Posts by madisol

Healthcare Acts in Creative Ways to Help Impacted Staff

Posted on Apr 30, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

COVID-19 continues to raise questions about the future and what the next phase or new “normal” may look like. Those working in healthcare are not immune to these issues, but employers and employees are responding in creative and compassionate ways to help impacted workers feel supported in a time with many unknowns.

Regroup. Then Retrain.

Hospitals and healthcare systems in California continue their preparations for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients. Those preparations have caused a shift in clinical operations and changes in workflows—even as systems are discussing resuming some procedures and services through a phased, safety-first approach.

Where does this leave employees today?

At Sutter Health, operating room personnel, surgery center staff and others have been given the opportunity for reassignment and redeployment to different areas of its integrated network depending on where they may be needed. And hundreds of them have raised their hands to volunteer.

Joey Benton

‘Motivational Surge’

Meet Joey Benton. She’s been a surgical nurse for the past 20 years currently based at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital (SSRRH). She completed a cross-training online course to learn the ins and outs of medical charting for medical-surgical units. Since wading into the labor pool, she has been shadowing and supporting those unit nurses caring for patients. She’s been assisting by programming IV pumps, giving medications or conducting advanced wound care. She even takes shifts as a temperature checker at the hospital entrance, a measure Sutter has put in place to protect the health and safety of patients and staff.

Benton said the experience has been beneficial in more ways than one.

“It increases my motivation to learn more, to be more proactive and jump into situations where I may not be as comfortable. I feel a huge motivational surge,” she said. “Sutter is really investing in us. It doesn’t stop at nurses, either. It includes nursing assistants to EVS. If Sutter is willing to train us and support us, that’s everything we can ask for.”

Seventy-five percent of the Sutter nurses who volunteered for redeployment have been retrained to support key areas like medical-surgical units and intensive care units. Training is hosted at Sutter Health University in Sacramento by registered nurses who are trained clinical education specialists.

Groups of 10 worked together in the simulation education lab. The teams put in lots of good practice—and not just with the equipment. They respected appropriate social distancing, wore masks and followed hand hygiene and proper equipment cleaning protocols.

By the Numbers

• There are more than a 1,000 nurses throughout the network who have been retrained on our electronic health record or on how to support our COVID-19 hotline.

• Additionally, there are more than 1,300 doctors and advanced practice clinicians who have been retrained to support video visits for patients with primary care needs.

• While retraining is ongoing, the Technology Training Team that supported this work was able to do the bulk of it in less than two weeks.

Hundreds of Sutter Health employees have donated their own PTO hours into a leave sharing program and money into a philanthropic disaster relief fund – options aimed at helping their fellow employees facing financial hardship.

“Sutter Health values our entire workforce. While circumstances have changed within our network, we’ve seen an incredible response from employees raising their hands to be retrained, as well as helping each other by donating money and PTO hours,” said Jill Ragsdale, chief people and culture officer for Sutter Health. “If we are unable to redeploy staff who are willing to work, we have a wage and benefit continuation program in place to continue to support them.”

Did You Know?

Sutter Health is supporting staff in other ways, too. Sutter is collaborating with the likes of the newly launched Airbnb Work, Outdoorsy and Aimbridge Hospitality to help front line health care workers and doctors find temporary lodging around hospitals where they may be relocated to support.

What Does a PPE Push Look Like?

Posted on Apr 29, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

Chris Bell, a part of Sutter’s Supply Chain team, moves at a quick pace within the warehouse to add to the next shipment of PPE for delivery to Sutter network hospitals.

Hospitals and care centers across the U.S. count on important pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies for staff to help keep themselves and patients safe and protected. But how does it ultimately end up in the hands of those who need it–especially as questions about access and availability still exist?

See hard-working team members from Sutter Health’s Supply Chain in action at their warehouse in Sacramento, and during deliveries to California Pacific Medical Center Van Ness Campus in San Francisco, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame and Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.

Overall PPE demand has risen since Sutter’s launch of universal masking to help prevent viral spread, as well as our support other medical clinics in the community—sharing much-needed supplies when possible.

Sutter Health has evaluated more than 550 new suppliers of PPE during the last month. Due to the diligent and focused efforts of Sutter’s supply chain team, the integrated healthcare network has had some successes in the past few weeks, including:

  • Purchasing an additional 245,000 N95s above our standard delivery levels
  • Ordering 14 million surgical and procedure masks
  • Obtaining 2 million-plus isolation gowns
  • Coordinating with a linen vendor to secure 12,000 reusable gowns
  • Ordering more than 300,000 face shields
  • Receiving more than 200,000 donated gowns, face shields and masks, including N95s, surgical and procedure masks

Standing Tall Against the Surge

Posted on Apr 15, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently unveiled a guide outlining when and how California may lift various coronavirus restrictions based on a set of six criteria, including hospitals’ ability to handle any potential COVID-19 patient surges. However, Newsom cautioned against moving too fast, saying “we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”

While social distancing guidelines and sheltering in place orders appear to be helping flatten the curve in California, we don’t know whether recently reported holiday gatherings for Passover or Easter that were outside these guidelines, may cause spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Integrated healthcare networks—like Sutter Health—have built-in support mechanisms that will help the network respond and take care of patients.

“We chose healthcare because we want to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Conrad Vial, M.D., chief clinical officer for Sutter Health. “We have the privilege of doing this every day but it is even more apparent during this extraordinary time in our history. Everyone in our network is prepared to serve patients and our communities.”

Integrated networks like Sutter Health allow teams to shift quickly so hardest-hit areas can receive the necessary resources like personal protective equipment, ventilators and beds. Sutter’s surge planning efforts will allow the network to expand its critical care capacity by two to three times. This is thanks in part to having the access to the best-available statistical models and the benefit of lessons learned in areas experiencing high rates of COVID-19 including Italy, New York, Singapore and South Korea. For example, Sutter’s surge plan doubles its current ICU capacity through that the use of operating rooms, post-anesthesia care units and other spaces. While all 24 hospitals are capable of taking care of COVID-19 patients, it will also focus the first phase of critical care capacity at its six largest facilities: Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame as well Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento and Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

Sutter’s electronic intensive care unit (eICU) allows for monitoring a large number of critical care patients from a single location. The expansive telemonitoring program ensures intensive care unit patients in large cities and small towns have 24/7 access to a team of doctors and nurses specially trained in the care of ICU patients. From two central hubs, in Sacramento and San Francisco, these doctors and nurses help to monitor patients in intensive care units hundreds of miles away, using live interactive video, remote diagnostic tools and other specialized technologies to assess critical changes in a patient’s condition.

Supported by a comprehensive electronic health record, clinicians within the Sutter network can access vital information to care for 3 million patients. Similar to its ability during recent wildfires, Sutter can fill prescriptions, reschedule appointments and keep vital chemotherapy infusions on track, to ensure continuity of care for all our patients, even in the middle of a patient surge.

Additionally, to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 positive patients Sutter has:

• Postponed elective surgeries that can be safely postponed to free up supplies, staff and space;
• Increased supplies of PPE and essential equipment like ventilators;
• Set up surge tents to treat respiratory patients away from the general population;
• Created a COVID-19-specific advice line—1-866-961-2889— to triage patients before they’re seen in person;
• Increased video visit capacity to prevent sick patients from infecting other patients and staff;
• Established drive-through testing for patients who have a doctor’s order and meet criteria for testing;
• Utilized Sutter’s internal labor staffing pool, retraining employees and bringing in more advanced practice clinicians and travel nurses to support staffing needs; and
• Supported remote radiology so Sutter radiologists may interpret studies from home, increasing timeliness and access to imaging services. This can be especially helpful as critically ill patients may require chest CT scans.

“Our Sutter teams have devoted countless hours toward the rapidly changing environment this pandemic has created and we will continue to respond effectively and compassionately,” said Dr. Vial. “While we can’t predict the exact path of COVID-19, our commitment to staff and patients never changes.”

A Welcome Mat for Wherever You Are

Posted on Apr 3, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

Nothing beats the comfort of home. And while many of us are staying as safe as possible under our own roofs to help curb the spread of COVID-19, there are still those essential workers who head out the door to their jobs each day—including front line health care workers.

As healthcare organizations across the nation prepare for the surge of patients with COVID-19, there will be a need for front line health care workers and doctors to travel and meet areas of greatest need. And Sutter Health just made it easier for those front line staff.

Sutter is collaborating with the likes of the newly launched Airbnb Work , Outdoorsy and Aimbridge Hospitality to help support front line health care workers and doctors find temporary lodging around hospitals where they may be relocated to support. This service can help support healthcare workers who are self-isolating from their families or who need rest immediately after shifts, as they continue to care for others in need.

“Sutter Health is supporting our front line health care workers in many ways during this unprecedented public health emergency. We are seeking solutions to support our staff as they are caring for our patients and communities,” Jill Ragsdale, chief people and culture officer for Sutter Health. “This service helps remove the added pressure for staff caring for patients in other locations from finding temporary lodging while working away from home. We greatly appreciate how the greater community has opened their doors to support our care givers.”

This is one example of how Sutter Health is using the breadth of its integrated network to increase critical care capacity. The Airbnb Work service will be offered in several locations near existing Sutter hospitals including: Burlingame, Castro Valley, Modesto, Oakland/Berkeley, Roseville, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Tracy and Vallejo.

Respiratory therapist Rachelle Cromwell began commuting to work at Mills-Peninsula Health Center in Burlingame from her home in Chico five times a week in November 2018. She originally stayed with roommates in the Bay Area, but when the COVID-19 crisis hit her roommates no longer felt comfortable living with her.

She spent more than three weeks trying to find a new place to live. When she discovered Sutter’s collaboration with Airbnb, she applied immediately.

“I can focus on work now, and not where I’m going to sleep next,” said Cromwell, who has worked as a respiratory therapist for more than 20 years. “Every night when I come home, I feel grateful to have such a wonderful place to recuperate. Knowing that the hospital, my host and Airbnb support my efforts has meant the world to me.”

Sonnier Sibley, a physician assistant at Sutter Coast Health Center in Crescent City, had been renting a room with an elderly woman and was concerned for her safety and risk for exposure. Her application was approved the same day she applied, and she moved in to a new house two days later.

“The whole process was seamless, and everyone I communicated with made sure I was comfortable and had everything I needed,” she said. “It was a huge relief to find this opportunity. It let me know that Sutter cares about their staff and physicians, and also about the community.”

“The spirit of collaboration and innovation is exactly what’s needed right now as we tackle this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Chris Waugh, Sutter Health’s chief innovation officer. “We’re extremely pleased to partner with Airbnb and others to help support Sutter’s frontline healthcare workers who need temporary lodging near hospitals where they’ve been redeployed to care for patients. Through collaboration, we can help care for them while they care for others.”

Making Conversations Around COVID-19 Kid-Friendly

Posted on Apr 1, 2020 in Primary Care, Scroll Images

How can parents/guardians provide reassurance to children when a lot remains unknown? COVID-19 has changed our world in a short amount of time—and perhaps the course of history—but how can parents talk to kids about it now?

Krystle Balduzzi, M.D., pediatrician at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, suggests that parents/guardians acknowledge that the situation affects adults just like it affects kids. Families are watching the news or absorbing information via social media trying to find the answers that will make each other feel safe. This is where parents and caretakers can model good behavior by sharing emotions in a healthy way and encouraging children to do the same. “In order to help our kids we need to help ourselves first,” she says. “We need to understand the extreme fluid nature of this whole situation.”

Creating a Safe Place to Share

Most kids know about the coronavirus and will have questions. Dr. Balduzzi suggests parents and guardians need to ask and answer questions about COVID-19 in an age-appropriate way. “Saying everything will be fine or ‘don’t worry about it’ won’t cut it,” she says. “Reassure the child that they are safe and that everyone is working together even though we can’t be with others.”

How IS the Family Helping?

Dr. Balduzzi suggests focusing on ways the family is helping the situation: washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, keeping distance between themselves and others, making sidewalk art for neighbors or donating supplies to those in need. Children may also have questions about when they can return to friends or school. Dr. Balduzzi recommends being honest and saying no one knows yet. Rather, encourage children to help think of other ways to stay connected, like virtual visits with friends, teachers or extended family.

Finding a New Norm

Children crave structure, says Dr. Balduzzi, so getting them back into a schedule as much as possible is key. It’s important for parents and caretakers to get older kids’ input on the structure they would like to create for themselves. For those caring for younger ones, charts can help visually signal how they can stay on track. “We are now their teachers, too, and schools run on schedules, so we should considering doing the same,” she says. Dr. Balduzzi recommends keeping things simple at first: wake up, get dressed, school time, craft time, lunch, outdoor time, etc.

Family Bonds

For those in the immediate household, this is a time to stay close and connected. Hug your child, play with them at their age-appropriate level or cuddle on the couch for a movie. Dr. Balduzzi states that this will help kids feel safe. When kids don’t feel safe, they tend to act out. This behavior change can include temper tantrums, new bedwetting or fear of the dark. For older children, this can include more risk-taking behaviors. “We need to create a safe, calm environment so that their growing minds can process what’s going on around them,” she says. Dr. Balduzzi also emphasizes that it is important for parents to acknowledge that they are human and to always forgive themselves if they have a breakdown. “Sometimes we need to get it out in order to move on,” she says. “These are trying times for everyone and the saying ‘we are all in it together’ never held more meaning than it does now.”