Posts by Monique

Sutter’s Samuel Merritt University Earns Top 10 California Nursing School Recognition

Posted on Oct 14, 2020 in Affiliates, Uncategorized

Samuel Merritt University’s (SMU) School of Nursing has emerged as one of the Ten Best Accredited Nursing Schools in California for 2020, according to Nursing Process, a nationwide organization that assesses nursing education.

Nursing Process identified the top 10 list after an evaluation of 220 nursing schools across the state. Rankings are based on academic quality, licensure exam rates, affordability and reputation.

“SMU has phenomenal faculty, students, staff, and community partners. We work collaboratively to develop and implement excellent experiences for our students,” School of Nursing Dean Lorna Kendrick said of SMU clinching the tenth spot on the list. “Our curriculum is constantly evaluated and updated to make sure our students are receiving an exemplary education. We are preparing our students in hospitals and community settings where they not only learn hands-on skills, but, more importantly, how to incorporate compassion and responsive care for all.”

SMU, an affiliate of Sutter Health located at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, has educated healthcare professionals in California for more than a century. The school offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant and podiatric medicine.

In addition to classroom learning, SMU has integrated simulation-based learning into its programs for the past decade. In the 5,500-square-foot Health Sciences Simulation Center, students learn and practice clinical skills on computerized manikins that realistically mimic breathing, eye movements and pulse sounds. Specially trained actors play patients with specific health needs in the simulations.

Visit Samuel Merritt University to learn more about this top 10 recognition.

Mammography Goes Mobile

Posted on Oct 9, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Expanding Access, Scroll Images, Women's Services


The Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, part of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, has launched a new mobile mammography van to provide convenient access to screening mammography services for underserved women and help improve early detection of breast cancer.

“Finding breast cancer at its earliest possible stage is critical to survival, and early detection through regular mammograms remains the best defense against the disease,” says oncologic surgeon Eileen Consorti, M.D., medical director of the Carol Ann Read Breast Health Program. “As a breast cancer survivor, this cause is very personal to me. The mobile mammography van will provide screenings to hundreds of women each year, many of whom are uninsured or underinsured.”

Beginning this month, the 40-foot van will travel to community-based health care clinics in the East Bay and surrounding communities to provide mammography services to underserved women. The van will eventually travel to senior centers, houses of worship, health fairs and businesses once the COVID-19 threat lessens, broadening access to critical breast health services while providing the same high-quality care as patients who come to Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center locations.

“Access to affordable and convenient breast cancer screenings can be lifesaving. Our mobile mammography unit will help our team bring advanced technology to patients in our community that most need it,” says Alta Bates Summit Medical Center CEO David Clark.

The new mobile mammography van is equipped with 3D mammography (digital breast tomosynthesis) and also offers a comfortable waiting area as well as a private changing and exam room.

The van is made possible by a grant from Peter Read, co-founder of Grocery Outlet in honor of his wife Carol Ann Read who passed away from breast cancer, and a Sutter match grant.

Read has worked collaboratively with Alta Bates Summit administrators and physicians to raise funds to update breast screening equipment in the East Bay and provide for the needs of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer for many years. He has also funded educational events to raise breast cancer awareness within Latino and African American communities.

Although the pain of losing Carol Ann will never go away, Peter Read is comforted by the impact his philanthropy has made. “This investment in Alta Bates Summit gives me great personal satisfaction,” he says. “I am excited about reaching even more women with the mobile mammography.”

Advanced Breast Imaging Now Offered at Sutter Delta Medical Center

Posted on Oct 5, 2020 in Affiliates, Sutter Delta Medical Center, Wellness, Women's Services

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Delta residents now have the option of staying in the community and still enjoying access to advanced three-dimensional (3D) mammography.

Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch offers patients access to advanced screening and diagnostic breast imaging, known as 3D tomosynthesis or tomo, to improve the early detection of breast cancer.

“Bringing state-of-the-art mammography imaging technology, like our new 3D tomosynthesis suite, to the local community is central to our mission here at Sutter Delta Medical Center. We serve a diverse population, and our hospital is proud to expand its offerings to help women in eastern Contra Costa County to better manage their health. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an ideal time to talk to your physician about whether 3D tomography is the right option for you,” said Sutter Delta CEO Sherie Hickman.

What are the advantages of 3D Mammography?

“3D tomosynthesis mammography is a tremendous advancement in breast cancer screening over traditional (two-dimensional) 2D mammography,” says John Van Uden, M.D., medical director of Sutter Delta Medical Center’s Diagnostic Imaging Services. “Instead of single, flat two-dimensional images of the breast, 3D mammography obtains a scrollable 3-D set of images in each orientation. This greatly enhances our ability to distinguish normal breast tissue from a breast cancer.”

Kyla Yee, M.D., a Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation OB/GYN based in Antioch agrees, “3D tomo offers a significant advantage over traditional two-dimensional mammography. With this advanced technology, we’re often able to find cancer when it’s still extremely small. And we know that when we are able to detect and treat cancer at its early stages, patients can have much better survival rates.” Studies have shown that adding 3-D tomo to regular screening mammograms can help detect more cancers in dense breast tissue. Says Michele Bergman, M.D., a Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation OB/GYN based in Antioch, “3D tomo can provide better cancer detection, fewer call backs and greater peace of mind for patients.”

And despite these diagnostic improvements, says Dr. Van Uden, the exam involves approximately the same very low-dose of X-ray to obtain the images, and no additional inconvenience or discomfort for the patient.

How does 3D tomography work?

During a 3D tomo mammogram, an x-ray arm moves in an arc over the compressed breast capturing multiple images from different angles. These digital images are then reconstructed or “synthesized” into a set of 3D images by a computer.

Sutter Delta’s 3D tomo machine is housed in a brand new suite at the hospital, offering patients and referring physicians in eastern Contra Costa County local access to advanced technology in the arsenal to detect breast cancer early.

Safety is the Number One Priority

Sutter Delta, like all Sutter imaging centers, is taking steps to protect patients and staff. These steps include:

  • Mandatory Masking – Staff, patients and visitors must wear masks at all times.
  • Isolation – Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is isolated from waiting areas, patient rooms, entrances and spaces the general population uses.
  • Cleaning – Our teams have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Screening – Everyone is screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before entering our care.

Remember, catching up on preventive care that may have been postponed during the pandemic, such as a mammogram or a colonoscopy, is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health.

Click here for more information about 3D mammography and imaging mammography at Sutter Delta or call (925) 756-1146.

Lost Your Insurance? Resources to Help with Health Insurance Disruption

Health insurance coverage can be disrupted by wage or job loss, but there are options that provide access to important cancer screenings, even if you’ve lost your normal source of coverage.

In California, the Every Woman Counts program covers mammograms and cervical cancer screening for women with no or limited insurance who meet other eligibility criteria. To learn more, patients can call (800) 511-2300.

Other options include extending employer-based coverage through COBRA and CalCOBRA, shopping for plans and applying for premium assistance through Covered California, or applying for and qualifying for Medi-Cal. Charity care and financial assistance options may also be available. You can learn more about these options by visiting our coverage options page.

Fact vs Fiction: Medical Expert Dispels Six Flu Vaccination Myths

Posted on Sep 28, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness

Separating flu vaccination fact from fiction can be challenging in this age of information overload. But it’s critical to have the facts straight because influenza and COVID-19 are separate viruses –so we run the risk of contracting both at the same time. That’s why it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot this year.

Jeffrey Silvers, M.D., Sutter Health’s medical director of Pharmacy and Infection control, dispels six common flu vaccination myths to help you and your loved ones stay healthy this flu season.

Myth #1: “My flu shot gave me the flu.”

Fact: Dr. Silvers says, “You can’t catch the flu from flu vaccine because the influenza viruses in the vaccine are dead, and therefore they’re not infectious.”

Dr. Silvers says sometimes people think the vaccine has given them the flu because they get sick soon after being vaccinated. He explains it takes about two weeks after you’ve received the flu vaccine for antibodies to develop in your body and provide protection against flu. “So, if you come down with the flu a few days after you receive a flu shot, you were probably infected with the flu before you got the shot or before your immune system had a chance to build up its defenses,” he says.

Even when they get a flu shot, people occasionally may still get the flu, not because their immunity wasn’t built up before they were exposed to it, but because they caught a strain of flu that wasn’t in the flu vaccine they received. This can happen because the strains of influenza virus that are included in the vaccine each year, there are typically four, may not exactly match the strains circulating in the community. Each year, infectious disease experts select the strains they believe will be prevalent in the U.S based on their observations of the most recent flu season in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, they’re not always able to predict which strains will be most prevalent in the U.S.

Even if the flu vaccine isn’t a perfect match for the strains in circulation during a given flu season, receiving a flu shot is still be beneficial. People who are vaccinated against the flu and still come down with the virus typically experience milder symptoms than those who skip the shot.

Myth #2: “I never get the flu, so I don’t need the vaccine.”

Fact: According to the CDC, nearly a quarter of those infected with the flu virus didn’t even know they were sick because they had such mild symptoms. The problem with that, says Dr. Silvers, is asymptomatic people can still spread the flu virus to others for up to a week. Getting a flu shot helps protect you, your loved ones and the larger community.

Myth #3: “Getting the flu isn’t a big deal.”

Fact: The flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and death, especially for people at high-risk such as newborn babies, people with chronic medical conditions and the elderly.

Remember, says Dr. Silvers, “If you get the flu, even if it’s a mild case and you don’t have symptoms, you could still pass it along to someone for whom getting the flu is a big deal, even deadly, like a grandparent, a newborn, or someone who has a weakened immune system—such as a person who is undergoing chemotherapy.”

Myth #4: I’m young and healthy, so I don’t need to get vaccinated for the flu.

Fact: The CDC recommends that nearly everybody 6 months and older get vaccinated for the flu. That’s because the flu is a contagious disease that can lead to serious illness, like pneumonia, as well as missed work or even hospitalization for otherwise healthy people.

Myth #5: I can’t get a flu shot because I’m pregnant.

Fact: The CDC recommends that all pregnant women get flu vaccinations because pregnant women are at a higher risk for serious complications from flu. Flu may also be harmful for a developing baby. Getting the flu shot while you’re pregnant even helps protect your baby from the flu for months after birth because moms pass antibodies to their babies before they’re born. And that’s important, says Dr. Silvers, because babies younger than 6 months can’t get the flu vaccine and are more likely to suffer serious complications from the flu.

Myth #6: I got vaccinated for the flu last year, so I don’t need it again this year.

Fact: You must get the vaccine every year in order to protect yourself and others from the flu. Why? Dr. Silvers explains, “The immune protection you get from a flu shot declines over time and flu viruses are constantly mutating.” These mutations are why the flu vaccine is updated every year.

The bottom line? For the best protection, nearly everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.

Okay, I’m convinced. Where can I get a flu shot?

Flu shots are available by appointment at your doctor’s office. Same day flu shots are available by appointment at Sutter Walk-In Care facilities. Click here for more information and flu vaccination resources.

Birth Never Takes a Holiday—Even During a Pandemic

Posted on Sep 24, 2020 in Affiliates, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Scroll Images, Sutter Davis Hospital, Women's Services

Nurse-Midwives Continue to Care for Moms during Pregnancy and Birth

Jessica Nagel, CNM. Photo: Birth Fusion/Jennifer Anderson Birth Photography

Many workers have been sidelined by the pandemic, but for nurse-midwives, life –quite literally— goes on.

“People still need us, pandemic or not,” says Jessica Nagel, a certified nurse-midwife for Sutter Medical Group in Davis.

Midwives the world over embody the caregiving ideals of compassion and calm under pressure. In designating 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, the World Health Organization could not have honored a more appropriate group at this not-so-calm time — nor could the American College of Nurse-Midwives in naming Oct. 4-10 National Midwifery Week.

In the United States, midwifery has evolved haphazardly from an unregulated home practice to the nursing-based model of today, with national standards and professional certifications and licensing similar to those for nurse practitioners. The profession now plays a vital role in the delivery of women’s healthcare, not just during pregnancy but throughout a woman’s life span.

“Midwives have become a valuable part of our care teams,” says Annette Fineberg, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist with Sutter Medical Group in Davis. “I’ve learned so much from the midwives I’ve worked with over almost 25 years. The collaboration between midwives and obstetricians is far more than the sum of its parts, and we all benefit.”

When Nagel was a college junior majoring in child development in the early 2000s, midwifery was not on her radar.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” she admits. “But I always enjoyed my classes in pregnancy and prenatal development.”

Recognizing her interests, Nagel pivoted to nursing school, working in a birth center and ultimately training in midwifery through Kentucky-based Frontier Nursing University. In 2009, she joined Sutter Medical Group in Davis, where she provides prenatal care at Sutter Davis Women’s Health Clinic and assists deliveries at Sutter Davis Hospital.

Kristen Ayer, a certified nurse-midwife and obstetrics/gynecology nurse practitioner for Sutter-affiliated Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Santa Cruz, stumbled into midwifery.

Kristen Ayer, CNM

“When I was pregnant with my first son in 1980, I decided to have my baby at home with a midwife and became fascinated with pregnancy and birth, which led to my interest in midwifery as a career,” she says.

Under the guidance of seasoned midwives, Ayer studied normal pregnancy and birth and began apprenticing at home deliveries. After completing an apprenticeship, she decided to go to nursing school to become a certified nurse midwife.

Ayer completed her midwifery education at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1993 and has practiced in Santa Cruz County ever since. She estimates she’s delivered 3,000 to 4,000 babies in her nearly 30-year career.

Ayer and Nagel find their greatest job satisfaction in supporting women.

“The joy in my work is starting with someone who’s scared, and then, after spending time with them, seeing them walk out feeling empowered,” Nagel says. “They feel comfortable and brave and strong.”

Listening is key to that process, Ayer says.

“It’s a tremendous service to listen to women deeply, to connect with them and help them have the kind of delivery they want,” she says. “The value for patients is having someone who’s gentle and thorough and communicates well.”

Midwifery care looks a bit different in the age of COVID-19. Nagel and Ayer can no longer offer in-person group prenatal sessions, where pregnant women and their partners gather to learn and socialize. Ayer says group care and some office visits are transitioning to a virtual platform. Prenatal checkups look different, too.

“Now we do one-on-one checkups just with Mom,” Nagel says. “No more bringing in other kids to listen to the heartbeat, and now the partners are on Facetime in the room. There’s definitely a lot more use of technology and telehealth.”

Pandemic restrictions have produced at least one unexpected blessing. After giving birth, many moms return home feeling less exhausted because they haven’t had the pressure of extra people in the labor room and visitors dropping by later.

“Now, you can have only one healthy support person,” Nagel says. “The one-person rule has created some very intimate experiences for the woman and her partner. Women don’t feel they have to get presentable afterward, and they can both just take their time. They can relax and get to know their baby.”

Learn More about Nurse-Midwife Services at Sutter Health

At many Sutter hospitals, you have the option to choose a certified nurse-midwife. Sutter’s certified nurse-midwives deliver babies and can provide comprehensive prenatal care throughout your pregnancy.

Read on for more information on our certified nurse-midwife services.