Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento

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.

The Cancer Treatment Within You

Posted on Nov 20, 2019 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, Expanding Access, People, Quality, Research, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Transformation

How blood, urine and gene mutations may unlock secrets to lung cancer treatment options.

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Sutter Health Park Launches Health Events with ‘Light the Night’

Posted on Nov 4, 2019 in Affiliates, Community Benefit, People, Scroll Images, Sutter Davis Hospital, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – At the newly renamed Sutter Health Park, Sutter employees, clinicians and community members gathered to support a cause close to the heart of many: leukemia and lymphoma.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Greater Sacramento Area Chapter’s “Light the Night” event was the first Sutter-sponsored community event at Sutter Health Park, home of the Sacramento River Cats. As the presenting sponsor of “Light the Night,” Sutter Health was represented by members of its executive leadership team, cancer specialists and hundreds of employees, who were there to celebrate the occasion and help shine light on the fight against life-threatening blood diseases.

“We had an incredible turnout, not just from Sutter employees and their families, but the entire community,” said Michael Carroll, M.D., medical director of the Blood & Marrow Transplant Program at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. “This Light the Night event helped to bring further awareness to the hundreds of thousands of patients with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood disorders. More importantly, the event raised funds to support patients and their families as well as laboratory and clinical research. Together, we can help find a cure for these diseases.”

When Sutter Health announced the naming rights to the home of Triple-A Baseball’s Sacramento River Cats, it announced a partnership with the River Cats and the greater community to bring more health-related awareness and services to the area. With this premier event, Sutter Health Park is now serving as a community gathering space that actively promotes health and wellness throughout the year. Other plans include health and wellness programming and local events from walks and runs, to health screenings, flu immunization clinics and more. During the season, attendees will see even more cause-related nights and nonprofit community partners featured and supported in their mission and activities.

“Thank you to everyone who joined in and supported Sacramento’s Light the Night,” said President and CEO of Sutter Health Sarah Krevans. “Sutter Health was proud to sponsor this very special event and walk alongside thousands of families, friends, colleagues, patients, caregivers and community members to support and remember all those touched by leukemia and lymphoma. The light, warmth and support everyone generated at the event together delivers hope, and the thoughtful donations of so many people will help advance life-saving research to benefit cancer patients and their families.”

For more information on the Sutter Health-River Cats collaboration, go to this story in the Newsroom.

Show executive leadership at event
Sutter Health Senior Vice President Jill Ragsdale and CEO Sarah Krevans helped to ”Light the Night” at the newly renamed Sutter Health Park Saturday evening.

Sacramentan Still Going Strong 25 Years After Heart Transplant

Posted on Nov 1, 2019 in Cardiac, Quality, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – When Mick Doughty, 68, was put on the heart transplant list in the 1990s, Sutter pioneering heart surgeon Paul Kelly, M.D., said a new heart would extend Mick’s life by 10 years … 20 years at the most.

“I told him, ‘Oh, I’ve got to beat that.’” Doughty says with a smile.

It’s now been 25 years since his transplant, and Doughty credits his longevity to the incredible care he’s received at Sutter Medical Center, close to his home in Sacramento.

To celebrate Doughty’s milestone, the Sutter Heart Transplant Program at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, threw the native Irishman a party and presented him with a few gifts, including a new “Irish ticker” to replace the one that was taken out: a pocket watch from Ireland.

During the event, which also featured talks by Dr. Kelly – who began Sacramento’s only heart transplant program in 1989 – and the current medical and surgical directors of the program, John Chin, M.D., and Robert Kincade, M.D., Mick entertained the audience with funny stories in his Irish brogue. The physicians say that Mick has done everything he’s had to do to ensure a long life, and that includes his sense of humor.

“He does everything he is supposed to do” to keep himself healthy, says Dr. Kincade. “And he’s just a character, he’s the life of the party.”

The Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento Heart Transplant Program, the only heart transplant center in the Central Valley, has consistently shown quality measures that are among the best in the nation, and Doughty’s longevity is living proof of that quality.

In the 30 years, the cardiac surgeons, cardiologists and care teams at Sutter Medical Center have transplanted 216 heart patients throughout Northern California to incredible success. Doughty is one of a handful of their patients who have reached the 25-year mark. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average life expectancy for a heart transplant is 9.16 years, and a relative few live past 20 years with a new heart. With his active lifestyle, Doughty believes he’ll outlive the current Guinness world record holder, who lived 34 years with his new heart.

“People ask me all the time how I’m feeling, and I say, ‘Never better,’” Doughty says.

“That’s what it’s all about, giving people back their lives, and giving people a quality of life,” says Dr. Chin. “It’s very, very gratifying. It’s why we do this.”

When asked what 25 more years of life have given him, Doughty started to list off a number of family and professional events, including his 25th wedding anniversary, his children’s graduations, his son’s wedding, being named “Sacramento’s Financial Planner of the Year.” Then he paused and said, “You know what, I think it’s the day to day, waking up every morning, living life – that is as important as all the milestones.” View a news story on Doughty’s party by clicking here.

Mick Doughty, center, thanks Drs. Paul Kelly and John Chin for the heart transplant that has extended his life for 25 years … and counting.

Quelling the Storms of Seizures in People with Epilepsy

Posted on Nov 1, 2019 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, Innovation, Neuroscience, Quality, Research, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Transformation, Uncategorized

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – An electrical “storm” in the brain causes seizures in people with epilepsy, producing symptoms that may include lapses in consciousness, twitching or jerking movements, weakened or limp muscles, spasms, blurred vision, experiencing unusual smells or tastes, and changes in sensation or emotions.

Epilepsy—a neurological disorder caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain—impacts almost 3.4 million nationwide.1 Despite advances in epilepsy treatment, approximately one-third of adults with the illness experience recurrent seizures.2

Epileptic seizures are generally categorized into three main groups: generalized (affecting both sides of the brain), focal (seizures that start in one area of the brain), and those that could start anywhere.

The stormy weather of seizures can clear with medications called anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). AEDs can to stop seizures from occurring, but they do not always lead to a remission or cure epilepsy. With the right AEDs, up to 70% of people with the illness may remain seizure-free, and sometimes may “outgrow” seizures or go into remission. For other people whose seizures are uncontrolled with conventional AEDs, other treatments including surgery may be an option. Surgery may involve removing part of the brain that causes the seizures.

Michael Chez, MD

“Knowing where seizures start in the brain provides us clues into what occurs during a seizure, what other conditions or symptoms may be seen, how they may affect someone and, most importantly, what treatment may be best for that seizure type,” says Michael Chez, M.D., a pediatric neurologist and epileptologist, and Sacramento regional director of pediatric epilepsy and research at the Sutter Neuroscience Institute.

“Life without seizures and improved quality of life is what specialists aim to provide epilepsy patients, through a treatment plan personalized to their particular type of epilepsy and seizures,” says Dr. Chez.

Two Sutter hospitals, California Pacific Medical Center and Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento are renowned for providing patients specialized Level 4 epilepsy care— a designation by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers—guided by leading-edge research. Sutter researchers are uncovering new clues about how epilepsy develops and how it can be treated more effectively.

Sutter examining new ways to ‘map’ and monitor brain activity

Epilepsy is usually diagnosed with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalogram (EEG) testing. Those techniques are also used to regularly monitor brain activity in people with the illness. Sutter researchers are studying the use of novel neuroimaging techniques to visualize and track the brain’s electrical activity in people with epilepsy.

For patients with refractory epilepsy (in whom medications are not adequately controlling seizures), a new “high-density” EEG machine is being tested to locate precisely where a patient’s seizures originate in the brain.

“Use of these high-density or high-array EEG machines can help dramatically accelerate research and patient care by identifying the focal point of a seizure,” says Kenneth Laxer, M.D. a researcher in the Sutter Pacific Epilepsy Program at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC).

With more than 40 years’ experience in epilepsy research, Dr. Laxer is renowned for studying neuroimaging techniques including magnetic resonance spectroscopy for the evaluation and management of the illness. With high-density EEGs, the patient wears a net over their head, and the brain’s electrical activity is recorded from 250-plus electrodes. The recordings are combined with the patient’s own high-resolution MRI scan to help localize the seizure focus. Surgeons use these precise images to remove the section of the brain that’s causing the seizures.

“If we pinpoint that abnormal area, we can remove a smaller portion of the abnormal brain tissue and therefore decrease the risk of serious complications from the surgery,” says Dr. Laxer. He notes that 50-70% of patients who undergo a focal resection may become seizure free. “Most of these patients remain on seizure medications, frequently at reduced dosages; however, the goal of surgery is to bring the epilepsy under control—not to stop epilepsy medication use. Patients who undergo such surgeries typically experience improved quality of life.” Stay tuned later this month for Part 2 of this series on Sutter epilepsy research, which will include information on neuromodulation and anti-epileptic medications.

Stay tuned later this month for Part 2 of this series describing epilepsy research at Sutter.

References: 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/about/fast-facts.htm 2. Epilepsy Foundation. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-seizures/refractory-seizures SAN .

Sutter Research: Advancing Care for Patients with Breast Cancer

Posted on Oct 21, 2019 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, California Pacific Medical Center, Expanding Access, Innovation, Memorial Medical Center, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Quality, Research, Scroll Images, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Transformation, Women's Services

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Breast cancer research has the potential to improve cancer care for the 3.8 million American women living with the illness. Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re highlighting the bold science and game-changing breast cancer research at Sutter. This work can help advance knowledge of how to detect and treat the illness.

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