California Pacific Medical Center

Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19: What to Know and How to Prepare

Posted on Aug 2, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Safety, Scroll Images, Wellness

SAN FRANCISCO – For people who experienced breathing and respiratory problems brought on by previous years’ wildfire smoke, a San Francisco health expert cautions that these individuals should be extra vigilant with their health while COVID-19 is among us.

In an article by the San Francisco Chronicle, Vinayak Jha, M.D., a pulmonologist affiliated with Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), says that people are already concerned about catching the virus and becoming ill. Having respiratory problems combined with air pollution from wildfires is not an ideal situation.

“There are growing reports out of China, Europe and the U.S. that the more air pollution there is, the more COVID deaths and cases there are,” says Jha. “There’s some reason for concern that wildfire smoke, besides being bad for people in general, may affect people’s susceptibility to getting the virus.”

Jha says breathing in wildfire smoke can cause shortness of breath, coughing and sore throat, and that having the coronavirus may worsen symptoms.

Recovering from COVID-19? Living with a respiratory illness? Here’s what you should do if wildfire smoke becomes a problem.

As the fire seasons heats up, Jha says COVID-19 patients should keep in close contact with their health care provider and avoid exerting themselves, especially if they are at the beginning of the illness.

“Continue to socially distance, and continue to wear a mask in public,” says Jha. He encourages people to have precautions in place now, before the wildfire season hits: know how to check the Air Quality Index, check your own home air purifying system to make sure the filters are clean, and have a plan in case you need to leave the area.

Pulmonary Care

In the Sutter Health network, pulmonary specialists have deep expertise in treating acute and chronic lung conditions, including asthma, bronchiolitis, emphysema and pneumonia. They offer treatment for interstitial lung disease, advanced COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pulmonary nodules and pulmonary hypertension.

In light of COVID-19, Sutter Bay Medical Foundation stood up respiratory care clinics (RCCs) to prepare for increased patient demand. These exam experiences keep potentially contagious people distanced from those that aren’t, while allowing all who need in-person care to receive it.

Read more about Sutter’s respiratory care clinics here.

Sutter Health is committed to your health and safety. If you need care, make an appointment today. Our care teams are ready to serve you, either in person or by Video Visit.

Learn more about getting care during COVID-19 here.

Sutter Hospitals Honored By U.S. News & World Report

Posted on Jul 28, 2020 in Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, California Pacific Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Quality, Scroll Images, Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Sutter Delta Medical Center, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Sutter Roseville Medical Center

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Three hospital campuses within Sutter Health’s not-for-profit, integrated network of care achieved recognition today as among the best hospitals in California for 2020-2021 from U.S. News & World Report. The annual rankings rate top hospitals in the state and in major metropolitan regions according to their performance across 26 adult specialties, procedures and conditions.

Sutter hospital campuses ranked among the top 50 in the state include:

California Pacific Medical Center – Van Ness Campus* (High-performing in five procedures/conditions and four specialties)
Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento (High-performing in six procedures/conditions and one specialty)
Sutter Roseville Medical Center (High-performing in five procedures/conditions)

Coming just outside of the top 50 were Alta Bates Summit Medical Center – Summit Campus in Oakland and Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame, both ranking at 51. Both hospitals had high-performing rankings in three procedures/conditions.

Three Sutter hospitals are among the top 10 hospitals in the San Francisco metro area, including Alta Bates Summit Medical Center – Summit Campus, California Pacific Medical Center – Van Ness Campus* and Mills-Peninsula Medical Center. Additionally, two Sutter hospitals are among the top 10 hospitals in the Sacramento metro area, including Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento and Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

Seven additional Sutter hospital campuses earned recognition today as “high performers” in at least one adult specialty, condition or procedure, including:

• Alta Bates Summit Medical Center – Alta Bates Campus in Berkeley (High-performing in two procedures/conditions)
• Alta Bates Summit Medical Center – Summit Campus in Oakland (High-performing in three procedures/conditions)
Memorial Medical Center (High-performing in two procedures/conditions)
• Mills-Peninsula Medical Center (High-performing in three procedures/conditions)
Stanislaus Surgical Hospital (High-performing in one procedure/condition)
Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital (High-performing in one procedure/condition)
Sutter Delta Medical Center (High-performing in two procedures/conditions)

“Safety and quality are in our DNA,” said Bill Isenberg, M.D., chief quality and safety officer for Sutter Health. “Recognitions like these honor our network’s doctors, nurses, clinicians and employees who compassionately care for patients and their families across Northern California.”

Sutter Health’s not-for-profit network set out to build a truly integrated system—one that offers comprehensive patient services and quality health programs tailored to the diverse communities it serves. Today, Sutter Health cares for more than 3 million patients throughout its Northern California network of physicians, hospitals, home health providers and other services. Its coordination and focus on standardizing best practices reduce complications in care, lower hospital readmission rates and bring down the total cost of care.

“For more than 30 years, U.S. News & World Report has been helping patients, along with the help of their physicians, identify the Best Hospitals in an array of specialties, procedures and conditions,” said Ben Harder, managing editor and chief of health analysis at U.S. News. “The hospitals that rise to the top of our rankings and ratings have deep medical expertise, and each has built a track record of delivering good outcomes for patients.”

The U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals survey ranked hospitals according to risk-adjusted survival and readmission rates, volume, patient experience, patient safety, quality of nursing care, physician surveys and other care-related indicators.

For more information and complete rankings, visit U.S. News & World Report.

*Many of the services recognized had originally been performed at California Pacific Medical Center – Pacific Campus and are now located at California Pacific Medical Center – Van Ness Campus.

Seven Months of Coronavirus. Here’s What We’ve Learned Treating COVID Patients.

Posted on Jul 24, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

SAN FRANCISCO – The novel coronavirus has been with us since January 2020—and California is still in a continuation of the first wave. As the pandemic drags on, the medical community has acted as a sponge, absorbing knowledge of how the infection is best treated from each new case.

Vernon Giang, M.D., chief medical executive of California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit integrated network of care, shares four learnings CPMC clinicians have discovered since they began treating some of the nation’s first COVID-19 cases in March.

Constantly Refining the Approach to Treatment

COVID-19 symptoms differ based on the severity of disease. Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are more commonly reported among those who are hospitalized with COVID-19 than among those with milder cases of the disease.

“Early on, the thinking was to put patients with compromised lung function on a ventilator,” said Giang. “We’re managing patients much better now with high-flow oxygen. This is an incredible advance to keep patients surviving COVID-19 without bearing the risks of intubation.”

Additionally, Giang says, “Treatment of COVID patients has become more focused over the last few months because we’ve learned what drugs are effective against the disease.”

For instance, clinicians have learned that hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine isn’t effective against COVID-19. Rather, the anti-viral drug remdesivir is producing much stronger outcomes.

Increased & Faster Testing Means Early I.D. of Positive Patients

CPMC, like all hospitals in the Sutter network, test hospitalized patients for COVID-19, including those preparing for an upcoming surgical procedure.

“Testing is a very important part of controlling the spread of COVID-19. If we can get increased rapid testing down and make it widespread, we can help decrease the community spread of this virus. Testing in a hospital setting is important, too, as it enables staff to separate positive patients away from others, thus reducing exposure,” says Giang.

Sutter hospitals have also adopted cohorting, or grouping together, COVID positive patients on the same floor, which reduces the risk of spread and the need for additional PPE.

Clinical Progression Timeline

Giang shares that there is a strong correlation between patient infection rates and large public gatherings.

“We’re on a four- to six-week cycle,” he said. “People in early June were asking, ‘Why isn’t the death rate and hospitalizations rising?’ but we’ve learned it’s because the infection cycle takes time.”

An example of this timeline is when the country began opening over Memorial Day (May 22-25, 2020).
Giang explains that it took a couple of weeks after the holiday (COVID’s 2 to 14-day incubation period) for individuals to contract the virus and, in some cases, get sick enough that their symptoms required medical attention. In week’s three and four (or more), around mid-to-late June, we began seeing people hospitalized and pass away from the virus in increased numbers because the virus had taken its toll on their bodies.

Additionally, he confirms that patients with chronic diseases or conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, have a much greater chance of succumbing to COVID-19 because their bodies are already at a physical disadvantage, making it harder to fight off the disease.

Masking Works

According to Giang, we’ve learned there are significant portions of the population, particularly young people, who are asymptomatic or show no COVID-19 symptoms.

“What we’re seeing now is a surge in cases across the U.S. There are a number of reasons for this increase, including folks who are tired of being cooped up and returning to daily activities as if COVID didn’t exists. Some of it is from the fallout of people thinking they’re invincible and like it can’t happen to them.”

He continues, “We know that diligent masking works to help to slow the virus’ spread.”

Since March 2020, all Sutter hospitals, as well as Sutter outpatient and Walk-In Care facilities, have enacted 24-7 masking for all employees and patients. The Sutter network has also restricted visitors in these facilities.

“We’ve been able to effectively keep on top of community spread [within CPMC],” he said. “Now that we’re seeing a patient surge, we need to continue to be prudent about masking and how we connect and carry on about our everyday lives. Social Distancing and cleaning your hands frequently are also important. Things are opening up, but that doesn’t mean this virus is over.”

The Learning Never Stops

CPMC physicians, like those in teams across Sutter network, are constantly refining their approach to care in treating COVID-19 patients.

“A lot of people we’re seeing are recuperating. We’re learning everyday about how to be more effective with our treatment and we’re sending people home.”

Care Team Enables Communication Solution for Laboring Mother Who Relies on Lip Reading

Posted on Jun 16, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Quality, Scroll Images, Uncategorized, Women's Services

SAN FRANCISCO – When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) put strict infection control measures in place to keep patients and staff safe. These measures included temperature screenings, masking and visitor restrictions. But while masks are crucial for slowing the virus’ spread, they can present a communication problem for certain patients. That’s why Sutter Health purchased clear face masks for those people who would have difficulties communicating otherwise.

Karma Quick-Panwala was an expecting mom, who relies on lip reading to communicate. The clear face masks allowed her to see her labor and delivery nurses’ facial cues for reassurance and encouragement.

Technology + Teamwork

“Giving birth during COVID-19 has brought new challenges—but also many opportunities,” said Yuan-Da Fan, M.D., chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at CPMC’s Van Ness campus. “We were determined to find a solution that fit Karma’s need. We wanted communication between Karma and her care team to be as seamless as possible in order to provide the best possible care to her and her baby.”

The solution? Before her due date, Quick-Panwala worked with CPMC’s staff to put into place real-time captioning, also called Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). CART works by a stenographer translating spoken word into text that then appears in real time on a tablet screen.

When she arrived at CPMC to deliver her baby, Quick-Panwala’s care team called a captioner via the CART service. The captioner listened to the conversations happening in the labor room over speaker phone and translated the speech into text. Nearly instantly, the text appeared on a screen at Quick-Panwala’s bedside.

Seamless Communication

“Thanks to technology, the Internet and iPads, we were able to make it happen so that I could have relatively simultaneous access to speech through all the instructions, questions and answers,” said Quick-Panwala. “From the moment we arrived, everyone [on the care team] knew they needed to put on their clear mask and change the way they communicated a little bit.”

“It’s been a good experience. [The technology] helped my labor and delivery go smoothly because I was able to see, communicate and understand what was taking place in the room. Fortunately, it was a straightforward delivery. Everyone has been absolutely wonderful,” she said.

Axel Panwala arrived happy and healthy on June 10.

“We were happy to make this delivery experience a success for Karma and her husband,” said Dr. Fan. “Our staff were able to adapt to her needs and learn a new piece of patient communication and technology in the process. It was a win for everyone.”

Asit Panwala, Quick-Panwala’s husband, said, “There can be a lot of unpredictability in labor and delivery, so this communication channel was important.”

The San Francisco Chronicle featured Quick-Panwala’s story here: How clear face masks helped a Bay Area mom who’s hard of hearing give birth.

The Unseen Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Posted on Jun 5, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Expanding Access, Innovation, Quality, Research, Scroll Images

Older patients with Parkinson’s disease also often suffer from a very high risk of falls, and may experience disabling fractures. Research has not shown whether drug treatments for the prevention of osteoporosis (such as zoledronic acid) could also prevent fractures for them. Researchers at Sutter’s San Francisco Coordinating Center (SFCC) designed the “Trial of Parkinson’s and Zoledronic Acid” (TOPAZ) study to answer that question.

Steve Cummings, MD
Steve Cummings, MD

“There are few treatments for Parkinson’s disease itself, but TOPAZ could show how a simple treatment given at home could prevent one of the most important causes of disability and death in these patients,” said Steve Cummings, M.D., director of SFCC and a lead investigator of TOPAZ.

Dr. Cummings noted that TOPAZ is the first study of its kind nationwide. The study aims to enroll 3,500 patients with Parkinson’s disease who are 65 years or older. As part of the study, neurologists who specialize in Parkinson’s disease may conduct a video interview with the patient to confirm the diagnosis.

A study nurse will check patients to confirm that treatment with zoledronic acid would be safe, and once confirmed, will then give zoledronic acid or placebo intravenously. Patients will be contacted every four months for at least two years about whether they have had a fracture.

SFCC leads the effort with a nationwide research team including neurologists and bone disease experts from UC San Francisco (UCSF), the Parkinson’s Foundation and Duke University.

“Fractures can result in a loss of independence, so it’s important to find ways to prevent them, particularly in this group of patients,” said Parkinson’s disease expert Caroline Tanner, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology at UCSF and a lead investigator of TOPAZ. “We hope this study will provide us with some answers.”

“Patients with Parkinson’s disease have difficulty traveling to clinics for care. Our goal is to test if we can bring the evaluation and treatment to their home making it easier for them to reduce their risk of disabling fractures,” added Kenneth W. Lyles, M.D., senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at Duke University, TOPAZ lead investigator at Duke, and world expert on zoledronic acid.

The five-year, $30 million study is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, part of the U.S. National Institute of Health.

Nearly 800,000 Americans age 65 or older have Parkinson’s disease—a brain illness that causes slow loss of control of movements, walking and balance, increased risk of falling and decreased cognitive functions. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but TOPAZ could show that one treatment could prevent a disabling consequence of the illness.

For patients:
For more information on TOPAZ and to enroll in the study, call 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636). You may be referred to UCSF to arrange a telemedicine neurology assessment at home to confirm that the study is right for you.

For Parkinson’s disease specialists:
Call 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636) for more information on enrolling patients directly into the trial.

CPMC’s Hamila Kownacki Recognized as One of San Francisco Business Times’ Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business

Posted on Jun 4, 2020 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, People

SAN FRANCISCO – Hamila Kownacki, RN, MSHA, and chief operating officer at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), has been recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of 2020’s Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business. The publication’s annual list celebrates women business leaders in finance, health care, law, real estate, technology and more. Honorees are both passionate leaders in their organizations, as well as their communities.

Hamila Kownacki is the Chief Operating Officer at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco.

As COO of CPMC, part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit integrated network of care, Kownacki oversees all operational direction and outpatient services for the medical center’s three campuses in San Francisco: Van Ness, Mission Bernal and Davies.

Most recently, Kownacki led the opening of two modern hospitals where high quality, technology, safety, efficiency, and personal touches are the norm. CPMC’s Van Ness facility, which opened in March 2019, offers advanced patient technology, cancer care, cardiac care, orthopedics and women’s and children’s services. CPMC’s Mission Bernal location, which opened in August 2018, is a neighborhood-based medical center that focuses on emergency, elder care, maternity and orthopedics services.

Kownacki was also chosen for the prestigious Carol Emmott Fellowship, class of 2020. As one of 21 fellows selected nationwide, she is granted the opportunity to build on her leadership capacities in order to help accelerate the advancement of women in executive roles in health care, where currently they are significantly underrepresented.

Kownacki is a board member for San Francisco’s Meals on Wheels and she serves as chairperson of the Donor Network West, an organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation for transplantation in Northern California and Nevada. She earned her bachelor’s degree at CSU Northridge, and her master’s degree in health services administration at St. Mary’s in Moraga.