People

Showing Their Love and Strength: Sutter’s Frontline Workers Raise Voices to a Familiar San Francisco Song (video)

Posted on Apr 25, 2020 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, People, Scroll Images

SAN FRANCISCO – Front-line staff and physicians at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) Van Ness campus hospital in San Francisco joined in unison—along with thousands of others across the region—to sing the city’s unofficial anthem “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” by Tony Bennett.

Earlier in the week, the legendary Bennett, age 93, put out a public call on his Twitter feed for the citizens of San Francisco to raise their voices together on April 25 at noon.

Tony Bennett tweet

The sing-along is really a three-in-one: an ode in support of the City’s front-line workers, a musical tribute to residents for helping to ‘bend the curve,’ and a ballad to remind the public to stay the course of social distancing.

In a San Francisco Chronicle article, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, “By taking a moment to join together in song to celebrate our front-line health workers and everyone working to make a difference during this pandemic, we can recognize how connected we are to one another, not just here in San Francisco, but all over the world.”

Check out Sutter’s front-line staff sing-along below.

CPMC is part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit integrated network of care in Northern California.

Dietary Aide Feeds Entire Hospital Staff to Pay It Forward

Posted on Apr 24, 2020 in Affiliates, People, Scroll Images

SANTA ROSA, Calif., — Sutter Health dietary aide Loren Lafon just bought lunch for the entire staff at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That is a LOT of lunches for a LOT of people, especially to be paid for out of her own pocket,” said Dan Peterson, CEO of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital.

“I wanted to do it because I love being part of Sutter, I love my team, and I appreciate how hard people are working and how dedicated they are to be here right now,” said Lafon, who has worked for Sutter Health for nearly 15 years.

Loren Lafon (R) stands with the 200 meals she donated to Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Getting teary-eyed, Lafon shares that in 2017 she lost her home in The Tubbs Fire.

“Sutter stood by me. The organization provided incredible support for our team, and I felt it was important for me to do the same in our current situation,” said Lafon.

“She spends her time talking about others, but people like Loren really are the ones who make our culture special,” said Peterson.

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital is a not-for-profit hospital, part of the Sutter Health integrated network of care, providing health care services to patients in Sonoma County, Calif.

Sutter’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to support employees 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Surprise Salute to Our Healthcare Heroes

Posted on Apr 24, 2020 in Carousel, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, People, Scroll Images, Uncategorized, We're Awesome, Year of the Nurse

BURLINGAME, Calif., — On Wednesday April 22nd the staff of Sutter’s Mills-Peninsula Medical Center received a special surprise. 

Uniformed personnel from Central County Fire Department, Burlingame Police, Hillsborough Police, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department (Millbrae Division), and the San Bruno Police Department had come in the pre-dawn hours, with their vehicles and home-made signs, to honor our healthcare heroes.

Doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and others were surprised by the show of support, having had no idea that their daily bravery was going to be recognized by their community’s public safety heroes. The secret was so well kept that reactions ranged from dismay over lack of make-up, to shocked shyness, to touched tears.

Both staff arriving for their 7 a.m. start time, and the overnight crew just ending their shift, received applause and cheers for their professionalism and dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The event was made even more special by the use of signs made by children who attend the Champions Childcare program – a local daycare that reopened on March 30th with priority enrollment for the children of “essential” workers. Parents in public safety and healthcare professions are relying on Champions to care for their children while they care for the community, and having the kids involved in the surprise salute echoed the strong ties between all essential workers. 

Over 20 vehicles with lights flashing, and over 100 participants with hands clapping, honored healthcare workers in Burlingame and beyond on this uplifting and memorable morning. 

Volunteers “HELP” Elderly Patients Through Virtual Visits During COVID-19

Posted on Apr 22, 2020 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, People, Scroll Images

SAN FRANCISCO – National Volunteer Week (April 19-25) is an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world.

California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), part of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, has more than 850 volunteers that help provide companionship and emotional support to patients and their families in the emergency department and elsewhere, guiding people around facilities, explaining procedures, helping patients eat, playing music, performing clerical duties and so much more.

To help reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, CPMC volunteers are currently sheltering in place but that hasn’t stopped them from participating in the hospital’s Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP). This unique program allows volunteers to engage elderly patients to help prevent episodes of delirium and increase their functional independence.

Instead of meeting patients at the bedside, CPMC volunteers are conducting phone and virtual visits to help keep their patients mobile and alert, with the goal of them getting well faster and going home sooner.

“When we knew our HELP volunteers couldn’t continue to visit our patients at the hospital, we immediately looked at digital alternatives and whether our volunteers could still make a meaningful connection through a virtual visit,” said Clara Rubin-Smith McKie, CPMC Volunteer Coordinator/Elder Life Specialist. “The answer was yes, and we’re excited that our volunteers have committed themselves to engaging patients remotely.”

HELP Volunteers are now using their mobile phones and tablets to communicate with patients. They engage and stimulate patients through activities such as guiding them through range of motion and breathing exercises to reduce stress and encouraging them to walk.

“The HELP program at CPMC has helped reduce falls for older patients by 22 percent and readmission by 25 percent,” says Wendy Zachary, M.D., CPMC hospitalist and HELP physician-champion. “It’s vital during the COVID-19 pandemic that we continue to help support these fragile patients and I applaud our volunteers for their dedication during this difficult time.”

Wendy Zachary, M.D., CPMC hospitalist and HELP physician-champion.

Patients Appreciate the Conversations

Melissa Ann Im, a HELP Volunteer had a lovely conversation last week and passed along the following comment from a patient:

“I’m not a great fan of the human race… but the people who work at the hospitals are the kindest people on the planet… working all their days to alleviating pain and saving lives. They do it because it is what they want to do. They are the most caring and professional people… I am in awe.”

“I appreciate you volunteers so much. You don’t have to do this, but you do… if you could see me right now, I have a big smile on my face.”

Building relationships are the key. HELP volunteers are taught about using a healing touch to establish a trusting relationship with the patient. Amidst the current stress of the pandemic, for many volunteers, it’s the highlight of their week.

“I’m so grateful to our volunteers for continuing to do this great work during this extremely challenging time,” says Frances Huang, CPMC Volunteer Coordinator/Elder Life Specialist. “The significant improvement in the level of care our patients receive from the HELP program is immense and I’m glad that our volunteers continue to bring smiles to so many faces.”

COVID-19 Heightens our Love for Mother Earth, and One Another

Posted on Apr 22, 2020 in Community Benefit, Innovation, People, Quality, Safety, Scroll Images, Transformation, Uncategorized

A message from Stephen H. Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., Sutter Health Chief Medical Officer and Executive Sponsor of Sutter Health’s Environmental Stewardship Program

With fewer cars on the road and less traffic in the skies, some news outlets have reported a climate benefit. While none of us wanted this short-term positive effect at such high health and economic costs, we are getting a peek at an environment with less human interference — a brief glimpse at what could be possible if we took steps to reduce waste and advance alternative energy solutions in the years ahead.

As champions of health, we know that nature holds a special place in our lives, supporting our mental and physical wellbeing. It’s never been more important to take a walk outside, take a deep breath, enjoy the sunshine and wave at our neighbors — all while staying 6 feet apart, of course. Nature lifts our spirits and helps restore our hope.

Please join our Sutter team in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Mobilizing to care for our planet over the long term is one more way we’re showing our love for our communities and one another.

Here are a few ways you and your family can get involved with Sutter’s sustainability efforts:

1. Plant a garden. Digging your hands in the soil is good for your health. Welcome spring by planting native plants, fruits and vegetables. Take it a step further by starting a compost pile. Composting food waste reduces the amount of waste you send to a landfill, and once it fully decomposes, you’re left with a fertilizer for your garden. Check out some simple tips on composting from the EPA.

2. Donate clothing. While spring cleaning, consider donating unwanted items rather than throwing them away. Each year, nearly 40,000 gallons of water are used in the production and transport of new clothes bought by the average American household.

3. Watch creativity grow. Promote your kids’ love for our planet by encouraging them to create art from natural or recycled materials.

4. Conserve water. Install a low-flow shower head to reduce water use. In one year, a family of four can save up to 18,200 gallons of water.

5. Carry a reusable water bottle. Lessen your environmental impact by replacing your single-use plastic bottles with a stainless-steel water bottle or travel mug.

6. Calculate your carbon footprint. Simply reducing the amount of time we spend running errands, driving to work and to other activities plays a significant role in reducing our carbon footprint. Check out the EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator.

7. Learn about sustainability efforts at Sutter Health. Did you know that Sutter completed five solar-power projects; launched a pilot program to reduce the amount of harmful anesthetic gasses released into the atmosphere during surgeries; and increased plant-based meals by 20% in our 24 hospital cafeterias? You can find out more here.

A Higher IQ for Cancer Care at Sutter

Posted on Apr 20, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Innovation, People, Quality, Research, Transformation

Machine learning for cancer research

To learn how Sutter cancer researchers are applying machine learning to cancer care, we interviewed John Chan, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) and Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and the Denise & Prentis Cobb Hale Endowed Chair in Gynecologic Oncology Research.

John Chan, M.D.

How might artificial intelligence (AI) be used to improve cancer care?
AI builds smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence like learning, reasoning and problem-solving skills. We already see AI playing a key role in our daily routines and our interactions with media, transportation and communications.

With a surge of new knowledge in this area, researchers are applying AI and machine learning to innovate healthcare with improved diagnoses and treatment. As machine learning algorithms are exposed to more data—in some cases gleaned from the electronic heath record (EHR)—they can detect hidden patterns within data that can be used to perform a task without sophisticated programming.

Given the large number of Americans diagnosed with cancer and the huge volume of data generated during cancer treatment, there is a growing interest in using AI and machine learning to improve cancer care.

How are you applying AI and machine learning to your gynecologic oncology practice at Sutter?
Through a collaboration with the University of North Carolina and The Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, we’re using machine learning to classify cancer patients into high- or low-risk groups, and to personalize sub-groups of uterine cancer patients who may or may not benefit from chemotherapy. Our research resulted in a clinical calculator that was described in Gynecologic Oncology.

The findings suggest a clinical calculator can help predict benefit and risk of chemotherapy treatment in patients with uterine cancer. And now we’re expanding the machine learning tool to study advanced-stage cancers and gynecologic diseases like ovarian cancer.

We plan to share the clinical calculator with providers across Sutter and with peer institutions that care for gynecologic cancer patients who live in more remote communities, or who are otherwise unable to travel to larger cancer centers. That way, more cancer patients may benefit from the research underlying this new AI-based tool. This could help increase access to safer and more effective cancer treatments, and reduce healthcare costs.

What are the potential benefits of using AI and machine learning to guide oncology treatment decisions?
Machine learning can “free think” creatively because it’s not confined by pre-existing human biases that may be present in routine clinical practice. This and other AI approaches like deep learning can help us determine levels of risk and benefit associated with various cancer treatments.

For example, an older patient with ovarian cancer may be at increased risk of treatment-related complications compared with younger patients. AI can identify risk profiles to help guide treatment decisions based on data from similar sub-groups of cancer patients.

In clinical oncology, AI has increasingly been applied to harness the power of the EHR. Specifically, AI-based natural language processing techniques may help predict the development of diseases across large healthcare systems.

At Sutter, our integrated network enables access to EHR and outcomes data from a highly diverse patient base. Machine learning can find associations and calculate risk scores to better predict treatments that will provide optimal benefit and reduced risk of treatment-related complications or adverse effects. This approach may become a new decision tool that we can add to our clinical toolkit and share with collaborators across Sutter.

Cancer care and research at Sutter: High “CQ” using machine learning:

Other Sutter physicians, researchers, and innovators across the system are applying AI to cancer care and elsewhere. Here’s how:

  • Earlier this year, Sutter partnered with Bay Area startup Ferrum Health to develop machine learning algorithms for early detection of lung cancer at radiology clinics in Sacramento. Ferrum’s AI platform read 10,000 CT scans and reports. Within 90 days, it flagged 83 cases in which it detected a mass of tissue on the scan that was not mentioned in the report.
  • Albert Chan, M.D., M.S., Sutter Health chief of digital patient experience, is leading digital transformation efforts across Sutter. He oversees a unified digital patient engagement and virtual care strategy, including leadership of Sutter’s patient portal My Health Online, telemedicine and artificial intelligence-powered solutions.
  • Through a collaboration with Stanford Medicine, Sutter Health systems researchers will launch the Oncoshare Project using a “big data” approach to improve breast cancer care. Oncoshare enables researchers to generate high-resolution maps of breast cancer treatment, and identify care pathways that yield the best outcomes for patients.

Learn more about Sutter research and clinical trials.