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Athletes Know: the Flu Shot Keeps You Healthy On and Off the Field

Posted on Oct 26, 2020 in Carousel, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, People, Quality, Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized, Wellness

Despite cold conditions, rain and mud, players and fans eagerly anticipate Major League Soccer’s playoffs in November and December. And while things certainly are different this year with COVID-19, very few things normally keep a fan out of the stands or an athlete off the field. However, the flu is one of them.

“Our playoffs are in the winter months, when flu and seasonal colds are circulating,” said Shea Salinas, midfielder for the San Jose Earthquakes. “I get the flu shot every year to guard against getting sick and potentially missing an important game.”

Instead of being benched by the flu, Salinas is scoring goals. He recently scored a crucial goal in a 2-1 win over Los Angeles Football Club just days after getting his flu shot at a Sutter Walk-In Care Center. “They say defense wins championships, and defending yourself from the flu keeps you performing your best,” remarked Salinas.

Passionate about promoting health, Salinas was happy to use his celebrity status to spread the word about the importance of getting a flu shot, especially because people who skip the flu vaccine this year could run the risk of getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Working with Sutter Health, exclusive healthcare partner of the San Jose Earthquakes, Salinas filmed a public service announcement that emphasizes that it’s quick, easy and safe to get your flu shot.

The flu shot won’t protect you from getting COVID-19, but it’ll help prevent you from getting sick with both the flu and COVID at the same time. To schedule your flu shot at a Sutter Health Walk-In Care, call (800) 972-5547 or visit our website for other appointment options.

New Nine-Month Study Seeks to Understand COVID-19 in Pregnancy among Minorities

Posted on Oct 26, 2020 in Health Equity, Scroll Images

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Little is known about COVID-19 in pregnancy and particularly whether it disproportionately impacts minorities. Now researchers with Northern California-based Sutter Health have launched a study to help shed light on the prevalence of COVID-19 in patients about to give birth. By testing for antibodies, the team hopes to determine whether exposure to the SARS-CoV2 virus differs by race, ethnicity or other factors.

Researchers with the not-for-profit healthcare system’s Advancing Health Equity program are leading the nine-month study, called the Maternal Covid-19 Antibody Race and Ethnicity (CARE) Study. Among the first of its kind in the U.S.,* Sutter’s Maternal CARE Study aims to increase understanding of whether and how COVID-19 exposure during pregnancy differs by race and ethnicity. The study will look at maternal health indicators including number of weeks of gestation, method of delivery (vaginal or C-section), length of stay and postpartum depression, among others.

“Sutter Health is a recognized national leader in healthcare quality and we consider health equity to be a component of quality. We believe the Maternal CARE Study is a first step in understanding the health equity gap for pregnant patients of color,” says Sutter Health Chief Medical Officer Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., and one of the lead investigators for the study. “The more caregivers learn how the spread of COVID-19 affects pregnant women of diverse races and ethnicities, the better we can care for these patients and the more lives we can save through targeted interventions and solutions,” says Lockhart.

According to Alice Pressman, Ph.D., M.S., director of Sutter’s Center for Health Systems Research, and a lead investigator of the study, “Sutter Health is ideally suited to conduct the study because of our diverse patient population and the fact that about 32,000 babies are born across our network each year.”

The Northern California-based health system cares for one of the most diverse patient populations in the country, with 54% of patients self-identifying as non-white. Sutter’s integrated network of 3 million ethnically, economically and geographically diverse patients is a microcosm of the rest of the nation.

Sutter’s Maternal CARE Study began enrolling participants in July 2020 and will continue through March 2021.

“The information we glean from the Maternal CARE Study could potentially give us significant insight into COVID-19 and how exposure impacts diverse groups during pregnancy,” says Pressman. “The hope is through greater understanding of COVID-19, we can get ahead of the disease and save lives.”

Straightforward Process for Gathering Samples

The process is straightforward for pregnant Sutter patients who consent to join the study. When a pregnant woman comes to the hospital to give birth, a small extra blood sample is collected during the required routine blood tests at admission. The blood sample is then tested for antibodies which show whether a person has had COVID-19 in the past.

Precision Medicine and the Sutter Health Biobank Make the Maternal CARE Study Possible

Gregory Tranah, Ph.D., director of Precision Medicine at Sutter and a lead investigator of the study says, “One key to running a relatively large study like the Maternal CARE Study is the ability to properly collect, store and analyze biological samples. Sutter is prepared to handle these requirements thanks to our adoption of the precision medicine medical care model and having our own biobank.”

Says Tranah, “We anticipate the data from the study will lead us to useful insights that improve and provide more equitable care for pregnant women of color across the country.”

*A University of Pennsylvania study of nearly 1,300 women over a three-month period earlier this year found that Black and Latinx pregnant women in Philadelphia are five times as likely as their white counterparts to have been exposed to COVID-19.

CPMC’s HELP Program for Older Adults Receives Top Designation from AGS

Posted on Oct 22, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Expanding Access, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

CPMC becomes fifth U.S. medical center to achieve elite ‘Center of Excellence’ status

California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco is now one of only five organizations in the United States to achieve the American Geriatric Society (AGC) CoCare: HELP™ Center of Excellence designation for its Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP). CPMC was recently awarded this elite status after demonstrating the highest level of best practices in geriatric care.

“I am so proud of our dedicated team at CPMC for all their hard work in building a world-class geriatric care program,” says hospitalist and geriatrician Wendy Zachary, M.D., who directs CPMC’s Acute Care for Elderly (ACE) unit and is the HELP physician-champion. “This accreditation from the American Geriatric Society validates and strengthens our mission to provide patient-centered, advanced care for older members of our community who are particularly medically vulnerable–especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Watch this video about CPMC’s ACE unit.

Targeted Interventions Lead to Better Outcomes for People Ages 70+

The AGC CoCare: HELP™ program is designed to prevent both delirium and functional decline in patients 70 years and older. CPMC’s HELP program uses an interdisciplinary team (Advanced Practice Nurses, specially-trained Elder Life Specialists, and trained volunteers) to integrate principles of geriatric care into standard nursing and medical care at all three CPMC hospital campuses in San Francisco, including the ACE unit at the Mission Bernal Campus, as well as the Van Ness Campus and Davies Campus.

Geriatric syndromes include conditions typical of aging such as delirium, incontinence, falls, pressure injuries, and functional decline. CPMC’s HELP program works to prevent these geriatric syndromes in the hospital setting by helping re-orient patients to their surroundings through conversation and social support, assisting with range-of-motion and breathing exercises, walking, offering companionship during meals, implementing a schedule, and more.

Benefits of HELP at CPMC include:

  • Helps maximize independence and physical functioning of high-risk patients (age 70+)
  • Improves overall quality of hospital care for older patients, including improvement in hospital outcomes and satisfaction with care
  • Helps decrease the length of stay for patients by an average of 1- 1.5 days
  • Helps reduce hospital readmissions
    • Van Ness Campus’ HELP program saw a decrease in readmissions by 11% in 2020 Q1, 17% in 2019, and 24% in 2018
    • Mission Bernal Campus’ HELP program prevented more than 30 readmissions in 2019
  • Helps reduce falls for older patients by as much as 50% at the Van Ness Campus and Davies Campus (2019)
  • Provides cost-effective care, with reduced overall hospital costs by as much as $2 Million across each of the three campuses in 2019

“The HELP program is making a meaningful difference in changing the course of lives for elderly patients and their loved ones, and I am truly grateful for our staff, volunteers and support from our philanthropic donors who helped make this elite recognition possible,” said Warren Browner, M.D., CEO of CPMC.

Mission Bernal Campus Hub of Geriatric Care in San Francisco

While CPMC’s HELP program is carried out across all its three campuses, its Mission Bernal Campus is home to the medical center’s comprehensive ACE unit and one of only three accredited Geriatric Emergency Departments in Northern California.

“These differentiators of specialty care for older adults and this recent acknowledgement from the AGS further highlights CPMC’s commitment to geriatric care and cements our Mission Bernal Campus as a hub of geriatric patient care in San Francisco and the broader Bay Area,” says Vernon Giang, M.D., chief medical executive of Sutter’s CPMC.

Musical B-I-N-G-O Brings Moments of Levity for One Hospitalized Elder

Posted on Oct 22, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, People, Quality, Scroll Images

Callie Cowart, a full-time board-certified music therapist at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco uses music to heal.

Cowart recently offered her therapy sessions to an older patient undergoing care at CPMC’s Mission Bernal Campus Acute Care for Elderly (ACE) unit. Cowart explains that the patient had many recurring hospitalizations over the span of four months this year.

“She and I worked together originally to use music to provide a competing stimulus to pain, which she unfortunately experienced a lot of during her time here,” said Cowart.

A B-I-N-G-O Playlist to East Anxiety & Pain

As Cowart and the patient got to know each other, the patient would look forward to sessions with “her Callie” as an energy booster and motivator.

“One morning I read in the physical therapist’s notes that prior to shelter-in-place this patient would frequent a local BINGO hall, but she’s not been able attend since the start of the pandemic. Since I knew her favorite songs, I surprised her in our next session with a customized BINGO card with each square having a different song title,” said Cowart.

To give the full effect, Cowart cut out strips of paper with the matching song titles, placed them in a bag, and used the strips as her BINGO balls that the patient could pull out. Once a BINGO “ball” was drawn, the two would sing and play together.

Music Therapy at CPMC

The Music Therapy Program at CPMC offers patients and their families the opportunity to receive therapy services from a board-certified music therapist, at no cost to the family. Music therapists are seen as an integrated part of the patient’s multidisciplinary care team and work closely with doctors, nurses, child life specialists and other therapists as part of care for the patient’s whole self.

The Sound of Music on Health

According to an article published on Harvard Health, a growing body of research attests that music therapy is more than a nice perk. It can improve medical outcomes and quality of life in a variety of ways.

For example, music therapy can help people who are recovering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury that has damaged the left-brain region responsible for speech. Because singing ability originates in the right side of the brain, people can work around the injury to the left side of their brain by first singing their thoughts and then gradually dropping the melody.

Sessions that Strike the Right Chords

Cowart says that the patient was an excellent handheld shaker player and developed a sort of fan club among the ACE unit staff for her spunky personality.

“She told me time and time again that this musical intervention gave her an increased sense of social support and mood/energy boosting during her hospitalizations at ACE because visitors had not been allowed in the hospital during COVID,” shared Cowart.

“Having something and someone to look forward to in a place that can sometimes be scary or associated with negative memories and emotions can prove to be very important,” she adds.

As for the patient, thankfully she has not had to return to the ACE unit and appears to be doing well, which is music to Cowart’s ears.

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

Posted on Oct 16, 2020 in Carousel, Innovation, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

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 Carousel, Innovation, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, People, Scroll Images, Uncategorized, Year of the Nurse

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.”