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Takin’ it to the Streets: ‘Magic Bus’ Brings Healthcare to Homeless

Posted on Dec 3, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, Community Benefit, Expanding Access, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

New mobile service expands access to care for San Francisco’s most vulnerable

SAN FRANCISCO –Providing access to healthcare at the curbside to homeless people in the City’s Tenderloin neighborhood is the goal of HealthRIGHT 360’s new mobile healthcare service. The mobile clinic is a collaborative effort with major support from California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), a member of the not-for-profit Sutter Health’s integrated network of care.

“These are challenging times in healthcare, especially for the vulnerable populations we serve. Being able to provide Mobile Healthcare Services is a huge step forward,” said Vitka Eisen, MSW, Ed.D HealthRIGHT 360 president and CEO. “Over the years, our clients have gotten sicker, they have many more complex health challenges, more co-occurring mental health conditions, and fewer resources. Everyone is somebody’s child, somebody’s mother, someone who matters, we see the person and we’re here to heal.”

“Sutter and CPMC are proud to provide funds to help acquire and equip this medical bus. HealthRIGHT 360 addresses the healthcare needs of the City’s homeless population, including medical issues related to complications from behavioral health and substance use, with a focus on people seeking services in the high-need Tenderloin neighborhood,” said Dr. Warren Browner, CEO of CPMC.

HealthRIGHT 360’s new mobile service builds on its innovative, community-based healthcare model that integrates medical, dental, mental health, and substance use treatment for people who are very low-income and often marginally housed or experiencing homelessness. The street-based model is staffed by a range of medical providers and an outreach team, the mobile clinic has two complete exam rooms, a bathroom, and an elevator wheelchair lift. Currently operating in the Tenderloin neighborhood, the services will expand to the Haight Ashbury and other areas of great need across San Francisco.

“This mobile clinic is all about meeting people where they are and bringing quality medical care directly to the people who need it most,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “It’s another great example of HealthRIGHT 360’s commitment to responding directly to the most pressing needs of San Franciscans, and demonstrates the importance of nonprofit organizations, the private sector, and government working together.”

In addition to Sutter Health and CPMC, other sponsors of HealthRIGHT 360’s Mobile Healthcare Services include Veritas Investments and Wells Fargo Bank.

HealthRIGHT 360 started in the 1960s during the historic “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, where two of its legacy organizations, Haight Ashbury Free Clinics and Walden House, provided medical care and substance use disorder treatment to the youth who came to the City, motivated by the anti-war movement, music, sex, drugs, and the desire to bring about cultural change.

Counting Holiday Blessings

Posted on Dec 3, 2019 in Community Benefit, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Thanks to the generous spirit of employees, Sutter Health’s Holiday Adopt-a-Family program is making the difference in the lives of families across the region. Let’s count all the ways in 2019!

250+ families will receive gifts this year, bringing the total to more than 2,500 Sacramento area and Central Valley families adopted in the past decade.

• Sutter Health collaborated with 10 not-for-profit community agencies that identified families in need:
o the Child Abuse Prevention Council in Sacramento County
o the Fighting Back Partnership in Solano County
o Hands of Hope in Yuba and Sutter counties
o Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus
o KidsFirst and Lincoln Lighthouse in Placer County
o Nexus Youth and Family Services in Amador County
o Women’s Center Youth and Family Services in San Joaquin County
o the Valley Crisis Center in Merced County
o Yolo County Children’s Alliance

• At 12 drop-off locations across the Sutter Health network, employees donated new gifts that range from clothes and shoes to toys and books—based on lists put together by the families.

Countless smiles from those involved, spreading holiday joy and goodwill to all!

• As a not-for-profit organization, Sutter Health believes in giving back. Sutter Health’s total community benefit investment in 2018 was $734 million. These funds supported traditional charity care, unreimbursed Medi-Cal costs, health education as well as community clinics.

Photo: Numerous Sutter staff and community partners, including Sutter Center for Psychiatry’s Jenna Newman and Rebecca Monroe, foreground, supported the 2019 Holiday Adopt-a-Family program.

Food Rx: Sutter Health Invests $265,000 to Support Community Food Banks

Posted on Nov 19, 2019 in Carousel, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Working with partners to provide nutritious food is one more way Sutter helps keep communities healthy.

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Sutter Health Welcomes Two New Board Members

Posted on Nov 15, 2019 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Two accomplished healthcare and community leaders, Helen MacLeod Thomson and Anthony Wagner, joined the Sutter Health Board of Directors in November 2019.

“We are pleased to welcome these valued colleagues to our Sutter Health board of directors,” said Sarah Krevans, president & CEO of Sutter Health. “Their long-standing service and commitment to the health and wellness of Northern Californians will greatly benefit our 3 million patients and the diverse communities we serve.”

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Quelling the storms of seizures in people with epilepsy: Part 2 of a series highlighting Sutter epilepsy research

Posted on Nov 13, 2019 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, Innovation, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Neuroscience, Quality, Research, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Epilepsy—a neurological disorder caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain—impacts almost 3.4 million nationwide. Despite advances in epilepsy treatment, approximately one-third of adults with the illness experience recurrent seizures. Read more to learn how Sutter researchers are uncovering new clues about how epilepsy develops and how it can be treated more effectively.

Stimulating the brain with neuromodulation

“Neuromodulation” is a technique that stimulates the brain or spinal cord with electrical pulses or chemicals. When used to treat epilepsy, the approach may be used as an alternative to traditional epilepsy surgical approaches or to work in synergy with them.

David King-Stephens, M.D., FAAN, Director of the Sutter Pacific Epilepsy Program in San Francisco, and Peter Weber, M.D., the program’s surgical director, were instrumental in the testing and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s approval in 2013 of one type of neuromodulation, the Responsive Neuromodulation System® (RNS) developed by NeuroPace.

Similar to a pacemaker that monitors and responds to heart rhythms, the RNS® System is a medical device implanted in the skull that monitors and responds to brain activity to help prevent seizures. The device is approximately the size of a stopwatch.    

CPMC was the highest enrolling site in the RNS® System Pivotal Study—a national, multicenter clinical trial of the RNS® System for the treatment of uncontrolled seizures in adults with epilepsy.

Peter Weber, MD“Many patients experience a 70-80% reduction in seizure frequency, and the severity of seizures is also significantly reduced,” says Dr. Weber, lead neurosurgeon at Sutter for the RNS® System clinical trial. He notes that the RNS® System plus medication-based treatment is usually, for these patients, superior to standard medical management alone.

Now, nine-years after completion of the pivotal study, follow-up data is still being collected and assessed. “Results show that, for many patients, the RNS® System led to substantial reductions in seizures, with additional benefits such as improved quality of life, cognition, and memory,” says Dr. Weber.  The RNS® System is also now available at the Sutter Sacramento Epilepsy Center.

Targeting the epicenter of epileptic seizures

To understand the nuances of a seizure, researchers study the brain cells (neurons) that misfire and cause the underlying electrical storm. When a seizure occurs, networks of brain cells involved in the seizure begin pulsing abnormally, leading to the symptoms patients experience during a seizure.

Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are designed to modify the way neurons “fire” and how they communicate with each other and the brain’s network, thereby stopping or preventing seizures. AEDs are categorized by their main mechanism of action, although many of them have several actions and others have unknown mechanisms of action. Most of these medications are anticonvulsants or sedative medications.

There is currently no FDA-approved AED that targets potassium channels that help regulate the communications between neurons involved in the cascade of synaptic events that promote seizures.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial called Xenon 1101, sponsored by Xenon Pharmaceuticals, is underway to test a new anticonvulsant that acts on potassium voltage-gated channels.

“The potassium channel is a novel area of epilepsy study and one that offers potential to prevent seizures through agents that target it,” says Dr. Laxer, principal investigator of the trial at CPMC with co-investigator Dr. King-Stephens. “Our epilepsy program is the only center in Northern California evaluating this new anticonvulsant.”

Three hundred patients will be enrolled in the Xenon clinical trial from enrolling sites across the U.S., Canada, Spain, and the UK.

Stay tuned later this month for Part 3 of this series on Sutter epilepsy research, which will include information on laser ablation surgery.

Read Part 1, which described new ways to map and monitor brain activity in people with epilepsy.

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Dedication to Duty: Blackouts and a Wildfire Won’t Stop Sutter Nurses

Posted on Nov 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

A spine injury at age 19 left Santa Rosa resident Ken Kilgore with paralysis in both his arms and legs. Bedbound and dependent on a special electric mattress that circulates air to prevent bedsores, Kilgore was nervous about the planned power shutoffs, until his bigger fear came true: an evacuation order.

Kilgore was one of approximately 150 patients routinely seen in their homes by the staff of Sutter Care at Home in Sonoma County who had to evacuate in response to the Kincade Fire. Through the uncertainty, fear and displacement, Kilgore says there was one constant: his nurse Paige Medeiros and the whole Sutter Care at Home family. “I must have gotten three calls a day from Sutter,” remembers Kilgore who is now safely back at home.

While the wildfire raged and blackouts rolled, Medeiros worked every day to make sure patients who rely on Sutter Care at Home had an in-person visit, or when that wasn’t possible, repeated phone calls to check on symptoms, give medical advice and guide patients to in-person care options as needed.

“These are people with feeding tubes, IV pumps, wound vacuums or special air mattresses like Ken’s,” Medeiros explained. “These are very frail patients that have high medical needs and are all homebound.” Working down a list, Medeiros drove to each patient’s house or the location where they’d been evacuated to, and checked if they needed supplies or nursing services, seeing to the needs of her regular patients and several patients who were normally cared for by other nurses, who had themselves been evacuated.

“It was a real team effort,” recalls Medeiros. “All of my co-workers and the whole Sutter family pitched in.”

Medeiros praised a nurse who drove from Marin to Mendocino (approximately 131 miles one way) to give a patient an in-home infusion (a special treatment that not all nurses can provide) and another who problem-solved through a four-day power outage, charging patients’ phones from her car battery and driving medical devices to the community resource center to be charged before returning them to her homebound patients.

James Conforti, chief operating officer for Sutter Health, knows that staff work tirelessly to provide quality care to patients. “Sutter’s integrated network allows us to coordinate care and contact patients. From filling prescriptions, rescheduling appointments to keeping vital chemotherapy infusions on track, we make sure our patients have continuity of care. The resilience of our staff and community never ceases to amaze me.”

But perhaps Kilgore said it best: “It’s not just a job to them—they really care about us.”