Wellness

Senior Well-Being: How to Maintain Mental and Physical Health While Sheltering in Place

Posted on Jun 1, 2020 in Affiliates, Eden Medical Center, Scroll Images, Wellness

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. – As shelter in place restrictions are gradually eased this summer, people are still being advised by public health officials to stay home as much as possible and to maintain physical distancing. While some restrictions are loosening, the virus is still circulating in the community and it remains dangerous—especially for older people. Sheltering in place can help keep you safe, but for some it can have a downside too, leading to feelings of isolation, loneliness or even depression.

During the pandemic many older adults have found new ways to stay connected through technology, others may not have access to the internet at home or may not feel comfortable with video calls or social media platforms that could help keep them connected to friends and family.

What can be done? Recognizing feelings of isolation, loneliness or depression is the first step in alleviating them. Taking some simple actions can help make sheltering in place more tolerable.

James Chessing, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist at Sutter’s Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, says, “Sheltering in place is certainly a major challenge, but still only a challenge, one of many that a senior has dealt with in his or her life. Framing it that way calls to mind the coping skills that were used to surmount past challenges, as well as the memory of having succeeded in dealing with other tough situations. While the current situation may certainly be different, the skills or coping devices used in the past may be applicable now. Remembering that feeling of success may give hope.”

Dr. Chessing’s tips to help older people stay socially connected while maintaining physical distance include:
• set up regular phone call check-in times with loved ones
• become pen-pals with a friend or relative
• take advantage of the pleasant summer weather and set up outdoor seating (spaced the minimum six feet apart) to enjoy face-to-face conversations
• get some training or coaching on how to set up a video visit or talk via FaceTime—try asking a your adult child or a tech-savvy teenage grandchild

Just as human connection impacts mental health, so too does physical health. It’s important to your mental health to maintain your physical well-being. One strategy to keep your physical health strong is to maintain a regular schedule, says Pamela Stoker, an injury prevention specialist with Eden Medical Center’s Trauma department.

“Maintaining a regular daily schedule can provide comfort, familiarity, and health benefits. We recommend creating a daily schedule with regular mealtimes, regular bedtime and wake-up, and regular exercise. Irregular meals and sleep can have a negative impact on your hormone levels and medication responses. An irregular schedule can also cause your blood sugar to fluctuate, which can lead you to make unhealthy food choices—like reaching for cookies when you’re tired. And changes in sleep patterns, like staying up late one night and going to bed early the next, can affect metal sharpness, lower your energy level, and impact your emotional well-being.”

“The good news is that regular exercise helps keep your body strong, protects you from falls, and improves your mood,” says Stoker.

Adding to the feelings of depression and loneliness can be the feeling of lack of control, says Dr. Chessing. Even before the pandemic, some older people may have struggled to maintain independence while accepting the help of family and friends. Well-meaning family and friends may try to be helpful by delivering groceries or handling other errands in order to keep you safe from the virus, but this help may cause feelings of discomfort. You may not want to rely on others too much and you may feel your independence is slowly being stripped away. It is important to discuss these feelings with loved ones; remind them of your strengths, while acknowledging your own limitations. As Dr. Chessing reminds us “having open communication will allow you to explore the facts and weigh the risks in order to make informed decisions about behaviors.”

In uncertain and distressing times such as these, you or someone you love may find that it’s not enough just to stay connected with others and maintain a regular schedule—you may find professional help is needed. In the extreme, feelings of depression, loneliness, and lack of control can lead to destructive behaviors like excessive drinking, violence or self-harm. That’s why Dr. Chessing recommends staying in close contact with your doctor and reaching out for help if you feel overwhelmed.

The hardest part may be asking for help, but help is available without judgement.

Call your doctor or call:
Friendship Line California 24/7, toll free: 888-670-1360. Crisis intervention hotline and a warm line for non-emergency emotional support for Californians over 60. The phone line is staffed with specialists to provide emotional support, grief support, active suicide intervention, information and referrals.
Crisis Support Services of Alameda County, 24/7, toll free, 1-800-260-0094. Additionally, Crisis Support Services of Alameda County has expended service to include friendly visits by phone for home-bound seniors.

How to Weather the Storm: Top Tips for Improving Personal Resiliency

Posted on May 20, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness


SACRAMENTO, Calif. –During tough times, the ability to bounce back from hardship comes in handy. But what if mental resiliency is not someone’s strong suit?

Urmi Patel, PsyD

Urmi Patel, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and director of clinical care for Sutter Mental Health and Addiction Care, defines resilience as “the ability to cope mentally and emotionally with trauma or difficulty, and quickly get back to a state of equilibrium.” And the good news is, according to Dr. Patel, “In general, people have the ability to grow their resilience. It’s not an innate capability, it can develop.”

So how does one develop more personal resiliency? In a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, “Resilience: 15 ways to weather life’s challenges,” Dr. Patel offers her top tips for improving one’s ability to bounce back from adversity.

Additional Resources:

People who feel their emotional condition is serious should call their doctor or go to Mental Health America’s website, which offers tips and resources for people who feel stressed, anxious or depressed.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7: (800) 273-8255

TrevorLifeline for LGBTQ Youth in Crisis 24/7: (866) 488-7386

California Peer-Run Warm Line 24/7 for Californians Needing Emotional Support: (855) 845-7415

Intelligently Ramping Up In-Person Care

Posted on May 20, 2020 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized, Wellness

SANTA ROSA, Calif. – Sutter physicians are moving into the clinical phase of recovery amid COVID-19, with in-person visits resuming with greater frequency.

While fears over contracting the virus persist, Sutter is working hard to communicate to patients the many safety measures in place so they feel comfortable coming in.

“Thanks to residents who continue to practice physical distancing and other responsible public health practices, we are starting to bring back our patients who deferred time-sensitive or preventative care in March and April,” said Gary McLeod, M.D., president of Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods.

Opening Up, Gradually

California Governor Gavin Newsom said that re-opening the state will not happen all at once.

“There’s no light switch here. It’s more like a dimmer,” he told reporters during an April press conference, where he outlined six indicators, including the ability of hospitals and health systems to handle surges.

Sutter is taking a similar phased approach to reintegrating its operations. According to Bill Isenberg, M.D., Sutter’s Chief Quality and Safety Officer, “We anticipate that full resumption of our operations is likely months away.”

“We are taking a phased approach, not only because we want those patients most in need to be seen first, but also to allow us to continually monitor PPE inventory and testing capability to ensure we can provide care safely and remain prepared for a surge should the number of COVID-19 patients begin to increase again,” Isenberg said.

As patients begin to navigate the new normal of receiving care, it’s important they coordinate closely with their primary care provider to discuss timing and options.

Facilities Going the Extra Mile

Sutter hospitals, outpatient clinics and doctors’ offices are open and have the following safety measures in place:

• Each staff member, patient and visitor are screened for COVID-19 symptoms
• Temperatures are taken for all staff, patient and visitors at every building entrance
• Visitors are limited
• Masks are required and provided for everyone entering any Sutter building
• Lobbies and waiting areas are modified to support social distancing
• Enhanced cleaning of every exam room between visits

“We are continuing to open up and work through measures to ensure safe patient care, which is especially important for our vulnerable patients with complex health issues like heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. These patients really need to see us,” McLeod said.

“At this time, the public can rest assured that medical care is available and safer than ever.”

Nurses Give Blood—Encourage Others To Do The Same

Posted on May 15, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Scroll Images, Wellness, Year of the Nurse

SAN FRANCISCO – During 2020’s Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, front-line workers at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) continue to give back.

At the hospital’s Van Ness campus in San Francisco, healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses and staff, took part in a blood drive hosted by Vitalant.

The drive was open to all Sutter employees and held in a large conference room to allow for social distancing.

Interventional radiology technologist Lauren Hamilton said while donating, “I always try to give blood as often as I can. You can save multiple people’s lives in one donation.”

Nearly 60,000 units of red blood cells are transfused in patients across Sutter Health each year. Donated red blood cells do not last forever; they have a shelf-life of up to 42 days.

There is currently a national blood shortage due to COVID-19, which is why CPMC continues to host blood drives at least once a quarter.

“It’s incredibly important and a very easy way to give back to society,” beamed Hamilton, who has the universal Type O blood.

According to The American Red Cross, O negative is the most common blood type used for transfusions when the blood type is unknown. For this reason, it’s used most often in cases of trauma, emergency, surgery and any situation where blood type is unknown.

California Pacific Medical Center, part of Sutter’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, has three campuses in San Francisco: Davies, Mission Bernal and Van Ness. CPMC’s state-of-the-art Van Ness campus hospital opened in March 2019.

Remember to Breathe: Doctor’s Mindful Breathing Practice Helps Foster Calm

Posted on Apr 14, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Scroll Images, Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation, Wellness

Leif Hass, M.D.


OAKLAND, Calif. — The world-wide pandemic is causing worry and uncertainty for many. Leif Hass, M.D., a family practitioner with Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation and a hospitalist at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, is working to reduce his stress one breath at a time, through his mindful breathing practice.

In a new “Science of Happiness” podcast, Dr. Hass shares his mindful breathing tips and describes how the practice helps him stay calm, focus his attention and be present for his patients. The podcast is fittingly called, “Remembering to Breathe. How a doctor stays calm and centered during times of uncertainty, one breath at a time.”

Listen to the podcast.

Says Dr. Hass, “Mindful breathing prompts us to follow our breath, getting into a nice deep rhythm of breathing. And we know that mindful breathing can reduce anxiety and depression and help people handle pain.”

COVID-19: Sutter Health Receives Supply Donations – How to Help

Posted on Apr 3, 2020 in Community Benefit, Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized, Wellness

As Sutter Health, caregivers and staff work tirelessly to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and meet the needs of our patients across the network, an outpouring of support from the community, businesses and other generous partners has flooded in.

“We are so incredibly grateful for the donations and support we’ve received from people and organizations who want to help our frontline staff during these very challenging circumstances,” said Rishi Sikka, Sutter Health’s President of System Enterprises. “We are so proud of the heroic work they’re doing.”

New and protective N95 respirators and medical face masks, and thousands of new and reusable protective gowns are among the received and incoming supplies. Additionally, corporate foundations are acting quickly to donate thousands of iPads to help enable even more of our physicians to conduct video visits.

Other donors are finding more personal ways to demonstrate their gratitude. For example, Trader Joe’s donated grocery bags of food and flowers for frontline medical staff, a local business sent pizzas to help feed the staff, a flower wholesaler delivered fresh flowers around the entrance and on cars at one of Sutter’s hospitals as a way to thank the care providers – and grateful community members have created chalk art messages of appreciation on Sutter hospital sidewalks.

Sutter’s Supply Chain team also is working around the clock to acquire new products and equipment from as many sources as possible. As a result, despite the challenging and rapidly evolving environment, Sutter has been able to maintain a steady stream of supplies and distribute them across our system to where they are needed most, soit can keep patients and staff safe while prioritizing effective use of personalprotection equipment (PPE).

Currently, the donation areas of biggest need across the U.S. and at Sutter Health are:

  • Personal protective equipment—equipment such as N95 respirators and surgical or procedure masks in new and original packaging to help ensure supplies are safe and medical grade.
  • Blood product donations, which are essential to community health. Donations for blood have declined as many people have been staying home during the coronavirus outbreak. The Red Cross and Vitalant are seeking healthy individuals to donate blood. Visit redcross.org or vitalant.org to make an appointment to donate.

To make learn more about making a donation to Sutter Health and what supplies are needed, please visit the donations web page.