs. Urgent care clinics and hospital emergency departments across Sutter Health’s integrated network also are open and provide care beyond the pandemic. Clinical teams are trained and equipped to care for patients while protecting them along with staff.

“We know that patients who have medical problems that are not well-controlled, such as diabetes or hypertension, are more likely to fare poorly with any other infection including COVID-19. Regular attention to our well-being is one of the best investments we can make in ourselves,” said Lizz Vilardo, M.D., CEO of Sutter Bay Medical Foundation. “We are here to support our communities so they can safely and confidently reengage with their healthcare providers.”

Sheltering in Place May Not Keep You Safe from Falls: Tips to Protect Yourself at Home

Posted on May 11, 2020 in Affiliates, Eden Medical Center, Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

CASTRO VALLEY, CALIF. –According to the National Council on Aging, more than 75 percent of falls happen inside or near the home where people often feel safer and roam without thought to the safety hazards around them. With the current shelter in place orders keeping people home, focusing on fall prevention is even more necessary.

Kimberly Windsor, R.N., who is the trauma program manager for Sutter’s Eden Medical Center says, “Falls are the majority of traumas seen at Eden and a few minor changes can help you avoid a fall.”

Home Safety
Look around your home, paying attention to walkways, bathrooms, kitchen, and bedrooms.

For general use areas: keep the floor clear of clutter that can be a tripping hazard. Keep a phone within reach should you need to call for help (especially near the bed at night). Secure floor rugs with double sided tape or slip resistant backing.

Bathrooms: remember that towel racks are not grab bars. Grab bars should be properly installed near the tub/shower and toilet. Use nonslip strips or mats in and outside the shower. Avoid the water being too hot, which can cause dizziness or burns. Keep a towel close to avoid losing your balance when reaching.

Kitchen: place frequently used items within reach. Putting things within reach will help you avoid relying on a step stool or chair that you can easily lose your balance on. If you use a step stool, make sure it has a handle for safe usage. Remove any rugs or floor mats that are not secured to the floor with nonskid tape or rubber backing. Clean up spills immediately—kitchen floors can be slippery and dangerous when wet.

Bedroom: make sure there is a nightlight to light the walkway or a light within reach of the bed should you need to get up at night.

Minor changes in your home environment will help you avoid falls. Other adjustments can also help: make sure you eat properly, limit alcohol consumption, take prescribed medications only as directed, and get enough exercise.

Exercise
Remember that exercise is important to keep your body strong and prevent falls. If you feel comfortable walking around outdoor in your neighborhood, make sure to watch for cars and follow all traffic signals while crossing streets. If you prefer to stay home, you can find ways to exercise like marching/walking in place, following along with an exercise show on television, or putting on music and dancing around your newly clutter-free floors!

During these times of shelter in place, safety is on everyone’s mind. With a few simple changes and care you can take the steps to be safe in your home to prevent falls.

The Future is Now: Video Visits Explode in Light of COVID-19

Posted on May 11, 2020 in Expanding Access, Innovation, Scroll Images

Whether at home or in the hospital, patients getting the support they need


“It is transformative—I don’t think we’ll ever go back to practicing medicine in the same way we did B.C. — before coronavirus.”

Albert Chan, M.D.

SACRAMENTO –In what may herald a cultural shift in how patients and their doctors interact, video visits have increased at an astonishing rate across Sutter’s not-for-profit integrated network of care since the outbreak of COVID-19 in California. According to Albert Chan, M.D., Sutter Health’s chief of digital patient experience, video visit volume has grown by 350-fold since the pandemic.

“Our digital health initiatives are critical to Sutter’s efforts to respond to COVID-19,” said Dr. Chan. “As we shelter-in-place, digital health enables the human connections that we need to care for our community.”

Video visits, also called telemedicine, offer an alternative way to get care from home for respiratory illness, as well as everyday concerns such as minor injuries, infections, chronic disease management and palliative care. With many clinicians in the Sutter network now offering video visits, patients can book a video visit directly with their provider through their My Health Online account or by calling their clinician’s office.

Read more about Telehealth at Sutter Health.

From Great Challenges Comes Great Opportunity

“Telemedicine is perhaps the only silver lining of this horrible pandemic,” says Aarti Srinivasin, M.D., an internal medicine physician with Sutter’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “It is transformative. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to practicing medicine in the same way we did B.C. — before coronavirus. Each and every day will be shaped by the way we practice medicine A.C.—after coronavirus.”

To further expand access to video visits and other digital innovations, philanthropy teams across the Sutter Health network pooled resources to make $1.5 million available for a system-wide purchase of iPads. So far, 950 iPads have been deployed to patients and clinicians in isolation while about 2,000 units have been provided to physicians to conduct video visits. Through this continued philanthropy partnership, 1,000 additional iPads will soon support telemedicine efforts, with a goal to ultimately equip thousands more physicians in Sutter’s integrated network of care.

Video Visits Inside the Hospital?

But the shift isn’t just for those who are following stay-at-home orders. Video visits have now branched beyond clinical support to patients who are hospitalized. Connection with loved ones can have a profound impact on the human spirit. In these difficult times however, it can be easy to feel isolated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continues to recommend maintaining a connection with loved ones, even if just digitally, throughout this pandemic.

To bring some comfort to hospitalized patients, Sutter’s Emergency Management System assembled a work group to lead the charge in securing iPads for Sutter hospitals. In about two weeks, the work group provisioned nearly 1,000 iPads to hospitals across the Sutter network. The iPads allow hospitalized patients to connect with family and friends, helping to improve their overall care experience.

“I had the honor of helping the son of a patient visit with his mom via FaceTime on the new iPads,” said Caryn Brustman, R.N., a clinical manager who works at Sutter Roseville Medical Center. “The son was in full military uniform and was deploying soon, but wanted the opportunity to say goodbye to his mom before he left.”

In addition to allowing patients to keep in touch with their loved ones, these iPads help frontline teams save valuable PPE. The care team can check in with a patient before entering the room, eliminating visits before a patient is ready. This also allows support staff like chaplains and social workers, who aren’t typically allowed in these rooms during the pandemic, to connect face-to-face with patients.

Grants Accelerates Video Visit Access to Palliative Care

This new era in healthcare is now also broadening the reach and potential for other means of telemedicine. A $225,000 grant from the Stupski Foundation is enabling Sutter clinicians to bring vital palliative care services via video visits to Bay Area patients facing serious illness or end-of-life. The grant will provide mobile-enabled iPads to enhance patient care and improve planning for inpatient and ambulatory palliative care teams at California Pacific Medical Center, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Eden Medical Center, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation. The technology provides added capacity via virtual visits and will also expand access to an advance care planning (ACP) video library to facilitate patient and family engagement, virtual ACP discussions for advance health care directive, and Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).

“Through the generosity of the Stupski Foundation, we will now be able to share important ACP tools at our hospitals as well as our ambulatory palliative care, Advanced Illness Management and care management programs—which could not access these resources prior to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Beth Mahler, M.D., vice president of clinical integration at Sutter.

“We have been inspired by the pandemic response across the Bay Area, in particular from healthcare providers like Sutter Health that are expanding telehealth to deliver care,” says Dan Tuttle, Stupski Foundation director of health. “Thanks to their quick and thoughtful responses, our communities facing the greatest challenges from COVID-19 are receiving the safe, high-quality care they need locally now, and into the future.”

Community members interested in helping these efforts can visit www.sutterhealth.org/give-covid19.

An Unintended Side Effect of Sheltering in Place

Posted on May 8, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Cardiac, Safety, Scroll Images

Fears of the coronavirus are causing some patients to delay or avoid seeking emergency care for a stroke or heart attack. Doctors say every delayed second could put patients at risk for a worse outcome.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency, seek care immediately by calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency department.

OAKLAND, CALIF. – For some people, fear of exposure to COVID-19 outweighs the risk of a heart attack. In “Afraid of going to the hospital,” the San Francisco Chronicle describes how patients like Oakland resident Hany Metwally are delaying critical evaluation and care for fear of the virus. Says Metwally, “I was afraid to have communication with anybody because I am 64 and at high risk for the coronavirus.”

Metwally suffered severe chest pain at home for four days before his son Mohammed Metwally finally convinced him to seek care at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland. When he arrived at the Alta Bates Summit emergency department in Oakland, the senior Metwally was impressed with how patients with upper respiratory symptoms are kept separate from those experiencing non-respiratory symptoms like himself.

Ronn Berrol, M.D., medical director of the emergency department at Alta Bates Summit in Oakland, understands why some patients may be concerned but, “We want to reassure people that Sutter hospitals and emergency departments have plenty of capacity to care for them and we are taking every precaution to maintain stringent safety guidelines. So if you or a loved one are experiencing severe pain or illness or have a serious injury, please don’t delay care. We are prepared to care for you and protect you from the virus while you are receiving care.”

Junaid Khan, M.D., director of cardiovascular services at Alta Bates Summit, who performed a successful triple bypass on Metwally, says it’s critical for patients to continue to seek care for serious conditions without delay, despite the virus. “People are correct to be afraid, but their risk of delaying cardiac or stroke care puts them at much greater risk than the risk of acquiring COVID-19.”

Read more about the steps Sutter hospitals and emergency departments have taken to protect patients.

Healthcare Hero Salute: Alta Bates Summit Honored by First Responder Parade

Posted on May 8, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Scroll Images

OAKLAND, CALIF. –Members of local fire and police departments lead a grand procession of first responders to four hospitals to show their appreciation and highlight the dedication of the healthcare professionals working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s Summit and Alta Bates campuses were saluted by a mile-long parade featuring dozens of fire trucks and police vehicles, ambulances, motorcycles, two helicopters –and even two mounted police at the Summit campus. The first responders represented local fire departments, law enforcement agencies and medical transport teams from the cities of Oakland, Berkeley and Piedmont, plus Alameda county and U.C. Berkeley.

Sirens wailing, lights flashing and posters waving, the first responders cheered enthusiastically to show their appreciation and respect for Alta Bates Summit staff, nurses and physicians who have worked selflessly to care for our patients and the community in this unprecedented emergency.

“We are thrilled and humbled that the Oakland fire and police departments are honoring Alta Bates Summit Medical Center staff and physicians with this very special salute. We are all in this together and it is our honor to serve our community alongside the first responders during this unprecedented time,” said David Clark, CEO of Alta Bates Summit.

As partners in our collective work to keep the community healthy and safe, a the Oakland Fire Department is honored to join first responders from the East Bay to show our appreciation for all the dedicated health care workers and staff who provide essential care every day, and especially as we grapple with the local impact of the Covid-19 global pandemic,” said Oakland Fire Department Interim Chief Melinda Drayton

Oakland Police Chief Susan E. Manheimer said, “This is our way of showing appreciation to our frontline medical personnel during this health pandemic. We appreciate the hard work being done each day during this challenging time.”

The procession began at Highland Hospital in Oakland, proceeded to Kaiser Oakland, and then visited Alta Bates Summit’s Oakland and Berkeley campuses.

Healthcare Acts in Creative Ways to Help Impacted Staff

Posted on Apr 30, 2020 in People, Scroll Images

COVID-19 continues to raise questions about the future and what the next phase or new “normal” may look like. Those working in healthcare are not immune to these issues, but employers and employees are responding in creative and compassionate ways to help impacted workers feel supported in a time with many unknowns.

Regroup. Then Retrain.

Hospitals and healthcare systems in California continue their preparations for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients. Those preparations have caused a shift in clinical operations and changes in workflows—even as systems are discussing resuming some procedures and services through a phased, safety-first approach.

Where does this leave employees today?

At Sutter Health, operating room personnel, surgery center staff and others have been given the opportunity for reassignment and redeployment to different areas of its integrated network depending on where they may be needed. And hundreds of them have raised their hands to volunteer.

Joey Benton

‘Motivational Surge’

Meet Joey Benton. She’s been a surgical nurse for the past 20 years currently based at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital (SSRRH). She completed a cross-training online course to learn the ins and outs of medical charting for medical-surgical units. Since wading into the labor pool, she has been shadowing and supporting those unit nurses caring for patients. She’s been assisting by programming IV pumps, giving medications or conducting advanced wound care. She even takes shifts as a temperature checker at the hospital entrance, a measure Sutter has put in place to protect the health and safety of patients and staff.

Benton said the experience has been beneficial in more ways than one.

“It increases my motivation to learn more, to be more proactive and jump into situations where I may not be as comfortable. I feel a huge motivational surge,” she said. “Sutter is really investing in us. It doesn’t stop at nurses, either. It includes nursing assistants to EVS. If Sutter is willing to train us and support us, that’s everything we can ask for.”

Seventy-five percent of the Sutter nurses who volunteered for redeployment have been retrained to support key areas like medical-surgical units and intensive care units. Training is hosted at Sutter Health University in Sacramento by registered nurses who are trained clinical education specialists.

Groups of 10 worked together in the simulation education lab. The teams put in lots of good practice—and not just with the equipment. They respected appropriate social distancing, wore masks and followed hand hygiene and proper equipment cleaning protocols.

By the Numbers

• There are more than a 1,000 nurses throughout the network who have been retrained on our electronic health record or on how to support our COVID-19 hotline.

• Additionally, there are more than 1,300 doctors and advanced practice clinicians who have been retrained to support video visits for patients with primary care needs.

• While retraining is ongoing, the Technology Training Team that supported this work was able to do the bulk of it in less than two weeks.

Hundreds of Sutter Health employees have donated their own PTO hours into a leave sharing program and money into a philanthropic disaster relief fund – options aimed at helping their fellow employees facing financial hardship.

“Sutter Health values our entire workforce. While circumstances have changed within our network, we’ve seen an incredible response from employees raising their hands to be retrained, as well as helping each other by donating money and PTO hours,” said Jill Ragsdale, chief people and culture officer for Sutter Health. “If we are unable to redeploy staff who are willing to work, we have a wage and benefit continuation program in place to continue to support them.”

Did You Know?

Sutter Health is supporting staff in other ways, too. Sutter is collaborating with the likes of the newly launched Airbnb Work, Outdoorsy and Aimbridge Hospitality to help front line health care workers and doctors find temporary lodging around hospitals where they may be relocated to support.

What Does a PPE Push Look Like?

Posted on Apr 29, 2020 in Safety, Scroll Images

Chris Bell, a part of Sutter’s Supply Chain team, moves at a quick pace within the warehouse to add to the next shipment of PPE for delivery to Sutter network hospitals.

Hospitals and care centers across the U.S. count on important pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies for staff to help keep themselves and patients safe and protected. But how does it ultimately end up in the hands of those who need it–especially as questions about access and availability still exist?

See hard-working team members from Sutter Health’s Supply Chain in action at their warehouse in Sacramento, and during deliveries to California Pacific Medical Center Van Ness Campus in San Francisco, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame and Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.

Overall PPE demand has risen since Sutter’s launch of universal masking to help prevent viral spread, as well as our support other medical clinics in the community—sharing much-needed supplies when possible.

Sutter Health has evaluated more than 550 new suppliers of PPE during the last month. Due to the diligent and focused efforts of Sutter’s supply chain team, the integrated healthcare network has had some successes in the past few weeks, including:

  • Purchasing an additional 245,000 N95s above our standard delivery levels
  • Ordering 14 million surgical and procedure masks
  • Obtaining 2 million-plus isolation gowns
  • Coordinating with a linen vendor to secure 12,000 reusable gowns
  • Ordering more than 300,000 face shields
  • Receiving more than 200,000 donated gowns, face shields and masks, including N95s, surgical and procedure masks

Don’t Let Fear of COVID-19 Deter You from Getting the Care You Need

Posted on Apr 28, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Safety, Scroll Images

Sutter Hospitals and Emergency Departments are Prepared to Treat You, Keep You Safe

If you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency, seek care immediately by calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency department.

OAKLAND, Calif. – Given scenes of overwhelmed hospitals on the East Coast, many people are delaying going to the emergency department—even if they are experiencing severe chest pain, stroke symptoms or have sustained a serious injury—out of fear they will be exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

Ronn Berrol, M.D., medical director of the emergency department at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, understands the concern. “We’ve seen a decrease in patients with less-urgent conditions coming to hospitals and emergency departments—this has allowed us time to build up resources to deal with a potential surge of COVID-19 patients and helped to prevent the spread of the virus,” he says. “But we want to reassure people that Sutter hospitals and emergency departments have plenty of capacity to care for them and we are taking every precaution to maintain stringent safety guidelines. So if you or a loved one are experiencing severe pain or illness or have a serious injury, please don’t delay care. We are prepared to care for you and protect you from the virus while you are receiving care.”

Berrol explains Sutter facilities have put in place safety measures for masking patients and visitor restrictions (with a few exceptions); keeping patients with COVID-19 symptoms away from common waiting areas, entrances and other patients; arranging for environmental service staff to perform extra cleaning and disinfecting; and requiring all staff to have their temperature taken before each shift.

Unsure if you should make a trip to the emergency department?
If your symptoms don’t seem to rise to the level of an emergency, contact your doctor. Your doctor will determine whether it’s best to schedule you for a video visit or have you come in to a care center or clinic for evaluation.

Check this guide for more information about when to seek emergency or urgent care.

Still have questions?
Visit Sutter’s website to find out more about the steps Sutter facilities have taken to prepare for COVID-19 and answers to frequently asked questions.

Sutter Roseville Moves Up Opening of ER-ICU Expansion to Prepare for COVID-19 Patient Surge

Posted on Apr 27, 2020 in Expanding Access, Innovation, Quality, Safety, Scroll Images, Sutter Roseville Medical Center, Transformation

Sutter Roseville Medical Center expansion
Sutter Roseville Medical Center is opening its expansion a month early to prepare for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients.

ROSEVILLE, Calif. – Sutter Roseville Medical Center on Tuesday, April 28, is opening its expansion of emergency and critical care services a month early as part of its preparations for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients. Originally slated to open May 27, the 98,400-square-foot expansion doubles the Emergency Department and nearly doubles the number of critical-care beds, adding 58 more private rooms that can safely care for patients during a possible surge.

Sutter Roseville began the $178 million construction project in 2017 to meet the growing community’s demand for emergency services, critical-care rooms and interventional cardiac and neuro procedures. It is connected seamlessly to the existing Emergency Department on the first floor and surgical and critical care services on the second.

“When our team met in late February to discuss surge preparations for COVID-19, it was apparent that we needed to move up the opening of this expansion to ensure we had the highest level of care available for the expanding needs of our community and region,” said Sutter Roseville CEO Brian Alexander. “Our staff, construction partners, and state and local agencies all banded together and worked diligently to open this expansion 30 days early, but to the same high safety and quality standards.”

As a Level II trauma center serving a seven-county region, Sutter Roseville provides a higher level of care in emergency situations and is regularly preparing for public health crises. The expansion was designed with elements that will assist in those emergencies, including two emerging infectious disease isolation rooms and options to convert the Emergency Department’s expansive lobby into a treatment area in case of a large-scale disaster or patient surge.

Expanded emergency department looby

“When our care teams helped design this expansion, they took into account numerous possible health-crisis scenarios,” Alexander said. “Because of their foresight and planning, Sutter Roseville is prepared to care for patients during this pandemic and other public-health emergencies.”

The new expansion helps Sutter Roseville stay on the forefront of exceptional, innovative care. Its features include:

  • 34 additional emergency beds in private treatment rooms, increasing the total number of emergency beds to 68;
  • Seven emergency triage areas that are equipped to provide treatment to patients;
  • 24 additional ICU rooms, each equipped with the latest eICU telemonitoring capabilities that allow specialized physicians to assist in the care of the patients from a remote hub. Added to the 32 existing critical-care beds in the hospital, there will be 56 ICU rooms available for the sickest patients if a surge were to occur;
  • Two interventional labs providing the latest technology for cardiac catheterization procedures. A third interventional lab is currently being built with additional capabilities for neuro and radiological procedures.
New intensive care unit room

“California is being challenged in new ways during the COVID-19 public health crisis, and we are rising to that challenge in ways large and small across the state,” said California State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama. “Here in Northern California, one of the organizations stepping up to meet the challenge is the Sutter Health network, providing new levels of emergency and critical care at Sutter Roseville Medical Center that are so urgently needed across the region.”

The expansion provides a critical need in the community beyond the current global pandemic crisis. The Sutter Roseville Emergency Department expanded in 2005 to treat up to 60,000 patients a year, but last year saw more than 84,000 patients. The additional ICU rooms and interventional labs are also necessary additions as South Placer County is seeing more elderly patients requiring a higher-level of care.

Emergency department isolation room

“Strong infrastructure is one of the hallmarks of a strong community, and our capacity for protecting and promoting public health is central to that,” said State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin. “Sutter Roseville Medical Center’s continued investment in our public health infrastructure helps drive our ability to prevent disease, heal after injury or illness, and respond to both chronic health challenges and acute ones like COVID-19. My thanks to Sutter Health for stepping up to help when and where they are needed.”

This is the latest in a series of expansions Sutter Roseville Medical Center has experienced in the past two decades, transforming it from a community hospital into a regional, tertiary medical campus. The other expansions include:

  • A newly constructed Patient Care Tower with 90 new beds.
  • Expansion of the Family Birth Center to accommodate a community need as young families moved into South Placer County.
  • The addition of a Level III NICU with 16 licensed beds to provide advanced life-saving care to critically ill newborns.
  • The construction and expansion of Sutter Rehabilitation Institute, the region’s only facility dedicated exclusively to acute rehabilitation services.
  • The Sutter Cancer Center, Roseville, a facility dedicated to and designed by those with cancer.
  • Three medical office buildings that house Sutter Roseville physicians, along with two parking garages for staff and patients.

“As a healthcare provider, as an employer and as a supporter of this community, Sutter Roseville Medical Center has already been a strong force for good here and across Placer County and the region,” said Roseville Mayor John Allard. “Expanding its top-notch emergency service and critical care – especially now – builds on a decades-long commitment to serving the people of Roseville and beyond.”

Scott Kidd Gets a Second Chance

Posted on Apr 27, 2020 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, People, Scroll Images

If ever there was a time to believe in miracles, this may be it.

It started late last year in Folsom, Calif., when the Oakland Athletics West Coast scouting supervisor, Scott Kidd, finally scheduled a visit with his doctor after being unable to shake a persistent flu for two weeks. With the December holidays fast approaching, his wife, Gina, and their three children had become increasingly worried. Although Scott was otherwise healthy and in excellent shape, something wasn’t right. And during that medical appointment, the news Scott’s doctor shared wasn’t good.

As it had been for several days already, Scott’s heart rate was very erratic – from 167 beats per minute down to 101 and back up to 140. Fearful that he may have a stroke at any moment, Scott was rushed to the emergency department in Folsom where his condition deteriorated rapidly. Scott then went into cardiac arrest and was immediately moved to the ICU (intensive care unit).

It was starting to look like the situation wasn’t going to improve. Scott was placed on ECMO (extracorporeal electro corporeal membrane oxygenation) support and, after 12 days in a medically induced coma, he was airlifted to California Pacific Medical Center’s Van Ness Campus, part of Sutter’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, in San Francisco. The news from his care team – led by cardiologist Dr. Michael Pham and surgeon Dr. Brett Sheridan – was urgent: Scott needed a new heart and a new kidney as soon as possible.

Knowing that it could take months or even years to find a suitable donor(s), the Kidds were preparing for a long wait. Less than a week later, however – and on Scott’s 46th birthday – both a suitable heart and a kidney were found.

Scott’s life-saving transplant surgery was a success and he’s on the road to a full recovery. Through it all, holding her emotions in check while also managing the family duties back home, was Gina. After finally having a chance to look back on the whirlwind of emotion her family has endured, Gina explained how she could not have felt safer – or been more proud – of her Sutter Health/CPMC medical team.

“When we first arrived to CPMC’s Van Ness Campus location, I felt like we were in the ‘Beverly Hills’ of hospitals,” she said. “From the superb cleanliness to the team’s professionalism, we felt like we’d gone from the minor leagues to the big leagues. That was very comforting.”

Gina said her husband’s care team delivered world-class service that helped ease her anxiety. “Dr. Pham and Dr. Sheridan made every worry I had practically disappear,” she said. “Even though I was scared, they were always there for him and for me. They were so quietly confident about my husband’s path to recovery, which made me feel good. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to thank them.”

Although David Forst, the Athletics general manager, knew inside his heart that Scott would recover, the entire situation was difficult to comprehend.

“It was a miracle,” he said. “I hate using the word ‘miracle’ because it undersells the science and medical work. To go from a coma to having a heart and kidney show up practically out of nowhere, and now his incredible on-track recovery – it’s just amazing.”

More than 50 years ago, CPMC conducted its first transplant operation—a kidney transplant. Since then, the CPMC care teams have performed more than 9,000 organ transplants, including more than 6,200 kidney, 2,000 liver, 400 pancreas, and 500 heart transplants. The new Van Ness campus hospital features custom-designed transplant operating rooms helping to optimize collaboration. For more information, please visit CPMC’s Transplant Services.

Showing Their Love and Strength: Sutter’s Frontline Workers Raise Voices to a Familiar San Francisco Song (video)

Posted on Apr 25, 2020 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, People, Scroll Images

SAN FRANCISCO – Front-line staff and physicians at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) Van Ness campus hospital in San Francisco joined in unison—along with thousands of others across the region—to sing the city’s unofficial anthem “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” by Tony Bennett.

Earlier in the week, the legendary Bennett, age 93, put out a public call on his Twitter feed for the citizens of San Francisco to raise their voices together on April 25 at noon.

Tony Bennett tweet

The sing-along is really a three-in-one: an ode in support of the City’s front-line workers, a musical tribute to residents for helping to ‘bend the curve,’ and a ballad to remind the public to stay the course of social distancing.

In a San Francisco Chronicle article, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, “By taking a moment to join together in song to celebrate our front-line health workers and everyone working to make a difference during this pandemic, we can recognize how connected we are to one another, not just here in San Francisco, but all over the world.”

Check out Sutter’s front-line staff sing-along below.

CPMC is part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit integrated network of care in Northern California.

Dietary Aide Feeds Entire Hospital Staff to Pay It Forward

Posted on Apr 24, 2020 in Affiliates, People, Scroll Images

SANTA ROSA, Calif., — Sutter Health dietary aide Loren Lafon just bought lunch for the entire staff at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That is a LOT of lunches for a LOT of people, especially to be paid for out of her own pocket,” said Dan Peterson, CEO of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital.

“I wanted to do it because I love being part of Sutter, I love my team, and I appreciate how hard people are working and how dedicated they are to be here right now,” said Lafon, who has worked for Sutter Health for nearly 15 years.

Loren Lafon (R) stands with the 200 meals she donated to Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Getting teary-eyed, Lafon shares that in 2017 she lost her home in The Tubbs Fire.

“Sutter stood by me. The organization provided incredible support for our team, and I felt it was important for me to do the same in our current situation,” said Lafon.

“She spends her time talking about others, but people like Loren really are the ones who make our culture special,” said Peterson.

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital is a not-for-profit hospital, part of the Sutter Health integrated network of care, providing health care services to patients in Sonoma County, Calif.

Sutter’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to support employees 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Dispelling COVID-19 Myths and Rumors

Posted on Apr 23, 2020 in Affiliates, Scroll Images

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, so do the fears associated with contracting it. We are all looking for ways to stay safe in these uncertain times, which is why now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to listen to medical experts.

“There are a lot of things that are still unknown about this coronavirus. What is known at this time is that COVID-19 illnesses have ranged from mild (with no reported symptoms in some cases) to severe, including illness resulting in death,” says Alexander Lam, M.D., director of emergency services at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco, part of Sutter’s not-for-profit integrated network of care.

“We do not have a vaccine and certain things about the virus (i.e. asymptomatic carriers, transmissible before symptoms develop, surviving on different surfaces) make the virus particularly adept at passing from person to person,” says Dr. Lam.

Here are some of the seemingly innocent myths that have recently taken root in the rumor mill. Please be aware that they are all untrue.

  • Drinking lots of water will kill COVID-19.
    • Stay hydrated, of course, but hydration alone offers no protection against viruses.
  • Taking antibiotics will kill COVID-19.
    • This is an important distinction that confuses many people: antibiotics kill bacteria and are not effective against viruses. COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is a virus.
  • A daily vitamin C supplement, essential oils, colloidal silver soap, sesame oil, garlic, and/or fish tank cleaner will all protect you from the virus.
    • None of these has shown to be effective against COVID-19.
  • Vacationing in a warm climate helps avoid infection.
    • COVID-19 can live and thrive in both cold and warm climates, as witnessed by the many locations across the globe experiencing a breakout.
  • Holding one’s breath for 10 seconds without coughing will prove you don’t have COVID-19.
    • This inaccurate statement was initially attributed to a hospital tweet (!). There is no medical evidence that this is true.
  • Consuming alcohol will kill the coronavirus.
    • Drinking alcohol excessively in any situation is never a good idea. Overconsumption also weakens the immune system.

“The greatest weapons we have at this time for keeping people safe are social distancing, hand washing, not touching your face, and following recommendations to stay at home.”

Now is the time to educate yourself on COVID-19. Here are several online resources for accurate information.

California Department of Public Health (CDPH)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

World Health Organization (WHO)

“We understand how difficult a time this is for everyone but hang in there. The choices you make today will affect our ability to care for the community in the future. Together we will beat coronavirus,” exclaims Dr. Lam.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, a good place to start is by scheduling a video visit via Sutter’s My Health Online or calling 1-866-978-8837.

Volunteers “HELP” Elderly Patients Through Virtual Visits During COVID-19

Posted on Apr 22, 2020 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, People, Scroll Images

SAN FRANCISCO – National Volunteer Week (April 19-25) is an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world.

California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), part of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, has more than 850 volunteers that help provide companionship and emotional support to patients and their families in the emergency department and elsewhere, guiding people around facilities, explaining procedures, helping patients eat, playing music, performing clerical duties and so much more.

To help reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, CPMC volunteers are currently sheltering in place but that hasn’t stopped them from participating in the hospital’s Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP). This unique program allows volunteers to engage elderly patients to help prevent episodes of delirium and increase their functional independence.

Instead of meeting patients at the bedside, CPMC volunteers are conducting phone and virtual visits to help keep their patients mobile and alert, with the goal of them getting well faster and going home sooner.

“When we knew our HELP volunteers couldn’t continue to visit our patients at the hospital, we immediately looked at digital alternatives and whether our volunteers could still make a meaningful connection through a virtual visit,” said Clara Rubin-Smith McKie, CPMC Volunteer Coordinator/Elder Life Specialist. “The answer was yes, and we’re excited that our volunteers have committed themselves to engaging patients remotely.”

HELP Volunteers are now using their mobile phones and tablets to communicate with patients. They engage and stimulate patients through activities such as guiding them through range of motion and breathing exercises to reduce stress and encouraging them to walk.

“The HELP program at CPMC has helped reduce falls for older patients by 22 percent and readmission by 25 percent,” says Wendy Zachary, M.D., CPMC hospitalist and HELP physician-champion. “It’s vital during the COVID-19 pandemic that we continue to help support these fragile patients and I applaud our volunteers for their dedication during this difficult time.”

Wendy Zachary, M.D., CPMC hospitalist and HELP physician-champion.

Patients Appreciate the Conversations

Melissa Ann Im, a HELP Volunteer had a lovely conversation last week and passed along the following comment from a patient:

“I’m not a great fan of the human race… but the people who work at the hospitals are the kindest people on the planet… working all their days to alleviating pain and saving lives. They do it because it is what they want to do. They are the most caring and professional people… I am in awe.”

“I appreciate you volunteers so much. You don’t have to do this, but you do… if you could see me right now, I have a big smile on my face.”

Building relationships are the key. HELP volunteers are taught about using a healing touch to establish a trusting relationship with the patient. Amidst the current stress of the pandemic, for many volunteers, it’s the highlight of their week.

“I’m so grateful to our volunteers for continuing to do this great work during this extremely challenging time,” says Frances Huang, CPMC Volunteer Coordinator/Elder Life Specialist. “The significant improvement in the level of care our patients receive from the HELP program is immense and I’m glad that our volunteers continue to bring smiles to so many faces.”

COVID-19 Heightens our Love for Mother Earth, and One Another

Posted on Apr 22, 2020 in Community Benefit, Innovation, People, Quality, Safety, Scroll Images, Transformation, Uncategorized

A message from Stephen H. Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., Sutter Health Chief Medical Officer and Executive Sponsor of Sutter Health’s Environmental Stewardship Program

With fewer cars on the road and less traffic in the skies, some news outlets have reported a climate benefit. While none of us wanted this short-term positive effect at such high health and economic costs, we are getting a peek at an environment with less human interference — a brief glimpse at what could be possible if we took steps to reduce waste and advance alternative energy solutions in the years ahead.

As champions of health, we know that nature holds a special place in our lives, supporting our mental and physical wellbeing. It’s never been more important to take a walk outside, take a deep breath, enjoy the sunshine and wave at our neighbors — all while staying 6 feet apart, of course. Nature lifts our spirits and helps restore our hope.

Please join our Sutter team in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Mobilizing to care for our planet over the long term is one more way we’re showing our love for our communities and one another.

Here are a few ways you and your family can get involved with Sutter’s sustainability efforts:

1. Plant a garden. Digging your hands in the soil is good for your health. Welcome spring by planting native plants, fruits and vegetables. Take it a step further by starting a compost pile. Composting food waste reduces the amount of waste you send to a landfill, and once it fully decomposes, you’re left with a fertilizer for your garden. Check out some simple tips on composting from the EPA.

2. Donate clothing. While spring cleaning, consider donating unwanted items rather than throwing them away. Each year, nearly 40,000 gallons of water are used in the production and transport of new clothes bought by the average American household.

3. Watch creativity grow. Promote your kids’ love for our planet by encouraging them to create art from natural or recycled materials.

4. Conserve water. Install a low-flow shower head to reduce water use. In one year, a family of four can save up to 18,200 gallons of water.

5. Carry a reusable water bottle. Lessen your environmental impact by replacing your single-use plastic bottles with a stainless-steel water bottle or travel mug.

6. Calculate your carbon footprint. Simply reducing the amount of time we spend running errands, driving to work and to other activities plays a significant role in reducing our carbon footprint. Check out the EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator.

7. Learn about sustainability efforts at Sutter Health. Did you know that Sutter completed five solar-power projects; launched a pilot program to reduce the amount of harmful anesthetic gasses released into the atmosphere during surgeries; and increased plant-based meals by 20% in our 24 hospital cafeterias? You can find out more here.

Building a Path Toward Health Equity

Posted on Apr 16, 2020 in Scroll Images

Across the nation, new data is illustrating a startling trend in the spread and impact of COVID-19: inequity. Between Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and New York alone, statistics are showing that African Americans are 74% more likely to contract the virus as compared with their total percentage of the state’s population.

While this new data is grabbing headlines and startling communities across the nation, inequities in healthcare outcomes are unfortunately not new news. As we observe Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17), it is important to highlight that this is especially true for Black mothers, who are still roughly three times more likely to die due to pregnancy related causes.

The United States is facing serious challenges in how we care for expectant mothers and infants. A report in December of 2018 by the Commonwealth Fund found that American women have the greatest risk of dying from pregnancy complications among developed countries. (Munira Z. Gunja, n.d.)

Yet, California appears to be an outlier. California continues to perform better than the national average on maternal mortality with 11.7 deaths per 100,000 live births versus the national average of 17.4 deaths.

This was not always the case. Prior to 2006, the state’s maternal mortality rate had doubled in seven years – and black women were approximately four times more likely to die in childbirth than other ethnic groups.

In response, in 2006, Sutter Health leaders helped spearhead the creation of a multi-stakeholder organization, the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC), to address maternal mortality and maternal health. The work done through CMQCC helped reduce California’s maternal mortality rate by 55% between 2006 and 2013.

Sutter’s partnership with the CMQCC and our work with their California Birth Equity Collaborative – a quality improvement initiative to improve birth care, experiences and outcomes for Black mothers – is helping to lower preventable maternal deaths or unexpected outcomes that have significant short, or long-term health effects on new mothers.

Sutter’s collaborative efforts have fostered real and much-needed progress, but there is still much more to do. We are committed to using robust data and collaborating with other providers and patients to make meaningful improvements to address equity gaps and improve patient-centered outcomes.

Building on this effort, two years ago Sutter created an ‘Advancing Health Equity’ team – led by Sutter’s Chief Medical Officer Stephen Lockhart, M.D., PhD – dedicated to identifying and addressing the issue through targeted, community-based programs. We are using innovative tools like the groundbreaking Health Equity Index that include analytic methods and dynamic applications of clinical and population data to measure outcomes of care among different patient populations. By reporting on these quality measures by race and ethnicity, we can identify previously unknown differences within populations, share best practices, and identify the need for targeted interventions and solutions.

Within Sutter’s own network, there is currently no inequity in race or ethnicity when it comes to maternal mortality. However, we know that 80% of what drives health outcomes happens outside the walls of our facilities. That is why it is so important that Sutter Health live up to our responsibilities as a national healthcare leader, and continue to research, innovate, and quantify the value of our integrated system of care for the benefit of other healthcare leaders throughout the state and the nation.

“I am so proud of Sutter Health’s long-standing commitment to improving health outcomes for our Black mothers, ” said Dr. Lockhart “COVID-19 reminds us more must be done to address health disparities and advance equity across the U.S. Everyone deserves the chance to live a healthy life.”

As long as inequities exist, the work will continue, but the successes we have seen and the initiatives that we are currently working on help to provide a clearer look at how we can do our part to advance health equity for all.

Standing Tall Against the Surge

Posted on Apr 15, 2020 in Scroll Images

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently unveiled a guide outlining when and how California may lift various coronavirus restrictions based on a set of six criteria, including hospitals’ ability to handle any potential COVID-19 patient surges. However, Newsom cautioned against moving too fast, saying “we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”

While social distancing guidelines and sheltering in place orders appear to be helping flatten the curve in California, we don’t know whether recently reported holiday gatherings for Passover or Easter that were outside these guidelines, may cause spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Integrated healthcare networks—like Sutter Health—have built-in support mechanisms that will help the network respond and take care of patients.

“We chose healthcare because we want to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Conrad Vial, M.D., chief clinical officer for Sutter Health. “We have the privilege of doing this every day but it is even more apparent during this extraordinary time in our history. Everyone in our network is prepared to serve patients and our communities.”

Integrated networks like Sutter Health allow teams to shift quickly so hardest-hit areas can receive the necessary resources like personal protective equipment, ventilators and beds. Sutter’s surge planning efforts will allow the network to expand its critical care capacity by two to three times. This is thanks in part to having the access to the best-available statistical models and the benefit of lessons learned in areas experiencing high rates of COVID-19 including Italy, New York, Singapore and South Korea. For example, Sutter’s surge plan doubles its current ICU capacity through that the use of operating rooms, post-anesthesia care units and other spaces. While all 24 hospitals are capable of taking care of COVID-19 patients, it will also focus the first phase of critical care capacity at its six largest facilities: Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame as well Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento and Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

Sutter’s electronic intensive care unit (eICU) allows for monitoring a large number of critical care patients from a single location. The expansive telemonitoring program ensures intensive care unit patients in large cities and small towns have 24/7 access to a team of doctors and nurses specially trained in the care of ICU patients. From two central hubs, in Sacramento and San Francisco, these doctors and nurses help to monitor patients in intensive care units hundreds of miles away, using live interactive video, remote diagnostic tools and other specialized technologies to assess critical changes in a patient’s condition.

Supported by a comprehensive electronic health record, clinicians within the Sutter network can access vital information to care for 3 million patients. Similar to its ability during recent wildfires, Sutter can fill prescriptions, reschedule appointments and keep vital chemotherapy infusions on track, to ensure continuity of care for all our patients, even in the middle of a patient surge.

Additionally, to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 positive patients Sutter has:

• Postponed elective surgeries that can be safely postponed to free up supplies, staff and space;
• Increased supplies of PPE and essential equipment like ventilators;
• Set up surge tents to treat respiratory patients away from the general population;
• Created a COVID-19-specific advice line—1-866-961-2889— to triage patients before they’re seen in person;
• Increased video visit capacity to prevent sick patients from infecting other patients and staff;
• Established drive-through testing for patients who have a doctor’s order and meet criteria for testing;
• Utilized Sutter’s internal labor staffing pool, retraining employees and bringing in more advanced practice clinicians and travel nurses to support staffing needs; and
• Supported remote radiology so Sutter radiologists may interpret studies from home, increasing timeliness and access to imaging services. This can be especially helpful as critically ill patients may require chest CT scans.

“Our Sutter teams have devoted countless hours toward the rapidly changing environment this pandemic has created and we will continue to respond effectively and compassionately,” said Dr. Vial. “While we can’t predict the exact path of COVID-19, our commitment to staff and patients never changes.”

In Need of a Break: Art in Action

Posted on Apr 15, 2020 in Carousel, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, People, Scroll Images, Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center, Santa Cruz, Uncategorized, We're Awesome, Year of the Nurse

SANTA Cruz, CalifTawnya Gilbert, R.N., C.C.R.N. is normally the picture of positivity: upbeat and energetic. But one day in late March, after a shift and a week that all felt especially long and challenging, she felt down. Like all of us Gilbert was concerned about the spread of coronavirus, but unlike most of us, she faced the challenge daily, working as a nurse for Sutter in Santa Cruz County.

“It’s moments like that when I usually go to our staff breakroom and just take a minute to get back in touch with myself, my heart,” said Gilbert, who is also a yoga instructor. “I can usually use the quiet room to recharge and clear my head, but this time was different.”

That’s when she had an idea

“I looked around – at the magazines, the picture window, our little bulletin board – and realized that there wasn’t any art.” Though not an artist herself, Gilbert has always admired the generous amount of art on the walls of Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center. She even helped choose the art in the hospital’s post-anesthesia care unit where she has worked for the past six years.

“I just knew that if we could get some art in the breakroom, and especially if it depicted how healthcare workers are fighting this pandemic, it would inspire staff and lift their spirits.”

The “Surviving COVID” art project began

Gilbert wrote to all the artists she knew, and several she was introduced to, and asked for art that was funny, profound, or uplifting. She encouraged themes of beating coronavirus and thanking healthcare workers, and soon she had 14 original pieces to display in the breakroom at the hospital. The art was an instant hit with staff, and the project has since spread to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) medical buildings in Watsonville and Santa Cruz, the emergency room of neighboring Dominican Hospital and the halls of nearby Watsonville Community Hospital.

Babs Kingsley, M.A., R.N., manager of emergency services at Dominican Hospital said “the staff are incredibly grateful for the donated artwork and sentiment from the community that it represents. The art is providing staff with motivation and strength, and the collaboration between healthcare networks reminds us that we are not fighting this battle alone. Many thanks to Tawnya for helping us turn an uncertain time into one of collaboration and pride.”

Art is an antidote to fear

“Art comforts and connects us; when a doctor, nurse or housekeeper views these images I hope they see an entire community of artists who are supporting them and helping them process emotions that are hard to put into words,” said Gilbert.

Creativity and positivity abound in the works collected to-date. “Glove Conquers All,” for example, is a take on the raised fist, a symbol of solidarity that is used to express unity and strength. In this original work by Andi Mellon, the fist is encased in a glove and surrounded by Gladiolas which symbolize bravery.

Another piece that features gloves is “Creation” by artist Michael Lane. The work imagines an update of the classic “Creation of Adam” for our modern moment. “With all the precautions required for coronavirus, I thought it would be interesting to add a twist on safety to this iconic piece,” said Lane.

“The Brave Nurse” depicts the importance of sheltering-in-place and the bravery of a nurse who protects her community from COVID-19, represented as attacking balls with sharp teeth and angry eyes. Seamlessly blending literal and figurative references, artist Lily K. has been able to include several key elements of the pandemic in one uplifting scene.

Calling all artists

Little more than a week after her idea-inspiring low point, Gilbert feels energized by the entirely volunteer-led and donation-dependent project.

“Today I worked 10 hours, ate dinner, read to my daughter, spoke to two artists about sharing their art and applied for a grant. I’m going to bed, rest well Santa Cruz,” she wrote to friends and family.

Gilbert has been overwhelmed by the response from the community, in the form of art and framing supplies, and she encourages anyone who wants to help to email her at: lokilove28@gmail.com

Remember to Breathe: Doctor’s Mindful Breathing Practice Helps Foster Calm

Posted on Apr 14, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Scroll Images, Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation, Wellness

Leif Hass, M.D.


OAKLAND, Calif. — The world-wide pandemic is causing worry and uncertainty for many. Leif Hass, M.D., a family practitioner with Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation and a hospitalist at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, is working to reduce his stress one breath at a time, through his mindful breathing practice.

In a new “Science of Happiness” podcast, Dr. Hass shares his mindful breathing tips and describes how the practice helps him stay calm, focus his attention and be present for his patients. The podcast is fittingly called, “Remembering to Breathe. How a doctor stays calm and centered during times of uncertainty, one breath at a time.”

Listen to the podcast.

Says Dr. Hass, “Mindful breathing prompts us to follow our breath, getting into a nice deep rhythm of breathing. And we know that mindful breathing can reduce anxiety and depression and help people handle pain.”

How a Pandemic Launched a NorCal Healthcare System

Posted on Apr 14, 2020 in Carousel, Community Benefit, Expanding Access, Innovation, People, Quality, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Transformation, Uncategorized

Spanish Flu
A nurse takes a patient’s pulse in the influenza ward at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 1, 1918. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The pandemic started slowly in Sacramento. For weeks, residents of the city believed what was going around was just the usual flu that arrived every fall. But in just two months, thousands in the city had been infected and about 500 Sacramentans were dead.

That happened a century ago. Because of the inadequacy of the existing Sacramento hospitals to care for the numerous victims of the Spanish flu in 1918, local doctors and civic leaders banded together to build a new, more modern hospital to meet the growing city’s needs.

Sutter Health was born.

Begun as a single Sutter Hospital kitty-corner to Sutter’s Fort, Sutter Health now has a presence in 22 counties across Northern California, featuring thousands of doctors and allied clinical providers and more than 50,000 employees. As an integrated health system, Sutter is uniquely qualified and capable to care for residents during a health crisis such as COVID-19.

“A group of hospitals and doctor’s offices are able to band together, share resources, skills and knowledge, and institute best practices to care more effectively and efficiently for our patients and the communities we serve,” said Dave Cheney, the interim president and CEO of Sutter Valley Area Hospitals and the CEO of Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. “We have systems in place that we test all the time to ensure we are prepared for many crises, including a pandemic like COVID-19.”

Groudbreaking
Just a few years after the devastating Spanish flu, Sacramento physicians, nurses and civic leaders gathered to break ground in 1922 for the first Sutter Hospital.

Physicians Fill a Need in Sacramento

The deadly influenza commonly called Spanish flu killed about 50 million worldwide. From August 1918 to July 1919, 20 million Americans became sick and more than 500,000 died, 13,340 of them in California. In Sacramento, slow action by the city public health office delayed care and, within a couple of weeks, sick residents flooded the hospitals. The city library was even converted into a makeshift hospital. A Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento history recounts: 

“The influenza epidemic of 1918 gave convincing evidence to Sacramento doctors that the city’s two major hospitals were woefully inadequate to provide the health care services vital to the rapidly growing community. The flu epidemic had sorely taxed these facilities and highlighted the need for a modern, fireproof hospital. Recognizing the critical need for hospital care for their patients, 17 local physicians came together with civic leaders to create a new hospital.”

The group incorporated as Sutter Hospital Association in 1921, naming it after its neighbor, Sutter’s Fort, which cared for Gold Rush pioneers as Sacramento’s first hospital. The first Sutter Hospital was built two years later and opened in December 1923 as “the most modern hospital to be found in the state,” according to The Sacramento Bee. It was the first private, non-sectarian hospital in the city, and the first to offer private rooms.

The hospital became not-for-profit in 1935 and changed its name to Sutter General Hospital. It opened Sutter Maternity Hospital in 1937 two miles away and it soon expanded its services and was renamed Sutter Memorial Hospital. In the 1980s, the old Sutter General Hospital was replaced by a modern facility across the street from Sutter’s Fort, and in 2015 all adult and pediatric services were combined under one roof when the Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center opened essentially in the same location as the original Sutter Hospital.

First Sutter Hospital
The first Sutter Hospital opened in December 1923 as California’s “most modern hospital.” Now, Sutter Health is an integrated healthcare system that includes 24 hospitals in Northern California.

A Health Network Grows

The 1980s and 1990s saw tremendous growth for Sutter. Struggling community hospitals in Roseville, Auburn, Jackson, Davis, Modesto and other nearby cities merged with what was then known as Sutter Community Hospitals. Then came the deal that more than doubled the healthcare system. In 1996, Sutter Community Hospitals merged with a group of Bay Area hospitals and physician groups known as California Healthcare System. These included such large, well-respected, historic hospitals as California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and Alta Bates in the East Bay. This new system became, simply, Sutter Health.

Now as a model of healthcare integration, Sutter Health provides a user-friendly system centered around patient care — a system that offers greater access to quality healthcare while holding the line on costs. This connectivity allows Sutter teams to provide innovative, high-quality and life-saving care to more than 3 million Californians. Sutter’s integrated care model allows care teams and care locations to use the power of the network to share ideas, technologies and best practices, ultimately providing better care and a user-friendly experience, achieving healthier patient outcomes and reducing costs.

Our Heroes Wear Scrubs
Grateful community members are thanking Sutter Health front-line workers throughout Northern California.

An Integrated Network Fights COVID-19

Today, Sutter Health’s hospitals and physician groups don’t operate in a vacuum. Each hospital is supported by a larger system that can share knowledge and send materials, equipment and even manpower to where they are needed most. The system is called the Sutter Health Emergency Management System, which is organized after the federal government’s National Incident Command System.

Here’s how it works: Part of the Sutter Health Emergency Management System is a team throughout the network that works on gathering and purchasing the necessary supplies and equipment needed during this pandemic, including N95 masks and ventilators. Another team monitors bed space to ensure that each hospital can care for a COVID-19 patient surge. Clinical team members across the network are working together to address any issues that may unfold and to share best practices as they treat coronavirus patients.

That’s the power of a not-for-profit, integrated healthcare network.

“We are leveraging the strength of our united teams to increase our capacity and knowledge, and to provide the necessary equipment,” Cheney said. “We are preparing all of our network hospitals in the event we see a surge in patients due to COVID-19. Thanks to the integrated system that has been more than 100 years in the making, we are prepared for a pandemic of this magnitude now more than ever.”

Oakland Nurse Mobilizes Extraordinary Mask Donation Effort

Posted on Apr 10, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Scroll Images

OAKLAND, Calif. –Minfen Ding, RN, doesn’t consider herself a hero, but in the last two weeks, the oncology unit nurse at the Summit Campus of Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland has facilitated donations of more than 13,000 surgical masks for the hospital.

Watching the Coronavirus pandemic unfold in Wuhan, China was the catalyst that motivated Ding to help start a PPE donation drive here in the Bay Area.

“Many clinicians in China were also contracting the virus because they didn’t have enough safety protocols in place or were not wearing appropriate PPE,” said Ding. “But once the health care workers in Wuhan started using more PPE, their infection rates went down.”

Once the virus started to spread in the Bay Area, she immediately went into action and appealed for donations to help ensure hospital workers would have enough protection while caring for their patients.

Ding reached out to several East Bay Chinese-American community groups as well as the Silicon Valley Chinese Association Foundation and the Chinese Alumni Association of Renmin University. She and friends also used WeChat, a Chinese messaging and social media application, to promote her cause.

The donation offers started coming in very quickly, and during the last two weeks more than 13,000 masks have been donated to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.

“The real heroes are the individual donors and the large Chinese community who are raising money and making donations to hospitals all over the Bay Area,” says Ding. “Even the people living in China love us and are sending donations. I’m so happy that that so many people are getting behind us and supporting this worthy cause.”

“I am so overwhelmed by our community and their donations of love for our health care staff,” says Ding. “By working together as a whole community, we will definitely win this battle.”

To Our Healthcare Superheroes

Posted on Apr 9, 2020 in People, Scroll Images

As millions across the nation shelter at home to help minimize the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a group of individuals continues to step onto the front lines: our healthcare teams. Doctors, nurses, clinicians, hospital workers, pharmacists, transporters, EMTs—and everyone else who supports patient care sites—continue to treat and serve the very ill.

It’s not easy to fully express the enormous gratitude and appreciation we feel for these healthcare heroes. But recently, hundreds of Sutter employees tried, all sharing words of encouragement and thanks for their teammates on the front lines. Here is a sampling of their messages:

Words cannot adequately express our appreciation. From those who give direct patient care to all those who support patient care behind the scenes, you are all remarkable human beings. We can’t fight this fight without you. (Liz M.)

Thank you to all the brave men and women on the front lines giving it your all every day to care for our patients! We know the sacrifices you are making, putting your own lives on the line to provide world-class care to every patient. There are not enough words to tell you how much we appreciate each and every one of you! We are all in this TOGETHER! (Michelle M.)

To our courageous, selfless teams on the frontlines—the doctors and nurses, lab techs, housekeeping crews, nutritional services employees, pharmacy employees, security staff and so many more—thank you for all you do. (Anita C.)

Could an Experimental Drug Studied for Ebola Work Against COVID-19?

Posted on Apr 8, 2020 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, Community Benefit, Expanding Access, Innovation, Quality, Research, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital

Not-for-profit Sutter Health Launches Clinical Trials with Gilead Sciences

clinical trials for Covid-19

Sutter Health, together with health systems across Northern California has teamed up with Foster City-based Gilead Sciences on clinical trials for a promising treatment for COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is at least a year away and now scientists across the globe are investigating existing medicines that might work as treatments.

In April 2020, Sutter began participating in two of Gilead Sciences’ Phase 3, randomized clinical trials to evaluate the use of the company’s drug, remdesivir, in adults diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The studies test the clinical efficacy and safety of remdesivir in patients with moderate or severe COVID-19, compared with standard-of-care treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews results from Phase 3 trials when considering a drug approval.

Promising Treatment
Remdesivir is an antiviral, intravenous drug made by Gilead Sciences. It’s been available as an experimental compound for years, but has not been approved by the FDA for use in clinical treatment.

Jamey Schmidt, Director of Clinical Research at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), quickly saw the potential benefit to patients in partnering drug manufacturers (in this case, Gilead Sciences) with Sutter researchers and physicians skilled in clinical trial start-up and ready to help tackle the infectious disease outbreak.

“Sutter research is committed to bring this investigational treatment to Sutter physicians caring for patients infected with the novel coronavirus,” says Schmidt, who collaborated with Greg Tranah, Ph.D., CPMC’s Scientific Director, and Jennifer Ling, M.D., infectious disease specialist at CPMC and principal investigator of the remdesivir clinical trials at CPMC.

CPMC, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, Sutter Roseville Medical Center and Sutter Medical Center Sacramento are participating in the clinical trials of remdesivir, and other Sutter sites may enroll to the studies later this month.

“In response to this global health crisis, we’re proud that Sutter is helping lead efforts across Northern California and seeking new tools to combat this novel infection and lessen the virus’s impact,” says Dr. Ling. “Through research at Sutter, new discoveries will help determine the potential of remdesivir to help individual patients with COVID-19.”

Some patients who have been infected by the novel coronavirus and are severely ill may not meet the study criteria for enrollment in the clinical trials of remdesivir. Instead, they may qualify for treatment via Gilead Sciences’ expanded access program (EAP) for remdesivir. The EAP provides alternative access to the investigational drug for severely ill patients with COVID-19 who do not meet the clinical trials study criteria.

First developed in 2009 and used during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, remdesivir is being studied in multiple clinical trials worldwide to see if it is safe and effective against the coronavirus in humans. The drug was previously tested in animals infected by other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, and is now being tested in humans to determine if it can reduce the intensity and duration of COVID-19.

“Research at Sutter is helping deliver safe, high-quality care to our patients during this unprecedented pandemic,” says Leon Clark, Vice President, Chief Research and Health Equity Officer, Sutter Health. “By bringing innovation to the forefront of how we can best care for Sutter patients who acquire COVID-19, Sutter’s talented researchers are stepping up to the challenge presented by this global health crisis.”

April 29 Update:
Results from a clinical trial of remdesivir, an antiviral manufactured by Gilead Sciences, led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) were reported April 29, 2020. The findings suggest that hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19 and lung involvement who received remdesivir recovered faster than patients who received placebo, according to a preliminary data analysis from a randomized, controlled trial involving 1063 patients. The trial (known as the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial, or ACTT), sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, was the first clinical trial launched in the United States to evaluate remdesivir as an experimental treatment for COVID-19.

Additionally, Gilead Sciences also shared preliminary results today from the company’s open-label, Phase 3 SIMPLE trial evaluating five- and 10-day dosing durations of remdesivir in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. The study results demonstrated that patients receiving a 10-day treatment course of remdesivir achieved similar improvement in clinical status compared with those patients who were administered a five-day treatment course of the drug.

Sutter is not participating in the ACTT treatment trial nor the SIMPLE clinical trial. However, as described in the above article posted on April 8, Sutter is participating in the two Phase 3, randomized, controlled clinical trials that are testing remdesivir. Gilead Sciences has not yet disclosed when results of these clinical trials will be published. Clinical trials at Sutter testing investigational use of remdesivir will close to enrollment May 29, 2020.

May 4 Update:
On May 1, 2020, remdesivir received FDA Emergency Use Authorization for the treatment of COVID-19. The authorization enables the potential use of remdesivir to treat hospitalized patients suffering from severe COVID-19 disease in the U.S., outside of the context of an established clinical trial of the drug. Based on patients’ severity of disease, the authorization allows for five- and 10-day treatment durations.

Learn more about Sutter research and clinical trials.



Special Delivery: Mobile Clinic Brings Healthcare to S.F.’s Homeless

Posted on Apr 7, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Community Benefit, Expanding Access, Scroll Images

SAN FRANCISCO—Imagine if you were ordered to shelter in place and your only option was a homeless shelter. How would you get care for your existing health conditions?

For low-income or homeless people who live in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, the coronavirus outbreak is making what was already a difficult situation even more challenging. Fortunately for Tracey Gamedah, who suffers from mobility issues due to high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, the recently-launched HealthRIGHT 360 Mobile Healthcare Service brings the primary care she needs to her neighborhood, close to the women’s shelter where she is staying.

Watch Tracey Gamedah’s story:

“Sutter Health provided tremendous financial support to launch the medical mobile van and bring medical service to the vulnerable population right here on the streets of San Francisco,” says HealthRIGHT 360’s Stephanie Yeh, P.A., who cares for Gamedah.

Says Gamedah, “You can’t give up hope. I just knew that if I kept going that I would find help and I found it when I saw that truck outside.”

The HealthRIGHT 360 Mobile Healthcare Service is a collaborative effort with major support from Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC). Read more.

COVID-19: Sutter Health Receives Supply Donations – How to Help

Posted on Apr 3, 2020 in Community Benefit, Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized, Wellness

As Sutter Health, caregivers and staff work tirelessly to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and meet the needs of our patients across the network, an outpouring of support from the community, businesses and other generous partners has flooded in.

“We are so incredibly grateful for the donations and support we’ve received from people and organizations who want to help our frontline staff during these very challenging circumstances,” said Rishi Sikka, Sutter Health’s President of System Enterprises. “We are so proud of the heroic work they’re doing.”

New and protective N95 respirators and medical face masks, and thousands of new and reusable protective gowns are among the received and incoming supplies. Additionally, corporate foundations are acting quickly to donate thousands of iPads to help enable even more of our physicians to conduct video visits.

Other donors are finding more personal ways to demonstrate their gratitude. For example, Trader Joe’s donated grocery bags of food and flowers for frontline medical staff, a local business sent pizzas to help feed the staff, a flower wholesaler delivered fresh flowers around the entrance and on cars at one of Sutter’s hospitals as a way to thank the care providers – and grateful community members have created chalk art messages of appreciation on Sutter hospital sidewalks.

Sutter’s Supply Chain team also is working around the clock to acquire new products and equipment from as many sources as possible. As a result, despite the challenging and rapidly evolving environment, Sutter has been able to maintain a steady stream of supplies and distribute them across our system to where they are needed most, soit can keep patients and staff safe while prioritizing effective use of personalprotection equipment (PPE).

Currently, the donation areas of biggest need across the U.S. and at Sutter Health are:

  • Personal protective equipment—equipment such as N95 respirators and surgical or procedure masks in new and original packaging to help ensure supplies are safe and medical grade.
  • Blood product donations, which are essential to community health. Donations for blood have declined as many people have been staying home during the coronavirus outbreak. The Red Cross and Vitalant are seeking healthy individuals to donate blood. Visit redcross.org or vitalant.org to make an appointment to donate.

To make learn more about making a donation to Sutter Health and what supplies are needed, please visit the donations web page.

The Surprising Place Where COVID-19 Can Appear

Posted on Apr 3, 2020 in Carousel, Pediatric Care, Quality, Safety, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Uncategorized

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – If your child is in diapers or is being potty-trained, don’t poo-poo this advice. During this coronavirus pandemic, it may just save your life or that of a loved one.

Paul Walsh, M.D., medical director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, says that babies and small children may not show any signs at all of being sick with COVID-19. But the “presents” they’re leaving behind may be especially harmful as they could contain traces of the virus.

Dr. Walsh said hand-washing during this time is important for everyone, but it’s critical for those who are changing diapers or potty-training toddlers.

“One of the cases that came out of China was a child who was orphaned at 6 months old because he was shedding lots of the coronavirus, but had no symptoms whatsoever,” he said. “So remember to wash your hands thoroughly after every diaper change or potty time.”

Dr. Walsh admits that everyone is at risk for catching the virus, but children usually handle such sicknesses much better than adults do.

“Children have vigorous immune systems,” Dr. Walsh says. “It’s not just with this virus, but with most colds and other sicknesses. Their bodies aggressively fight off the sickness.”

With the first death of an infant who tested positive for COVID-19, Dr. Walsh said parents shouldn’t be too anxious.

“There’s no need to freak out,” he said, “but be vigilant with hand-washing and social distancing. Observe your children in their activities. And, especially, keep them away from seniors. They’re still the most at risk.”

Dr. Paul Walsh treats a child in the dedicated Pediatric Emergency Department at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.

A Welcome Mat for Wherever You Are

Posted on Apr 3, 2020 in Innovation, Scroll Images

Nothing beats the comfort of home. And while many of us are staying as safe as possible under our own roofs to help curb the spread of COVID-19, there are still those essential workers who head out the door to their jobs each day—including front line health care workers.

As healthcare organizations across the nation prepare for the surge of patients with COVID-19, there will be a need for front line health care workers and doctors to travel and meet areas of greatest need. And Sutter Health just made it easier for those front line staff.

Sutter is collaborating with the likes of the newly launched Airbnb Work , Outdoorsy and Aimbridge Hospitality to help support front line health care workers and doctors find temporary lodging around hospitals where they may be relocated to support. This service can help support healthcare workers who are self-isolating from their families or who need rest immediately after shifts, as they continue to care for others in need.

“Sutter Health is supporting our front line health care workers in many ways during this unprecedented public health emergency. We are seeking solutions to support our staff as they are caring for our patients and communities,” Jill Ragsdale, chief people and culture officer for Sutter Health. “This service helps remove the added pressure for staff caring for patients in other locations from finding temporary lodging while working away from home. We greatly appreciate how the greater community has opened their doors to support our care givers.”

This is one example of how Sutter Health is using the breadth of its integrated network to increase critical care capacity. The Airbnb Work service will be offered in several locations near existing Sutter hospitals including: Burlingame, Castro Valley, Modesto, Oakland/Berkeley, Roseville, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Tracy and Vallejo.

“The spirit of collaboration and innovation is exactly what’s needed right now as we tackle this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Chris Waugh, Sutter Health’s chief innovation officer. “We’re extremely pleased to partner with Airbnb and others to help support Sutter’s frontline healthcare workers who need temporary lodging near hospitals where they’ve been redeployed to care for patients. Through collaboration, we can help care for them while they care for others.”

Pregnancy, Birth and COVID-19: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Posted on Apr 2, 2020 in Affiliates, Scroll Images, Women's Services

SAN FRANCISCO – Pregnancy can often be filled with a lot of questions. Parents welcoming babies into the world right now face an unusual new set of fears. Health experts are reassuring expectant mothers and answering key concerns about pregnancy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Above everything, we don’t want moms to worry. Our teams are going to take good care of both mom and baby,” says Yuan-Da Fan, M.D., department chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

Pregnant mom using digital technology

Pregnancy Best Practices

Common sense hygiene—even when there isn’t a novel coronavirus among us—is the best way to avoid getting sick. Dr. Fan says that precautions are the same for pregnant women. He advises expectant mothers to, “wash your hands for a full 20 seconds as often as possible, and routinely clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.”

Katarina Lannér-Cusin, M.D., administrative director of Women’s Services at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, encourages pregnant women to “limit in–person social interaction and remain at home to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19.”

“If you’re pregnant and you are experiencing potential COVID-19 symptoms, such as a high fever (greater than 100.3), sore throat and dry cough, contact your primary care physician to see if you should have testing done,” says William Isenberg, M.D., OB-GYN and VP, chief quality and safety officer at Sutter Health.

Preparing for Birth

“Staying positive is the best thing for pregnancy,” says CPMC’s Dr. Fan. Anxiety isn’t good for anyone—but especially expectant mothers. Click here for tips on limiting anxiety from a Sutter mental health expert.

Additionally, pregnant women should engage in frequent communication with your OB-GYN as your pregnancy progresses. Talk to your care team about your options for virtual appointments like video visits through My Health Online as well as taking childbirth classes via online platforms such as YouTube, Zoom, and Skype.

The Big Day Arrives: What to Expect at the Hospital

Labor and delivery units across the Sutter Health not-for-profit network of care are putting measures into place aimed at keeping expectant mothers and their newborns safe. Sutter hospitals have also instituted temperature checks for all visitors and staff before entering any of the facilities.

William M. Gilbert, M.D., regional medical director for women’s services, Sutter Health Valley Region in Sacramento, wants to let all patients know that Sutter is following all recommended procedures to keep our mothers and their babies safe even if this may mean some inconveniences for our families. Limiting numbers of visitors is just one example to help prevent COVID-19 infection.

“This is an unprecedented situation and our top priority is to protect the health of mothers and newborns. So, for safety’s sake, laboring mothers are allowed one support person, such as a spouse or partner, to accompany them to the delivery room and remain postpartum. The support person must be healthy and thoroughly wash their hands,” says Alta Bates Summit’s Dr. Lannér-Cusin. “We’re also encouraging new parents to use technology like FaceTime to connect with friends and family after the baby is born.”

For pregnant moms who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are considered a “person under investigation” when you go into labor, you’ll likely be placed in a negative pressure room, where the ventilation system is sealed off from the rest of the facility, and physicians and staff wear additional personal protective equipment.

Positive New Research

According to Dr. Fan, who has consulted with colleagues in Wuhan, China, by Skype, early research shows that pregnant women may be at no greater risk for contracting COVID-19 than other healthy adults. In smaller recent studies completed since the outbreak began, Dr. Fan says doctors in China found that no infants born to mothers with COVID-19 tested positive for COVID-19 viral infection. Additional cases showed the virus was not passed to newborns from their mothers’ amniotic fluid or breastmilk (Lancet study here).

Postpartum Support

Giving birth during a pandemic isn’t ideal and it’s important to be realistic about what to expect.

“Consider building your virtual village to keep yourself connected,” says Dr. Isenberg.

After your baby is born, talk to your provider about what appointments can be done virtually—for you and your baby. Explore new ways to connect. For example, if you were preparing to go to ‘mommy and me’ classes after your new baby arrives, you may want to investigate virtual meet-ups up via Google Hangouts with other new moms in your area. Remember, staying connected through a screen is better than total isolation, especially if you were planning on having a family member stay with you during your first few weeks post-partum to help care for you and your new baby.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit Sutter Health’s resources page.

Making Conversations Around COVID-19 Kid-Friendly

Posted on Apr 1, 2020 in Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

How can parents/guardians provide reassurance to children when a lot remains unknown? COVID-19 has changed our world in a short amount of time—and perhaps the course of history—but how can parents talk to kids about it now?

Krystle Balduzzi, M.D., pediatrician at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, suggests that parents/guardians acknowledge that the situation affects adults just like it affects kids. Families are watching the news or absorbing information via social media trying to find the answers that will make each other feel safe. This is where parents and caretakers can model good behavior by sharing emotions in a healthy way and encouraging children to do the same. “In order to help our kids we need to help ourselves first,” she says. “We need to understand the extreme fluid nature of this whole situation.”

Creating a Safe Place to Share

Most kids know about the coronavirus and will have questions. Dr. Balduzzi suggests parents and guardians need to ask and answer questions about COVID-19 in an age-appropriate way. “Saying everything will be fine or ‘don’t worry about it’ won’t cut it,” she says. “Reassure the child that they are safe and that everyone is working together even though we can’t be with others.”

How IS the Family Helping?

Dr. Balduzzi suggests focusing on ways the family is helping the situation: washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, keeping distance between themselves and others, making sidewalk art for neighbors or donating supplies to those in need. Children may also have questions about when they can return to friends or school. Dr. Balduzzi recommends being honest and saying no one knows yet. Rather, encourage children to help think of other ways to stay connected, like virtual visits with friends, teachers or extended family.

Finding a New Norm

Children crave structure, says Dr. Balduzzi, so getting them back into a schedule as much as possible is key. It’s important for parents and caretakers to get older kids’ input on the structure they would like to create for themselves. For those caring for younger ones, charts can help visually signal how they can stay on track. “We are now their teachers, too, and schools run on schedules, so we should considering doing the same,” she says. Dr. Balduzzi recommends keeping things simple at first: wake up, get dressed, school time, craft time, lunch, outdoor time, etc.

Family Bonds

For those in the immediate household, this is a time to stay close and connected. Hug your child, play with them at their age-appropriate level or cuddle on the couch for a movie. Dr. Balduzzi states that this will help kids feel safe. When kids don’t feel safe, they tend to act out. This behavior change can include temper tantrums, new bedwetting or fear of the dark. For older children, this can include more risk-taking behaviors. “We need to create a safe, calm environment so that their growing minds can process what’s going on around them,” she says. Dr. Balduzzi also emphasizes that it is important for parents to acknowledge that they are human and to always forgive themselves if they have a breakdown. “Sometimes we need to get it out in order to move on,” she says. “These are trying times for everyone and the saying ‘we are all in it together’ never held more meaning than it does now.”

COVID-19: Sutter Health Accepting Medical Supply Donations to Help Frontline Staff

Posted on Mar 23, 2020 in Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Like all hospitals and health systems during this unprecedented health emergency, Sutter Health anticipates a shortage of medical supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We are pursuing additional avenues to bolster and conserve our supplies, so we can meet critical community need while maintaining patient and frontline staff safety,” says Rishi Sikka, M.D., president of Sutter Health System Enterprises. “Our team is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from community members who want to help our frontline staff and integrated network.”

Sutter is asking for business and community donations of the following new items in original packaging to help ensure supplies are safe and medical grade:

• N95 masks
• Powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) Hoods
• Surgical masks
• Procedure masks
• Isolation gowns
• Paper masks (with ties or elastic)
• Paper protective gowns
• Protective glasses/goggles
• Industrial face shields (e.g., industrial face shields)
• Painters smocks (impermeable)

To make a donation, please contact your local Sutter affiliate or call 1-844-987-6099. A Sutter Health representative will provide specific guidance on how to make a delivery. For large local donations, we can also send a courier. Our top priority continues to be the health and safety of our patients, providers and communities. Thank you for your generous support.

To obtain a tax deduction for non-cash contribution over $500, donors may be required to submit IRS Form 8283 with their tax returns. The form is available here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8283.pdf and includes instructions on how to complete. Additional questions can be directed to giving@sutterhealth.org.

An Open Letter from M.D.s

Posted on Mar 21, 2020 in Safety, Scroll Images

By: Warren Browner, M.D., MPH and Stephen Lockhart, M.D., PhD

As physicians, we want you to know why we are so concerned about the novel coronavirus/COVID-19.

Some of you may have heard that it’s a minor inconvenience, like a bad cold. So far, that’s true for the majority (but not nearly all!) of people who are young and healthy. However, that’s only a very small part of the story. Here’s the rest:

• Up to one in five of those infected with the coronavirus will get pneumonia and have to be treated in a hospital, often for a few weeks.
• So far in the U.S., more young and middle-aged people have needed hospitalization than in China.
• In those who are infected and over age 70, especially those with underlying health problems, up to one in 15 to 20 will die.

Coronavirus needs people like all of us to multiply and spread. So what matters is not just whether you get sick, but also whether you pass the virus to other people. None of us—except maybe those who have recovered from COVID-19—are immune to it. All of us are potential carriers who can be infected without knowing it.

Right now, on average, every infected person passes coronavirus to two or three other people, who in turn infect two to three others. After only 10 cycles, a single original person can infect 20,000 people in only four or six weeks. Much of Northern California will be infected in no time if we don’t act now.

If we can reduce social contacts by one-third, the number of people who will need to be hospitalized will drop 20-fold. If we do even better, and can reduce social contacts by two-thirds, the pandemic will end. This helps buy time for clinical teams and other scientists to determine what treatments work. We will give hospitals more time to prepare—and keep the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

How do we do this? By staying away from other people, which means anyone outside your immediate household, including friends and relatives. That means avoiding:

• Birthday parties
• Sleepovers
• Play-dates or meet-ups
• Public places (like playgrounds) where virus particles can linger
• Air travel or sitting too close to someone on public transit

Other important notes to keep your home virus-free:

• Leave only if absolutely necessary and head straight back as soon as your errand is done.
• Exercise out of the house alone or with just members of your household.
• If you buy groceries or cook meal for neighbors who cannot get out, call to let them know you are coming by, and leave your delivery outside their front door.
• If you do go out, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds as soon as you can, preferably before you touch any surfaces in your home.
• Make sure that people—like kids—who can’t or don’t follow these instructions are kept away from those who are especially vulnerable, like their grandparents or someone with a chronic disease.
• Think about possible exposures. A card or tennis game with friends may sound like fun, but the virus travels on the cards or the tennis balls. Play only with those in your immediate household.

A virus-free home is only as strong as its weakest link, so please stick to the approach, as difficult as it may seem. Following these guidelines can help the nurses, doctors, first responders, pharmacists and grocery store employees continue doing their jobs to support you.

If you do need us, our teams are equipped to provide you with high-quality care while protecting the safety of our care providers. Our staff are well trained to address infectious respiratory illnesses, including coronavirus. If you are sick, and don’t require emergency care, call your doctor before coming in. Do a video visit. Know that if you need care, we’re here for you.

Stay safe. Stay six feet away.

Dr. Browner, an internist, is the CEO of Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center. He has a master’s degree in public health in epidemiology and is an adjunct professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF. Dr. Lockhart, Sutter Health’s chief medical officer, has a PhD in biostatistics and is a trained anesthesiologist.

Practical Tips to Reduce Anxiety During Uncertain Times

Posted on Mar 18, 2020 in Scroll Images

Times of uncertainty—like the global COVID-19 pandemic—can spike anxiety in many people. Lives are upended and routines are erased. Schools are closed. Loved ones 65 years and above are homebound. Employees are working from home exclusively. And more importantly, as the number of COVID-19 cases rise across the U.S., causing concern for public health and the health of those closest to us.

How does one find solace during these difficult times? Urmi Patel, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and director, clinical care for Sutter Mental Health Services, provides practical suggestions for those who feel unsure and overwhelmed during this unprecedented time.

Meaningful Engagement
Social isolation may appear unavoidable right now, so it’s more important than ever to work together as a family and stay connected as a community. Dr. Patel suggests checking in on friends and family via phone calls or video chats. “Talk about things outside of COVID-19 to remind one another there are many other things to focus on during difficult times,” she says.

Modeling
Dr. Patel says children will look to their parents’ or caretakers’ behaviors and emotional responses for cues on how to manage their own emotions during difficult times. Address children’s concerns or anxiety together as a family so they also see how their parents or caretakers are managing theirs.

Management
Information is everywhere and it can be extremely valuable as the COVID-19 situation evolves. However, people should consider limiting their exposure to social media or the Internet if they find themselves overwhelmed by the information. “If need be, consider looking to trusted sources of information, such as the CDC or news media outlets, to get important information daily,” says Dr. Patel.

Movement
Given social distancing is recommended throughout the world, consider implementing other forms of physical activity in the home or outdoors, if permitted. Simple daily physical exercises can be helpful to maintain a sense of health and balance.

Mindful
Mindfulness goes beyond one’s self-awareness and acceptance—it means being conscious of others. COVID-19 is impacting many countries and individuals around the world. Dr. Patel recommends not attaching the pandemic to one ethnicity or nationality, and not avoiding others due to stigma or fear. “Try to remain kind to each other during this stressful time,” she says.

Car Clinics: The Dual Benefit of Drive-Through Care

Posted on Mar 17, 2020 in Carousel, Expanding Access, Innovation, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Quality, Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Power cords, data cables and sanitation supplies topped Raymond Fellers long list.

No, Fellers wasn’t preparing to isolate during the COVID-19 outbreak—quite the opposite—he was opening the first ever “car clinic” at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s San Carlos Center. One of several across the Sutter network, the car clinic is designed as an in-person option for PAMF patients with serious respiratory symptoms who have already talked to a provider by phone or video visit.

“We’re solving two problems at once,” said Dr. Rob Nordgren, M.D., MBA, MPH and area CEO of PAMF peninsula region. “By keeping potentially contagious people in their car it means that doctors can assess and treat their symptoms, while minimizing exposure to patients who need routine or urgent care inside the medical facility.”

Making use of a covered garage, a procession of patients – each in their personal car – flowed through a series of stations that comprised the clinic. Every station had a laptop connected to Sutter’s electronic health record and the basic medical equipment you’d find in a regular exam room. A portable X-ray machine was even set up outside to help diagnose lung infections.

Arnold Layung, a licensed vocational nurse who usually sterilizes instruments during surgery, brought his sanitation skills to the car clinic.

“The key here, just like in the operating room, is to have one person per job so no steps are missed,” remarked Layung as he disinfected stethoscopes and other equipment after each use. Filling the role of medical technician, Layung was paired with a physician and registered nurse to form a three-person team—each in full gowns, goggles, gloves and masks—who saw patients through their open car window or in a chair just outside their vehicle.

With a background in emergency medicine, Dr. Nathan Bornstein knows the importance of conserving hospital capacity for those with acute illness. “My job out here is to find the people who need to be escalated to a higher level of care, while also helping people manage serious symptoms so they can safely return home,” he said.

Many of the patients who came through the car clinic had existing respiratory conditions, like asthma, which make them prone to serious breathing difficulty if their lungs are put under added strain. For these patients showing symptoms of a virus, Dr. Bornstein ordered a flu test. In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Dr. Bornstein also collected samples for COVID-19 testing from symptomatic patients in high-risk groups, such as those with certain pre-existing conditions, epidemiologic or social risk factors.

Dr. Bornstein listened to each patient’s lungs, and if indicated, ordered X-ray or CT scans to detect infection. Finally, Dr. Bornstein reviewed current medications to determine if a dosage change or new prescription would help ease a patient’s symptoms enough to keep them out of the hospital.

Every person had their temperature, respiration rate, heart rate and oxygen saturation checked and each left with a personalized plan for what to do if their symptoms worsened.

PAMF’s San Carlos Center is one location within Sutter Health’s integrated network that supports car clinics. This service is not available in all locations, nor is it open to the general public.

Sutter encourages patients who feel ill to schedule a video visit or call their doctor to receive guidance. If one’s symptoms are mild to moderate, they are encouraged to stay home to rest, get well and prevent exposure to others.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit Sutter Health’s resources page.

What is Social Distancing and Why is it Important?

Posted on Mar 16, 2020 in Safety, Scroll Images

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California Governor Gavin Newsom, echoing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is calling for the state’s bars, wineries and nightclubs to close and for restaurants to observe social distancing to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The governor is also recommending home isolation for people over the age of 65 and for those with chronic health conditions. According to the CDC, social distancing can be key to helping slow the spread of respiratory infections such as COVID-19.

Courtesy of San Francisco Marin Medical Society

Sutter infectious disease expert Jeffrey Silvers, M.D., agrees with the CDC, explaining, “Slowing the spread of COVID-19 with protective measures such as social distancing is critical to avoid a situation where hospitals are overwhelmed by large numbers of patients who need advanced care all at the same time.”

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones, according to Dr. Silvers, is to avoid being exposed to COVID-19.

Seven Simple Things You Can Do:
• Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the best way to kill corona virus on your hands.
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol when soap and water are unavailable.
• Avoid shaking hands and touching your face.
• Stay home.
• Work from home if possible.
• Avoid large crowds. When you must go out, keep your distance from others and maintain a distance of about six feet.
• Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces that may harbor viruses such as doorknobs, faucets and cell phones.

More Resources:
Watch these videos to learn about COVID-19 and how viruses spread from Sutter’s Chief Quality and Safety Officer, Bill Isenberg, M.D. Learn how to properly wash your hands, what to do when you’re feeling ill and when to contact a caregiver.

Sutter Health’s Information about COVID-19 page is another handy resource.

Sutter Health is committed to the health and safety of our communities. If you’re concerned you may have COVID-19, please call your doctor or healthcare provider before visiting a care facility.

Food Safety During COVID-19

Posted on Mar 16, 2020 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Tips to keep you safe

Many people are making trips to the grocery store or using food delivery services right now. So how do you know your food is virus-free when it gets to your doorstep?

According to the USDA, “We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illness that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.” However, experts say it’s still important to follow good food hygiene.

Here are simple steps you can take to try and limit your exposure to coronavirus. Many of these tips will sound familiar, but they are good reminders.

Wash your hands
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. This is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others in your home from the spread of germs. Remember to clean the ‘webs’ between fingers and thumbs. Don’t have access to soap and water? Use hand sanitizers.


Wash your produce
Whether you’re concerned about the coronavirus or not, you should always wash your produce. For hard-skinned produce, scrub skins or peels with a soft-bristled vegetable brush. For other types of produce, including leafy greens, soak in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Plain water is fine. You can also use a little dish soap. However, do not use bleach or chlorine on your fruits and veggies. Still concerned? Try fruits that can be peeled such as bananas, oranges and apples.

Wash nonporous containers
Use dish soap on metal cans, plastic containers and glass jars before putting them away. It’s also a good idea to wash you hands after opening containers and boxes.

Keep your kitchen area clean
Use disinfectants to clean your surfaces such as countertops, your refrigerator door handle, sink handle and cabinet knobs. This will not only kill viruses but also help you avoid food-borne illness from possible cross contamination.


Cook food properly
You can help ensure you’re cooking food at the correct heat, by using a food thermometer. Check the government’s safe cooking temperature chart.

“Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and other foods rich in antioxidants has consistently been shown to increase overall health, including our immune systems,” says William Isenberg, M.D., Sutter’s chief quality and safety officer. “Staying healthy increases the body’s ability to fight infections. “

By taking a few common-sense precautions, such as frequent hand-washing and washing produce, consumers can continue to reap the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Isenberg’s bottom line advice: “Use serious concern and precaution, but do not panic and give up healthy food that’s good for your mind and body.”

For more food safety tips click here.

The Doctor is In: Three Videos Cut through COVID-19 Confusion

Posted on Mar 13, 2020 in Safety, Scroll Images

SACRAMENTO, CALIF.— With the World Health Organization’s recent declaration of a COVID-19 pandemic, an avalanche of advice from a variety of sources—some of it accurate, some of it misleading or even downright dangerous— can be overwhelming for anyone.

Now Sutter offers three short videos to help cut through the confusion and misinformation so people can better protect themselves and their loved ones. The videos feature Bill Isenberg, M.D., Sutter’s Chief Quality and Safety Officer.

How to Avoid Getting Sick: The simple steps everyone can take to help avoid contracting COVID-19.

What to Do When You Feel Sick: You don’t feel well. Now what? Dr. Isenberg explains.

When to Call the Doctor: Dr. Isenberg explains the symptoms that may signal more help is needed and next steps—whether it’s checking symptoms on Sutter’s symptom checker, calling the advice nurse or scheduling a video visit.

The Sutter Health not-for-profit integrated network of care is dedicated to the health and well-being of patients throughout Northern California. For more information about COVID-19, please visit Sutter’s resource page.

Live Oak Health and Housing Campus Moves Closer to Reality

Posted on Mar 6, 2020 in Carousel, Community Benefit, Expanding Access, Scroll Images, Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center, Santa Cruz, Uncategorized, Wellness

Courtesy of Santa Cruz Community Health and Dientes Community Dental Care.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Santa Cruz Community Health (SCCH) and Dientes Community Dental Care (Dientes), today announced a $1 million dollar investment from Sutter Health to support the construction and operation of a 19,000-square-foot medical clinic to be run by SCCH and 11,000-square-foot dental clinic to be run by Dientes on the future site of a health and housing campus that will benefit the Live Oak community.

Rendering of the Santa Cruz Community Health medical clinic.

An Investment in Infrastructure

The future site of the health and housing campus is the ideal location for much-needed services. Supervisor John Leopold notes, “Five years ago there were no medical offices in Live Oak. A community of our size needs good access to medical and dental services and housing that is affordable to all families. This new development will help everyone in the community from small children to families to seniors.” The campus – the first of its kind in Santa Cruz County – will integrate the strengths and services of its three owners:

  • SCCH has been serving the medical and mental health needs of underserved Santa Cruz County residents since 1980, with a special focus on families.
  • Dientes has an over 25-year track record of providing affordable, high-quality and comprehensive dental care through three existing clinics and an outreach program.
  • MidPen Housing, already owns and manages 13 affordable housing communities in Santa Cruz County, providing residents with supportive services.

“Planning for this project started in 2017, and I’m so pleased we are starting to secure large contributions that will make construction possible,” said Dientes CEO Laura Marcus. “Sutter Health has a proven track record of improving the health in this region, so it was no surprise that the not-for-profit system that includes Palo Alto Medical Foundation stepped up to help. This is truly a remarkable demonstration of how we can collaborate for the overall good of our community.”

Sutter Health has committed $1 million dollars, over five years, to the construction and operation of both clinics on the campus. SCCH will receive $160,000 and Dientes will receive $40,000 each year through 2023.

“As a not-for-profit health network, Sutter focuses on improving the health of those inside and outside the walls of our hospitals and care centers,” said Stephen Gray, chief administrative officer for Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center of Santa Cruz and operations executive of Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz. “We know that when people have access to preventive screening and routine healthcare, their health improves. This investment builds on Sutter’s commitment to improve the health of the entire community we serve.”

Rendering of the Dientes Community Dental Care dental clinic.

Capital Campaign is Ongoing

“Projects like this one can transform communities. This initiative will bring affordable healthcare and housing to the heart of Live Oak – providing a lifeline to families, adults and seniors,” said SCCH CEO Leslie Conner. “We hope the early funding we’ve secured will be a catalyst for more donations in the coming weeks and months.”

The integrated, state-of-the-art health and housing campus will address a triple-goal of increasing access to healthcare, growing affordable housing, and creating economic opportunity. The project will provide health services to 10,000 patients annually and affordable housing for 57 households. In addition, it will create more than 60 new jobs.

Dientes and Santa Cruz Community Health will break ground on their clinic in 2020 and open in 2021. MidPen will break ground on the housing component in 2021 and open in 2022.

Renderings, photos and more information about the project is available here

Sutter Lakeside Hospital Welcomes Scott Knight as Chief Administrative Officer

Posted on Feb 13, 2020 in Carousel, People, Scroll Images, Sutter Lakeside Hospital, Uncategorized

LAKEPORT, Calif. – Sutter Health announced today it has selected Scott Knight as chief administrative officer of Sutter Lakeside Hospital, effective Feb. 3. Knight was previously Assistant Administrator of Sutter Tracy Community Hospital.

“Scott is committed to serving the community, as he demonstrated by serving on the boards of both the Tracy and Ripon Chambers of Commerce,” said Julie Petrini, president and CEO of Hospitals, Sutter Health Bay Area. “I know Scott is eager to bring this passion for community to his new role at Sutter Lakeside.”

About Scott Knight

Scott earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in Health Care Administration from University of Washington. Scott has a broad healthcare background in finance, revenue cycle, planning, business development, marketing and community relations, operations, and administration.

While at Sutter Tracy, Scott provided leadership for non-nursing operations and business development. During his tenure, Sutter Tracy received patient safety awards from various organizations, and in 2020 was awarded a CMS 5-star rating – the highest ranking possible – for overall performance on quality measures including readmission rates, safety of care and patient experience.

About Sutter Health

Sutter Health is more than 60,000 people strong thanks to its integrated network of physicians, employees and volunteers. Rooted in Sutter Health’s not-for-profit mission, these team members partner to deliver exceptional care that feels personal. From physician offices to hospitals to outpatient care centers and home services, they proudly support the more than 3 million people in their care—nearly 1 percent of the U.S. population, in one of the most diverse and innovative regions in the world. Sutter team members adopt new technologies, make novel discoveries and embrace creative thinking to help patients and communities achieve their best health. From its street nurse program that provides check-ups for homeless people, to telemedicine-aided specialist consultations, to walk-in care clinics, to video visits, the Sutter Health team goes beyond traditional models to make care more convenient and to nurture and empower people throughout their healthcare journey.

For more information about the Sutter Health network visit: sutterhealth.org| facebook.com/sutterhealth| youtube.com/sutterhealth| twitter.com/sutterhealth

To Prevent Stroke, Start with the Heart

Posted on Feb 13, 2020 in Affiliates, Cardiac, Carousel, Expanding Access, Innovation, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Neuroscience, Quality, Research, Scroll Images, We're Awesome, Women's Services

BURLINGAME, Calif. – Does it sometimes feel like there are butterflies in your chest? Does your heart race or skip a beat? If it’s not your crush making your heart go pitter-pat, it could be a common heart condition called atrial fibrillation or AFib for short. This Valentine’s Day, take heart and consider seeing an expert if you are experiencing these symptoms. After all, AFib dramatically increases the odds of having a life-threatening stroke.

“Stroke occurs when arteries in the brain are either blocked by a blood clot or burst under high pressure,” said Ilana Spokoyny, M.D., neurologist who cares for patients at Sutter’s Mills-Peninsula Medical Center. “So when we talk about stroke prevention, it’s natural that we emphasize how to keep clots from forming or keep blood pressure regulated—and both start with the heart.”

Heart health and stroke prevention were the focus of a recent educational event, hosted by United Airlines, and led by Sutter Health. Attendees toured Northern California’s only Mobile Stroke Unit – a specialized ambulance that has the staff and equipment on-board to start stroke treatment while enroute to a hospital – and heard from the unit’s director, Dr. Spokoyny, about two common heart conditions that increase stroke risk.

Atrial fibrillation

AFib is caused when the upper part of your heart beats out of sync with the lower half. While not usually life-threatening by itself, AFib alters the normal function of the heart which leads to the formation of blood clots in the heart. Eventually these clots are pumped out of the heart and can travel to the brain where they causes a stroke.

According to Dr. Spokoyny, nearly one in every six strokes is the result of AFib, and these strokes are often more serious. “Not only are AFib patients nearly five times more likely to suffer a stroke than those without the condition, AFib-related strokes are nearly twice as fatal and twice as disabling as non-AFib-related strokes.”

“AFib may be asympomatic or symptoms show up intermittently, and because they come and go many people don’t take them seriously,” Dr. Spokoyny explained. “We need to spread the word that you shouldn’t ignore the butterfly feeling in your chest or dismiss the occasional fatigue or shortness of breath you experience.” When diagnosed, AFib is treatable with medication or medical procedures, including surgery, to reduce your risk of stroke.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure increases the strain on blood vessels transporting blood throughout your body. When blood is routinely pumped through arteries at a higher than optimal pressure, the arteries may become weakened or narrowed, creating conditions where they burst or clog more easily.

Dr. Spokoyny reminds patients that high blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for stroke. “About three out of four people who have a stroke for the first time have high blood pressure.” High blood pressure often presents along with atrial fibrillation. The good news is that blood pressure can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications.

Expertise in action

Not-for-profit Sutter Health encourages doctors to work across specialties to ensure that patients receive high quality, coordinated care. Sutter includes sixteen Primary Stroke Centers across its integrated network.

Fourteen Sutter Hospitals Honored for Reducing C-Sections

Posted on Dec 13, 2019 in Pediatric Care, Quality, Scroll Images, Uncategorized, Women's Services

Cal Hospital Compare award recognizes hospitals meeting national goal.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sutter hospitals, which have among the lowest cesarean section (C-section) rates in California, were recognized today by the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) for reducing cesarean births for first-time moms with low-risk pregnancies. Fourteen hospitals at the not-for-profit health care network were named to the state’s 2019 Maternity Care Honor Roll, nine of which have been recognized on this honor roll for four consecutive years. Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of CHHS, announced the honor roll recognition on behalf of Cal Hospital Compare, a performance reporting initiative informed by representatives from hospitals, purchasers, health plans, and consumer groups. The following Sutter hospitals were named to the 2019 Maternity Care Honor Roll:

  • Alta Bates Summit Medical Center – Alta Bates Campus 
  • California Pacific Medical Center – Mission Bernal Campus 
  • Eden Medical Center 
  • Memorial Medical Center 
  • Memorial Hospital Los Banos
  • Mills-Peninsula Medical Center 
  • Sutter Davis Hospital 
  • Sutter Delta Medical Center 
  • Sutter Lakeside Hospital 
  • Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center of Santa Cruz 
  • Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento 
  • Sutter Roseville Medical Center 
  • Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital 
  • Sutter Solano Medical Center

“Improving the quality of patient care in hospitals is critically important,” said CHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “These annual measurements through Cal Hospital Compare allow us to acknowledge hospitals doing excellent work.”

When complications arise during pregnancy, C-sections can save the lives of mothers and infants, but some women undergo the surgery for no medical reason, exposing both mother and baby to potentially avoidable risks. To respond to the rise in unnecessary C-sections, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services adopted the Healthy People 2020 target of reducing nationwide C-section rates for low-risk, first-births to 23.9 percent. The Maternity Care Honor Roll acknowledges hospitals that have achieved—and in many cases gone beyond—that goal. The Sutter Health system NTSV C-section Rate for a rolling 12 months ending October 31, 2019 was 20.8 percent, well below the 23.9 national goal.

“Over the last decade, Sutter Health has developed and implemented many programs to improve the care and safety of mothers and babies through pregnancy, labor and delivery,” said Sutter Health Chief Medical Officer Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D.. “We’ve worked hard to enhance quality and safety at our hospitals to ensure we have among the lowest C-section rates in California, rates which are experienced equitably by mothers of all races and ethnicities—so it’s especially gratifying to receive recognition for leadership in this area.”

Sutter hospitals consistently outperform state and national averages for many measures of quality, and Sutter Health is committed to accurately and transparently sharing quality data with patients. The Sutter Hospital Quality Dashboard allows patients to learn more about the care provided throughout Sutter’s integrated network. In addition, patients are encouraged to talk with their doctors and nurses about any questions or specific outcomes related to their care.

Food Rx: Sutter Health Invests $265,000 to Support Community Food Banks

Posted on Nov 19, 2019 in Carousel, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Working with partners to provide nutritious food is one more way Sutter helps keep communities healthy.

Read More

Dedication to Duty: Blackouts and a Wildfire Won’t Stop Sutter Nurses

Posted on Nov 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

A spine injury at age 19 left Santa Rosa resident Ken Kilgore with paralysis in both his arms and legs. Bedbound and dependent on a special electric mattress that circulates air to prevent bedsores, Kilgore was nervous about the planned power shutoffs, until his bigger fear came true: an evacuation order.

Kilgore was one of approximately 150 patients routinely seen in their homes by the staff of Sutter Care at Home in Sonoma County who had to evacuate in response to the Kincade Fire. Through the uncertainty, fear and displacement, Kilgore says there was one constant: his nurse Paige Medeiros and the whole Sutter Care at Home family. “I must have gotten three calls a day from Sutter,” remembers Kilgore who is now safely back at home.

While the wildfire raged and blackouts rolled, Medeiros worked every day to make sure patients who rely on Sutter Care at Home had an in-person visit, or when that wasn’t possible, repeated phone calls to check on symptoms, give medical advice and guide patients to in-person care options as needed.

“These are people with feeding tubes, IV pumps, wound vacuums or special air mattresses like Ken’s,” Medeiros explained. “These are very frail patients that have high medical needs and are all homebound.” Working down a list, Medeiros drove to each patient’s house or the location where they’d been evacuated to, and checked if they needed supplies or nursing services, seeing to the needs of her regular patients and several patients who were normally cared for by other nurses, who had themselves been evacuated.

“It was a real team effort,” recalls Medeiros. “All of my co-workers and the whole Sutter family pitched in.”

Medeiros praised a nurse who drove from Marin to Mendocino (approximately 131 miles one way) to give a patient an in-home infusion (a special treatment that not all nurses can provide) and another who problem-solved through a four-day power outage, charging patients’ phones from her car battery and driving medical devices to the community resource center to be charged before returning them to her homebound patients.

James Conforti, chief operating officer for Sutter Health, knows that staff work tirelessly to provide quality care to patients. “Sutter’s integrated network allows us to coordinate care and contact patients. From filling prescriptions, rescheduling appointments to keeping vital chemotherapy infusions on track, we make sure our patients have continuity of care. The resilience of our staff and community never ceases to amaze me.”

But perhaps Kilgore said it best: “It’s not just a job to them—they really care about us.”

Preparedness Tips for Power Shutoffs

Posted on Oct 31, 2019 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Many Northern California communities have been impacted by PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) throughout the last month.

When PSPS plans are announced, we work with PG&E to identify facilities located in potential outage areas and implement preparedness protocols to minimize potential impacts. Sutter is also able to leverage the strength of our integrated network to help keep patients connected to care.

As additional shutoffs are announced, or you prepare for colder winter weather, consider these personal preparedness tips to help safely manage power outages.

  • Make sure you and your family are prepared for an outage at home, helpful information can be found at: prepareforpowerdown.com
  • Have emergency supplies, food and water.
  • Consider a backup plan for your refrigerated and frozen foods. Buy ice at the grocery store and place needed items and prescriptions in coolers.
  • Have a plan for child and pet care, should school or work places be affected, or your normal schedule change.
  • Fill up your gas tank in advance of known power outages.
  • Allow for extra travel time as traffic signals may be out, and limit travel when possible.
  • Be cautious when using open flame light/heating sources and generators, as they can be dangerous.
  • If you receive home healthcare support, ensure your provider has contact information to reach you, as well as your emergency contacts.

Find out more about the shutoffs at pge.com or call PG&E at (866) 743-6589

Antibody Testing of Healthcare Workers May Show Spread of COVID-19

Posted on Jun 1, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Innovation, Quality, Research, Safety, Scroll Images

antibody tests

A new study launching at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) will use antibody tests to identify front-line doctors who have developed antibodies against the virus. Antibody tests (also called “serology tests” because they use blood samples) are used to determine if someone is producing antibodies to defend against the virus.

“A powerful way to help limit the spread of COVID-19 is to facilitate early and accurate diagnoses of viral infections and appropriate quarantine for those infected,” says Greg Tranah, Ph.D., scientific director of CPMC’s Research Institute, director of Sutter’s Center for Precision Medicine Research, and lead researcher of the new physician serology study at CPMC.

Current methods diagnose COVID-19 are valid, but can have limitations when it comes to tracking disease patterns. Serology tests show some promise in this area, for use in certain circumstances.

“Serology tests may help identify people who have been exposed to the virus even weeks after an initial infection, including people who did not show symptoms. Other studies of COVID-19 ‘seropositivity’ can reveal the extent of viral exposure, as well as the timing of first exposure and increasing rates of exposure,” says Dr. Tranah.

The new serology study aims to enroll intensivists, emergency department doctors, infectious disease specialists, anesthesiologists, hospitalists, surgeons and internal medicine residents at CPMC.

Beginning May 18, blood samples will be collected from study participants every eight weeks through 2020. The samples will be tested for the presence of antibodies produced in response to prior COVID-19 exposure. Study participants will be asked to answer a brief questionnaire to determine if they have experienced symptoms of COVID-19.

“We’re using a two-step serology test that can process multiple samples concurrently with high reliability, sensitivity and specificity,”(1) says Jose Montoya, M.D., an infectious disease specialist working at Sutter’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation who is collaborating with Dr. Tranah on the study.

Serology tests with high sensitivity and specificity are less likely to have false-positive or false-negative results and a more meaningful predictive value.

Results of the blood tests will be stored in a database, and rates of seropositivity will be compared across medical specialties bi-monthly. “Longitudinal serology testing will allow us to track rates of seropositivity among different physician specialty groups and study the duration and intensity of immune response to COVID-19,” says Dr. Tranah.

There is no current evidence that people who have detectable antibodies are immune to re-infection from COVID-19 or what the timeframe of immunity is, if any. Until more evidence is available, antibody tests should not be used to make decisions related to social distancing or the use of personal protective equipment.

“Understanding the surge of infection rate and spread is an important part of preparedness. Epidemiological studies of emerging COVID-19 infections can help determine the burden of disease, develop better estimates of morbidity and mortality, and help complement the results of PCR tests,” says Dr. Tranah.

Learn more about COVID-19 tests by following our Educational Series on this topic.

Reference:

  1. Nirmidas Biotech Rapid Test for COVID-19 IgM/IgG.

Can a Long-acting, Injectable Drug Prevent HIV Infections?

Posted on May 31, 2020 in Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Community Benefit, Expanding Access, Innovation, People, Quality, Research, Scroll Images

Christopher Hall, M.D., knows well the uncertainty and fear sparked by an infectious disease outbreak, as well as the excitement spurred by new research to develop effective treatment and vaccines.

An infectious disease specialist and researcher at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (ABSMC) in Oakland, Dr. Hall began working to combat the HIV virus in 1987 in Washington, DC. Subsequent clinical leadership work at prominent HIV/AIDS care centers earned him the “street cred” to be selected for consulting roles for sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention training programs, and membership among a national coalition of STI experts.

While the world awaits effective, safe treatments and a potential vaccine for COVID-19, HIV research has dramatically flashed forward since the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. Among the biggest achievements in HIV prevention came in 2012, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a daily pill called Truvada® as a means to prevent HIV virus infection—a strategy known as HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for people who are HIV-negative.

Dr. Hall hopes his latest research initiative will have a similar significant impact. He leads Sutter’s participation at ABSMC in a clinical trial testing a new long-acting, injectable drug for the prevention of HIV. Earlier this month, preliminary results of an international study of the antiviral cabotegravir as PrEP were released by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).(1,2) The results haven’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The international, Phase 3 study known as HPTN 083 compares the effectiveness of bimonthly cabotegravir injections with oral Truvada® as PrEP to prevent HIV infection in people aged 18 years and older.

Chris Hall, M.D. and research coordinator Trish Smallwood

“This large-scale study is the first of its kind to show a long-acting form of HIV prevention to be highly effective,” says Dr. Hall. “Without a vaccine, the more options for PrEP that we can prove are effective and safe, and make accessible to people who may benefit, the better. Different options are needed for different patients. Cabotegravir injection may be an excellent tool to include in the PrEP toolkit, especially for people who have difficulty taking a daily oral medication as PrEP.”

HPTN 083—a four-year trial that began in 2016—is led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The study randomized approximately 4,600 men and transgender women who have sex with men and are at high risk of contracting HIV, to receive either intramuscular injections with cabotegravir every two months, daily Truvada®, or placebo.(3)

Among the 50 people who became infected with HIV during course of the study, 12 were randomized to receive cabotegravir and 38 received daily Truvada®. Results showed that one third as many people became infected on cabotegravir compared with the oral drugs.

Though the study was designed to demonstrate that cabotegravir was at least as effective as conventional Truvada®, early results suggested the superiority of the injectable medication. With the encouraging results, an independent safety committee recommended the study stop early.

Conducting the study through ABSMC’s East Bay Advanced Care (EBAC) presented a unique opportunity to enroll participants from diverse, underserved communities in San Francisco’s East Bay area.(4) A commonly reported criticism of past HIV prevention research has been that the populations studied did not reflect the populations most affected.(5,6)

“We enrolled participants from San Francisco’s East Bay with the goal to study a patient population that closely reflects people at highest risk of HIV infection,” says Dr. Hall. Two-thirds of the participants were younger than 30 years old, 12% were transgender women, and 50% were African American.

“All three demographics are among the most vulnerable and at highest risk for acquiring HIV. And although specific enrollment of Latinos/Hispanics was not originally part of the study design, people from Hispanic communities were actively recruited and enrolled, and the study is stronger with their participation.”

Though results of the HPTN 083 study may be a coup for the international HIV/AIDS community, its added value in Northern California may lie in providing a new asset for EBAC: knowledge from medical research that may benefit people seeking care at the Center.

“At East Bay Advanced Care, we’re proud to offer hands-on support, medical treatments, complementary therapies and educational services for people living with HIV/AIDS,” says Jeff Burack, M.D., an internal medicine physician at Sutter and medical director of EBAC. “Insights from studying this promising new strategy for HIV prevention may greatly expand our ability to deliver care informed by science and guided by an ethos to support health equity.”

It is not yet known when single-agent cabotegravir will be reviewed for approval by the FDA for the prevention of HIV. A Viiv Healthcare press release stated that detailed results from HPTN 083 will be presented at an upcoming scientific meeting and used for regulatory submission to the FDA.

East Bay Advanced Care (EBAC): The largest HIV primary care clinic in the East Bay, EBAC delivers care and provides resources to approximately 1,400 people from diverse communities in the surrounding area.

The Center provides a comprehensive continuum of high-quality, professional treatment and support services to all clients regardless of their socioeconomic status. “Our mission is to provide essential, confidential medical and support services to all people living with HIV. The hope is to maximize quality and length of life, and to enhance personal dignity and self-empowerment in the face of HIV,” says Dr. Burack. Each year, an estimated 1.7 million people are newly diagnosed with HIV.(7) Interested in supporting research at EBAC? Donate to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.

Targeting the HIV/AIDS virus—decades of research give new hope for “cure”: What does it take to halt a virus that has claimed the lives of approximately 32 million people?(7) HIV drugs cannot cure the disease, but they can help people with the virus stay healthy by preventing the virus from reproducing. The HIV virus completes several different steps to make copies of itself as part of the HIV lifecycle. If unimpeded, HIV integrates its viral DNA with the body’s healthy CD4 cells, essentially turning the CD4 cell into a factory that makes more HIV cells, resulting in an HIV infection. All HIV drugs work by interrupting a step in HIV’s lifecycle; this helps halt HIV replication.

Currently, six classes of HIV drugs target four steps of HIV’s lifecycle. Cabotegravir stops the HIV viral replication process at the crucial point of the virus attempting to integrate its DNA with the DNA of a healthy CD4 cell. “The approval of new classes of HIV drugs — and new drugs in the classes already available — will help provide more treatment options for people living with HIV,” says Dr. Hall.

References:

  1. Cabotegravir is manufactured by ViiV Healthcare.
  2. The HPTN 083 study that is part of the NIH-DAIDS-funded HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN). HTPN 083 was jointly funded by the U.S. NIAID, part of the NIH, and ViiV Healthcare, and was conducted by the HPTN. Study product was provided by ViiV Healthcare and Gilead Sciences.
  3. This particular group of study participants was selected because, in trials such as HPTN 083, demonstrating efficacy requires the population studied is at risk of acquiring HIV – otherwise, study endpoints cannot be reached in a reasonable amount of time.
  4. HPTN 083 was also offered to partners of existing patients as well as the clinic’s prevention program clients.
  5. A pandemic of the poor: social disadvantage and the U.S. HIV epidemic. Jennifer A. Pellowski, Seth C. Kalichman, Karen A. Matthews, and Nancy Adler. Am Psychol. 2013 May-Jun; 68(4): 197–209. doi: 10.1037/a0032694.
  6. HIV/AIDS Inequality: Structural Barriers to Prevention, Treatment, and Care in Communities of Color. Why We Need A Holistic Approach to Eliminate Racial Disparities in HIV/AIDS. Russell Robinson and Aisha C. Moodie-Mills. July 27, 2012.
  7. World Health Organization data. https://www.who.int/gho/hiv/en/

SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Tests: An Educational Series (Part 2)

Posted on May 26, 2020 in Affiliates, Expanding Access, Innovation, Quality, Research, Safety, Scroll Images, Transformation

antibody tests

Testing is conducted to diagnose, understand and help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2/novel coronavirus. We encourage people who test positive for the virus to quarantine and isolate themselves to prevent viral spread to others. This is particularly important with COVID-19, the diseased caused by SARS-CoV-2, because some infected people have no symptoms and may unknowingly infect others.

Follow our Educational Series on testing to stay abreast of the latest updates at Sutter. Part 2 of this series (below) describes antibody tests. In Part 1, we described SARS-CoV-2 testing with PCR.

Antibody/Serology Blood Tests for SARS-CoV-2

Overview:
Standard PCR-based tests can identify if someone is currently infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Antibody tests (also called “serology tests” because they are conducted on blood samples) are used to determine if someone is producing antibodies to defend against the virus.

Antibody tests may help identify people who have been exposed to the virus even weeks after an initial infection, including people who did not show symptoms.

When infected by a virus like SARS-CoV-2, the body initially produces antibodies known as IgM (immunoglobulin-M), in efforts to neutralize or fight the virus, followed by the production of the IgG antibody, which more specifically targets the virus. As the body’s immune response accelerates, IgM levels decrease, while IgG persists for a longer period.

Antibody tests assess levels of antibodies produced in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The tests can help complement information from detection tests that use PCR.

In March 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidelines allowing manufacturers of antibody tests to market their products without prior FDA review, under certain conditions.

The FDA also authorized several antibody tests under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), which means the FDA has reviewed and authorized use of the tests, but has not performed the same type of robust review typically done for the FDA-approved tests used in clinical laboratories.

Antibody tests may help provide clues about who has developed antibodies, how long antibodies last, and what levels of antibodies may be protective from subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infections. It is not yet known whether antibody test results predict immunity to SARS-CoV-2 or how long antibodies last.

Until more information is known, it is important to continue following recommendations for protecting ourselves and each other from SARS-CoV-2, even if antibodies have been detected in an individual. As of April 30, 2020 there is no test approved by the FDA that confirms immunity to the disease.

Medical and research experts are working to determine whether antibodies indicate immunity, and this may take at least six months to ascertain. With this information, Sutter and other healthcare organizations will be better equipped to understand if patients within our communities are at reduced risk of subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infection after previously testing positive for the virus.

This information will help guide decisions around the removal of “shelter in place” directives from county and state government and help determine plans for back to work/school initiatives.

Antibody/Serology Testing at Sutter:
his month we’re also beginning to make available serological tests—or antibody tests. While these tests help detect the presence of antibodies produced in response to the COVID-19 infection, there’s no strong scientific evidence that these antibodies mean a patient is immune to the coronavirus.

Sutter will limit use of antibody testing to highly selective groups and circumstances. For example, the antibody tests will be used to help validate a positive COVID-19 diagnosis with a patient who had previously tested negative but is still suspected to have the virus.

Antibody tests will also be used to determine whether a patient convalescing from a known COVID-19 infection, who is interested in becoming a plasma donor, meets criteria for convalescent plasma donation that could benefit other patients receiving acute care for COVID-19 related disease.

We have sourced cutting-edge serology tests that can quickly and accurately detect hallmarks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, namely IgG and IgM antibodies. The tests have “high specificity” (>99%).

The specificity of a test refers to how well a test identifies people who do not have a disease. These tests also have “high sensitivity” (>98%); the sensitivity of a test refers to how well a test identifies patients who have the disease. Sensitivity is high when patients are tested >15 days after symptoms of COVID-19 begin. A highly sensitive and specific test can help identify people who have been infected by SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Key takeaways:

  • SARS-CoV-2 serological tests, or antibody tests, are blood tests that are used to detect the presence of antibodies produced by the immune system in response to COVID-19 infection.
  • Information from studies of antibody testing can help understand the spread of the disease and infection rates. However, Sutter does not recommend the use of serology/antibody tests alone for diagnosing or treating people with current COVID-19 infections.
  • There is no evidence yet (as of May 2020) that people with detectable antibodies are immune to re-infection with COVID-19.
  • Until more evidence is available, antibody tests should not be used to make decisions related to easing social distancing or the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Per guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), serology test results also should not influence decisions regarding return to work until the relationship between antibody presence and immunity is understood.
  • As of May 2020 and according to U.S. federal and California state laws, SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests can only be performed at licensed clinical laboratories.

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program Announces Incoming Class of 2023

Posted on May 26, 2020 in Affiliates, People, Scroll Images, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (May 26, 2020) – The Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital (SSRRH) Family Medicine Residency Program today announced its incoming class of 2023. The 12 new residents were selected from among 850 applicants representing the nation’s top medical schools. SSRRH’s three-year program, one of 450 family medicine training programs in the United States, has trained hundreds of family physicians since its inception in 1938.

SSRRH’s Family Medicine Residency is a critical strategic asset with which to combat the emerging physician shortage in Sonoma County. The residency has been the largest single source of family physicians to Sonoma County for over 80 years. Residency graduates comprise nearly half of family physicians in Sonoma County, filling openings in private practices, community clinics, and large medical groups such as Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods, The Permanente Medical Group, local community health centers, Sonoma County Health Services and leadership positions throughout the medical community.

“One of the amazing things about the specialty of Family Medicine is that we continue to adapt our training in order to provide the services that are needed by the particular community and the time in which we serve. After the last three years filled with fires and a SARS-CoV2 pandemic, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need to train doctors who are flexible and can adapt to, and even lead, in disaster,” says Tara Scott, M.D., program director of the residency.

“The Sutter Family Medicine Residency has fortified its position as a key part of the disaster response in the community and we have recruited an amazing class of soon-to-be Family Physicians from all over the country who are attracted to our brand of community-based training and service, says Dr. Scott. “We are thrilled to welcome these 12 amazing young physicians to the county. We know from experience that many will stay here in our community and provide Primary Care for the residents of Sonoma County for years to come.”

The eleven women and one man who will begin the training program in June came from medical schools across the country including: College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific at Western University of Health Science; Frank H. Netter School of Medicine – Quinnipiac University; Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Carolinas; George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences; University of California, Davis; University of Kansas School of Medicine; University of Minnesota Medical School; University of Texas Southwestern Medical School; Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine; Warren Alpert Medical School – Brown University. They each come with an impressive background of academic achievement and community service.

(Click here for details about each resident.)

The new residents will graduate the program in 2023; they will begin on June 1, 2020.

The Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency is under the sponsorship of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital (SSRRH). To provide a broader base of support for the residency and optimize learning experiences for residents, SSRRH engaged Santa Rosa Community Health Centers and Kaiser Permanente in 2006 and continues its affiliations with partners in the community today.

About the Sutter Health Family Medicine Residency Program

With the initiation of formal training in general practice dating back to 1938, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital (and formerly Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa) has an established tradition of excellent training of family physicians with the strong support of community physicians and specialists. In 1969, the program became affiliated with what has since become the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

About Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, part of the not-for-profit, integrated Sutter Health network, has a long, proud history of providing high quality care in Sonoma County and beyond. Because of an unwavering focus on health and healing the hospital is consistently ranked as one of the top hospitals in the region.