Posts by Angie

Championing Mental Wellness for Those Who Champion Our Freedom

Posted on Nov 11, 2020 in Mental Health & Addiction Care, Scroll Images

A blog by James Conforti, COO Sutter Health, and John Boyd, PsyD, CEO Sutter Health Mental Health & Addiction Care

On Veterans Day, we honor all of the incredible people, those living and those who are not, for their service to our country. While we should honor these men and women every day, today we pay tribute to their commitments and thank their families, too. We also acknowledge their sacrifices—many that came at a great price.

For veterans and their families, their sacrifices can often result in increased mental health challenges, addiction and suicide. The National Council for Behavioral Health notes that less than half of returning veterans in need of mental health treatment receive needed support and care. In addition, the Council reports 30% of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan—about 730,000 men and women—have a mental health condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression that requires treatment. The Veterans Administration reports that 22 veterans die by suicide every day. And the impact extends beyond veterans to their families, with longer deployment lengths associated with more emotional challenges among military children and more mental health challenges among partners.

We know this first-hand.

James served in the U.S. Army for several years as did his father and his brother. Combined, they have almost 50 years of service. He remains connected to his comrades to this day in a forever cemented bond and is connected to many more through his healthcare role. Whether assisting those who support our homeless veterans or helping address the mental health challenges they face, he sees firsthand the lasting impact of their service to our great country. Many veterans transition into civilian life smoothly. Unfortunately, there are many more who struggle not only with the transition out of military service but the lasting effects of their service.

John has worked with veterans in clinical settings. He also has the firsthand experience of losing his cousin, Wes, who served three tours of duty in the Marines in Iran and Afghanistan. The loss did not happen while on duty, but after Wes’ attempts to return back to civilian life.

Prior to serving, Wes was an ambitious young man who was already a homeowner. On tour, he saw many heart-wrenching scenes, including witnessing the death of a fellow Marine. Following his time in the military, he was met with little formal support to transition back into civilian life. With limited access to mental health care and addiction prevention, he became addicted to opioids. Eventually, the addiction progressed to heroin. Wes lived with John and his partner for a significant period of time. He was in and out of treatment centers, all private, due to his challenges accessing veterans’ services. Despite much love, energy and expense, Wes and his family paid the ultimate price when his addiction led to his death at age 32.

While some steps are improving support to veterans, there is so much more that must be done. We must continue to advocate for increased mental health support, including addiction care, intervention and suicide-prevention services. We must be mindful when we thank our veterans for their service that many carry a lasting moral injury from the actions they had to take while on tour or in war. We must all come together—healthcare experts, business leaders, faith communities, veterans’ advocates, families—to be fully present for veterans as they return to civilian life. That means genuinely and warmly welcoming veterans back, giving them the care and support they deserve, and opening doors to social connection and employment.

There is no shame in the pursuit of mental wellness for these champions of our freedom—or for any one of us. Mental health is human health, after all, and we are all human.

Please join us in pausing today to honor our veterans—whether they are known or unknown to you. We hope that, when you do, you think about the spirit of their sacrifices and remember their shared commitment to peace. We hope you will also consider giving back to those who served us all.

Resources for Veterans
US Department of Veterans Affairs has a hotline at 1-855-948-2311.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or, you can connect with a trained crisis counselor through the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.
Cohen Veterans Network, a Veterans Crisis Line is available at 1-800-273-8255, Press 1.
PsychArmor, online training to support military service members, veterans and their families.

Juneteenth: A Day for Celebration, Education and Connection

Posted on Jun 18, 2020 in Health Equity Institute, Scroll Images

Juneteenth is the oldest-known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 declared all slaves free, it was not until two and a half years later, on June 19,1865 that Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas and informed slaves that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished. The news kicked off widespread celebrations across the state.

Sutter Health joins in the celebration of this historic event, but the realities of today are sobering.

One hundred and fifty-five years later, racism still exists in our country and freedom for Black Americans remains elusive. The killing of George Floyd is an example of the systemic racial injustice Black Americans have endured for centuries in the U.S.

“Sutter Health affirms that Black Lives Matter and encourages us all to speak up and raise our voices against racism and to advocate for systemic change,” says Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer and executive sponsor for Sutter’s Multicultural Inclusive Resource Group.

Sutter Health President and CEO Sarah Krevans says, “Our Sutter values compel us to speak out against inequity in healthcare and injustice and racism in our society. Within Sutter, our organization has an unyielding commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, and we work to embed it into our culture. We know there is more to be done and are committed to it.”

Sutter takes pride in caring for one of the most diverse patient populations in our nation. Dr. Lockhart is leading a national effort to advance health equity and address health disparities that exist for patients in healthcare across the country. “We know that inequities exist in healthcare and we’re focused on being a national leader to address those disparities and improve healthcare for all. To the extent we are able to make a difference, we have a moral obligation to do so.”

Building a Path Toward Health Equity

Posted on Apr 16, 2020 in Health Equity Institute, Scroll Images

Across the nation, new data is illustrating a startling trend in the spread and impact of COVID-19: inequity. Between Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and New York alone, statistics are showing that African Americans are 74% more likely to contract the virus as compared with their total percentage of the state’s population.

While this new data is grabbing headlines and startling communities across the nation, inequities in healthcare outcomes are unfortunately not new news. As we observe Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17), it is important to highlight that this is especially true for Black mothers, who are still roughly three times more likely to die due to pregnancy related causes.

The United States is facing serious challenges in how we care for expectant mothers and infants. A report in December of 2018 by the Commonwealth Fund found that American women have the greatest risk of dying from pregnancy complications among developed countries. (Munira Z. Gunja, n.d.)

Yet, California appears to be an outlier. California continues to perform better than the national average on maternal mortality with 11.7 deaths per 100,000 live births versus the national average of 17.4 deaths.

This was not always the case. Prior to 2006, the state’s maternal mortality rate had doubled in seven years – and black women were approximately four times more likely to die in childbirth than other ethnic groups.

In response, in 2006, Sutter Health leaders helped spearhead the creation of a multi-stakeholder organization, the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC), to address maternal mortality and maternal health. The work done through CMQCC helped reduce California’s maternal mortality rate by 55% between 2006 and 2013.

Sutter’s partnership with the CMQCC and our work with their California Birth Equity Collaborative – a quality improvement initiative to improve birth care, experiences and outcomes for Black mothers – is helping to lower preventable maternal deaths or unexpected outcomes that have significant short, or long-term health effects on new mothers.

Sutter’s collaborative efforts have fostered real and much-needed progress, but there is still much more to do. We are committed to using robust data and collaborating with other providers and patients to make meaningful improvements to address equity gaps and improve patient-centered outcomes.

Building on this effort, two years ago Sutter created an ‘Advancing Health Equity’ team – led by Sutter’s Chief Medical Officer Stephen Lockhart, M.D., PhD – dedicated to identifying and addressing the issue through targeted, community-based programs. We are using innovative tools like the groundbreaking Health Equity Index that include analytic methods and dynamic applications of clinical and population data to measure outcomes of care among different patient populations. By reporting on these quality measures by race and ethnicity, we can identify previously unknown differences within populations, share best practices, and identify the need for targeted interventions and solutions.

Within Sutter’s own network, there is currently no inequity in race or ethnicity when it comes to maternal mortality. However, we know that 80% of what drives health outcomes happens outside the walls of our facilities. That is why it is so important that Sutter Health live up to our responsibilities as a national healthcare leader, and continue to research, innovate, and quantify the value of our integrated system of care for the benefit of other healthcare leaders throughout the state and the nation.

“I am so proud of Sutter Health’s long-standing commitment to improving health outcomes for our Black mothers, ” said Dr. Lockhart “COVID-19 reminds us more must be done to address health disparities and advance equity across the U.S. Everyone deserves the chance to live a healthy life.”

As long as inequities exist, the work will continue, but the successes we have seen and the initiatives that we are currently working on help to provide a clearer look at how we can do our part to advance health equity for all.

Food Safety During COVID-19

Posted on Mar 16, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

Tips to keep you safe

Many people are making trips to the grocery store or using food delivery services right now. So how do you know your food is virus-free when it gets to your doorstep?

According to the USDA, “We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illness that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.” However, experts say it’s still important to follow good food hygiene.

Here are simple steps you can take to try and limit your exposure to coronavirus. Many of these tips will sound familiar, but they are good reminders.

Wash your hands
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. This is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others in your home from the spread of germs. Remember to clean the ‘webs’ between fingers and thumbs. Don’t have access to soap and water? Use hand sanitizers.


Wash your produce
Whether you’re concerned about the coronavirus or not, you should always wash your produce. For hard-skinned produce, scrub skins or peels with a soft-bristled vegetable brush. For other types of produce, including leafy greens, soak in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Plain water is fine. You can also use a little dish soap. However, do not use bleach or chlorine on your fruits and veggies. Still concerned? Try fruits that can be peeled such as bananas, oranges and apples.

Wash nonporous containers
Use dish soap on metal cans, plastic containers and glass jars before putting them away. It’s also a good idea to wash you hands after opening containers and boxes.

Keep your kitchen area clean
Use disinfectants to clean your surfaces such as countertops, your refrigerator door handle, sink handle and cabinet knobs. This will not only kill viruses but also help you avoid food-borne illness from possible cross contamination.


Cook food properly
You can help ensure you’re cooking food at the correct heat, by using a food thermometer. Check the government’s safe cooking temperature chart.

“Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and other foods rich in antioxidants has consistently been shown to increase overall health, including our immune systems,” says William Isenberg, M.D., Sutter’s chief quality and safety officer. “Staying healthy increases the body’s ability to fight infections. “

By taking a few common-sense precautions, such as frequent hand-washing and washing produce, consumers can continue to reap the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Isenberg’s bottom line advice: “Use serious concern and precaution, but do not panic and give up healthy food that’s good for your mind and body.”

For more food safety tips click here.

Dramatically Different Healthcare: Sutter Health’s CEO Talks About What She Sees in the Future

Posted on Aug 27, 2019 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Sutter Health President and CEO Sarah Krevans

Sutter Health President and CEO Sarah Krevans sat down with The Advisory Board President Eric Larsen. The in-depth article digs into a number of subjects including the value of integrated health systems, the challenges of delivering the healthcare of today while planning for the healthcare of tomorrow, healthcare competition in Northern California and Krevans’ personal interests.

The article provides an exceptional look into the complexities of today’s healthcare marketplace, and how Sutter Health’s not-for-profit network delivers on its mission by providing safe, personal, affordable and accessible care to patients and communities.