Posts by Monique

New East Bay Clinic Places Breast Cancer Patients at the Center of Care

Posted on Nov 10, 2020 in Cancer Care, Scroll Images

Telehealth Increases Convenience, Allows Time to Get Questions Answered

Michelle and Joe Goldsmith

Like many women who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, Michelle Goldsmith, was overwhelmed when her biopsy showed breast cancer. She had so many questions about her diagnosis and knew that difficult decisions lay ahead. She knew she needed to make a battery of appointments and ultimately visit oncologists and other specialists located in different locations.

As Goldsmith was beginning to make plans, a friend told her about the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Clinic that had just been launched by breast cancer specialists at Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation (SEBMF). Goldsmith made one phone call to a nurse navigator, and that set off a process that she now calls “life changing.”

The nurse navigator helped her plan the various tests and scans. The novel part of the process is that, once Goldsmith had the appropriate scans, all the oncologists and specialists met together in one pre-clinic conference call to go over her history and records to determine her best treatment for a cure.

Immediately after the call, Goldsmith was able to schedule a comprehensive team consultation with her breast surgeon in-person as well as virtual consultations with her medical oncologist and radiation oncologist.

After the two-and-a-half-hour appointment, Goldsmith left the office having met with her entire treatment team and with a one-page summary detailing her diagnosis, stage, and course of treatment. And because of the convenience of telemedicine video visits, Goldsmith could meet with all the specialists in one office, rather than seeing each one at a different time in a different location.

 “It made all the difference in the world,” Goldsmith said of the multidisciplinary approach. “As a patient you feel so supported. It made me feel good that they had all agreed on a course of action, it wasn’t just one person’s opinion. And then you could see the oncologists face to face, and ask them as many questions as you wanted.”

Eileen Consorti, M.D. and
Rita Kwan-Feinberg, M.D.

Rita Kwan-Feinberg, M.D., and Eileen Consorti, M.D., breast cancer surgeons with SEBMF, started the program that is a similar design to multidisciplinary programs at other cancer centers around the country and well-documented in medical literature. The clinic began in mid-August and since then about 25 women – all with new breast cancer diagnosis – have been seen in the clinic based in Oakland.

“Part of it is looking at a way to have a much more streamlined approach for the patient,” explains Dr. Kwan-Feinberg. “With breast cancer, the treatment is always multidisciplinary so it makes sense for the patient to have one visit that is multidisciplinary and involves a team approach. From the patient’s perspective, I wanted each patient to have the best experience that would reduce the anxiety and fear that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis by answering all questions and having a treatment plan in one day.”

Dr. Consorti says a benefit is that the clinic helps coordinate the communication between different oncologists and specialists, and it is a convenient way for the patient to be able to speak to members of the team in one place, at the same time.

“Everyone is communicating in one fell swoop and is on the same page,” Dr. Consorti said, referring to the pre-clinic conference. “For the patient, it lays out their plan so they know what their care will entail.”

The two surgeons say it was a perfect time to start a patient-friendly, multidisciplinary program in part because of Sutter Health’s increasing capabilities in telehealth. After the patient meets with a breast cancer surgeon in person, an iPad is rolled into the office, and the patient meets via video visit with a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist who are in other locations. And the program can be managed at a time when the number of in-person, office visits have been spread out to reduce possible exposure to COVID-19.

“The patient doesn’t go from office to office on different days so it minimizes exposure for patients and staff, and we have implemented deep cleaning procedures in the clinic,” Dr. Kwan-Feinberg said.

The pre-clinic virtual meetings are usually about 45 minutes long and include the breast surgeon, the medical oncologist, the radiation oncologist, the nurse navigator, the medical assistants and the surgery scheduler. Depending on the case, other clinicians are involved such as the pathologist, a geneticist and a lymphedema prevention specialist.

In addition to coming up with the best medical treatment, the plan that is given to the patient can be personalized, taking into account any relevant social issues or personal preferences. For instance, if a woman has children, there may be a list of child care resources. And, Dr. Kwan-Feinberg recalls that in one case the team learned that a patient was interested in herbal medicine so they included a referral in her plan to a physician who specializes in integrative or holistic treatments.

“My patients have been saying, ‘this is so great, I have a team taking care of me,’ ” said Dr. Kwan-Feinberg.

Sutter Announces Nurse of the Year Award Winners

Posted on Nov 2, 2020 in Quality Care, Scroll Images

Pandemic underscores value of nursing and midwifery excellence

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Sutter Health has announced its first-ever Nurse of the Year Award winners at a virtual Nursing Symposium attended by hundreds of nurses and midwives from across Northern California.

In addition to recognizing excellence in nursing and midwifery, celebrating the not-for-profit health system’s first Nurse of the Year award winners during the pandemic also serves to highlight the critical role of nurses and midwives who demonstrate nursing excellence, courage and compassion for patients and families and keep them safe during this challenging time, says Sutter Health’s Chief Nurse Officer Anna Kiger, DNP, DSc, RN.

The World Health Organization and the American Nurses Association designated the year 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

At the virtual event, Kiger announced three nurses and one nurse midwife out of nearly 300 nominees as the first winners of the awards. Each award winner was chosen for excelling in one of the four pillars of Sutter’s Nursing Philosophy of Care.

Sutter Nursing Philosophy of Care Pillars

  • Unlimited Potential: Our nurses are curious, life-long learners, teachers, mentors and leaders.
  • Unique Contribution: Our nurses honor the holistic needs of those in their care and find creative, evidence-based ways to promote health and healing.
  • Force of Good: Our nurses take pride in advocating for what is right for our patients, families and the communities we serve.
  • Humble Presence: Our nurses are a steady force for patients and their families during life’s most vulnerable moments.

“Each of these winners of Sutter’s first Nurse of the Year Award bring their best every day, living our organization’s values and the Sutter Nursing Philosophy pillars while making a profound difference for the patients and families they serve,” Dr. Kiger says. “They also stand out because their co-workers see them as leaders in our noble profession. We are truly blessed to have them as a part of our organization.”

John Fassett, CNM, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, Unlimited Potential

Out of more than 20,000 certified midwives across the nation, only about 1% are male. John Fassett, a certified nurse midwife (CNM) at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation demonstrated his pioneering spirit by becoming one of the first male midwives in San Francisco 26 years ago and has been a registered nurse for 40 years.

John Fassett, CNM

Patients and staff alike talk about how his ability to listen and his sense of humor keep them relaxed, even during the tense times that accompany pregnancy, labor and delivery. Fassett, a military veteran, has demonstrated his Unlimited Potential by showing leadership during his 8-year tenure with Sutter by chairing the Advanced Practice Committee and serving as a nurse reviewer for Nurse Midwife practice with the California’s Board of Registered Nursing.

Cara Phillips, RN, Pre-Admission Testing, Memorial Medical Center, Unique Contribution

Cara Phillips, RN

Cara Phillips, RN, started her nursing career at Sutter’s Memorial Medical Center in Modesto in 1979 as a nurse on the surgical unit. She transferred to the Preadmission Testing (PAT) Department 10 years later and became the PAT charge nurse/coordinator in 2008. She partnered with Dr. Tamim Wafa, chief of Anesthesia, to bring the evidence-based Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) model to Memorial Medical Center in 2017.

The PSH is a patient-centered, team-based system of coordinated care that guides patients through the entire surgical experience. One year after Phillips helped implement PSH at Memorial, the hospital realized all eight quality goals set by the American Society of Anesthesiology. Through Cara’s Unique Contribution, more than 1,000 orthopedic, bariatric, vascular, and high-acuity patients have benefited from the enhanced care of PSH.

Deborah Swartz, RN, Education, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Community Health Resource Center, Force of Good

Deborah Swartz, RN

Deborah Swartz, RN, has been a calming Force of Good for patients and staff since 2006 as the nurse educator at Sutter’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation Community Health Resource Center (CHRC). She works with clinicians to develop educational lectures and videos intended to help patients make choices toward healthier lifestyles. Most recent, she developed a free online asthma management course that’s expected to be a Sutter systemwide class soon.

Since becoming a registered nurse in 1977, Swartz has served in emergency rooms, at the bedside, in clinical departments, and at the VA, but has spent most of her career at Sutter. The CHRC provides compassionate guidance to patients and families—educating them about various diseases, caregiving responsibilities and how to make informed treatment decisions.

Andrea Trimble, RN, Med/Surg, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Humble Presence

Andrea Trimble, RN

Andrea Trimble, RN, a charge nurse, demonstrates Humble Presence as a steady force in Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s medical/surgical unit in Berkeley. She reviews charts and researches patients to anticipate their needs and needs of their families. In nominating her, her colleagues said they appreciate her respectful way of leading and working with nurses. Nurses maintain their close bond with patients while Trimble supports them and guides them in the background.

Co-workers describe Trimble as calm, poised and interactive as she finds the balance of supporting both staff and patients with the daily goal of providing the best possible care.

Sutter’s Nursing Philosophy of Care

Sutter’s Nursing Philosophy of Care and the four pillars are the product of many interviews with Sutter Health nurses, who shared their stories, beliefs and experiences. The philosophy provides a framework to inspire nurses, remind them why they entered the profession and highlight their unique role in their patients’ healing process. It is designed to support nurses from their first entry into nursing through retirement.

Award Winners with a Common Purpose

In different ways, Sutter’s first Nurse of the Year Award winners serve patients and families as they help them navigate through the complexity of healthcare today. This year’s winners also partner closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals as they seek to provide patients with a quality, personalized experience, no matter where they enter Sutter’s integrated healthcare system.

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

Posted on Oct 14, 2020 in Quality Care

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 Cancer Care, Scroll Images


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 Cancer Care

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.