Posts by dugase

Giving Thanks: Sutter Health Shows Gratitude for Communities with Support of Food Banks

Posted on Nov 23, 2020 in Community Health, Scroll Images

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline healthcare workers within Sutter Health’s network have received an outpouring of support from community members in the regions they serve. Individuals and organizations have donated equipment, bought meals for physicians and staff, sent cards of gratitude and well wishes, and organized hero walks for our essential workers.

Sutter Health clinicians and staff have been deeply touched by these meaningful tributes and remain grateful to serve such tightly knit communities.

As the season of gratitude quickly approaches, Sutter clinicians, staff and volunteers are proud to be able to give back and continue the organization’s annual support of food banks, food kitchens and pantries. This year, Sutter Health is contributing to 31 food banks and other similar organizations across Northern California, Oregon and Hawaii. Due to the hardship of the pandemic, food banks are experiencing a significant increase in demand as more families rely on their services. Media reports state that the percentage of those without access to adequate food during the pandemic has doubled.

Bridging the Gap

As a not-for-profit organization, Sutter Health’s mission is to help improve the health of the communities it serves, inside and outside the walls of its clinical care sites. The health of individuals and families are often directly tied to specific social determinants like being able to access fresh, nutritious groceries or gain better access to stable housing.

Due to the terrible economic effects of the pandemic, helping families put fresh, wholesome food on their table is more important than ever and we applaud the community partners who are working hard to meet this pressing need.

Sutter’s annual investment to support food banks aligns with priority areas identified in Sutter Health’s tri-annual Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). A key focus area of many communities’ CHNA is active living, healthy eating and reducing food insecurity. One way we help keep communities healthy is by annually supporting local food banks across Northern California to help improve access to nutrition for underserved communities.

As an example of this work, at the beginning of this year, Sutter Health started a pilot program to redirect excess, unserved food from hospital kitchens and cafeterias to local nonprofits. The program, which now involves 14 Sutter hospitals, has reduced food waste from our facilities and provided consistent food delivery to 17 nonprofits, totaling more than 35,000 meals to date.

Sutter has also supported the Yolo Food Bank’s outstanding efforts to provide access to food for Yolo County residents. During the pandemic, Sutter Health Park – home of the Sacramento River Cats – became home to Yolo Food Bank’s drive-through distribution of free, fresh food to people in need. Volunteers from Sutter Davis Hospital have been proud to help sort, package and place food in vehicles during some of the weekly distributions.

Over the summer, the staff and clinicians at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley and Oakland organized a virtual food drive with the Alameda County Community Food Bank to show their community some love. The drive fostered healthy competition between different departments of the hospitals and raised $13,400 to help provide much-needed food to people struggling with hunger.

These are just some of the ways Sutter Health can bridge the gap and step in to support underserved communities in need. In 2019, Sutter Health invested $830 million in community benefit, which includes supporting health education, community clinics, traditional charity care and unreimbursed Medi-Cal costs. For more information about Sutter’s investment into Northern California communities, visit Sutter Health’s Community Benefit page www.sutterhealth.org/community-benefit.

Prioritizing health equity means keeping telehealth for mental health and addiction care

Posted on Nov 16, 2020 in Mental Health & Addiction Care, Scroll Images

John Boyd, PsyD, CEO for Mental Health & Addiction Care at Sutter Health

At Sutter Health, we see tremendous value in viewing mental health and addiction care through a “human health” lens for many reasons, including the fact that they are so intertwined with our experiences as human beings. Never has this been truer than now, as COVID-19 has caused massive disruption to our daily lives, leading to heightened anxiety, loneliness and uncertainty. Building meaningful relationships with the people who seek our care can provide a consistent, strong foundation for recovery. In 2020, safely achieving this much-needed sense of continuity and stability meant rapidly scaling up our telehealth service offerings across our network.

John Boyd, PsyD, CEO for Mental
Health & Addiction Care at Sutter Health

For many years, my healthcare colleagues and I have viewed telehealth as a potentially revolutionary way to remove barriers to access for more of the population, particularly in rural areas that face geographic isolation and provider shortages. Telehealth offers a range of benefits for these traditionally underserved communities, and at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that it would be a critical component of our response.

Thanks to the decisive action of federal and state regulators, telehealth guidelines were eased, the state of California required reimbursement, and insurance providers revised reimbursement procedures to cover these vital video visits.

All of these changes enabled our integrated network to rapidly scale our telehealth services to meet our communities’ medical and behavioral healthcare needs. The numbers are powerful—a clear signal that we should make permanent the regulatory changes and flexibility granted during this unprecedented time.

We’ve seen this significant expansion of services in the past seven months (March through October, 2020):

● 90% of outpatient behavioral health visits shifted to virtual care

● More than 30,000 patients referred to Quartet, our partner for in-person, telepsychiatry and digital-care services

● Achieved a decrease in no-show rates for both established and new patients, thanks to new patient referrals via video: at 5%, which is down from 15-25%

● 4,440 telepsychiatry consults completed across 16 Sutter emergency departments and hospitals (In fact, 10,900 patients have benefited from telepsychiatry in 16 hospital emergency departments since the launch of this service in 2017.)

Regulatory changes made at the beginning of the pandemic are directly allowing us to better serve patients, and it’s worth noting which specific populations are benefitting. Even before stay-at-home orders began, people living in rural communities faced challenges in being able to consistently make in-person appointments due to factors like limited transportation, finding childcare and taking time off work. Prior to the pandemic, Medicare also required that a patient’s very first visit with a mental health provider be in-person to qualify for reimbursement. Thanks to the flexibility granted this year, new patients can conduct their first visits through telehealth. This small change made a huge difference for rural patients, elderly or disabled individuals, and anyone else whose schedule makes in-person visits difficult.

Providing high-quality care to people with mental health or addiction issues requires early intervention, long-term care and acute response in emergencies. And until we can eliminate the unfortunate stigma long associated with mental health and addiction care, in-home telehealth visits can also take the fear out of seeking care. By virtually meeting individuals in their own homes, we’re ensuring that they have consistent support no matter what’s going on in the outside world. We can reach those in need before they find themselves in a moment of crisis.

As we look to the future, we should be encouraged by this year’s successes with telehealth and inspired to build on these advancements to further reimagine mental health and addiction care. Virtual visits must remain a necessary and vital aspect of care. The evidence is overwhelming, and we know the demand for this care is becoming greater than ever as well. We have an opportunity to permanently alter the role of telehealth in our healthcare system, and we support the regulators, policymakers and legislators working to make that a reality.

COVID-19 may have been the impetus for the rapid acceleration of our telehealth services, but our commitment to human health and providing the care that our communities need should drive us to keep the momentum going.

Learn more about our telehealth offerings at Sutter Health, or make an appointment, here.

Six Sutter Medical Network Organizations Achieve IHA Honors

Posted on Nov 6, 2020 in Quality Care, Scroll Images

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Integrated Healthcare Association (IHA) has recognized six Sutter Medical Network (SMN) organizations for achieving top marks on quality and/or patient experience measures while effectively managing cost of care for Commercial HMO patients in 2019.

Excellence in Healthcare Award

The Excellence in Healthcare Award represents the highest level of achievement awarded by the IHA. To earn this award, physician organizations must perform in the top 50th percentile across three domains: clinical quality, patient experience and total cost of care for their commercial HMO population.

Sutter Medical Group, part of Sutter Medical Foundation, was one of just 20 physician organizations statewide to receive a 2020 Excellence in Healthcare Award from IHA. Of the nearly 200 physician organizations statewide participating in the Align. Measure. Perform. program, one in ten received an Excellence in Healthcare Award this year.

Exemplary Performance

IHA also recognizes physician organizations that demonstrated exemplary domain-specific performance. Sutter-affiliated Mills-Peninsula Medical Group and Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group, both affiliated with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, achieved high performance (top 10th percentile) in the clinical quality and patient experience domains. Three more Sutter-affiliated physician organizations, Sutter Medical Group, Gould Medical Group, and Sutter East Bay Medical Group achieved high performance (top 10th percentile) in the patient experience domain only.

Most Improved

IHA also recognizes eight physician organizations—one from each region— that demonstrate the greatest year-to-year improvement in clinical quality and patient experience domains. Sutter Independent Physicians* earned the Ronald P. Bangasser Most Improved honor for making the greatest improvements in quality and patient experience from 2018-2019 among all physician organizations in the Sacramento and Northern California Region.

Sutter Medical Network is part of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit network of care, which proactively implements programs across its system that continuously improve the quality and value of healthcare for patients. Integration across Sutter’s regions, clinical settings and data environments is delivering care models with some of the best clinical outcomes in the nation.

* Sutter Independent Physicians contracts with Sutter Valley Medical Foundation to provide care to its HMO and SutterSelect patients. 

Health Policy Leader Took Values to the National Stage

Posted on Nov 5, 2020 in Access to Care, Scroll Images

Last week, Philip Randolph Lee, M.D., passed away at age 96. A nationally known advocate for access to high quality healthcare, Dr. Lee served presidents, desegregated hospitals, led San Francisco through the AIDS epidemic, served as a university chancellor, co-authored health policy texts, and more. But before he did all those things, he cared for patients as an internist at the Palo Alto Clinic (precursor to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation), the multi-specialty medical practice his father, Russel V.A. Lee M.D., co-founded in 1930.

“PAMF was home to him,” said Shira Lipton, M.D., a dermatologist practicing at PAMF, who was mentored by Dr. Lee. “Not just because his father was one of the founders, but because it exemplified excellent medical care and patient-centered research. PAMF was a place he would always go back to, an institution that delivered on the potential of what he hoped for our nation’s health system.”

Dr. Lee had seen elderly patients have poor health outcomes as a result of not having insurance and he entered the realm of public policy believing that healthcare is a service to society. In 1963, Dr. Lee first moved to Washington D.C. to serve as director of health for the Agency for International Development. Two years later Dr. Lee left his post to join the Lyndon Johnson administration as assistant secretary for health and scientific affairs at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. There, Dr. Lee played a key role in the implementation of Medicare, including conditioning Medicare payments on a hospital’s adherence to provisions in the then new law that covered desegregation of hospitals.

In 1969 Dr. Lee returned to the Bay Area to become chancellor for the University of California, San Francisco and he worked with the UCSF Black Caucus to improve diversity at the university. He then became director of the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies, which bears his name today.

Former PAMF Research Institute Director Harold “Hal” Luft, Ph.D., worked with Dr. Lee at the Institute from 1973 to 1993. At the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in 1985, Dr. Lee was also appointed the first President of the San Francisco Health Commission. Dr. Luft recalls how difficult the work was but also how uniquely suited Dr. Lee was to the role.

“He really cared about people,” Dr Luft said. “He cared about equity. He’d always be there for individuals, remembering everyone’s name and offering help before being asked. He put relationships before transactions.”

Dr. Lee was again called to Washington D.C. in 1992 to step into the role of Assistant Secretary for Health under the Clinton administration. When PAMF become part of Sutter in 1993, the complimentary PAMF and Sutter values of community service grew and strengthened each other as the organizational cultures blended, and the Lee family legacy was a big part of this, recalls Sutter Health President and CEO Sarah Krevans.

“Dr. Philip Lee mentored and inspired those around him to advance the causes of health equity and health policy reform because he grew up seeing the progress possible when clinicians collaborate to advance public health and improve the lives of others,” Krevans said. “His example still inspires us today through our Advancing Health Equity team, and our overall commitment to enhancing the health of our communities through our integrated, not-for-profit network of care.”

Athletes Know: the Flu Shot Keeps You Healthy On and Off the Field

Posted on Oct 26, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

Despite cold conditions, rain and mud, players and fans eagerly anticipate Major League Soccer’s playoffs in November and December. And while things certainly are different this year with COVID-19, very few things normally keep a fan out of the stands or an athlete off the field. However, the flu is one of them.

“Our playoffs are in the winter months, when flu and seasonal colds are circulating,” said Shea Salinas, midfielder for the San Jose Earthquakes. “I get the flu shot every year to guard against getting sick and potentially missing an important game.”

Instead of being benched by the flu, Salinas is scoring goals. He recently scored a crucial goal in a 2-1 win over Los Angeles Football Club just days after getting his flu shot at a Sutter Walk-In Care Center. “They say defense wins championships, and defending yourself from the flu keeps you performing your best,” remarked Salinas.

Passionate about promoting health, Salinas was happy to use his celebrity status to spread the word about the importance of getting a flu shot, especially because people who skip the flu vaccine this year could run the risk of getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Working with Sutter Health, exclusive healthcare partner of the San Jose Earthquakes, Salinas filmed a public service announcement that emphasizes that it’s quick, easy and safe to get your flu shot.

The flu shot won’t protect you from getting COVID-19, but it’ll help prevent you from getting sick with both the flu and COVID at the same time. To schedule your flu shot at a Sutter Health Walk-In Care, call (800) 972-5547 or visit our website for other appointment options.