Wellness

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.

Advanced Breast Imaging Now Offered at Sutter Delta Medical Center

Posted on Oct 5, 2020 in Affiliates, Sutter Delta Medical Center, Wellness, Women's Services

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Delta residents now have the option of staying in the community and still enjoying access to advanced three-dimensional (3D) mammography.

Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch offers patients access to advanced screening and diagnostic breast imaging, known as 3D tomosynthesis or tomo, to improve the early detection of breast cancer.

“Bringing state-of-the-art mammography imaging technology, like our new 3D tomosynthesis suite, to the local community is central to our mission here at Sutter Delta Medical Center. We serve a diverse population, and our hospital is proud to expand its offerings to help women in eastern Contra Costa County to better manage their health. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an ideal time to talk to your physician about whether 3D tomography is the right option for you,” said Sutter Delta CEO Sherie Hickman.

What are the advantages of 3D Mammography?

“3D tomosynthesis mammography is a tremendous advancement in breast cancer screening over traditional (two-dimensional) 2D mammography,” says John Van Uden, M.D., medical director of Sutter Delta Medical Center’s Diagnostic Imaging Services. “Instead of single, flat two-dimensional images of the breast, 3D mammography obtains a scrollable 3-D set of images in each orientation. This greatly enhances our ability to distinguish normal breast tissue from a breast cancer.”

Kyla Yee, M.D., a Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation OB/GYN based in Antioch agrees, “3D tomo offers a significant advantage over traditional two-dimensional mammography. With this advanced technology, we’re often able to find cancer when it’s still extremely small. And we know that when we are able to detect and treat cancer at its early stages, patients can have much better survival rates.” Studies have shown that adding 3-D tomo to regular screening mammograms can help detect more cancers in dense breast tissue. Says Michele Bergman, M.D., a Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation OB/GYN based in Antioch, “3D tomo can provide better cancer detection, fewer call backs and greater peace of mind for patients.”

And despite these diagnostic improvements, says Dr. Van Uden, the exam involves approximately the same very low-dose of X-ray to obtain the images, and no additional inconvenience or discomfort for the patient.

How does 3D tomography work?

During a 3D tomo mammogram, an x-ray arm moves in an arc over the compressed breast capturing multiple images from different angles. These digital images are then reconstructed or “synthesized” into a set of 3D images by a computer.

Sutter Delta’s 3D tomo machine is housed in a brand new suite at the hospital, offering patients and referring physicians in eastern Contra Costa County local access to advanced technology in the arsenal to detect breast cancer early.

Safety is the Number One Priority

Sutter Delta, like all Sutter imaging centers, is taking steps to protect patients and staff. These steps include:

  • Mandatory Masking – Staff, patients and visitors must wear masks at all times.
  • Isolation – Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is isolated from waiting areas, patient rooms, entrances and spaces the general population uses.
  • Cleaning – Our teams have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Screening – Everyone is screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before entering our care.

Remember, catching up on preventive care that may have been postponed during the pandemic, such as a mammogram or a colonoscopy, is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health.

Click here for more information about 3D mammography and imaging mammography at Sutter Delta or call (925) 756-1146.

Lost Your Insurance? Resources to Help with Health Insurance Disruption

Health insurance coverage can be disrupted by wage or job loss, but there are options that provide access to important cancer screenings, even if you’ve lost your normal source of coverage.

In California, the Every Woman Counts program covers mammograms and cervical cancer screening for women with no or limited insurance who meet other eligibility criteria. To learn more, patients can call (800) 511-2300.

Other options include extending employer-based coverage through COBRA and CalCOBRA, shopping for plans and applying for premium assistance through Covered California, or applying for and qualifying for Medi-Cal. Charity care and financial assistance options may also be available. You can learn more about these options by visiting our coverage options page.

Fact vs Fiction: Medical Expert Dispels Six Flu Vaccination Myths

Posted on Sep 28, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness

Separating flu vaccination fact from fiction can be challenging in this age of information overload. But it’s critical to have the facts straight because influenza and COVID-19 are separate viruses –so we run the risk of contracting both at the same time. That’s why it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot this year.

Jeffrey Silvers, M.D., Sutter Health’s medical director of Pharmacy and Infection control, dispels six common flu vaccination myths to help you and your loved ones stay healthy this flu season.

Myth #1: “My flu shot gave me the flu.”

Fact: Dr. Silvers says, “You can’t catch the flu from flu vaccine because the influenza viruses in the vaccine are dead, and therefore they’re not infectious.”

Dr. Silvers says sometimes people think the vaccine has given them the flu because they get sick soon after being vaccinated. He explains it takes about two weeks after you’ve received the flu vaccine for antibodies to develop in your body and provide protection against flu. “So, if you come down with the flu a few days after you receive a flu shot, you were probably infected with the flu before you got the shot or before your immune system had a chance to build up its defenses,” he says.

Even when they get a flu shot, people occasionally may still get the flu, not because their immunity wasn’t built up before they were exposed to it, but because they caught a strain of flu that wasn’t in the flu vaccine they received. This can happen because the strains of influenza virus that are included in the vaccine each year, there are typically four, may not exactly match the strains circulating in the community. Each year, infectious disease experts select the strains they believe will be prevalent in the U.S based on their observations of the most recent flu season in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, they’re not always able to predict which strains will be most prevalent in the U.S.

Even if the flu vaccine isn’t a perfect match for the strains in circulation during a given flu season, receiving a flu shot is still be beneficial. People who are vaccinated against the flu and still come down with the virus typically experience milder symptoms than those who skip the shot.

Myth #2: “I never get the flu, so I don’t need the vaccine.”

Fact: According to the CDC, nearly a quarter of those infected with the flu virus didn’t even know they were sick because they had such mild symptoms. The problem with that, says Dr. Silvers, is asymptomatic people can still spread the flu virus to others for up to a week. Getting a flu shot helps protect you, your loved ones and the larger community.

Myth #3: “Getting the flu isn’t a big deal.”

Fact: The flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and death, especially for people at high-risk such as newborn babies, people with chronic medical conditions and the elderly.

Remember, says Dr. Silvers, “If you get the flu, even if it’s a mild case and you don’t have symptoms, you could still pass it along to someone for whom getting the flu is a big deal, even deadly, like a grandparent, a newborn, or someone who has a weakened immune system—such as a person who is undergoing chemotherapy.”

Myth #4: I’m young and healthy, so I don’t need to get vaccinated for the flu.

Fact: The CDC recommends that nearly everybody 6 months and older get vaccinated for the flu. That’s because the flu is a contagious disease that can lead to serious illness, like pneumonia, as well as missed work or even hospitalization for otherwise healthy people.

Myth #5: I can’t get a flu shot because I’m pregnant.

Fact: The CDC recommends that all pregnant women get flu vaccinations because pregnant women are at a higher risk for serious complications from flu. Flu may also be harmful for a developing baby. Getting the flu shot while you’re pregnant even helps protect your baby from the flu for months after birth because moms pass antibodies to their babies before they’re born. And that’s important, says Dr. Silvers, because babies younger than 6 months can’t get the flu vaccine and are more likely to suffer serious complications from the flu.

Myth #6: I got vaccinated for the flu last year, so I don’t need it again this year.

Fact: You must get the vaccine every year in order to protect yourself and others from the flu. Why? Dr. Silvers explains, “The immune protection you get from a flu shot declines over time and flu viruses are constantly mutating.” These mutations are why the flu vaccine is updated every year.

The bottom line? For the best protection, nearly everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.

Okay, I’m convinced. Where can I get a flu shot?

Flu shots are available by appointment at your doctor’s office. Same day flu shots are available by appointment at Sutter Walk-In Care facilities. Click here for more information and flu vaccination resources.

COVID-19 and the Flu: Time to Arm Yourself with a Flu Shot

Posted on Sep 17, 2020 in Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized, Wellness

This fall, we could face a flu season like no other. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s possible to become sick with the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. You don’t want to risk being infected with both because as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people infected with COVID-19 and flu may be more likely to be hospitalized with severe and sometimes deadly disease.

Getting a flu shot this season may also help conserve potentially scarce health care resources like personal protective equipment (PPE), and reduce the burden on healthcare systems as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For these reasons, it’s more important than ever to get the flu vaccine this year,” says Bill Isenberg, M.D., Sutter Health’s chief quality and safety officer. “As we await a vaccine for COVID-19, we very strongly encourage people to get flu shots to boost their immunity and protect themselves and the people they love from the flu.”

“Even without the added threat of COVID-19, getting a flu shot is one of the most important things you can do to help lower your risk for getting sick with the flu, avoid suffering through days or weeks of illness and help prevent spreading the infection to those around you, at home, at work and in the community,” says Sutter Health’s medical director of Pharmacy and Infection Control, Jeffrey Silvers, M.D.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized for flu, and typically around 50,000 die from it. A flu shot is important even if you’re staying home more—or working from home—because you still face potential exposure to the influenza virus, which you can then spread to others.

When should you get the flu vaccine?

“Timing is important,” says Dr. Silvers. “The CDC recommends people get vaccinated for influenza before the flu begins spreading in the community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and begin to provide protection.”

In the U.S., flu typically begins circulating in October. That means the ideal time to get vaccinated for flu is late September through early October.

“Vaccination is still beneficial as long as flu viruses are circulating. If you haven’t been vaccinated by Halloween or even Thanksgiving, it can still be protective to get vaccinated through December or later,” says Dr. Isenberg. “The influenza season usually peaks in January or February, but sometimes the virus is still circulating in the community as late as May.”


How can you get a flu shot?

  • The process to get a flu shot will be different this year because of COVID-19.
  • Vaccination at your Sutter-affiliated doctor’s office is by appointment only.
  • Existing patients can schedule appointments through the patient portal My Health Online or by phone beginning September 17.
  • Sutter Walk-in Care offers same day appointments for flu shots, whether you are an established Sutter patient or not.


Who should get this year’s flu shot?

  • For nearly everybody, getting an annual flu shot remains the first and most important step to help prevent the spread of the flu—you don’t want to get the flu and COVID-19.
  • Getting the flu shot is especially important for people in high-risk groups: pregnant women, elderly, children under five and those with other health conditions.
  • The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get a flu shot every year.
  • The CDC recommends a flu shot for all women who are pregnant during flu season. (Pregnant women should not receive the nasal spray vaccine.)

Make sure kids are up to date on vaccinations

Dr. Isenberg says it’s also a good idea, before flu season is in full swing, to make sure children are up to date on their vaccinations including chickenpox, Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (DTaP), Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and Polio.

“Now is an ideal time to visit your child’s pediatrician, before the annual flu kicks in and pediatricians’ offices are inundated with sick children,” says Dr. Isenberg.

To find a Sutter primary care physician, click here.

Is it safe to go to the doctor’s office or Sutter Walk-In-Care?

Sutter Walk-In Care centers and Sutter-affiliated doctor’s offices have taken several steps to help minimize spread as the pandemic continues. These measures include mandatory masking for patients and visitors, performing extra cleaning and disinfecting, and screening employees before each shift.

Protect yourself and your family. Get a flu shot.

Colon Cancer Up Among Younger Age Groups; Screening Key to Early Detection

Posted on Sep 4, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Scroll Images, Wellness

Actor Chadwick Boseman’s death from colon cancer at age 43 came as a shock. Following his passing, Boseman’s family shared that he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer four years earlier. Many headlines captured the public’s collective sentiment—Colon cancer? But he was so young!

Michael Abel, M.D., chair of surgery at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) and colorectal surgeon, says of the news, “When you look at a 39-year-old male in his prime who is coming in with GI symptoms and not feeling well, colon cancer would not be at the top of the list. That needs to change.”

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says the rate at which younger people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer is rising. Data shows the disease’s case rates have been increasing since the mid-1980s in adults ages 20-39 years and since the mid-1990s in adults ages 40-54 years. On the upside, data shows case rates among individuals 65 and older are decreasing.

“While the medical community doesn’t know why these rates are climbing in younger populations, physicians are now paying closer attention to this cancer,” says Dr. Abel.

Colorectal Cancer Facts

According to the American Cancer Society:

• Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death in both men and women in the U.S.

• About one in 23 men and one in 25 women will develop colon or rectal cancer at some point during their lifetime.

• It is estimated that there will be 104,610 new cases of colon cancer and 43,340 new cases of rectal cancer in the U.S. this year.

• The rate of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is higher among the Black community than among any other population group in the U.S.

For more information about colorectal cancer, visit here.

New Thinking on Screenings

In 2018, the American Cancer Society lowered the recommended screening age for people with average colorectal cancer risk, i.e. no family history, to age 45. “More aggressive screening is the best thing we can do to help prevent colorectal cancer and helps allow those who are diagnosed with cancer to have better outcomes,” says Dr. Abel.

For individuals with a family history of the disease, meaning a first degree relative or parent was diagnosed, a physician will likely recommend getting screened as early as age 40.

Black Community at Increased Risk of Developing Colon Cancer

Black people are more likely to develop colorectal cancer at a younger age and to be at a more advanced stage when diagnosed. According to the National Cancer Institute, even when African Americans are diagnosed with early stage disease, they have significantly worse survival rates.

“Earlier and more aggressive screening in this group can help bridge this gap,” says Dr. Abel.

Primary Care Doctors Paying More Attention

A patient’s primary care doctor is typically his or her first line of defense in knowing if symptoms warrant further examination.

“Providers should consider other potential causes of a symptom like rectal bleeding, beyond assuming its hemorrhoids, as an important step in diagnosing what could be a more concerning issue. The physician can then refer the patient to a specialist who will perform a more thorough screening or schedule a colonoscopy,” says Dr. Abel.

“Colorectal cancer can be preventable, and if detected early, curable,” he says.

For ways to reduce your colon cancer risk, visit here.

CPMC’s Colorectal Cancer Center of Excellence Program

In 2019, Sutter’s CPMC was recognized by the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC) as a leading Center of Excellence. To earn this three-year accreditation, CPMC met 19 standards, including the establishment of a rectal cancer multidisciplinary team, which includes clinical representatives from surgery, pathology, radiology, radiation oncology and medical oncology.

Read more about CPMC’s accreditation here.

For more information, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider. To find a Sutter primary care physician, click here.

No Sprint, Lacing Up for Pandemic’s Mental Health Marathon

Posted on Sep 1, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging our mental health in ways we could have never predicted, and some people may feel they’re beginning to run on empty as far as ways to cope with all the change and loss.

“Coping as a primary strategy no longer works. It’s time to try something new,” says Holly Anton, an integrative therapist with Sutter’s Institute for Health & Healing. “Adaption is now the long-term objective.”

Rather than grieving for the way of life you may have lost with the pandemic, Anton recommends finding ways to create a meaningful life in the here and now.

Where do you want to put your energy? What deserves your focus? How can you make the most out of today? You can choose how you relate to the circumstances.

Importance of Maintaining a Routine

Structuring your day with activities and goals makes it predictable and gives individuals a sense of being in control of their environment,” says Anton.

On a basic foundational level, Anton recommends people eat healthy foods and get exercise. “You want your body tired at the end of the day so it’s ready for sleep. Put devices away at least two hours before bed and give your mind a chance to wind down with your body.”

Read more of Anton’s advice on ways to mentally adapt in this San Francisco Chronicle article.