Posts by boarmaa

Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19: What to Know and How to Prepare

Posted on Aug 2, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Safety, Scroll Images, Wellness

SAN FRANCISCO – For people who experienced breathing and respiratory problems brought on by previous years’ wildfire smoke, a San Francisco health expert cautions that these individuals should be extra vigilant with their health while COVID-19 is among us.

In an article by the San Francisco Chronicle, Vinayak Jha, M.D., a pulmonologist affiliated with Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), says that people are already concerned about catching the virus and becoming ill. Having respiratory problems combined with air pollution from wildfires is not an ideal situation.

“There are growing reports out of China, Europe and the U.S. that the more air pollution there is, the more COVID deaths and cases there are,” says Jha. “There’s some reason for concern that wildfire smoke, besides being bad for people in general, may affect people’s susceptibility to getting the virus.”

Jha says breathing in wildfire smoke can cause shortness of breath, coughing and sore throat, and that having the coronavirus may worsen symptoms.

Recovering from COVID-19? Living with a respiratory illness? Here’s what you should do if wildfire smoke becomes a problem.

As the fire seasons heats up, Jha says COVID-19 patients should keep in close contact with their health care provider and avoid exerting themselves, especially if they are at the beginning of the illness.

“Continue to socially distance, and continue to wear a mask in public,” says Jha. He encourages people to have precautions in place now, before the wildfire season hits: know how to check the Air Quality Index, check your own home air purifying system to make sure the filters are clean, and have a plan in case you need to leave the area.

Pulmonary Care

In the Sutter Health network, pulmonary specialists have deep expertise in treating acute and chronic lung conditions, including asthma, bronchiolitis, emphysema and pneumonia. They offer treatment for interstitial lung disease, advanced COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pulmonary nodules and pulmonary hypertension.

In light of COVID-19, Sutter Bay Medical Foundation stood up respiratory care clinics (RCCs) to prepare for increased patient demand. These exam experiences keep potentially contagious people distanced from those that aren’t, while allowing all who need in-person care to receive it.

Read more about Sutter’s respiratory care clinics here.

Sutter Health is committed to your health and safety. If you need care, make an appointment today. Our care teams are ready to serve you, either in person or by Video Visit.

Learn more about getting care during COVID-19 here.

Virtual ‘Topping Out’ Ceremony Caps Sutter Santa Rosa Expansion Milestone

Posted on Jul 30, 2020 in Expanding Access, Scroll Images, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital

SANTA ROSA, Calif. – With a few clicks of a mouse, the community logged on to witness the “topping out” of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital’s new three-story expansion. The medical facility reached its latest construction milestone on July 30 and marked the occasion with a virtual gathering, where viewers watched as the final structural steel beam was secured into place. Hospital staff; elected officials, including Congressman Mike Thompson and Susan Gorin, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors; HerreroBOLDT crewmembers; and the public, all tuned in.

Hospital CEO Dan Peterson kicked off the program and acknowledged the unusual online ceremony made necessary by the pandemic. “This is no traditional ‘topping out.’ We’re using technology to keep everyone safe, and we’re making history with one of the country’s first virtual topping out celebrations.”

Watch the full program below.

Healthcare, Always in Demand

The healthcare industry continues to be one of the largest and fastest growing in the U.S. The country’s aging Baby Boomer population, plus the addition of the COVID-19 crisis, has only made healthcare more taxed and in demand than ever.

“Today healthcare is on all our minds as we face the continued threat of coronavirus pandemic. This facility will expand our ability to deliver quality care no matter the crisis we face—a pandemic, wildfires or earthquakes,” said Congressman Thompson. “I can’t wait to celebrate, hopefully in person, when we cut the ribbon to open the space.”

Supervisor Gorin added, “Sutter has been a vital partner to Sonoma County for almost three decades, and this expansion is the embodiment of its continued commitment to the community. This hospital will provide high-quality care to residents in a state-of-the-art, seismically safe and environmentally conscious setting.”

Expansion Will Add Hospital Bed Capacity

Sutter Health has invested $158 million to expand the hospital to increase capacity, adding 40 all-private patient rooms, 13 outpatient care unit beds, an 11-bed post-acute care unit bay, and 21 emergency department bays. The first phase of the three-story tower will add 67,000 square feet of space and is scheduled for completion in spring 2022. It will be followed by a phase II renovation to expand the hospital’s emergency department and support services in fall 2022.

“Today’s ceremony is a celebration of a momentous achievement for our hospital that will help us serve our patients and our community for generations to come. Everyone at Sutter Santa Rosa knows the hard work it’s taken to reach this milestone, and I want to offer a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to our team, which has continually served this community with integrity and compassion,” said Peterson.

Out with The Shovels and in with The Sharpies

Ahead of the event, hospital staff, physicians and construction crewmembers were invited to sign their names on the final beam. Former hospital CEO, Mike Purvis, was even on hand to add his name to history.

“It warms my heart to know that this beam was personally signed by our hospital’s doctors, nurses, staff and construction crew—all important players in our hospital’s future,” said Peterson. “Once the beam is bolted into place, it will signify that we’re ready for the next chapter in our 2022 hospital expansion.”

Construction in the Time of COVID

From first learning of the pandemic, the HerreroBOLDT team made worker safety its number one priority, ensuring proper social distancing and masking.

“Our biggest accomplishment thus far has been that we have not had a single case of COVID-19 spread on our project,” said Tom Guardino, HerreroBOLDT project superintendent. “Our entire team has been committed to early proactive behaviors.”

Crunching the Numbers of Hauling Dirt & Erecting Steel

• During the preparation of the project site, crews hauled off 3,300 yards of dirt—enough to fill 1.5 Olympic-size swimming pools.

• During the foundations phase, teams poured 1,987 yards of concrete. It was delivered in 223 concrete trucks and represents 8 million 47 thousand pounds of concrete.

• Roughly 196 thousand pounds of reinforcing was used to strengthen the building’s foundations. If stretched out in a continuous line, it would span more than 7 miles.

• The expansion consists of 441 tons of structural steel, weighing about 882,000 pounds. To put that into perspective, an average blue whale weighs about 110 tons. That means the building’s steel weighs about four blue whales.

“We are excited about the opportunity to build such an important project in the North Bay. A lot of our construction works are from this area. We’ve enjoyed a long and successful history with Sutter, and we are proud to be part of a project that will give back to the community for years to come,” Guardino said.

About Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, part of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, is an 84-bed acute care hospital that offers an extensive array of inpatient and outpatient services. The facility opened in 2014 and 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.

Seven Months of Coronavirus. Here’s What We’ve Learned Treating COVID Patients.

Posted on Jul 24, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

SAN FRANCISCO – The novel coronavirus has been with us since January 2020—and California is still in a continuation of the first wave. As the pandemic drags on, the medical community has acted as a sponge, absorbing knowledge of how the infection is best treated from each new case.

Vernon Giang, M.D., chief medical executive of California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit integrated network of care, shares four learnings CPMC clinicians have discovered since they began treating some of the nation’s first COVID-19 cases in March.

Constantly Refining the Approach to Treatment

COVID-19 symptoms differ based on the severity of disease. Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are more commonly reported among those who are hospitalized with COVID-19 than among those with milder cases of the disease.

“Early on, the thinking was to put patients with compromised lung function on a ventilator,” said Giang. “We’re managing patients much better now with high-flow oxygen. This is an incredible advance to keep patients surviving COVID-19 without bearing the risks of intubation.”

Additionally, Giang says, “Treatment of COVID patients has become more focused over the last few months because we’ve learned what drugs are effective against the disease.”

For instance, clinicians have learned that hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine isn’t effective against COVID-19. Rather, the anti-viral drug remdesivir is producing much stronger outcomes.

Increased & Faster Testing Means Early I.D. of Positive Patients

CPMC, like all hospitals in the Sutter network, test hospitalized patients for COVID-19, including those preparing for an upcoming surgical procedure.

“Testing is a very important part of controlling the spread of COVID-19. If we can get increased rapid testing down and make it widespread, we can help decrease the community spread of this virus. Testing in a hospital setting is important, too, as it enables staff to separate positive patients away from others, thus reducing exposure,” says Giang.

Sutter hospitals have also adopted cohorting, or grouping together, COVID positive patients on the same floor, which reduces the risk of spread and the need for additional PPE.

Clinical Progression Timeline

Giang shares that there is a strong correlation between patient infection rates and large public gatherings.

“We’re on a four- to six-week cycle,” he said. “People in early June were asking, ‘Why isn’t the death rate and hospitalizations rising?’ but we’ve learned it’s because the infection cycle takes time.”

An example of this timeline is when the country began opening over Memorial Day (May 22-25, 2020).
Giang explains that it took a couple of weeks after the holiday (COVID’s 2 to 14-day incubation period) for individuals to contract the virus and, in some cases, get sick enough that their symptoms required medical attention. In week’s three and four (or more), around mid-to-late June, we began seeing people hospitalized and pass away from the virus in increased numbers because the virus had taken its toll on their bodies.

Additionally, he confirms that patients with chronic diseases or conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, have a much greater chance of succumbing to COVID-19 because their bodies are already at a physical disadvantage, making it harder to fight off the disease.

Masking Works

According to Giang, we’ve learned there are significant portions of the population, particularly young people, who are asymptomatic or show no COVID-19 symptoms.

“What we’re seeing now is a surge in cases across the U.S. There are a number of reasons for this increase, including folks who are tired of being cooped up and returning to daily activities as if COVID didn’t exists. Some of it is from the fallout of people thinking they’re invincible and like it can’t happen to them.”

He continues, “We know that diligent masking works to help to slow the virus’ spread.”

Since March 2020, all Sutter hospitals, as well as Sutter outpatient and Walk-In Care facilities, have enacted 24-7 masking for all employees and patients. The Sutter network has also restricted visitors in these facilities.

“We’ve been able to effectively keep on top of community spread [within CPMC],” he said. “Now that we’re seeing a patient surge, we need to continue to be prudent about masking and how we connect and carry on about our everyday lives. Social Distancing and cleaning your hands frequently are also important. Things are opening up, but that doesn’t mean this virus is over.”

The Learning Never Stops

CPMC physicians, like those in teams across Sutter network, are constantly refining their approach to care in treating COVID-19 patients.

“A lot of people we’re seeing are recuperating. We’re learning everyday about how to be more effective with our treatment and we’re sending people home.”

Breast Cancer Survivor’s Tale of ‘Consistent, Compassionate Care’ — Even During COVID-19

Posted on Jul 23, 2020 in People, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Foundation, Women's Services

ELK GROVE, Calif. – Pamela Randall’s breast cancer journey began with her diagnosis in June 2018.

Pamela Randall

Her physician—Joyce Eaker, M.D., who recently retired from Sutter Medical Group—called her after the cancer removal surgery with the pathology report. That’s when Randall, a global workforce consultant who lives in Elk Grove, Calif., learned the road ahead would be difficult, including a double mastectomy, 10 rounds of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation.

“It was like she was talking to a family member,” Randall says. “What she told me was, ‘I didn’t want anyone else to call you with this news.’ I’d never heard of a doctor with that kind of commitment. She was someone to lean on, someone who was reassuring and kind.”

Mastectomy & Treatment

To help manage her appointments and clinician communications, Randall relied on My Health Online, Sutter’s online patient portal, and the medical staff who cared for her. Dr. Eaker performed her double mastectomy, while Lynne Hackert, M.D., performed the first step in her breast reconstruction, placing the tissue expanders at the time of her mastectomy.

At Sutter Cancer Center, Randall’s Sutter Medical Group oncologist, Nitin Rohatgi, M.D., “was reassuring, clear, comforting, direct and knowledgeable,” she says.

For Randall, the hardest part of the journey was undergoing daily radiation, five days a week for five weeks. But she says her Sutter Medical Foundation radiation oncologist, Carlin Hauck, M.D., understood the emotional strain and connected her with Sutter’s integrative health specialists, who taught her meditation and breathing techniques to use before every treatment.

Randall’s radiation treatments ended in May 2019. She had to wait a year before reconstructive surgery due to tissue damage caused by the radiation.

Reconstructive Surgery During COVID-19

Seeking medical treatment in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic meant taking extra steps to continue her care.

She met by video visit with her California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) reconstructive surgeon, Gabriel Kind, M.D., who would perform her DIEP flap procedure. In a DIEP flap procedure, tissues and blood vessels are taken from the abdomen to repair areas of the breast tissue that have been severely damaged.

On instruction from her CPMC team, Randall, her son and her boyfriend received COVID tests and isolated themselves before her July 6 surgery. At CPMC’s Davies campus, where Randall’s nearly 10-hour surgery was performed, staff requested that she go to pre-op alone, without her boyfriend, to minimize any possibility of exposing patients to COVID.

“They weren’t taking any chances,” Randall says. “They were keeping COVID out of their facility. That gave me the confidence to give my boyfriend a kiss and go up alone.”

After the surgery, she spent five days in the hospital recovering. Now Randall feels like she’s getting better day by day.

During her time at CPMC, she says, several nurses confided in her that they’d had the same procedure done.

“They said, ‘I was where you are. You’re doing great. You’ve got this. You’re in good hands.’

“And I was, all the way through.”

How One Infectious Disease Doc is Navigating Day-to-Day Activities Amid COVID-19

Posted on Jul 15, 2020 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized

We’re all learning to live in this new normal as it seems coronavirus might be among us for longer than we’d like. With cities, counties and states approaching their reopening strategies differently, many are confused about which everyday practices are risky or safe. We interviewed Gary Green, M.D., an infectious disease doctor practicing at Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods, about how he’s approaching ordinary activities like having friends over and getting his hair cut. Here’s what he had to say.

Gary Green, M.D., infectious disease specialist

Q: When and where are you wearing your mask these days?

Dr. Green: A good way to answer this important question is when do I not wear a mask. I have been wearing a regular surgical mask nearly all the time: walking inside or through any work or public building, including the grocery store and gas station. I wear a mask when I am close to any other individuals besides my immediate family, inside or outside. The only instances where I don’t wear a surgical mask is when I am alone in my car or office, or when I am exercising outside alone or distanced from others.

Q: Are you having people over to your home right now? Why or why not?

Dr. Green: We are not having any visitors over to our house right now because state and local physical distancing recommendations are still in place. A few friends and neighbors have dropped by to say hello, but we keep the conversation outside, brief, and all persons are wearing masks. Lots of FaceTime with friends and family.

Q: You’re an avid cyclist. How have you adapted your rides since the virus began?

Dr. Green: I’m wearing a lightweight neck-gaiter that I pull over my nose and mouth when I am close to others. If I’m out riding with one or two friends, we keep greater than 10 feet distance.

Q: You have adult son and teenage daughter. What are you telling them about COVID-19 safety and how to stay healthy?

Dr. Green: Staying healthy and uninfected is very important. We are careful to encourage social distancing and avoiding any crowded or public mixing with our kids’ friends or neighbors.

For the first time, I am grateful for the iPhone and iPad, as they communicate virtually with their friends and rarely get restless or get cabin fever. We do so much more as a family. My son and I might play chess or billiards, and as a family we have been binging many Netflix series and movies. It’s been a delightful and sweet time at the house, and when the kids get cabin fever, we try to do an outdoor event such as a family hike.

Q: How are you managing haircuts these last few months?

Dr. Green: There are a few things I really like to do: get a haircut, mow the yard, and wash my car. I was missing the haircut routine, and for the first two times, my wife cut my hair outside in our garage. She did a great job! Last week, I made an appointment and the stylist and I wore masks the whole time. Even with precautions, there is some risk even in this public setting. Consider asking what precautions your salon or barber shop are taking before you go.

Q: What’s your best guess about when we may have a vaccine?

Dr. Green: There are a lot of variables so we can’t know for sure. According to a June Los Angeles Times article, there are approximately 160 vaccines for COVID-19 in the research pipeline worldwide right now. Between two and four COVID-19 research vaccines in the U.S. are heading into phase 3 trials, the step just before FDA licensing and approval. This is lightning speed for vaccine research and development. The vaccine process often takes years or even decades, it is being compressed into months.

Q: COVID-19 has brought many challenges. Are there any silver linings?

Dr. Green: The amount of collaboration I have seen in the medical and scientific community has been astounding. Out of necessity, we are advancing our technology and our production in diagnostic testing, new treatments, and enforcing prevention strategies. As an infectious disease specialist, I have deepened my working knowledge of immunology to a much greater degree. In all these collaborative community and international efforts, I hope that we are deliberate and certain to share our advances and our fortunes with communities and countries that don’t have the access to medical care like we do.