Integrated Network

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

Celebrating Safely This Thanksgiving

Posted on Nov 25, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

A Message from Sutter Health President & CEO Sarah Krevans and Sutter Health Chief Quality & Safety Officer William Isenberg, M.D., Ph.D.

Sutter Health President and CEO Sarah Krevans

While the holidays may look and feel different this year, we are thankful that across Sutter Health we have come together with strength and resilience to persevere through these unprecedented times. We appreciate the compassion and excellence of our staff as we serve and comfort those who turn to us for medical care and guidance.

With COVID-19 surging in most parts of the country, and 94 percent of California now in our state’s most restrictive tier, we join our state’s public health officials and encourage people to stay home and avoid traveling outside of their local region to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus. While breaking with family traditions may be hard, we encourage you to make these holidays a season to remember in new and different ways. State officials are also offering tips and ideas on how to celebrate safely.

Sutter Health Chief Quality & Safety Officer William Isenberg, M.D., Ph.D.

Safety is Sutter Health’s top priority, and, as we have done all year, we are closely monitoring the steep increase in COVID-19 infections. We’re also working closely with state officials to coordinate our response. At this time, our hospitals have capacity to care for patients with COVID-19 and for those who do not. We also have adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our teams. Additionally, we have joined with approximately 100 other hospitals and health systems across the U.S. in the new “Mask Up” campaign, which encourages people to wear facemasks—one of the best tools we have for slowing the spread of COVID-19.

May you and your loved ones stay safe and well. Happy Thanksgiving.

Noble Mission: Air Force Veteran Makes Landing into Healthcare Just in Time for COVID

Posted on Nov 11, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

Bristol Falls, a swimming hole in Ayers’ hometown

As a kid growing up in Bristol, Vermont, Lee Ayers already had a strong love for his country building in his tiny chest. The American Dream evoked feelings of opportunity and pride. Over time, those feelings evolved into a desire to do something bigger beyond his small hometown. While others were more focused on college, he wanted to broaden his horizons in other ways. Traveling the world, experiencing other cultures and serving his country would be his education.

Ayers met with recruiters from a few branches of the military, but ultimately felt that the Air Force was the best fit for him. It has a structure and culture that spoke to him most. He ventured off to basic training a month after his 18th birthday.

Life Lessons

In his 24 years of military service, Ayers spent all of his time in supply chain operations—a field he knew would benefit him well when he transitioned to civilian life. He had a hand in sending nuclear supplies, fuel, aircraft and vehicle parts across the globe. He was stationed in Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Washington. His international destinations included England, Germany, Iraq, Kuwait and South Korea. The places, the cultures, the missions all combined into unbelievable teachings. And one of the most profound lessons he learned was one in trust.

As part of a combat logistics unit, Ayers and his team could get the call day or night to fly anywhere in the world. On one occasion, he and his team were summoned to Saudi Arabia to tear down and clean up a special operations camp. His group of seven were dropped in the middle of the desert—one small airstrip in a sea of sand. The unit was there 45 days, disassembling the camp with the goal of leaving the desert as it was before special operations’ arrival. As their own supplies dwindled and the last of the gear was packed, Ayers realized that the last remaining item left with the team was faith. Faith that their work paid off. Faith that the pilot had their coordinates and would return for them. And as the lights from the plane slowly descended from the night sky and chirped its tires on that little runway, Ayers trust was affirmed.

Trust, communication, commitment, camaraderie—all traits and features of the military life that Ayers loved. When the time came for him to make the move to civilian life, he scoured and studied for opportunities that mirrored what he had experienced during his service.

“The military attracts a certain type a person who wants to serve and give back, which is not unlike healthcare,” said Ayers. “I hadn’t thought about healthcare originally, but the experience completely translated. You are saving lives in the military. I can do that again now in a different way.”

Enemy #1: COVID-19

Little did Ayers know how much of that was true. He joined Sutter about three months prior of COVID-19 arriving stateside. His original and current role is overseeing the supply chain operations for all affiliates across the network. His responsibility evolved into playing a key role within Sutter Health’s Emergency Management System, or SHEMS, which helps provide a coordinated response across the network in times of disaster. Ayers remarked how familiar SHEMS felt to military command centers he had been in the past, including one where he served as an Air Force Supply Chain subject matter expert aiding the global distribution of materials and supplies during the Ebola crisis.

Thanks to the research, relationships and creativity of Ayers and his supply chain teams, Sutter secured the necessary PPE to help protect patient and employees. While undoubtedly there were challenges along the way, the team remained focused on solutions.

“These are no fail missions,” he said, drawing parallels again from the military to healthcare. “PPE is one of the enemy’s weaknesses.”

Much remains to be seen with the pandemic and now through the flu season, but Ayers remains at the ready. Part of that comes from the security he feels in his experience and his choice to make the transition into healthcare.

Lee Ayers

“I’m super proud of my 24 years of service to our country,” he said. “And I feel fortunate every day to work at Sutter. I know it was meant to be that I’m here. I am so impressed with Sutter’s integrated network and the heroes I work with every day. Sutter is an organization that’s connected, strong, competent and completely aligned with its mission to care for people and save lives.”

Sutter Salutes Military Support Efforts

Sutter Health’s appreciation for military service members goes beyond the more than 1,300 veterans and reservists who work within the not-for-profit network. Sutter Health supports a number of community organizations that help veterans, today and throughout the year. A couple of examples include the Fisher House Foundation, which provides lodging for families of military members undergoing hospital treatment for a combat injury, illness or disease, and the American Red Cross’s Reconnection Workshops, which are no-cost, confidential workshops to help returning service members and veterans readjust to life within their family, community and workplace.

“We’re proud and grateful for the service and sacrifice of our military members, and for the veterans and reservists who are helping care for our communities through our not-for-profit mission,” said Sarah Krevans, president and CEO of Sutter Health. “We meet our mission through teamwork, and our efforts have made an even greater impact during this unprecedented time.”

Launch Pad: New Doctor Hopes Her First Home Will be Forever

Posted on Oct 16, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

Catherine Martin D.O., MPH has spent seven years and $400,000 training to be a doctor, but time and money don’t reflect the full price of becoming a physician.

“I’ve made countless sacrifices, put my life on hold really, so I could meet the 60 to 80 hour a week demands of medical school, clinical rotation and residency,” said Dr. Martin. One career-delayed goal she hopes to revive: living with her fiancé and buying a home together, a move that economists call ‘household formation.’

Catherine A Martin, D.O., MPH

Dr. Martin’s dream of homeownership may receive an unexpected boost, in the form of down payment assistance from Landed —thanks to a pilot program option offered through her employer, the Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group, affiliated with Sutter Health.

Landed’s shared-equity down payment program invests alongside homebuyers to help them reach a 20% down payment. Landed funds—up to $120,000 per household—come in the form of an equity investment in which homebuyers share in a portion of the gain (or loss, if any) of the home’s value once the partnership ends – typically by sale or refinance.

By providing access to opportunities like Landed, Sutter hopes to enable employees and clinicians to live where they work and in turn enhance the health of the communities they serve. “I know how difficult and costly it is to become a doctor, and I also know how rewarding it is to help people live healthy and productive lives,” said Elizabeth Vilardo, M.D., CEO for the Sutter Bay Medical Foundation. “Sutter looks for ways to support its healthcare workforce, so that they can support patients for all their years.”

Dr. Martin is eager to settle down and hopes her first home with be her forever home, because she is already committed to the community where she works. “I can’t see myself anywhere else,” remarked Dr. Martin. “I chose to go into family medicine because I want to care for my patients from cradle to college and I knew that in Watsonville I’d have the honor of caring for multiple generations of the same family, forming relationships with my patients that span decades.”

Close to Care: Nursing Couple’s Home Search Centers on Medical Services

Posted on Oct 16, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

Yi and Esther Wang are saving up to buy a house, but for now, their son’s hospital room feels like home.

The Sunnyvale couple are both registered nurses and they both work with specialists – doctors who have extra training in a specific area of medicine – but they never expected that they would need specialist-level care for their firstborn.

Yi Wang, R.N.

At only 5 days old, Nathan Wang was diagnosed with Hirschprung’s disease, a rare birth defect that affects the intestine and prevents a baby from passing stool normally. Nathan needed life-changing surgery when he was just one month old and continues to need services in the hospital and outpatient pediatric specialty clinic.

“As a nurse manager I directly support pediatric specialists, so I know these experts are in high demand and short supply. Now, as a father, I’ve seen how critical it is that these specialists are available in my community – if we’d had to wait one day more or travel any further for Nathan to be diagnosed and get the care he needed – his outcome could have been drastically different.” Yi Wang, R.N., clinical manager for pediatric specialty care at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF).

Yi and Esther have taken the availability of expert medical staff to heart; it’s one reason they are committed to buying a home in the area. They now have the potential for help with their goal in the form of down payment assistance from Landed —thanks to a pilot program option through Yi’s employer, Sutter Health.

Landed’s shared-equity down payment program invests alongside homebuyers to help them reach a 20% down payment. Landed funds—up to $120,000 per household—come in the form of an equity investment in which homebuyers share in a portion of the gain (or loss, if any) of the home’s value once the partnership ends – typically by sale or refinance.

Sutter launched the pilot with Landed as one option to support their highly skilled workforce of doctors, nurses and others. “As the Wang’s story shows so well, when we maintain a stable, expert workforce it in turn helps enhance the health and well-being of the communities we serve,” said Elizabeth Vilardo, M.D., CEO for the Sutter Bay Medical Foundation.

Yi and Esther’s wish list for their future home is focused on making memories. They want a backyard for Nathan to toddle in and where their 3-year old Maltipoo dog, Beau, can roam free. A place where they can barbecue and garden, teaching Nathan the value of growing your own food. They want a big dining room for Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, but also for a weekly dinners with extended family. More than anything they want a nursery for Nathan, decorated in grey, white and blue.

Whatever the square footage or style of home, Yi and Esther know that what matters most is that they can be close to their work and close to ongoing care for Nathan. Having a view into both sides, as a nurse who works with pediatric specialists and now as a father to an infant who needed immediate medical care from those same experts, Yi says he has an even better appreciation for how vital he and other healthcare workers are to the livability of a community. “Like school teachers and firefighters, a community needs doctors, nurses, and many other healthcare professionals to thrive, we are essential workers and we can be counted on – every day and in emergencies – provided we can adequately live where we work. I am truly excited about the down payment assistance opportunity with Landed because I know that if I can buy a home here it will be better for my family and better for the families that my wife and I will care for as nurses for the rest of our careers.”

Landed to Expand Homeownership Assistance Program to Sutter Health’s Essential Professionals in Healthcare

Posted on Oct 16, 2020 in Integrated Network, Scroll Images

Pilot marks first expansion of Landed’s down payment program and homebuyer education services into healthcare sector

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, Landed and Sutter Health announced a pilot program to expand Landed’s homeownership assistance program to the healthcare sector. Landed, a personal finance company aimed at helping essential employees afford to buy homes, will bring new homeownership options to staff and physicians of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group, respectively, as well as employees of Mills-Peninsula Medical Center.

The pilot program with Sutter Health is Landed’s first expansion into the healthcare sector, which comes on the heels of the company’s recent milestone of helping 500 educators nationwide access homeownership over the last five years through down payment assistance and other homebuying services.

“Now more than ever, we need to uphold essential healthcare workers as they uphold us on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic by making it easier to buy a home in the communities they serve,” said Alex Lofton, co-founder of Landed. “We’re thrilled to work with Sutter Health as our first healthcare partner, who like us, knows firsthand how challenging the expensive Bay Area market can be to retain good talent in these critical, essential professional jobs.”

Landed’s down payment program invests alongside employees working in healthcare and education to help them reach a 20% down payment. Landed’s funds, up to $120,000 per household, come in the form of an equity investment, meaning that homebuyers share in a portion of the gain – or loss, if any – of the value of the home once the partnership is ended — typically by sale or refinance. Landed also offers access to a network of agents and lenders, free homebuyer guidance and resources to help make informed buying decisions.

As part of its 2019 “Live Well, Work Well” project, Sutter Health explored options that might help staff purchase homes near their workplace—thereby decreasing commute time and helping employees live in the communities they serve. Landed’s decision to offer its program to healthcare workers at Sutter has potential to positively impact Bay Area communities now and in the future. For example, hours saved on the road gives more time for clinicians and staff to rest, recuperate and recharge. Additionally, Landed’s assistance could help a pediatrician live in the community he or she serves and increase the possibility that families have the same provider for their children for their entire youth.

Catherine A Martin, D.O., MPH

“I’m really excited about the potential of this down payment assistance program. I chose family medicine because I want to care for my patients from cradle to college. A program like this could help me achieve my goal of putting down roots in this community,” said Catherine A. Martin, D.O., MPH, from Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group who cares for patients in Watsonville. Read Dr. Martin’s story.

Jill Ragsdale

“Our teams are living our values every day, supporting numerous patients and families,” said Jill Ragsdale, Sutter Health’s senior vice president and chief people and culture officer. “We understand the importance of caring for our employees so that they may care for others. Sutter Health is responding in creative and compassionate ways to help employees feel supported—especially in a time with many unknowns. We believe helping alleviate some of the stress associated with aspects outside of work can ease team members’ peace of mind and enhance their well-being. We are very pleased Landed has agreed to offer its innovative support program to our valued staff.” Read an employee story that demonstrates why it’s important that our staff can put down roots in the communities they serve.

Sutter Health, like other healthcare systems in Northern California, faces recruitment and retention challenges in markets with a high cost of living and lack of affordable housing. Facilitating access to programs like Landed that enable employees to live where they work further enhances the health of the diverse communities Sutter serves. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017-2018 housing was by far the largest expenditure category for households in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. area, accounting for 39.4% of the household budget, as compared to the 33% U.S. average.

Since its founding in 2015, Landed has helped hundreds of educators purchase homes in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Honolulu, Seattle, Portland (Ore.), Washington DC, and Boston metro areas. Hospitals and care centers across Sutter Health’s not-for-profit, integrated health network support the delivery of safe, high-quality, affordable care to more than 3 million Northern Californians each year.