The Dog-tor Will See You Now

Posted on Jun 18, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, Carousel, Pediatric Care, Scroll Images

Therapy Dog Cares for Patients at CPMC Van Ness Campus

Posey with 16 year old pediatric patient Buddy Pendergast

SAN FRANCISCO–Anxiety and fear are common issues that pediatricians and staff address every day when caring for children inside Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center Emergency Department. They enlist child life specialists to assist, as well as a very special team member, Posey the Therapy Dog.

Posey partners with emergency department pediatrician, Vince Tamariz, M.D., to see young patients who come in for assistance with an illness or injury. While Dr. Tamariz addresses the health issue, Posey addresses the stress children face when coming into this unfamiliar environment. With a soft and unhurried approach, Posey can easily distract a child from the frightening medical activity that is underway and bring a sense of calm and curiosity to the child, reducing the fear and anxiety.

“When Posey walks into the room kids have something to focus on that is a distraction from what is happening with their care,” said Dr. Tamariz. “Even parents admit that Posey helps relieve the stress they feel resulting from the need to bring their child to the emergency department.”

When there is a break in the activity of the emergency department, Posey can be found on the pediatric floor of the hospital. Posey makes her rounds, checking in on young patients to see if anyone needs her loving assistance. When she walks into a room spirits lift and children have a break from the ailments that bring them to the hospital. While patients love to see Posey and pet her soft fur, she will also hop up on the bed—when invited—to lay beside a patient who may have difficulty reaching her or getting out of the bed.

Many studies show that petting a dog makes you feel good; it increases oxytocin in the body, which amplifies feelings of happiness and empathy. It also lowers the heart rate, decreases blood pressure and reduces cortisol (the stress hormone). These results can make a big difference for children in the hospital.

Specially-Designed Pacifier Uses Music to Teach Premature Infants How to Feed

Posted on Jun 14, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, Pediatric Care, Quality

Parents’ Voice Singing a Lullaby Rewards Baby for Sucking

Alissa and Charles O’Neill with baby Olive

SAN FRANCISCO—Premature babies often lack a developed sucking reflex, leaving them unable to feed orally. And the inability to feed is a common reason new born babies remain hospitalized after birth. To help develop the sucking reflex more quickly, California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), part of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit network of care, is using a new device called a Pacifier-Activated Lullaby (PAL) in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

According to CPMC’s music therapist Elisha Madsen, MME, MT-BC, recent studies show that about 70 percent of the premature infants who receive PAL treatment respond positively to it. They increase their ability to ear on their own, gain weight, and go home from the NICU earlier.

Charles O’Neill and baby Olive at home

The PAL rewards and motivates babies to suck on a pacifier to help strengthen their sucking reflex. The special pacifier is attached to a sensor module that measures the strength of the baby’s sucking reflex. When the PAL detects that the baby has sucked on the pacifier to the predetermined strength, the baby earns a reward –a lullaby recorded by the baby’s own mom or dad.

Madsen explains that hearing their parent singing a lullaby motivates babies to continue sucking on the pacifier –which improves the sucking reflex. “Within two and a half minutes, she says, “most babies learn they will have to suck on the pacifier to receive their music reward.”

“It’s exciting for us at CPMC to be able to offer parents a direct role in their baby’s care where they are the reason the baby’s health is improving,” said Madsen. “Parents just light up when they see their baby responding to their singing voices and learn the skills they need to eat and go home. It is just precious to see this reaction.”

Dad’s Best Father’s Day Gift? Bonding with Baby!

Posted on Jun 14, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, Quality

SAN FRANCISCO –On this Father’s Day we celebrate the bonding between dads and their newborn babies. While the focus of childbirth and postnatal care typically revolves around mother and baby, and with good reason, research shows that dads can also have an incredible impact on their babies in the days after birth.

Fathers who engage in skin-to-skin contact, often called kangaroo care, with their newborns can positively impact their child’s physical and emotional health immediately. Skin-to-skin contact helps create a bond between dad and baby and helps elevate a father’s natural parenting instincts. Practicing kangaroo care also helps dads become more sensitive and aware of their baby’s needs, and more confident about their parenting skills.

For the baby the benefits are many, says Terri Slagle, M.D., director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center’s Van Ness Campus hospital. “Frequent skin-to-skin contact increases brain development and decreases stress responses. By holding his baby to his chest, dad creates a sense of security which can lead to a reduction in irritability and improved sleep, and helps to foster a regular and stable heart rhythm and breathing pattern,” Dr. Slagle says.  “It can also lead to weight gain for the baby as he or she develops better absorption and digestion of nutrients following skin-to-skin contact.”

Simply put, skin-to-skin contact stimulates the baby’s immune system and promotes physical and emotional wellbeing for both dad and baby while developing a stronger bond for the long term.

Cuddly Toys Ease Hospitalized Kids’ Stress

Posted on Jun 13, 2019 in Scroll Images, Sutter Delta Medical Center

Sutter Delta Auxiliary Provides Comfort for Kids

ANTIOCH, CALIF. –Imagine being a kid at the hospital—waiting for an X-ray or to go into surgery. A visit to the hospital can be nerve-racking, even for adults. For kids, it can be daunting.

“Kids waiting for X-rays and procedures were very nervous and needed something to do with their hands,” says Joy Burge, a member of the Sutter Delta Medical Center Auxiliary.

Sutter Delta Medical Center Auxiliary Volunteers Allen Hansen, DD Rivera and Joy Burge show off the great toys for children waiting for surgery or a procedure at the hospital.

That’s when a brilliant idea struck, and recently the Auxiliary has partnered with the Women’s & Children’s Services department to provide age-appropriate toys for Sutter Delta’s youngest patients.

“We…ordered 24 teddy bears that are five to six inches long, dressed in hoodies that talk and laugh,” Burge says.

The Auxiliary also is ordering “squishy” toys—soft, “squishable” toys similar to the classic stress ball. Made of polyurethane foam, the toys allow kids—and adults—to squeeze away their stress over and over again, and the toy will still return to its original form.

“Every time people buy something at the Sutter Delta gift shop, buy tickets at one of our [Auxiliary] raffles, or get a treat at a bake sale, it goes straight back to the hospital departments,” Burge says. “Every little bit helps.”

For more information about Sutter Delta Medical Center’s Auxiliary, click here.

Best Employers in Sacramento? Forbes Ranks Sutter No. 1

Posted on Jun 12, 2019 in Affiliates, Carousel, Expanding Access, People, Quality, Scroll Images, We're Awesome

Sutter Health, with hospitals, medical offices and other care facilities throughout Northern California, is the top-ranked Sacramento-based organization on the Forbes list of top employers.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Employees love working for Sutter Health, according to a new list by Forbes. In its first-ever ranking of America’s best employers by state, Sutter Health was listed as Sacramento’s top locally based employer. The Sacramento Bee was first to report the news, and their story is available here.

Using anonymous surveys, Forbes and market research company Statista pinpointed the organizations liked best by employees, according to the Forbes website.

Sutter Health, a not-for-profit healthcare organization in Northern California with 55,000 employees, ranked 26th on California’s list, but took the top spot for employers headquartered in the Sacramento region. Several of the companies listed – including Costco, which is ranked No. 1 in California – are not based in the state. Excluding those employers headquartered out of state, Sutter ranks in the top 20 at No. 17, and is in the top 10 for employers based in Northern California, with such tech giants as H-P, Cisco and Apple.

The Forbes’ list isn’t the only one to rank Sutter organizations as being top-notch employers. During the past 10 years, Modern Healthcare has named several Sutter hospitals and even the entire Sutter Health Valley Area as being Best Places to Work in Healthcare. This year, two hospitals were honored: Sutter Roseville Medical Center and Sutter Amador Hospital.

Sutter Health is more than 60,000 people strong, thanks to our integrated network of clinicians, employees and volunteers. Grounded in our not-for-profit mission, our team members partner to provide access to high quality, affordable care for more than 3 million Northern Californians through our network of hospitals, medical foundations, urgent and walk-in care centers, home health and hospice services.

The full Forbes listing can be accessed here.

Sutter Health Unites with The Kennedy Forum to Establish West Coast Presence, Improving Access to Mental Health and Addiction Care

Posted on Jun 11, 2019 in Quality, Scroll Images

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Sutter Health today announced that it has united with The Kennedy Forum to improve access to mental health and addiction care in California.

The collaboration will focus on advancing critical state parity legislation, educating California consumers on mental health parity and parity rights, and hosting thought leadership forums to engage California communities in advocating for mental health as part of elevating the total health of the community. The California-specific effort will serve as a model for future engagement with communities nationwide.

“The Kennedy Forum is proud to join forces with Sutter Health,” said former U.S. Representative and founder, Patrick J. Kennedy. “Sutter Health is an award-winning health system that is committed to treating the body and the mind equally through quality, integrated care.”

Sutter Health continues to work with community partners that share its vision to increase access to mental health resources, services and support, and expand philanthropic efforts to serve those individuals and families most in need in the communities it serves.

“We are delighted to welcome The Kennedy Forum to our community,” said John Boyd, Psy.D, MHA, CEO, Mental Health Services at Sutter Health. “By advocating for policies that support increased access to mental health and addiction care, we’re taking a critical step toward designing the care of the future. This collaboration will be a tangible example that addresses a very specific need in California.”

A designated Kennedy Forum Fellow, scheduled to join the Sutter Health team later this month, will guide the work from a newly formed Kennedy Forum office in Sacramento. The Kennedy Forum’s West Coast office will be located within the Sutter Health-Steinberg Institute space across from the capitol.

“The Kennedy Forum is a recognized champion of health equity that has effectively advocated across the country to get insurers and health plans to comply with laws that require equal coverage of brain disorders as for other physical conditions,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. “We are honored to support their new collaboration with Sutter Health, and we look forward to continuing our joint efforts to advance evidence-based practices and policies for treatment of mental illness and addiction.”

Telepsychiatry Bridges Gap to Help Create Better Access to Mental Health Services

Posted on Jun 10, 2019 in Expanding Access, Scroll Images

Sean Wade, a registered nurse at Sutter Davis Hospital, demonstrates how a mobile work station allows patients to connect with psychiatrists from around the country. On screen is Tim Jones, telepsychiatry program manager for Sutter Health.

DAVIS, Calif.—Every year, more and more patients experiencing urgent mental health issues come to emergency rooms across California in need of help—just one example of the state’s growing mental health challenges.

To ensure patients are evaluated as soon as possible by a licensed psychiatrist, 16 hospitals across Sutter Health’s not-for-profit, integrated network use a telepsychiatry service that draws on teams of qualified providers from around the country. That includes Sutter Davis Hospital, which has provided this service to around 80 patients since it launched at the hospital about a year ago.

“We were very excited because, with increasing population and mental health challenges, access to psychiatrists was just a must,” says Harpreet Bains, nurse manager for Sutter Davis’ medical/surgical and intensive care units. “Now that we have it, I can only say that it’s working really well.”

Bains points to a number of situations where the telepsychiatry service has helped a patient get the right care at the right time and the right place by providing 24/7 access to providers. Those might include determining if a patient has the mental capacity to make decisions related to their medical care, whether they need an adjustment to their medications or what certain changes in behavior may be indicating. It’s also been helpful with care transitions, she says, such as helping ensure that an elderly patient was ready to transfer from the hospital setting to a nursing home.

“Delivering optimal care to patients during mental health emergencies is a multifaceted challenge,” says John Boyd, Psy.D., CEO of Sutter Mental Health Services. “As healthcare providers, it is our duty to ensure they receive quality, compassionate and timely care, in the most appropriate setting.”

Sutter Mental Health Services works with Virtual Medical Staff, which recruits providers and manages the call center that takes in requests for consultation. The call center has a single number that every hospital uses to access the service. The expectation is that telepsychiatry providers are available within one hour of a request to the call center. All telepsychiatry providers are physicians, hold privileges in each of the Sutter hospitals where the service is available, have the ability to review records, enter notes in Sutter’s medical record system and put in orders.

Using safe and secure video conferencing technology that is also HIPAA compliant, telepsychiatrists can visit with patients 13 years or older via a workstation equipped with a computer screen that can be wheeled into the patient’s room. If the patient is alert and oriented, the nurse then leaves the room to provide additional privacy. If needed, they stay to help facilitate the interaction between patient and provider. Given the prevalence of electronic devices in daily life, patients have been receptive to seeing a psychiatrist this way, Bains said.

“Because of the way it works, they still feel like they’re connecting,” she says. “Seeking mental health services isn’t looked at as taboo anymore—that’s one thing I love, that people have this additional way to talk about the help they need.”

Tim Jones, Sutter Health’s telepsychiatry program manager, explains that extra layer of support broadens access for patients across Sutter’s diverse not-for-profit network, which ranges from the Gold Country foothills through the greater Sacramento area and downward to Silicon Valley.

“We have several rural-area hospitals inside our geographic footprint. In some instances, there are very limited options for psychiatry services or none at all,” Jones said. “But the need for psychiatric care is constant. We worked very hard to identify an option that would treat the whole patient, mind and body, in an acute-care setting.”

The benefits of telepsychaitry haven’t gone unnoticed. The American Psychiatric Association notes the service improves access to mental health evaluations, reduce delays in care and enhance continuity of treatment, since outpatient care is often recommended for patients once they are released from the hospital.

Since Sutter Health’s telepsychiatry program launched, more than 4,200 patients have been received services. For Jones, it’s a sign of progress.

“We believe this is the right thing to do for patients. It can have a very powerful cumulative effect,” he said.