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Colorful Baby Keepsake Doubles as Medical Diary

Posted on Jan 8, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Pediatric Care, People, Quality, Scroll Images

“Tiny Victories of Life” beads track critically ill and premature infants’ medical journeys

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – At Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) Van Ness Campus hospital, Child Life Specialists help parents mark their critically ill or premature newborns’ milestones using colorful beads and charms with the “Tiny Victories of Life” program.

Just ask new mom Amanda Bates about her son Asher’s Tiny Victories strand of beads.

“Each bead that has a figure represents an achievement of that day,” says Bates, while holding a string with nearly 40 beads.

Critically ill and premature babies at CPMC spend their first weeks or months fighting to achieve crucial health markers. Child Life Specialists use the aptly-named “Tiny Victories of Life” program as visual storytelling to document and celebrate each baby’s remarkable journey.

Amanda Bates’ son Asher, who arrived six weeks early, is steadily hitting important milestones that babies in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are required to reach before discharge.

The program was started in 2016 by hospital Child Life director, Lori Denault, who modeled it after “Beads of Courage,” a similar national initiative that tracks patient progress using beads. (Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento participates in Beads of Courage.)

Blue beads represent individual days, while special charms represent significant or personally meaningful achievements such as a duck charm for baby’s first bath or a music note each time baby receives music therapy. Asher’s Tiny Victories strand includes a red bead to mark meeting Santa Claus because he spent his first Christmas in the hospital.

The Tiny Victories of Life program encourages parents to forge a strong bond with their newborns—which can be a challenge when a baby is very ill and must remain in the hospital for a long period of time after birth. Beads are added to the strands each week during one-on-one family sessions or at a NICU parent group meeting.

Bates Family
Kyle and Amanda Bates pose with baby Asher at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) Van Ness Campus hospital.

CPMC Child Life Specialist Shannon Banahan says, “Tiny Victories is a way for parents to look forward to the progress their baby is making. Families can get overwhelmed in thinking about the long and seemingly never-ending days in the NICU. But once they look back on their beads and see how far their baby has come, it feels like there’s an end in sight and makes them hopeful and proud.”

On Asher’s discharge day, he received the final bead in his strand—the butterfly bead, which signifies he’s ready to spread his wings.

“Receiving the butterfly bead is always emotional for parents, both because they are leaving this community of nurses and new parent friends and also because they are finally being able to start this new chapter of life at home with baby,” says Banahan.

Sutter Health Plus Adds Dignity Health Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz County

Posted on Jan 8, 2020 in Affiliates, Expanding Access, Scroll Images, Sutter Health Plus

The HMO’s network expands to include Dominican Hospital as of Jan. 1, 2020

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.Sutter Health Plus, a not-for-profit HMO affiliated with Sutter Health, and Dignity Health, a healthcare provider system, announce the signing of agreements to add Dignity Health Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz to the Sutter Health Plus network effective Jan. 1, 2020.

The Sutter Health Plus network in Santa Cruz County includes Palo Alto Medical Foundation and its care centers throughout the county, Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center, and Watsonville Community Hospital.

“We’re excited to add Dominican Hospital to our network,” said Brian Fellner, Sutter Health Plus CEO. “Our members are at the center of everything we do, and Dominican Hospital will offer members who live or work in Santa Cruz more choice and increased access to high-quality, affordable care.”

As of Jan. 1, the Sutter Health Plus network includes 30 hospitals and campuses, more than 8,000 providers, hundreds of conveniently located facilities, and dozens of urgent care centers and Sutter Walk-In Care locations, including the recently opened walk-in care in Aptos. Members also have access to same-day video visits for non-urgent, everyday health needs.

Dominican Hospital has been serving the Santa Cruz County community for more than 75 years, offering advanced, comprehensive care including cardiac surgery, a cancer center, orthopedic care, robotic surgery, a birth center and level 3 NICU, and emergency services.

“Dignity Health and Sutter Health have been longtime partners providing care to Santa Cruz County residents,” said Todd Strumwasser, MD, president of Dignity Health’s Northern California Division. “As part of the Sutter Health Plus network, we’re pleased to offer increased access to the county’s full-service, nationally recognized hospital.”

Dominican Hospital is the third Dignity Health facility in the Sutter Health Plus network, joining St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton and Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City.

An Ounce of Prevention, a Hope for Cure of Cervical Cancer

Posted on Dec 30, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, Innovation, Quality, Research, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 13,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease can be prevented with vaccination and appropriate screening. Read how researchers in our network are discovering new ways to prevent and treat cervical cancer.

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Holiday Cheer is the GOOOOOOOAL!

Posted on Dec 20, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, Uncategorized

San Jose Earthquakes players visit patients at CPMC Van Ness Campus hospital

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Smiles stretched from ear-to-ear at California Pacific Medical Center’s Van Ness Campus hospital as players from the San Jose Earthquakes Major League Soccer team sought to unwrap joy for patients in the Sutter facility’s Novack Family Child Life Services and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

San Jose Earthquakes players Tommy Thompson and Shea Salinas visit patients at CPMC Van Ness Campus hospital for the holidays.
San Jose Earthquakes players Tommy Thompson and Shea Salinas visit patients at CPMC Van Ness Campus hospital for the holidays.

Quakes teammates Tommy Thompson and Shea Salinas weren’t shy about bringing their holiday spirit A game. Eager and excited, the duo visited with several patients and their families in their rooms. Patients’ faces lit up as Tommy and Shea talked with them, snapped selfies and handed out toys, games and Quakes soccer balls.

“Even patients’ parents got in on the action, especially the dads,” said Lori Denault, child life specialist at CPMC Van Ness Campus hospital. “It can be hard to get excited about the holidays when your child is in the hospital, so having this kind of fun distraction is beneficial for the health and well-being of the entire family.”

CPMC Van Ness Campus hospital is celebrating its first holiday season in its new facility, having opened in March 2019. CPMC offers many healthcare options for pediatric specialty care. These include a state-of-the-art birthing center, a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Novack Family Child Life Services. The adjacent Medical Office Building, emphasizing the benefit of Sutter Health’s integrated network, provides even more pediatric offerings, including CPMC’s Newborn Connections

A Hearty Milestone for Sacramento: Over 1,000 Lives Saved with TAVRs

Posted on Dec 17, 2019 in Affiliates, Cardiac, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Uncategorized

A few months ago, 87-year-old Margie Malaspino wouldn’t have been able to play Mrs. Santa for her local Soroptimist event. She was in heart failure due to a constricted aortic heart valve, called aortic stenosis.

“I tired out too easy,” she says. “I had no energy to even walk across the house.” And, way too little energy to play Mrs. Santa for children.

But all that changed by the time Malaspino’s role as Mrs. Santa came earlier this month. She was full of life and all smiles, thanks to a minimally invasive valve replacement known as a TAVR – transcatheter aortic valve replacement – that was performed at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. The hospital was one of the first TAVR centers in the nation, first implanting one in 2012, and in October 2019 became the first center in the Central Valley to perform 1,000 TAVR procedures. Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento has performed the most TAVRs in the greater region and is in the top five in the state, according to the TAVR’s maker, Edwards Lifesciences.

TAVR is performed without the need for open-heart surgery to replace a narrowed aortic valve. A team of interventional cardiologists and heart surgeons work side-by-side to thread a catheter containing the new valve through a vein and expanding it once it’s in place. It originally was used just in older patients – usually those in their 80s and 90s – and others who may be too weak to have an open-chest surgery. Just this year, it was approved by the FDA for standard-risk patients, too.

The TAVR team at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento has since pioneered several improvements to the TAVR procedure. Among them: In 2015 the team was the first in Sacramento and one of the first nationally to perform TAVR using conscious sedation rather than general anesthesia, providing inherent benefits to these elderly and frail patients, and in 2018 the team was the first in the Central Valley to perform an innovative catheter procedure called BASILICA followed by a TAVR, successfully preventing an often-fatal complication of a valve-in-valve replacement.

“We are so proud to be able to give people their lives back with this procedure,” said Thomas Rhodes, R.N., administrative director of cardiovascular services at Sutter Medical Center. “Margaret’s story is one of many successes that we love to hear. We have an incredible team devoted to improving our patients’ lives.”

Just two weeks after the procedure, Margie was back on the go, thanks to the team at Sutter Medical Center. Not only did she play Mrs. Santa, she is back calling bingo at least once a month and going out with her friends to dance and listen to music.

“She has a better social life than I do,” said her granddaughter, Erica. “She runs circles around her five great-grandsons.”

Margie Malaspino didn’t miss a beat as she once again played Mrs. Santa at her Soroptimist event in Jackson, Calif.

Novato Community Hospital Hip and Knee Replacement Program Honored for Excellence

Posted on Dec 12, 2019 in Affiliates, Quality, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa

Joint Commission Awards Highest Certification for Second Time

NOVATO, Calif. — The Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement Program at Novato Community Hospital (NCH), a member of the Sutter Health not-for-profit integrated network of care, recently earned the Joint Commission’s Advanced re-certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement. This is the second time the program has achieved Advanced certification—the highest level offered by the nationally recognized accrediting body—since the program was established.

“This Advanced certification showcases our team’s commitment to excellent patient care and confirms the lengths we go to ensure the best in quality and service for patients every day,” said Shannon Thomas, Novato Community Hospital administrator.

In 2015, NCH spearheaded a community-wide effort to ensure that everyone involved in these surgeries follows a rigorous set of standards. The hospital convened anesthesiologists, surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and others to reach consensus on how best to manage post-surgery pain, get patients mobile after surgery and support patients at home. The group’s efforts paid off in 2018, when 97 percent of joint replacement patients were discharged from NCH directly to their home (instead of a skilled nursing facility), representing a 35 percent improvement over 2013.

“Our patients come from far and wide, so we had to work hard to ensure that regardless of where they come from, or go home to, they get consistent, high-quality care,” said Jennifer Lehr, director of Orthopedic Services at NCH. “We know that patients often recover faster in their own homes, as opposed to a facility, so we are very proud of this achievement.”

“We want every knee and hip replacement to be a success,” said orthopedic surgeon and program medical director Peter Callander, M.D. “We are always learning and applying what we learn in order to make that happen.”

In addition to improving the quality of care that patients receive, the group also working to make care more efficient. “We’ve developed systems to share information at all points of care, so patients don’t have to answer the same questions multiple times,” said Lehr.

This level of coordination is available even after the surgery and the patient is home thanks to NCH’s dedicated outpatient nurse case manager who helps patients through the entire rehabilitation process.

“The Joint Commission is one of the premier health care quality improvement bodies in the nation,” said Thomas. “This certification is a recognition of the work done by our entire provider community when we focused on improving pain management, quality of life, function, mobility, experience and safety for orthopedic surgery patients – and achieved amazing results. We are committed to sustaining these gains and will do so with the continued leadership of our area orthopedic surgeons.”