Posts by SutterHealth

Celebrating Safely This Thanksgiving

Posted on Nov 25, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

A Message from Sutter Health President & CEO Sarah Krevans and Sutter Health Chief Quality & Safety Officer William Isenberg, M.D., Ph.D.

Sutter Health President and CEO Sarah Krevans

While the holidays may look and feel different this year, we are thankful that across Sutter Health we have come together with strength and resilience to persevere through these unprecedented times. We appreciate the compassion and excellence of our staff as we serve and comfort those who turn to us for medical care and guidance.

With COVID-19 surging in most parts of the country, and 94 percent of California now in our state’s most restrictive tier, we join our state’s public health officials and encourage people to stay home and avoid traveling outside of their local region to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus. While breaking with family traditions may be hard, we encourage you to make these holidays a season to remember in new and different ways. State officials are also offering tips and ideas on how to celebrate safely.

Sutter Health Chief Quality & Safety Officer William Isenberg, M.D., Ph.D.

Safety is Sutter Health’s top priority, and, as we have done all year, we are closely monitoring the steep increase in COVID-19 infections. We’re also working closely with state officials to coordinate our response. At this time, our hospitals have capacity to care for patients with COVID-19 and for those who do not. We also have adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our teams. Additionally, we have joined with approximately 100 other hospitals and health systems across the U.S. in the new “Mask Up” campaign, which encourages people to wear facemasks—one of the best tools we have for slowing the spread of COVID-19.

May you and your loved ones stay safe and well. Happy Thanksgiving.

How to Reduce Stress with Gratitude

Posted on Nov 24, 2020 in Mental Health & Addiction Care, Scroll Images

A blog by Marianne Svendsen, LMFT with Sutter Health’s Employee Assistance Program

You may be feeling exhausted or burned out due to the impacts of COVID-19, the climate of social unrest, wildfires, the elections and upcoming holidays. These stressors may also cause you to feel sad or worried. Taken one by one, these events are almost unbearable but taken all together; it can feel very overwhelming.

The world may seem unsteady now, but we can steady ourselves by focusing on things for which we are grateful. If your coping skills have worn down, identifying what you’re thankful for can boost your well-being and strengthen your endurance during this stressful time.

Please take a minute to stop and reflect on what’s in front and available to us and appreciate it. This single moment can have a drastic impact on our well-being. There is evidence to suggest that there are psychological and physical health-related benefits when we practice gratitude. Benefits include improved sleep, increased energy levels and a strengthened immune system to ward off illness.

Pause to notice the beauty in small details. The sound of the birds that are chirping outside your window, the swirl of colors in the eyes of the one you love, the smell of pumpkin as you bake or the warmth of a blanket that a friend gave to you, these can help you cope with stress. You can spend one minute each morning and each evening to do this. You can also do this during other parts of your day, such as, while you wash your hands, in between commercials, while you’re on hold during a phone call or waiting for a video conference to begin.

If you have difficulty identifying something you are grateful for, here are some questions to help spur reflection and find gratitude:

  • What are some ways you’ve changed for the better?
  • What are the moments in your life that taught you big life lessons?
  • What miracles have you witnessed or experienced?
  • What are all the things you can do with your eyes closed?
  • What things make you laugh?
  • What are the reasons you are amazing?
  • What are the things that you cannot live without?
  • What significant issues have you survived in your life?
  • What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
  • What nice things have you done for someone?

For immediate assistance, please call the the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Healthcare Heroes Encourage Everyone to #MaskUp

Posted on Nov 19, 2020 in Community Health, Scroll Images

One hundred of the nation’s leading health care systems, including Sutter Health, have come together with an urgent plea for all Americans: mask up.

“By wearing a mask, we’re telling everyone we see or come near how much we care about them and their health. In these days of COVID when we can’t give hugs, we can still express our love and concern by masking,” said William Isenberg, M.D., Sutter Health’s chief quality and safety officer.

The current number of COVID-19 cases across the nation are climbing at a rapid rate. Recently, like other areas in California, Sutter’s network has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases as well.

Healthcare systems have answered the call since the start of the pandemic. Sutter Health, for example, activated and deployed a coordinated response across its integrated network that has helped protect patients, employees and communities. However, there is growing concern that increasing cases will place only more strain on healthcare staff and facilities in the U.S. The Mask Up campaign emphasizes how wearing a face mask limits the spread of the COVID-19 virus, as recent studies have shown, with the intention to better manage this health emergency. In an effort to reach a broader audience, the Mask Up public service effort will also include messages on digital platforms, social media, online information, links to vital health resources and more.

The message reads:

“As the top nationally-ranked hospitals, we know it’s tough that we all need to do our part and keep wearing masks. But, here’s what we also know: The science has not changed. Masks slow the spread of COVID-19. So, please join us as we all embrace this simple ask: Wear. Care. Share with #MaskUp. Together, wearing is caring. And together, we are saving lives.”

For further information about masking guidelines – how to choose a mask and how to properly wear a mask – visit the CDC website.

In addition to masking, the CDC suggests that everyone minimize the number of non-household contacts, maintain a physical distance of at least six feet and limit the amount of time around others, especially while indoors and in poorly ventilated areas. These healthy habits can be especially helpful as the holiday season quickly approaches.

Safety First

Posted on Oct 27, 2020 in Quality Care, Scroll Images

The Hippocratic Oath has a special significance in the field of medicine. While its meaning has evolved over centuries with modernized text, its core truth remains: safety.

Hospitals across Sutter Health’s integrated network recognize safer care is fundamental to high-quality care. This approach has helped Sutter’s performance exceed state and national averages in the six main quality measures.

  • Key Quality Measures
    • Sepsis
    • Central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI)
    • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI)
    • Surgical site infections from colon surgery (SSI)
    • C-section rates for first-time mothers with uncomplicated deliveries (NTSV)
    • Clostridium difficile intestinal infections (C-Diff)

Why do these measures matter? They are the most common to prolonging hospital stays, complicating care patient care plans and most importantly, influencing patients’ experiences. They also increase costs that can impact overall affordability in healthcare.

The Information Exchange

William Isenberg, M.D.

“Teams across our organization share a common goal of high quality care, so it becomes a question of, ‘How do we partner to meet that goal?’” said William Isenberg, M.D., chief quality and safety officer for Sutter Health.

The collective sharing of best practices—in support of high-quality, safer care—is made easier through integrated networks like Sutter Health. Standard approaches and protocols can spread across integrated systems through numerous channels.

And that collaboration goes both ways. Sutter has hospital-based committees and subcommittees working on lowering rates all the time. These groups then team up with other hospital departments as “communities of interest” to tackle quality measures that may be more prevalent in their respective areas. These intersections of information amplify quality efforts, which are bolstered too, through Sutter’s single electronic health record platform.

Communication is Key

Dr. Isenberg reminds us there is one major element to quality improvement that can’t be overlooked. Beyond understanding metric baselines and best practices, healthcare teams must clearly communicate with each other.

This can make a considerable difference when clinicians understand the implications their decisions have for patients, as well as other clinicians caring for them. Dr. Isenberg gives the hypothetical example of catheter use and keeping care teams accountable throughout the process.

“For me to be reminded by others on the care team to be sure to place an order for prompt catheter removal to prevent post-operative bladder infections, not only reminds me, but also demonstrates that all of us on the team have shared goals for our patient,” he said. “And those cues and conversations continue along the way.

“Our Informatics team created a reminder for doctors in our electronic health record. Once doctors place the order to have a catheter removed, our nursing teams will need to step in to remove it in a timely fashion. Our nursing leaders then monitor the time interval to make sure it’s completed within that appropriate window.”

That continuous real-time communication and collaboration among care teams minimizes waste, decreases errors, increases efficiency and ultimately improves quality of care.

Patients as Partners

Patient participation plays an important role in quality improvement, too. Dr. Isenberg says having conversations early and often with patients about care goals and expectations establishes a place of understanding and sets the stage for ongoing dialogue. For example, doctors can emphasize that vaginal deliveries are normal and most often the safest option for babies and moms. Clinicians can educate patients they may have catheters during their surgeries and the goal is to remove them as soon as possible post-operation to help avoid infection.

Dr. Isenberg acknowledged sometimes circumstances will lead to changes in care—but the communication clinicians had all along will help patients know their safety always comes first.

Continuous Improvement

Dr. Isenberg recognizes while Sutter appreciates the progress that has been made in key quality areas, the organization continuously strives to do better.

He points out the network is expanding beyond to look into social determinants of health and health equity. Teams are examining what other impacts are hitting different racial and ethnic groups, those who are uninsured or underinsured, or who have chronic health conditions like obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes. Sutter is also looking into how COVID-19 has further exacerbated those issues.

“We need to constantly look at these issues through different lenses,” Dr. Isenberg said. “What other creative ways can we do our work? How can we expand upon our learnings? This is how we will continue to serve the diverse needs of our communities and improve overall health.”

New Nine-Month Study Seeks to Understand COVID-19 in Pregnancy among Minorities

Posted on Oct 26, 2020 in Health Equity Institute, Scroll Images

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Little is known about COVID-19 in pregnancy and particularly whether it disproportionately impacts minorities. Now researchers with Northern California-based Sutter Health have launched a study to help shed light on the prevalence of COVID-19 in patients about to give birth. By testing for antibodies, the team hopes to determine whether exposure to the SARS-CoV2 virus differs by race, ethnicity or other factors.

Researchers with the not-for-profit healthcare system’s Advancing Health Equity program are leading the nine-month study, called the Maternal Covid-19 Antibody Race and Ethnicity (CARE) Study. Among the first of its kind in the U.S.,* Sutter’s Maternal CARE Study aims to increase understanding of whether and how COVID-19 exposure during pregnancy differs by race and ethnicity. The study will look at maternal health indicators including number of weeks of gestation, method of delivery (vaginal or C-section), length of stay and postpartum depression, among others.

“Sutter Health is a recognized national leader in healthcare quality and we consider health equity to be a component of quality. We believe the Maternal CARE Study is a first step in understanding the health equity gap for pregnant patients of color,” says Sutter Health Chief Medical Officer Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., and one of the lead investigators for the study. “The more caregivers learn how the spread of COVID-19 affects pregnant women of diverse races and ethnicities, the better we can care for these patients and the more lives we can save through targeted interventions and solutions,” says Lockhart.

According to Alice Pressman, Ph.D., M.S., director of Sutter’s Center for Health Systems Research, and a lead investigator of the study, “Sutter Health is ideally suited to conduct the study because of our diverse patient population and the fact that about 32,000 babies are born across our network each year.”

The Northern California-based health system cares for one of the most diverse patient populations in the country, with 54% of patients self-identifying as non-white. Sutter’s integrated network of 3 million ethnically, economically and geographically diverse patients is a microcosm of the rest of the nation.

Sutter’s Maternal CARE Study began enrolling participants in July 2020 and will continue through March 2021.

“The information we glean from the Maternal CARE Study could potentially give us significant insight into COVID-19 and how exposure impacts diverse groups during pregnancy,” says Pressman. “The hope is through greater understanding of COVID-19, we can get ahead of the disease and save lives.”

Straightforward Process for Gathering Samples

The process is straightforward for pregnant Sutter patients who consent to join the study. When a pregnant woman comes to the hospital to give birth, a small extra blood sample is collected during the required routine blood tests at admission. The blood sample is then tested for antibodies which show whether a person has had COVID-19 in the past.

Precision Medicine and the Sutter Health Biobank Make the Maternal CARE Study Possible

Gregory Tranah, Ph.D., director of Precision Medicine at Sutter and a lead investigator of the study says, “One key to running a relatively large study like the Maternal CARE Study is the ability to properly collect, store and analyze biological samples. Sutter is prepared to handle these requirements thanks to our adoption of the precision medicine medical care model and having our own biobank.”

Says Tranah, “We anticipate the data from the study will lead us to useful insights that improve and provide more equitable care for pregnant women of color across the country.”

*A University of Pennsylvania study of nearly 1,300 women over a three-month period earlier this year found that Black and Latinx pregnant women in Philadelphia are five times as likely as their white counterparts to have been exposed to COVID-19.