Stress Relief Gone Wrong – Are You Developing Unhealthy Coping Habits?

Posted on Jun 11, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The pandemic’s disruptions to daily life have been many. Seamlessly navigating through this new normal may feel like something only Instagram influencers are capable of tackling with grace, when the truth is many of us are just trying to make it from one day to the next. During these days dotted with question marks, it’s easy to develop habits that can have negative and unintended consequences on our physical and mental health.

“We are all looking for relief from life’s stresses, but we don’t always have the right tools. And trying to power through isn’t realistic or a good long-term solution,” says Kim S. Narvaez, a licensed family and marriage therapist with Sutter Health.

“The upshot is there are ways you can develop skills to cope with life’s ups and downs and find healthy ways to relax and feel better,” she says.

Here are some tips for setting yourself up for success:

Avoid Unhealthy Short-Term Strategies

Notice if you have fallen into negative patterns which may have started off as ways of comforting yourself, like obsessive online shopping, excessive social media use, watching too much TV, and mindless eating.

Be aware that unhealthy habits may turn into addictions and diagnosable conditions requiring treatment and professional help. Smoking tobacco, drinking too much alcohol, illicit drug use, online gambling, binge or restricted eating, hoarding, and self-injury like cutting are all signs you are dealing with stress in unhealthy ways.

Develop Healthy Habits

Good coping strategies help us through the rough times and get us moving in the right direction. The following are signs that you are doing things that are helpful:

• You feel proud, accomplished, confident and productive
• You have positive thoughts about yourself, others and the world in general
• Your coping tools don’t result in wasted time, effort and money
• Your mindset is hopeful, without feelings of shame or guilt
• You feel more energized, present and effective

Be Proactive

Don’t let unhealthy behaviors put you on defense. Instead, avoid developing them altogether by taking steps to:

• Identify harmful coping behaviors and make a commitment to stop
• Set personal goals to achieve a healthy lifestyle and create a self-care plan
• Be consistent in using strategies to properly tackle minor and major stressors
• Recognize how you are responding to uneasiness, minor annoyances, restlessness, boredom, isolation, disconnection, sadness, worrying, insecurities, and feeling overwhelmed.

Get Support

“Enlisting the support of a spouse, roommate or buddy to check in with is a good strategy to incorporate into your weekly routine,” says Narvaez. “They know you well and can help point out behaviors you’re unaware of.”

If your issues become too much to bear and you feel like you’re spiraling to gain control, then seek professional help. Your primary care provider can refer you to a licensed, professional therapist who can help you gain awareness, reach goals and change behaviors.

“There’s zero shame seeking help,” says Narvaez. “Acknowledging, addressing and getting unhealthy behaviors in check is a responsible way of taking charge of your health.”

Feeling Anxious Because of COVID-19?

Posted on Jun 10, 2020 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized, Wellness

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – We are all worried about our health, safety and protecting our loved ones right now. As the COVID-19 crisis continues, it’s more important than ever to protect our mental health and build resilience.

Recognize Anxiety Overload

“Anxiety is a signal from our brain that puts us on alert, mentally and physically, to both real and perceived dangers. It’s normal to feel anxious right now. But anxiety overload can cause physical symptoms and impact wellbeing,” says Kim S. Narvaez, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Sutter Health.

“Be aware of the signs,” says Narvaez. “These may include: restlessness, aches and pains, sweating, heart pounding, stomach problems, difficulty concentrating, feeling on edge, excessive worrying, irritability, obsessions, uncontrollable behaviors and fearfulness.”

Try Mindfulness to Help Manage Anxiety

Mindfulness is a useful tool that you can practice easily by paying close attention to yourself and your surroundings.

“The goal is to be present and notice what is going on within yourself,” says Narvaez, “Listen to how you are feeling, without any distractions or the need to do anything. This allows us to process thoughts and information calmly so we can move forward in a less reactive way.”

You can practice mindfulness in several ways. Click here to learn more about relaxation, breathing and meditation techniques.

Take time to reflect and ask yourself questions such as:

• Are my thoughts out of proportion to what is actually happening?
• Am I acknowledging my feelings?
• Am I giving myself enough credit for all the things that I am doing?

You can learn more about mindfulness and stress reduction on the Sutter Health website.

Reach Out for Help

Your mental health is important to your physical health and your overall wellbeing. Notice if your anxiety is escalating. If you want more help, contact your primary care physician who can provide you with a referral to licensed, professional therapists who can help with personal problems.

Critical Blood Shortage May Impact Hospitals

Posted on Jun 9, 2020 in Affiliates, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

OAKLAND, CALIF. – Hospitals across the country are facing the potential for critical blood shortages as a result of blood drive cancellations during mandatory shelter in place orders. Blood donation may also be hampered by the changes blood banks have had to make to keep donors safe.

Now Ronn Berrol, M.D., medical director of the Summit campus emergency department at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, explains the impact of the blood shortage on hospitals in a recent interview with KTVU Fox 2.

Watch the video interview

For a while, the drop in blood donation wasn’t as problematic since there was a lower demand for blood as people obeyed shelter in place orders—the number of emergency surgeries and hospitalizations was reduced— and elective procedures were cancelled, says Dr. Berrol. But as people begin venturing out and hospitals resume urgent and elective surgeries, he says there is the potential for disruption or delays for blood-intensive surgical procedures such as complicated heart, cancer, gynecologic or orthopedic surgery because of the blood and blood product shortage.

The solution?

Dr. Berrol urges healthy people to contact their local blood bank to make an appointment to donate blood. He also counsels patience because, though the need for blood donation is urgent, there may be a delay of a week or two for an appointment since blood banks have had to reduce the number of appointments they can offer in order to implement safety measures like physical distancing and extra cleaning.

Contact the Red Cross or Vitalant to learn more about how you can donate blood in your community.

Clean Machines: How Disinfecting Robots are Helping the Frontlines

Posted on Jun 8, 2020 in Safety, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

It’s not a scene from science fiction. But the battle is real against germs inside hospitals and care centers. And standing alongside healthcare professionals and cleaning crews on the frontlines? Disinfecting robots.

High-tech “clean machines” are more widely used than ever in healthcare—and have been an especially welcome in the arsenal against COVID-19. Integrated health networks like Sutter Health have had them in practice for several years, setting the stage for safety for patients and staff alike.

“Our UV robots help combat against C. diff, MRSA and multi-drug resistant organisms in the hospital,” said Brett Laurence, M.D., Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento’s chief of infection control. “The UV light rays disinfect high-touch surfaces and procedural areas to improve and ensure patient safety.”

Disinfecting robots are featured at California Pacific Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Sutter Roseville Medical Center and Sutter Tracy Community Hospital. They have even been used inside the Rural Health Clinic in Los Banos.

Sutter Health has taken other steps to make patients feel welcome and safe upon returning to network care centers, as well. In addition to increased frequency of cleanings, Sutter has adopted universal masking for staff and patients, set up temperature check stations and moved or marked furniture to promote physical distancing in waiting rooms.

“The health and well-being of our patients, employees and clinicians is a top priority,” said Sean R. Townsend, M.D., vice president of quality and safety at California Pacific Medical Center. “We are combining the power of science with sensible approaches all in the name of safety.”

The Unseen Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Posted on Jun 5, 2020 in California Pacific Medical Center, Expanding Access, Innovation, Quality, Research, Scroll Images

Older patients with Parkinson’s disease also often suffer from a very high risk of falls, and may experience disabling fractures. Research has not shown whether drug treatments for the prevention of osteoporosis (such as zoledronic acid) could also prevent fractures for them. Researchers at Sutter’s San Francisco Coordinating Center (SFCC) designed the “Trial of Parkinson’s and Zoledronic Acid” (TOPAZ) study to answer that question.

Steve Cummings, MD
Steve Cummings, MD

“There are few treatments for Parkinson’s disease itself, but TOPAZ could show how a simple treatment given at home could prevent one of the most important causes of disability and death in these patients,” said Steve Cummings, M.D., director of SFCC and a lead investigator of TOPAZ.

Dr. Cummings noted that TOPAZ is the first study of its kind nationwide. The study aims to enroll 3,500 patients with Parkinson’s disease who are 65 years or older. As part of the study, neurologists who specialize in Parkinson’s disease may conduct a video interview with the patient to confirm the diagnosis.

A study nurse will check patients to confirm that treatment with zoledronic acid would be safe, and once confirmed, will then give zoledronic acid or placebo intravenously. Patients will be contacted every four months for at least two years about whether they have had a fracture.

SFCC leads the effort with a nationwide research team including neurologists and bone disease experts from UC San Francisco (UCSF), the Parkinson’s Foundation and Duke University.

“Fractures can result in a loss of independence, so it’s important to find ways to prevent them, particularly in this group of patients,” said Parkinson’s disease expert Caroline Tanner, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology at UCSF and a lead investigator of TOPAZ. “We hope this study will provide us with some answers.”

“Patients with Parkinson’s disease have difficulty traveling to clinics for care. Our goal is to test if we can bring the evaluation and treatment to their home making it easier for them to reduce their risk of disabling fractures,” added Kenneth W. Lyles, M.D., senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at Duke University, TOPAZ lead investigator at Duke, and world expert on zoledronic acid.

The five-year, $30 million study is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, part of the U.S. National Institute of Health.

Nearly 800,000 Americans age 65 or older have Parkinson’s disease—a brain illness that causes slow loss of control of movements, walking and balance, increased risk of falling and decreased cognitive functions. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but TOPAZ could show that one treatment could prevent a disabling consequence of the illness.

For patients:
For more information on TOPAZ and to enroll in the study, call 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636). You may be referred to UCSF to arrange a telemedicine neurology assessment at home to confirm that the study is right for you.

For Parkinson’s disease specialists:
Call 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636) for more information on enrolling patients directly into the trial.

CPMC’s Hamila Kownacki Recognized as One of San Francisco Business Times’ Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business

Posted on Jun 4, 2020 in Affiliates, California Pacific Medical Center, People

SAN FRANCISCO – Hamila Kownacki, RN, MSHA, and chief operating officer at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), has been recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of 2020’s Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business. The publication’s annual list celebrates women business leaders in finance, health care, law, real estate, technology and more. Honorees are both passionate leaders in their organizations, as well as their communities.

Hamila Kownacki is the Chief Operating Officer at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco.

As COO of CPMC, part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit integrated network of care, Kownacki oversees all operational direction and outpatient services for the medical center’s three campuses in San Francisco: Van Ness, Mission Bernal and Davies.

Most recently, Kownacki led the opening of two modern hospitals where high quality, technology, safety, efficiency, and personal touches are the norm. CPMC’s Van Ness facility, which opened in March 2019, offers advanced patient technology, cancer care, cardiac care, orthopedics and women’s and children’s services. CPMC’s Mission Bernal location, which opened in August 2018, is a neighborhood-based medical center that focuses on emergency, elder care, maternity and orthopedics services.

Kownacki was also chosen for the prestigious Carol Emmott Fellowship, class of 2020. As one of 21 fellows selected nationwide, she is granted the opportunity to build on her leadership capacities in order to help accelerate the advancement of women in executive roles in health care, where currently they are significantly underrepresented.

Kownacki is a board member for San Francisco’s Meals on Wheels and she serves as chairperson of the Donor Network West, an organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation for transplantation in Northern California and Nevada. She earned her bachelor’s degree at CSU Northridge, and her master’s degree in health services administration at St. Mary’s in Moraga.

Standing by our Values in Difficult Times: A Message from Sarah Krevans to the Employees of the Sutter Health Network

Posted on Jun 3, 2020 in Scroll Images

Last week our Advancing Health Equity Team published a study looking at disparities in treatments and outcomes in African American patients with COVID-19. The unequal burden of disease and disparate treatment is still a significant problem in our country, and Sutter Health is committed to being part of the solution. We have seen across the country, and in our own neighborhoods, the tragic impact to communities of color from the coronavirus, and then on May 25, we watched with horror and sadness the unjust death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Over the last several days, many peaceful protesters raised their voices to advocate for justice and equality, and we stand with them as they peacefully advocate for a just society where no one’s life is at increased risk because of racism or discrimination. We must also condemn the violence that has led to injuries and to the senseless death of a federal security officer in Oakland.

To our patients and communities, I want to affirm Sutter’s unwavering commitment to our values and our not-for-profit mission. Our integrated network strives every day to provide a safe, caring and compassionate place to work and receive exceptional care, regardless of gender, age, race, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious belief. We are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion throughout our organization and providing equitable health outcomes for all.