Sutter’s Samuel Merritt University Earns Top 10 California Nursing School Recognition

Posted on Oct 14, 2020 in Affiliates, Uncategorized

Samuel Merritt University’s (SMU) School of Nursing has emerged as one of the Ten Best Accredited Nursing Schools in California for 2020, according to Nursing Process, a nationwide organization that assesses nursing education.

Nursing Process identified the top 10 list after an evaluation of 220 nursing schools across the state. Rankings are based on academic quality, licensure exam rates, affordability and reputation.

“SMU has phenomenal faculty, students, staff, and community partners. We work collaboratively to develop and implement excellent experiences for our students,” School of Nursing Dean Lorna Kendrick said of SMU clinching the tenth spot on the list. “Our curriculum is constantly evaluated and updated to make sure our students are receiving an exemplary education. We are preparing our students in hospitals and community settings where they not only learn hands-on skills, but, more importantly, how to incorporate compassion and responsive care for all.”

SMU, an affiliate of Sutter Health located at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, has educated healthcare professionals in California for more than a century. The school offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant and podiatric medicine.

In addition to classroom learning, SMU has integrated simulation-based learning into its programs for the past decade. In the 5,500-square-foot Health Sciences Simulation Center, students learn and practice clinical skills on computerized manikins that realistically mimic breathing, eye movements and pulse sounds. Specially trained actors play patients with specific health needs in the simulations.

Visit Samuel Merritt University to learn more about this top 10 recognition.

Mammography Goes Mobile

Posted on Oct 9, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Expanding Access, Scroll Images, Women's Services


The Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, part of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, has launched a new mobile mammography van to provide convenient access to screening mammography services for underserved women and help improve early detection of breast cancer.

“Finding breast cancer at its earliest possible stage is critical to survival, and early detection through regular mammograms remains the best defense against the disease,” says oncologic surgeon Eileen Consorti, M.D., medical director of the Carol Ann Read Breast Health Program. “As a breast cancer survivor, this cause is very personal to me. The mobile mammography van will provide screenings to hundreds of women each year, many of whom are uninsured or underinsured.”

Beginning this month, the 40-foot van will travel to community-based health care clinics in the East Bay and surrounding communities to provide mammography services to underserved women. The van will eventually travel to senior centers, houses of worship, health fairs and businesses once the COVID-19 threat lessens, broadening access to critical breast health services while providing the same high-quality care as patients who come to Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center locations.

“Access to affordable and convenient breast cancer screenings can be lifesaving. Our mobile mammography unit will help our team bring advanced technology to patients in our community that most need it,” says Alta Bates Summit Medical Center CEO David Clark.

The new mobile mammography van is equipped with 3D mammography (digital breast tomosynthesis) and also offers a comfortable waiting area as well as a private changing and exam room.

The van is made possible by a grant from Peter Read, co-founder of Grocery Outlet in honor of his wife Carol Ann Read who passed away from breast cancer, and a Sutter match grant.

Read has worked collaboratively with Alta Bates Summit administrators and physicians to raise funds to update breast screening equipment in the East Bay and provide for the needs of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer for many years. He has also funded educational events to raise breast cancer awareness within Latino and African American communities.

Although the pain of losing Carol Ann will never go away, Peter Read is comforted by the impact his philanthropy has made. “This investment in Alta Bates Summit gives me great personal satisfaction,” he says. “I am excited about reaching even more women with the mobile mammography.”

This World Mental Health Day, Let’s Celebrate the Creativity of Our Young People

Posted on Oct 9, 2020 in Mental Health, People, Scroll Images

A message from John Boyd, Sutter’s CEO of System Mental Health & Addiction Care:

World Mental Health Day is always an opportunity to reflect on our well-being, both as individuals and as a society. After the unprecedented difficulties and upheavals of 2020, it should also serve as a challenge. We can no longer minimize or overlook the impact of individual and collective trauma, and we must work together to ensure a more supportive, empathetic and human future. Central to that project is reimagining “mental health” as “human health”—it’s fundamental to who we are, how we connect with others and how we understand the world around us. Making this shift in thinking a reality must start with a focus on young people.

As I’ve written about before, my own childhood was shaped by experiences of trauma, stigma and shame. Sadly, these same experiences are far too common among our youth, and the events of the past year have only further intensified the impact. Too often, the heaviest burden falls on our most marginalized communities, including people of color and neurodiverse students. With schools across the country facing difficult questions about whether and how to safely re-open, it’s important to center students’ developmental needs in addition to their educational needs.

It goes without saying that young people, particularly adolescents, place a great deal of value in their friendships and peer relationships. There is a deep biological and psychological basis for this—adolescents are hard-wired to seek out friendships and form social bonds. They are also learning to assert their independence, challenge authority, and test boundaries (as any teacher or parent will attest!). School and extracurricular activities provide critical outlets for these fundamental needs, and unfortunately many public health guidelines—physical distancing, avoiding large groups—are in tension with the developmental needs of our young people. But we can learn a lot about how we can solve these problems from young people themselves.

One of the most heartening aspects of the past year, despite its difficulties, has been the many stories of creativity, hope, and resilience from young people. The developmental processes I mentioned above are also great drivers of creative thinking. What may look like boredom or impatience from the outside can also be an opening for a novel, innovative idea.

We’ve seen that spirit of discovery and creativity as young people continue to raise their voices in response to ongoing police violence around the country. Others have used technology in surprising ways to stay connected with friends despite many new obstacles. Young artists are also finding ways to create through diverse media, providing a vital outlet for self-expression at a difficult time in a young person’s life. No matter what the future has in store, we can always count on young people to surprise us.

In that spirit of creativity, Sutter Health is reimagining youth mental health through human-centered design. We have a assembled a diverse team of clinical experts, social workers, designers and youth advisors to understand the lived experience of young people as they transition from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. The interplay between the ups and downs of everyday life, developmental psychology and living with a mental health condition presents unique challenges for young people at this age. That’s why it’s so critical that we take a human health approach to reimagining the experience of young people living with mental health conditions.

We’re all facing more constraints than ever in 2020, and it’s our responsibility to keep exploring and imagining new ways to meet these challenges. We should inspire our young people to do the same—their resourcefulness and empathy gives me hope for the future. Our creativity is one of the things that makes us human. Let’s use that creativity to be healthier, too.

How an Integrated Health System Improved Care for Patients During the Pandemic

Posted on Oct 6, 2020 in Quality, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Sutter Health’s network of 22 hospitals has reduced the stays for COVID-19 patients from an average of 20 days to just eight days today, thanks to a coordinated response deployed by the integrated healthcare system.

It is one of the ways to show the power of an integrated network in responding to this health emergency. Care teams across the Sutter Health network give patients high-quality care whether at a medical center in San Francisco or Sacramento or a rural hospital in Amador County or Lake County.

Some other key examples of the effectiveness of Sutter Health’s integrated network include:

  • The ability to increase care capacity by 200-300% in the midst of the pandemic
  • Expanding telehealth services to shift from serving 20 to 7000 patient visits per day
  • Doubling the capacity of remote electronic intensive care units so patients could access 24/7 critical care specialists
  • Reallocating crucial resources to get personal protective equipment and ventilators where they were needed most
William Isenberg, M.D.

“We made investments very early on in the beginnings of our network so that we could best support the hospitals, care centers and other health services in our communities,” said William Isenberg, M.D., chief quality and safety officer for Sutter Health. “That planning has helped us in ways we could never have imagined during the pandemic, as well as during some of the wildfires that have touched parts of our Northern California service area.”

Sutter Health serves one of the most demographically and geographically diverse regions in the nation, which means the healthcare system works to identify and respond to the different needs of different communities. An integrated network is able to quickly respond and adjust to the needs in local communities.

Phillip Yu, M.D.

“Rural healthcare has historically faced unique challenges, like location, capacity and supplies. The COVID-19 pandemic has only placed more pressure on these communities,” said Phillip Yu, M.D., chief medical executive and administrator of Memorial Hospital Los Banos. “Being part of an integrated network, however, our rural-based or remote area hospitals have the necessary resources to meet the needs of residents.”

An integrated network also supports an easier sharing of best practices, which can help improve clinical outcomes. For instance, care teams across Sutter were able to minimize the need for ventilators in COVID-19-positive patients by using other appropriate therapies. Consistent meetings and briefings between hospital clinical leaders and those within Sutter Health’s Emergency Management System helped provide the timeliest information and developments. Hospital clinical leaders then could quickly turn around and share these findings and approaches with their own hospital incident command centers and teams on the ground.

Abhishek Dosi

“Our mission has always focused on enhancing the well-being of people in the communities we serve,” said Abhishek Dosi, CEO of Sutter Solano Medical Center. “We meet our mission when we collaborate with teams across our network. These efforts have made an even greater impact during this remarkable point in time–helping improve patient outcomes and slow the spread of the virus. While there are still many unknowns with the pandemic, our network has the structure and our teams have the experience and expertise to continue serving the needs of patients and families.”

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.

Welcoming to the world one bundle of joy…make that two bundles… actually three!

Posted on Oct 2, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Quality, Scroll Images, Women's Services

When Zarmina and Haris Anjum learned they would be having triplets this spring, one of the first things they did was buy an SUV.

“We planned for one, then it was twins, and then two weeks later it was three. It was wonderful and not at all expected,” said Haris. “We joked that we better hold off on having any more ultrasounds.”

Fast forward to this fall.

The Anjum’s were scheduled to deliver at a San Francisco hospital. When that facility experienced a staph outbreak, the family was transferred to nearby Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center Van Ness campus hospital.

“We were met with such warmth,” said Haris. “It was reassuring to be cared for by such professional doctors and nurses. The facility was phenomenal, and we were relieved there were private NICU rooms.”

Healthy delivery

The Anjum triplets – Yahya, Yakub, and Yusuf – were born at 34 weeks via cesarean section.

“Delivering twins is already fun, but triplets—now that’s super fun,” said obstetrician Ruth Olweny, M.D. “We’re well equipped to handle multiple births at CPMC and having three providers on that night made Zarmina’s delivery seamless. The room setup was mostly the same, too, except that for triplets we have three isolettes on hand (a clear plastic enclosed crib that maintains a warm environment) as opposed to one or two.”

Obstetrician Izumi N. Cabrera, M.D., added, “When the family arrived at CPMC, Haris had a big box of supplies for cord blood blanking.”

Cord blood is the blood from a baby that is left in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth. This blood contains special cells called hematopoietic stem cells that can be “banked” (stored) for later use by the individual and has been used to help treat certain diseases.

“Cord blood collection requires another step during delivery. When you consider that we were doing it for three babies, that means there’s even greater focus from the team. I was pleased we were able to capture the needed material from all three babies’ cords. We were basically a functioning assembly line as each baby was delivered,” said Dr. Cabrera.

Three facts about triplets

They’re rare. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) and Prevention reported 3,400 triplet births, while there were more than 123,000 twin births. The CDC reported 3,791,712 total births in the U.S. in 2018.

They’re early birds. According to March of Dimes, the majority of triplets are born premature. Most triplets are born between 32-34 weeks of gestation and caesarean section delivery is common.

There’s often a family history of multiple births. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist says that twins are the most common type of multiple births. Heredity on the mother’s side ups a couple’s odds of conceiving fraternal twins.

Settling in at Home

Born in early September, the Anjum triplets are getting stronger and gaining weight by the day.

“All three are wireless now,” chuckles Haris, referring to each baby no longer needing a feeding tube and now breathing room air.

As for what’s next, Zarmina and Haris are taking it one day at a time.

Haris says, “I have the honor of being their chauffeur and continuing to support my wife in her recovery. We’re looking forward to settling in at home and introducing our four-year-old son to his baby brothers. But first I have to conquer these car seats!”

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.