Access to Care

From Bench to Bedside: Research at Sutter Helps Deliver COVID-19 Therapeutic Breakthroughs

Posted on Nov 30, 2020 in Access to Care, Integrated Network, Research, Research & Clinical Trials, Scroll Images

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists worldwide, Sutter Health is engaged in research to support development and innovations surrounding new ways of detecting, treating and preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus in our communities.

“Through our organization’s portfolio of clinical trials and research studies, Sutter is contributing new knowledge to help advance science aimed at safeguarding the health of our patients and communities,” says Leon Clark, MBA, Vice President, Chief Research and Health Equity Officer at Sutter. “Our researchers are at the forefront of fighting this emerging disease, and are collaborating with leading experts from public and private organizations across the U.S.”

Here’s how today’s research becomes tomorrow’s potential clinical practice through research at Sutter:

Studying potential therapies to treat people with COVID-19:

  • Seven Sutter acute care hospitals enrolled patients into clinical trials sponsored by Gilead Sciences to test the antiviral drug remdesivir. First developed in 2009 and used during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, remdesivir was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2020 for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. A total of 48 patients from across the Sutter network were enrolled in these studies.
  • Sutter and Vitalant collaborated to offer an investigational treatment involving convalescent plasma—blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19—in hospitalized patients with severe cases of the disease. Rich in protective antibodies, convalescent plasma may lessen the duration and intensity of COVID-19. Plasma from one donor can treat as many as four patients with severe disease.

Studying potential therapies and vaccines to prevent COVID-19:

  • Offering patients access to a Phase 3, international clinical trial testing an investigational COVID-19 vaccine: ABSMC is participating in a study of a vaccine made by AstraZeneca. The clinical trial aims to enroll approximately 500 adults aged 18-55 years and will test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine candidate, known as AZD1222, compared with placebo. Eligible study participants are encouraged to contact study coordinator Ankita Bhalla or phone (510)-295-7090.
  • Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (ABSMC) will enroll approximately 30 study participants to a clinical trial testing a monoclonal antibody against COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies—synthetic versions of the immune system’s own weapons against viruses—are being tested as a means of preventing COVID-19 in studies worldwide. The study at ABSMC will determine the safety and effectiveness of an antibody made by Regeneron, to prevent COVID-19 in people who have been in close contact with infected individuals.

Addressing the impact of the pandemic on mental health and wellness: As COVID-19 ushers in uncertainty that may evoke anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns for today’s youth, researchers are exploring potential new avenues for identifying such mental health concerns. Researchers are collaborating on a new study conducted within Sutter’s network that may offer a new option through the use of new tools for the early screening of depression and suicide risk.

Advancing health equity, and developing solutions to achieve optimal health outcomes for all patients across Sutter’s integrated network: Sutter’s Advancing Health Equity team undertook a thorough data analysis of Sutter’s not-for-profit system’s COVID-19 patients to study how the illness affects people disproportionately based on race and ethnicity.

In collaboration with the University of California at San Francisco and other healthcare sites across the U.S., health equity researchers at Sutter are seeking to uncover how social determinants of health (such as financial challenges, environmental and physical conditions, and social factors) may impact patients’ access to COVID-19 tests and treatments. The study aims to understand how various policies and response strategies may affect individuals and the spread of the virus.
To learn about the spread of COVID-19 during pregnancy, and if infection rates differ by race, ethnicity and other factors, Sutter launched the Maternal CARE study.

Developing new tests for early detection of COVID-19: Researchers at PAMF’s Research Institute co-led the study of the first all-in-one molecular test to diagnose COVID-19 infection. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization for the test earlier this month.

Studying “biomarkers” that may help identify and predict patients at risk of severe COVID-19: Sutter researchers are testing whether proteins and other identifiable biomarkers in routine blood samples may aid in the early identification of high-risk patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
Collecting data on how the virus spreads and what the curve of infections may be in the coming months: Sutter has created data registries and is compiling statistical information that is being used to discover predictive models of COVID-19 and its spread.

Curious to learn more about Sutter research? Visit us at sutterhealth.org/research

All-in-One Tests for COVID-19 to Be Offered First to Sutter Patients

Posted on Nov 18, 2020 in Access to Care, Research & Clinical Trials, Scroll Images

Sutter Health, which co-led the study of the first all-in-one molecular test to diagnose COVID-19 infection, is gearing up to offer the test to qualified patients in the next two months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization today.

The single-use, user-friendly COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit can produce a positive or negative result within 30 minutes. Lucira’s test kit is differentiated by its simple “swab, stir and detect” design, and all patients in clinical trials were able to perform the Lucira test in about 2 minutes.

Currently, Sutter performs approximately 1,500 COVID-19 tests daily in ambulatory settings (seven-day average). Turnaround times for these lab-based diagnostic tests average 24-48 hours.

The Lucira test is expected to be available for providers in the Sutter Health network to prescribe within the coming months across the 24 California counties where the health system operates. During this time, Sutter will work on the operations necessary for accurate patient evaluation, prescribing and reporting of results. Sutter Health and South Florida’s Cleveland Clinic will be the first U.S. health systems to offer the self-tests.

John Chou, M.D.

“With the introduction of entirely at-home test kits, like the Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit, the role of the healthcare provider will become more important, not less,” said John Chou, M.D., medical director for anesthesiology, diagnostics and pharmacy at the Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group and a principal investigator on the Lucira Health Community Testing Study submitted to the FDA. “Providers within the Sutter Health network will evaluate patients to determine if they meet FDA guidelines for a test, prescribe the test, review the results with patients, arrange for any follow-up care.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Sutter Health activated and deployed a coordinated response across its integrated network to help protect patients, employees and communities. In that time, the network has worked hard to make health services safe and easily accessible. As COVID-19 cases increase, the demand for testing supplies heightens and potentially creates scarcity concerns for healthcare organizations and extends turnaround times. The need to develop more diverse testing options is critical, and creating greater access and supporting research that examines these options becomes all the more important. The Lucira test kit study is just one example.

Sutter’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation launched the study of the Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit in July. Study investigators from Sutter Health will submit detailed study results and analysis to peer-reviewed journals for publication.

”Being able to quickly determine if a person is infected or not has been a global problem,” said Dr. Chou. “We believe this highly mobile test can make a big difference by providing lab-quality results expeditiously and conveniently. Early, accurate detection is vital to delivering appropriate care and controlling the pandemic.”

Research is an integral component of Sutter Health’s mission to improving the wellness of patients and communities throughout Northern California. Many clinicians within Sutter Health’s network are also researchers who publish findings, develop novel protocols, and pioneer new tests and treatments at a rate more commonly found at major universities. All of this activity fosters improved patient care, and enables Sutter Health to recruit and retain clinician-scientists of the highest caliber. For more on Sutter’s research and current clinical trials, go to www.sutterhealth.org/research.

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.”

Virtual ‘Topping Out’ Ceremony Caps Sutter Santa Rosa Expansion Milestone

Posted on Jul 30, 2020 in Access to Care, Scroll Images

SANTA ROSA, Calif. – With a few clicks of a mouse, the community logged on to witness the “topping out” of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital’s new three-story expansion. The medical facility reached its latest construction milestone on July 30 and marked the occasion with a virtual gathering, where viewers watched as the final structural steel beam was secured into place. Hospital staff; elected officials, including Congressman Mike Thompson and Susan Gorin, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors; HerreroBOLDT crewmembers; and the public, all tuned in.

Hospital CEO Dan Peterson kicked off the program and acknowledged the unusual online ceremony made necessary by the pandemic. “This is no traditional ‘topping out.’ We’re using technology to keep everyone safe, and we’re making history with one of the country’s first virtual topping out celebrations.”

Watch the full program below.

Healthcare, Always in Demand

The healthcare industry continues to be one of the largest and fastest growing in the U.S. The country’s aging Baby Boomer population, plus the addition of the COVID-19 crisis, has only made healthcare more taxed and in demand than ever.

“Today healthcare is on all our minds as we face the continued threat of coronavirus pandemic. This facility will expand our ability to deliver quality care no matter the crisis we face—a pandemic, wildfires or earthquakes,” said Congressman Thompson. “I can’t wait to celebrate, hopefully in person, when we cut the ribbon to open the space.”

Supervisor Gorin added, “Sutter has been a vital partner to Sonoma County for almost three decades, and this expansion is the embodiment of its continued commitment to the community. This hospital will provide high-quality care to residents in a state-of-the-art, seismically safe and environmentally conscious setting.”

Expansion Will Add Hospital Bed Capacity

Sutter Health has invested $158 million to expand the hospital to increase capacity, adding 40 all-private patient rooms, 13 outpatient care unit beds, an 11-bed post-acute care unit bay, and 21 emergency department bays. The first phase of the three-story tower will add 67,000 square feet of space and is scheduled for completion in spring 2022. It will be followed by a phase II renovation to expand the hospital’s emergency department and support services in fall 2022.

“Today’s ceremony is a celebration of a momentous achievement for our hospital that will help us serve our patients and our community for generations to come. Everyone at Sutter Santa Rosa knows the hard work it’s taken to reach this milestone, and I want to offer a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to our team, which has continually served this community with integrity and compassion,” said Peterson.

Out with The Shovels and in with The Sharpies

Ahead of the event, hospital staff, physicians and construction crewmembers were invited to sign their names on the final beam. Former hospital CEO, Mike Purvis, was even on hand to add his name to history.

“It warms my heart to know that this beam was personally signed by our hospital’s doctors, nurses, staff and construction crew—all important players in our hospital’s future,” said Peterson. “Once the beam is bolted into place, it will signify that we’re ready for the next chapter in our 2022 hospital expansion.”

Construction in the Time of COVID

From first learning of the pandemic, the HerreroBOLDT team made worker safety its number one priority, ensuring proper social distancing and masking.

“Our biggest accomplishment thus far has been that we have not had a single case of COVID-19 spread on our project,” said Tom Guardino, HerreroBOLDT project superintendent. “Our entire team has been committed to early proactive behaviors.”

Crunching the Numbers of Hauling Dirt & Erecting Steel

• During the preparation of the project site, crews hauled off 3,300 yards of dirt—enough to fill 1.5 Olympic-size swimming pools.

• During the foundations phase, teams poured 1,987 yards of concrete. It was delivered in 223 concrete trucks and represents 8 million 47 thousand pounds of concrete.

• Roughly 196 thousand pounds of reinforcing was used to strengthen the building’s foundations. If stretched out in a continuous line, it would span more than 7 miles.

• The expansion consists of 441 tons of structural steel, weighing about 882,000 pounds. To put that into perspective, an average blue whale weighs about 110 tons. That means the building’s steel weighs about four blue whales.

“We are excited about the opportunity to build such an important project in the North Bay. A lot of our construction works are from this area. We’ve enjoyed a long and successful history with Sutter, and we are proud to be part of a project that will give back to the community for years to come,” Guardino said.

About Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, part of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, is an 84-bed acute care hospital that offers an extensive array of inpatient and outpatient services. The facility opened in 2014 and has a long, proud history of providing high quality care in Sonoma County and beyond. Because of an unwavering focus on health and healing the hospital is consistently ranked as one of the top hospitals in the region.

Doctor Warns Delaying Care Is Not Without Risk

Posted on Jul 28, 2020 in Access to Care, Scroll Images

OAKLAND, Calif. –A Bay Area physician is warning people that delaying critical or preventive care because of fears of COVID-19 could have detrimental effects on their health.

Junaid Khan, MD
Junaid Khan, MD

In an interview with KPIX 5’s CBSN, Junaid Khan, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon and director of cardiovascular services at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, says some concern about coming to hospitals or care centers during a pandemic is understandable, but delaying care should be balanced against the need to maintain good health.

“What we’re concerned about is some patients are afraid to come to the hospital and delaying care for serious problems such as heart attacks, stroke and even lung cancer,” says Khan. “Putting off care for chest pain or trouble breathing could lead to serious health consequences, like irreversible heart damage.”

Khan says patients should feel reassured because hospitals in the Sutter Health integrated network of care are taking extraordinary measures to help keep patients safe, from increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting spaces, to testing all hospitalized patients, screening employees for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before each shift, restricting visitors and requiring masks.

Learn more about the precautions Sutter hospitals and care centers are taking to help protect everyone’s health.

Preventive Care is Crucial

But it’s not just emergency care that’s critical, says Khan. “We want patients to get their regular preventive care including cancer screenings, treatment for chronic conditions like asthma, high blood pressure or diabetes, as well as vaccinations. Some parents are putting their kids at risk by skipping vaccinations and that is worrisome —we don’t want a measles outbreak.”

Read more about why preventive care like vaccinations is critical for kids.

People who are concerned about coming in for preventive care should call their doctors’ office or schedule a video visit, says Khan. “Start there,” he says, “then you’ll know if you need to come in for an in-person visit.”

Learn more about getting care during COVID-19 here.

Our Commitment to LGBTQ+ Patients, Families and Employees: A Message from Sarah Krevans

Posted on Jun 15, 2020 in Access to Care, Scroll Images

Sarah Krevans, president and CEO of Sutter Health, shares the following message in light of the rule finalized on June 12 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that removes protections for gender identity and sexual orientation from the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act:

“Our commitment to our LGBTQ+ patients, families and employees is unwavering. We remain dedicated to providing compassionate, high-quality care that is free from discrimination and affirming of gender identity and sexual orientation. Removing protection for gender identity and sexual orientation from the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act is in direct conflict with our values, and increasing barriers to healthcare during a pandemic is unconscionable. These changes will not impact the way we care for our patients, nor do they change our commitment to equitable, inclusive care for everyone we serve, including LGBTQ+ patients and families.

Additionally, I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision protecting the civil rights and legal protection of LGBTQ+ employees across the U.S. There’s no place for discrimination of any type in our country – including our worksites and in healthcare. Sutter Health is proud to operate in one of the most diverse regions in the U.S. It is our mission to respect and serve all.”