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Diabetes Language Matters

Posted on Nov 13, 2020 in Quality Care, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Diabetes care teams across Sutter Health are talking differently these days. That’s because the effect language has on patient care and patient outcomes can be profound. Endocrinologist Melissa Weinberg, M.D., affiliated with Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation and lead physician of Sutter’s Diabetes Clinical Improvement Community (DCIC), explains that as our U.S. healthcare system moves toward a more patient-centered approach, it’s necessary for providers to reexamine their words.

“When we started looking at diabetes care through a linguistic lens, we found unintended judgmental language across chart notes, patient education handouts, and even in our conversations. Beginning this November, to recognize American Diabetes Month, our teams are working on using person-first language whenever possible,” Weinberg says.

Talking the Talk

Person-first language puts a person before their diagnosis, describing what a person “has” rather than asserting what a person “is.”

“Despite even the best intentions, words can result in patients feeling like they are their diagnosis,” says Michelle Bradley, an exercise physiologist with Palo Alto Medical Foundation, who also serves on Sutter’s DCIC and is working to promote World Diabetes Day on November 14.

Referring to a patient as ‘diabetic’ can reinforce that as their identity, i.e. “I am diabetic.” Rather, Bradley says, it would be better to say “a person with diabetes” which puts the patient first and shows compassionate and encouraging language that may help enhance their outcomes and experience.

Stigma around certain language can impact care. According to two different studies (here and here), possibly because of perceived judgment from healthcare professionals, people with diabetes sometimes altered or underreported blood glucose levels or omitted information during provider visits.

Neutral Language Helps Remove Stigma

While a language movement in healthcare isn’t a new concept, there is greater emphasis to use language that empowers and supports. Here are four examples of phrases that Sutter diabetes care teams are working to incorporate in patient communications:

  • Monitoring blood sugar/glucose” instead of “Testing blood sugar/glucose”
  • A person who…” (takes medication 3/7 days, unable to access supplies, continues to eat ice cream before bed) instead of “Non-compliant, non-adherent, unwilling”
  • Managing, Working towards…” instead of “controlled, uncontrolled, sub-optimal”
  • Use “Guidelines or Recommendations are…” instead of “You should, have to, need to, must”

“The way we speak affects the way we think and ultimately how patients feel,” says Weinberg.

More Than Their Diagnosis

Sutter Health is committed to improving healthcare outcomes for all, which includes communication with and about patients.

“When we change our language, we change the perception. Simple wording changes can go a long way in helping to build and strengthen patient relationships,” says Bradley.

CAL FIRE Fundraiser Benefits SPMF Cancer Support Services

Posted on Nov 9, 2020 in Cancer Care, Scroll Images

Current and former employees of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, known as CAL FIRE, recently donated $20,000 to Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation’s (SPMF) Cancer Support Services program.

Their donation was made possible thanks to monies raised from the Unit’s Forestry Crab Feed. This annual event invites CAL FIRE employees and their family and friends to eat in the name of fundraising.

“Our tradition with this dinner is to help raise money for those in our community in need,” said Ben Nicholls, CAL FIRE Division Chief. “We have retired members battling cancer, so we’ve heard firsthand the impact these counseling groups and other services have on these individuals. We wanted to give this year’s donation in their names. This $20,000 also represents the largest one-time contribution given in our 60-year history of hosting the Forestry Crab Feed.”

Sutter Health’s approach to cancer care combines conventional medical treatments with evidence-based supportive services and integrative practices to strengthen and enhance a patient’s overall well-being.

“Donations like this mean everything,” said Cindi Cantril, RN, MPH, OCN, CBCN, regional director of cancer support services and patient navigation for Sutter Bay Medical Foundation. “We are proud that all the money that’s given, 100 percent of it, impacts patients directly.”

Sutter affiliates provide care for nearly a third of all cancers in Sonoma County.

Cancer care for the mind, body & soul

Cancer Support Services offers a wide range of supportive services to help patients and their families address the many physical, psychological and emotional challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis through navigation, support groups, peer support, and patient education.

SPMF’s Cancer Support Services program helps improve the long-term health of patients by offering services that:

  • improve patients’ knowledge of their diagnosis and their ability to practice self-care
  • reduce the stress, fear, and anxiety of both patients and their caregivers
  • improve adherence to individualized treatment plans and continuing survivorship care
  • educate them about local and national resources on a wide range of topics (e.g., finances, nutrition, stress reduction, exercise, and recovery)

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, early cancer detection is still the key to recovery.

Medical experts agree that if you had an appointment postponed or canceled due to COVID-19, such as an annual mammogram, now is the time to reschedule it.

For more information about cancer care at Sutter Health, visit here.

‘Catwalk For A Cure’ Raises $140K In Virtual Event

Posted on Nov 5, 2020 in Cancer Care, Scroll Images

In Sonoma County, Calif., approximately 2,400 people are diagnosed with cancer each year.

“We are living in extraordinary times, and in spite of all this, cancer diagnoses are still happening,” said Lisa Amador, assistant administrator and director of philanthropy for Sutter Health in the North Bay.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sutter’s philanthropy team knew they needed to change up their famed Catwalk For A Cure event, which raises money to support programs and services for those with living cancer.

“A reimagining was necessary and vital to support Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation’s Cancer Support and Integrative Health & Healing services. We got busy planning a fun and meaningful tribute,” said Amador.

Going Virtual in 2020

This year’s revamped format featured interviews with cancer survivors, ‘did you know’ Catwalk trivia, music, and hundreds of photos of the most outrageous fashions from years past.

Cindy Cantril, RN, MPH, OCN, CBCN, regional director of cancer support services and patient navigation for Sutter Bay Medical Foundation, shared that Sutter’s Cancer Support Services are available to anyone battling cancer, whether they are receiving care through Sutter or not.

“Our goal is to serve patients from the moment of diagnosis to end of life. We provide virtual support groups, pain relief, equine-assisted therapy, retreats, counseling, and educational programs that help with anxiety, nutrition, and exercise,” said Cantril.

Tara Jasper was among the interviewees who opened up to viewers about her cancer journey.

“The network of women and survivors I have met through the Catwalk community has given me an incredible safety net. I’m grateful to all the donors for being so committed to keeping this program and these services alive,” she said.

Catwalk’s Legacy

Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation’s (SPMF) Cancer Support and Integrative Health & Healing services have been assisting cancer patients and their families since 2004. Programs are philanthropically funded, provided at no cost to individuals, and are kept going because of grants, foundation support and individual donors.

This year, more than $140,000 was raised virtually, with more than $5 Million raised since the first Catwalk event. To watch the 2020 recording, please visit here.

CPMC’s HELP Program for Older Adults Receives Top Designation from AGS

Posted on Oct 22, 2020 in Quality Care, Scroll Images

CPMC becomes fifth U.S. medical center to achieve elite ‘Center of Excellence’ status

California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco is now one of only five organizations in the United States to achieve the American Geriatric Society (AGC) CoCare: HELP™ Center of Excellence designation for its Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP). CPMC was recently awarded this elite status after demonstrating the highest level of best practices in geriatric care.

“I am so proud of our dedicated team at CPMC for all their hard work in building a world-class geriatric care program,” says hospitalist and geriatrician Wendy Zachary, M.D., who directs CPMC’s Acute Care for Elderly (ACE) unit and is the HELP physician-champion. “This accreditation from the American Geriatric Society validates and strengthens our mission to provide patient-centered, advanced care for older members of our community who are particularly medically vulnerable–especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Watch this video about CPMC’s ACE unit.

Targeted Interventions Lead to Better Outcomes for People Ages 70+

The AGC CoCare: HELP™ program is designed to prevent both delirium and functional decline in patients 70 years and older. CPMC’s HELP program uses an interdisciplinary team (Advanced Practice Nurses, specially-trained Elder Life Specialists, and trained volunteers) to integrate principles of geriatric care into standard nursing and medical care at all three CPMC hospital campuses in San Francisco, including the ACE unit at the Mission Bernal Campus, as well as the Van Ness Campus and Davies Campus.

Geriatric syndromes include conditions typical of aging such as delirium, incontinence, falls, pressure injuries, and functional decline. CPMC’s HELP program works to prevent these geriatric syndromes in the hospital setting by helping re-orient patients to their surroundings through conversation and social support, assisting with range-of-motion and breathing exercises, walking, offering companionship during meals, implementing a schedule, and more.

Benefits of HELP at CPMC include:

  • Helps maximize independence and physical functioning of high-risk patients (age 70+)
  • Improves overall quality of hospital care for older patients, including improvement in hospital outcomes and satisfaction with care
  • Helps decrease the length of stay for patients by an average of 1- 1.5 days
  • Helps reduce hospital readmissions
    • Van Ness Campus’ HELP program saw a decrease in readmissions by 11% in 2020 Q1, 17% in 2019, and 24% in 2018
    • Mission Bernal Campus’ HELP program prevented more than 30 readmissions in 2019
  • Helps reduce falls for older patients by as much as 50% at the Van Ness Campus and Davies Campus (2019)
  • Provides cost-effective care, with reduced overall hospital costs by as much as $2 Million across each of the three campuses in 2019

“The HELP program is making a meaningful difference in changing the course of lives for elderly patients and their loved ones, and I am truly grateful for our staff, volunteers and support from our philanthropic donors who helped make this elite recognition possible,” said Warren Browner, M.D., CEO of CPMC.

Mission Bernal Campus Hub of Geriatric Care in San Francisco

While CPMC’s HELP program is carried out across all its three campuses, its Mission Bernal Campus is home to the medical center’s comprehensive ACE unit and one of only three accredited Geriatric Emergency Departments in Northern California.

“These differentiators of specialty care for older adults and this recent acknowledgement from the AGS further highlights CPMC’s commitment to geriatric care and cements our Mission Bernal Campus as a hub of geriatric patient care in San Francisco and the broader Bay Area,” says Vernon Giang, M.D., chief medical executive of Sutter’s CPMC.

Musical B-I-N-G-O Brings Moments of Levity for One Hospitalized Elder

Posted on Oct 22, 2020 in Quality Care, Scroll Images

Callie Cowart, a full-time board-certified music therapist at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco uses music to heal.

Cowart recently offered her therapy sessions to an older patient undergoing care at CPMC’s Mission Bernal Campus Acute Care for Elderly (ACE) unit. Cowart explains that the patient had many recurring hospitalizations over the span of four months this year.

“She and I worked together originally to use music to provide a competing stimulus to pain, which she unfortunately experienced a lot of during her time here,” said Cowart.

A B-I-N-G-O Playlist to East Anxiety & Pain

As Cowart and the patient got to know each other, the patient would look forward to sessions with “her Callie” as an energy booster and motivator.

“One morning I read in the physical therapist’s notes that prior to shelter-in-place this patient would frequent a local BINGO hall, but she’s not been able attend since the start of the pandemic. Since I knew her favorite songs, I surprised her in our next session with a customized BINGO card with each square having a different song title,” said Cowart.

To give the full effect, Cowart cut out strips of paper with the matching song titles, placed them in a bag, and used the strips as her BINGO balls that the patient could pull out. Once a BINGO “ball” was drawn, the two would sing and play together.

Music Therapy at CPMC

The Music Therapy Program at CPMC offers patients and their families the opportunity to receive therapy services from a board-certified music therapist, at no cost to the family. Music therapists are seen as an integrated part of the patient’s multidisciplinary care team and work closely with doctors, nurses, child life specialists and other therapists as part of care for the patient’s whole self.

The Sound of Music on Health

According to an article published on Harvard Health, a growing body of research attests that music therapy is more than a nice perk. It can improve medical outcomes and quality of life in a variety of ways.

For example, music therapy can help people who are recovering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury that has damaged the left-brain region responsible for speech. Because singing ability originates in the right side of the brain, people can work around the injury to the left side of their brain by first singing their thoughts and then gradually dropping the melody.

Sessions that Strike the Right Chords

Cowart says that the patient was an excellent handheld shaker player and developed a sort of fan club among the ACE unit staff for her spunky personality.

“She told me time and time again that this musical intervention gave her an increased sense of social support and mood/energy boosting during her hospitalizations at ACE because visitors had not been allowed in the hospital during COVID,” shared Cowart.

“Having something and someone to look forward to in a place that can sometimes be scary or associated with negative memories and emotions can prove to be very important,” she adds.

As for the patient, thankfully she has not had to return to the ACE unit and appears to be doing well, which is music to Cowart’s ears.