California Pacific Medical Center

‘Rockin’ It: Art Helps Cancer Patient Find Healing and Purpose

Posted on Mar 17, 2020 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, People, Wellness

SAN FRANCISCO – “Life is tough, but so are you.”

This powerful message is hand painted onto a smooth, palm-sized stone that rests at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center’s Van Ness Campus kindness rock garden in San Francisco.

But it won’t be there for long.

Someone who needs it will pick it up and take it with them.

That’s the idea behind the hospital’s rock garden, located on the facility’s fifth floor terrace. Here, stones with inspiring messages and colorful scenes are on constant rotation as patients, staff and visitors are encouraged to “take one, share one, leave one.”

This simple yet meaningful concept struck a chord with Cameron Yee, a nursing student who found herself at CPMC, part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit network of care, when her cancer returned.

Cameron Yee visits CPMC Van Ness Campus hospital’s Rock Kindness Garden.

Yee was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that forms in the body’s soft tissue, at 18. She went into remission in 2016 and began feeling the cancer’s symptoms again in October 2019.

Yee was admitted to CPMC in late 2019 due to a complication from her chemotherapy and radiation. Her oncologist suggested a visit by the medical center’s expressive arts therapist, Jane Siegel.

Siegel introduced Yee to painting rocks as a form of mindfulness, self-care and an outlet to distract her from pain. It was the perfect non-medicinal prescription for Yee’s creative mind.

A “You’ve Got This” kindness rock was the first she took from CPMC’s garden.

“This rock kept me grounded and hopeful. It was one of the things that gave me strength and motivation to keep on going. I am forever grateful for the person who painted this rock,” said Yee.

Yee has taken to painting rocks like Monet took to painting watercolors. She was hooked—and more importantly, uplifted.

Yee paints concentric hearts onto a heart-shaped stone.

“Cameron is our rock star of rock art,” laughs Jane Siegel. “Art therapy is an outlet that offers true health benefits and stress relief for patients and staff alike. It’s deeply rewarding as well as healing.”

Now, months later, Yee has started an effort called ‘Rock Kindness’ to help populate CPMC’s rock garden and grow the rock kindness community at large.

Each month, Yee drops off a new series of rocks. Some of her themes have included “You’ve got this” and “Nobody fights alone.”

She has also started an Instagram page, @rock.kindness, where followers can learn about journey and see her latest designs and motivational messages.

At 21, Yee’s in her final semester of nursing school at Dominican University of California and shadowing a nursing preceptor at CPMC.

“I hope to become a pediatric nurse or specialize in something where you can see more chronic patients,” she says.

Yee keeps her “You’ve Got This” rock on her nightstand, where it serves as a reminder of a moment when the exact message she needed, was delivered to her at the exact right time.

Yee knows that no matter what curve ball life throws her way, SHE’S GOT THIS!

An Endgame for Epilepsy

Posted on Mar 13, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Innovation, Neuroscience, People, Quality

One man’s struggle with seizures is silenced thanks to a medical device implanted on his brain.

Reno, Nev. — Andy Fiannaca, a college student at the time, first discovered he had epilepsy when he woke up in an ambulance. His head was gouged and bleeding—the result of falling during an intense epileptic seizure. Even with no family history of epilepsy, Fiannaca would soon learn that is exactly what he had.

For years, severe daily seizures affected his quality of life, limiting his activities. He experienced speech problems, such as difficulty finding and forming words, and would often lose the ability to comprehend what people around him were saying, known as aphasia. Everything became a foreign language.

Andy Fiannaca displays his post-surgery scar from where his RNS device was implanted.
Andy Fiannaca’s surgery scar is on full display where his RNS device was implanted.

Fiannaca also suffered from the “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome. During episodes, his visual perception would become drastically distorted. He was either an ant looking up at giants, or a giant looking down at ants. Driving a car was out of the question, and continuing his studies at the University of Nevada, Reno became increasingly difficult.

To control his seizures, Fiannaca tried six different medications and then a surgery in which a series of shallow cuts were made in his brain tissue. The goal was to remove the part of the brain where his seizures originated. Unfortunately, his Reno surgeons found the source was too close to his speech center. His symptoms improved after the surgery, but within two years they returned.

Clearly, Fiannaca required more advanced help. But since he lives in Sparks, Nevada (outside Reno), where this level of advanced neurology is not available, his care team finally referred him to California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco, part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit network of care.

At CPMC, neurologists David King-Stephens, MD and Peter Weber, MD, recommended the RNS System, an implanted device designed to continuously monitor brain activity, detect abnormal patterns and intervene to stop seizures before clinical symptoms appear. It is the first and only medical device that can monitor and respond to brain activity. This treatment, Fiannaca says, ultimately changed the course of his life.

The Fiannaca Family
The Fiannaca Family.

Since Fiannaca had the RNS device implanted six years ago, his seizures have radically reduced. He hasn’t had a grand mal seizure in two years, and he’s finally able to drive a car again. His wife Sara has been by his side through it all. The couple worried for a long time that epilepsy would prevent them from starting a family, but with his condition now under control, Fiannaca and Sara welcomed their first child 18 months ago.

Epilepsy is a widespread condition characterized by recurrent seizures that often causes a severe impact on a person’s quality of life. It affects as many as one in 26 adults in the U.S., and in 50 percent of epilepsy cases, the cause is unknown.

Epilepsy Awareness Day is March 26, 2020.

Helping Mind the Gap on Cardiovascular Diseases

Posted on Feb 7, 2020 in Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, California Pacific Medical Center, Cardiac, Expanding Access, Innovation, Quality, Research, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Sutter Medical Foundation, Sutter Roseville Medical Center

Heart valve imaging
Heart valve imaging

Lifesavers appear in big sizes and small. For patient Adam Livingstone, rescue was a dime-sized clip that restored his heart’s normal rhythm and size. For months, Livingstone had been experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain and fatigue. Diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation, a minimally invasive procedure to repair the valve was performed at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento—one of Sutter’s sites where researchers evaluate new devices for treating damaged or diseased heart valves.

The Heart’s Finely Orchestrated Blood Flow

Heart valves
Heart valves

Like a musical conductor, the heart oversees rhythm and flow, circulating blood to each of its chambers in a coordinated, unidirectional symphony.

THE MITRAL VALVE

Mitral regurgitation, the most common type of heart valve disorder, occurs when blood leaks backward through the mitral valve when the left ventricle closes.

Some patients undergo non-surgical heart valve repair with transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR) with MitraClip®.2 During the procedure, doctors thread a catheter into a large leg vein reaching the heart. Then a dime-sized clip clamps the improperly working valve, allowing it to close more tightly with less backward blood flow.

“Some research participants recover faster and resume normal activities within a week of the procedure, and may not require lifelong anticoagulant medications, repeat surgeries, or re-hospitalization,” says David Roberts, M.D., FACC, FSCAI, medical director of cardiovascular services at Sutter in the Valley Area.

A new clinical trial at Sutter called PASCAL CLASP IID/IIF will test the safety and effectiveness of TMVR with the PASCAL Transcatheter Valve Repair System® compared with MitraClip® in patients with mitral regurgitation.3

For patients with severe mitral regurgitation, Sutter’s CPMC seeks to enroll patients in a clinical trial called SM3, which assesses the safety and efficacy of the SAPIEN M3 System™.4

“In this study, we are evaluating a new type of mitral valve that may provide a minimally invasive alternative to surgery for high-risk patients with severe mitral valve disease,” says David Daniels, M.D., co-director of Sutter’s Structural Heart Program in the Bay Area, and principal investigator of the SM3 clinical trial at Sutter.

Some patients develop mitral valve disease when calcium deposits accumulate on the fibrous ring attached to the mitral valve leaflets. For these patients with mitral annular calcification (MAC), Sutter will begin offering enrollment in the Summit clinical trial, which will test the safety and effectiveness of the Tendyne™ transcatheter mitral valve.5

“Previous approaches to treat patients with MAC have mainly involved the off-label use of transcatheter aortic valves,” says Dr. Roberts. “But this strategy may lead to residual mitral regurgitation and the need for open-heart surgery. Sutter’s participation in Summit may lead to novel ways to care for this hard-to-treat subset of patients.”

THE TRICUSPID AND AORTIC VALVES

Although a skilled conductor, sometimes the heart needs help to maintain proper blood flow for musical perfection. To the rescue: Sutter researchers test interventional devices designed to treat patients with diseased or damaged tricuspid and aortic valves.

In one new clinical trial, Sutter researchers will collect information about treatment for severe aortic regurgitation, a condition typically treated with aortic valve replacement surgery.

This study will examine the use of TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement), a minimally invasive procedure designed to replace the aortic valve inside the heart. In this study, TAVR will be performed using the JenaValve™ Pericardial TAVR System, designed to help treat patients with severe aortic regurgitation or severe aortic stenosis.6

“Until now, all commercially available TAVR valves have focused on aortic stenosis, or a restricted valve,” says Dr. Daniels, co-principal investigator of the TAVR with JenaValve™ clinical trial at Sutter. “The JenaValve™ may allow researchers to treat patients with a leaky valve in the absence of any calcium. Currently these patients are only candidates for open-heart surgery.”

Additionally, Sutter researchers at CPMC and Sutter Medical Center are seeking to enroll patients who have tricuspid regurgitation in a clinical trial called TRILUMINATE.

The TRILUMINATE study will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the Tricuspid Valve Repair System™ (TVRS) for treating moderate or severe tricuspid regurgitation in patients currently on medical management and who are deemed appropriate for percutaneous transcatheter intervention.7

  • Learn more about Sutter cardiovascular diseases research and clinical trials.
  • If you are suffering from mitral or tricuspid valve regurgitation, aortic valve stenosis or other heart valve disorder, talk to your cardiologist to see if research participation and/or valve replacement or repair is right for you.

References:

  1. American Heart Association.
  2. MitraClip™ is manufactured by Abbott Medical Devices.
  3. The PASCAL clinical trial is sponsored by Edwards Life Sciences, makers of the Transcatheter Valve Repair System®.
  4. The S3 clinical trial is sponsored by Edwards Life Sciences, makers of the SAPIEN M3 System™.
  5. The Summit clinical trial is sponsored by Abbott Medical Devices, makers of the Tendyne System™.
  6. The JenaValve™ clinical trial is sponsored by JenaValve Technology, Inc., makers of the Pericardial Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) System.
  7. The TRILUMINATE clinical trial is sponsored by Abbott Medical Devices, makers of the Tricuspid Valve Repair System™.

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.

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