The last great reason to support Measure A…

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is the CEO of the South Bay Labor Council. Don Gage is the sole Republican on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. What are they doing teaming up for Measure A? Providing some solid reasoning why it deserves support.

Here, then, from today’s Mercury News:

Measure A – Saving Lives and Saving Jobs
By Don Gage and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins
Special to the Mercury News
Article Launched: 10/28/2008 06:58:29 PM PDT

As the economy slows down, voters tend to focus on one issue above all others — jobs.
So here’s some good news in tough times.

Measure A — the Nov. 4 bond that will make Valley Medical Center earthquake proof — will also generate good jobs, a pot load of them.
You’ve probably noticed one of the effects of the national housing slowdown. Not many new homes are being built. With consumers tightening their belts, not many new stores or factories are breaking ground either. What’s the result? Large numbers of construction workers aren’t drawing paychecks.
A “yes” vote on Measure A immediately begins to address that problem. Iron workers, electrical workers, plumbers, carpenters, and countless others will be back on the payroll.
Everyone benefits
They’ll be building structures that benefit every family in the valley — hospital rooms to protect victims of auto accidents, fires, or major disasters.
And hiring construction workers is just the beginning. When a carpenter isn’t working, he also isn’t buying. The decline in construction jobs translates into lower sales for cars, appliances, restaurants, home computers, cell phones “… into lower sales for just about everything that is produced in our region. Lower sales mean slower raises, fewer promotions, and eventually layoffs for people in all walks of life.
What voters should remember — and this is a critical point — is that the economic slow down described above can go on for years before it turns around. However, approving projects like Measure A can help shorten the period of decline. Recessions become deep and long because every individual family and business does what seems to make perfect sense for themselves, but the cumulative effect of the individual decisions makes things worse for all of us. A business that sees sales decline, lays off workers. Families experiencing or just worried about layoffs cut back on purchases. This second reduction in buying forces businesses to cut back further. Every individual action is reasonable; together, the result is a painful economic down cycle.
To break the cycle, some significant institution has to take the action that no individual family or business will take. It has to invest and buy right in the middle of bad times. Only the government has the capacity to play this role. As you may have heard, the federal government is planning a massive economic stimulus package to accomplish this task within the next few months. Measure A can be considered an economic stimulus package for Santa Clara County. It will help jump start a pattern of hiring that will spread. According to the multiplier published by the California Trade and Commerce Agency, every new construction job creates an additional 1.12 jobs elsewhere in the economy.
Double stimulus
In fact, Measure A provides a double stimulus to the regional economy. If the measure doesn’t pass, state law will require in 2013 that the county close important parts of Valley Medical Center. Hundreds of health care personnel will lose their jobs. Their families will stop buying too. That’s the last kind of economic impact the valley needs as we struggle through this difficult period.

Our economy will be that much stronger if those nurses, operating room assistants, radiology technicians, and numerous support personnel stay on the job, continue to make purchases, help local businesses survive, and thereby keep the rest of us on the job too.
Measure A can provide this valuable economic stimulus at the same time that it preserves the health and safety of our community. Valley Medical Center is a special kind of business with a special kind of mission. It saves lives. Whose life? Anyone who needs a trauma center or a burn unit or a spinal cord injury center.

In a large metropolitan area, tragedy does strike. It’s unexpected. It’s unfair. It’s cruel. But it does happen, and when it does there is no substitute for the skilled staff and unique equipment that Valley Medical keeps ready 24 hours a day.
Vote Yes on Measure A. You’ll be voting to protect your job and to keep Valley Medical Center doing its job — to save lives.

VMC’s surgeons help a man breathe on his own

The following story appeared Friday on NBC 11 News, and reminds us why spinal cord injury care at Valley Medical Center is above and beyond…and why we must protect Silicon Valley’s largest hospital. Read on!

San Jose Surgeons Help Paralyzed Man Breathe on His Own
Procedure could allow thousands of people to regain critical functions

By Jane Ann Furer

Doctors at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center performed a first of its kind surgery to help a paralyzed man breathe on his own.

Four months ago, 59-year-old Kevin Brady fell at his home in Tucson, Arizona. He broke his neck, fractured his skull and until last week, relied on a ventilator to help him breathe.
Oct. 15, a team of surgeons at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) in San Jose implanted electrodes in the muscles of his diaphragm.

They stimulate the diaphragm’s muscles to expand and contract, which pulls air in and out of the lungs.

Those electrodes are connected to a pacemaker that’s worn outside the body.

The procedure is significant because it’s the first time it’s been performed on a recently injured patient.

Doctors say it works because the muscles can still regain function as opposed to someone with an old injury.

“When Kevin’s diaphragm muscles recover their strength, he will be able to breathe without a ventilator for longer and longer periods of time,” said Dr. Akshat Shah, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at SCVMC. “Even though he came to us with severe pulmonary problems, his progress so far has been remarkable.”

SCVMC is one of the first hospitals in the nation to perform such a procedure.

Doctors say it could open the door for hundreds or even thousands of paralyzed Californians to breathe, taste, smell and talk normally for the first time since their injuries.

“Access Denied?” …a groundbreaking new report.

A new study was released today by The Health Trust that shines a light on some major problems in Silicon Valley…problems we can and must solve.

Among the crucial issues contained in their report, Access Denied?, are the alarming lack of hospital beds per capita in our community, and the worstening plight of the uninsured and “under-insured.” The stories of VMC’s patients in the study are astounding examples of the human spirit…worth your time to read.

This ground-breaking report also points to the seismic mandate facing hospitals in California, which of course Measure A will address if approved by voters on November 4. More on Measure A in today’s Mercury News.

Please do find time to read Access Denied? and as always, let me know your thoughts.

A new baby at VMC!

First, because not everyone reads the Mercury News (but should) on weekends, a very compelling letter from a local hero supporting Measure A on Saturday:

Measure A is a matter of life and death

Measure A is the single most important issue on the ballot in Santa Clara County this November. Every day, police officers and firefighters dispatch ambulances to Valley Medical Center for patients to receive lifesaving trauma services at Valley Medical Center’s Level 1 trauma and burn centers.

Regardless of where a person lives in Santa Clara County, chances are they will be taken to Valley Medical Center in the event of a serious accident or emergency, and they would definitely end up in Valley Medical Center’s burn center in the event of serious fire and burn injuries.

Measure A is a matter of life and death, and that’s why public safety personnel and organizations urge you to vote yes on Measure A.

Art Marshall
President Santa Clara County Firefighters

…and another on Sunday, from a young Saratogan…what this letter doesn’t tell you is that Marie crashed her car on graduation day:

Pass Measure A so VMC is here for you

I crashed my Volvo on Highway 9 in Saratoga and the only thing I can remember is lying on the ground next to my open car door. I was rushed to Valley Medical Center’s trauma unit. The paramedics were concerned that I might have serious internal injuries. Had Valley Medical Center not been around, there is a very good chance I would have not had the immediate care I needed. With Measure A appearing on the ballot in a couple of weeks, I know how lucky I was to have VMC to care for me after my accident.

Please vote yes on A so that Valley Medical Center will be here for you or your family members when you need it most.

Marie Stark

These letters and others like it are appearing in newspapers every day around Silicon Valley – read your local papers and see!

What I wanted to share with you is that my friend DeAnn had her first baby this week at VMC! After thirty hours of labor, she had a C-section, and 9-pound Zachary was brought into the world!

De shared with me that the whole time she was in pre-natal care, right on up through the birth, she was treated like a princess by the team at VMC. This of course is no surprise to me or you, the alert reader, but it is a surprise to many who still don’t get that VMC is probably the safest place to have a baby in Silicon Valley. Congratulations, De and Jamie, on the new addition to your family!

Incidentally, the morning of Zachary’s arrival, I was touring a group of young First 5 staff members through VMC, and we shared an elevator ride to up to Labor/Delivery with Dr. Steve Harris, our chair of pediatrics. One of the young staff members, she herself expecting a child, asked if we could see the “nursery” where all the babies could be viewed through the window.

Dr. Harris smiled. “We don’t do it like that anymore,” he explained. “As soon as we can, we want the babies right there with their moms.”

And so it was when I visited De…just hours after a C-section, Zachary was right there in the room with her, gurgling away happily. The way it should be.

High fructose outrage!

Maybe I’m a little late to the Anger Party here, but that’s because I don’t watch a lot of Discovery Health Channel on TV.

But I did last night, and saw something that has me fuming. The commercial shows two kids arguing about the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in their breakfast cereal, with the kid who explains that it’s a natural, nutritious food winning the argument. No kidding.

The ad is paid for by the Corn Refiners Association. On Discovery Health. OMG.

The dangers of HFCS are very well documented, and you can see the results every day at Valley Medical Center. Our patient population of obese children and adults is growing fast, and HFCS, which is found in darn near every processed food sold inexpensively in America, is a major culprit.

I agree that as individuals we are all responsible for our food choices, but it gets pretty hard when ads like this, combined with McDonalds and Burger King selling cheap quick (unhealthy) food, tell undereducated consumers what they want to hear (eat and drink up; it’s good for you!)

Physicians have an uphill battle, and the foe has squillions of dollars to spend selling their products…to a population that is on track to not outlive their parents – for the first time in human history.

Yes yes, I know overconsumption of ALL sugar is bad…so we at the VMC Foundation will continue raising funds to support our Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center and diabetes education programs. This year, the county Board of Supervisors called for a “Soda-Free Summer”. Can we make it through fall and winter, too?

If you want to help, please donate at Thanks!

Trauma Team saves a life under extraordiary circumstances…

The best place to perform emergency trauma surgery is in an O.R.

But when that’s impossible, VMC’s trauma team will go the extra mile(s) to save a life. That’s what happened this week, as the following incredible story graphically describes:
San Martin winery employee loses leg after accident; doctors perform amputation on site

By Lisa Fernandez
Mercury News 10-8-08

A 20-year-old man working at a San Martin winery lost his right leg after he got caught in a piece of equipment used to drill holes in wine barrels.

Mike Van Loben Sels, battalion chief for the South Santa Clara County Fire Protection District, said the accident was reported at 9:47 p.m. Monday at ASV Wines, 12805 Llagas Road.

The employee’s leg was caught in an auger — a large spiral screw used in different parts of the wine production process, such as removing grape skins.

Valley Medical Center doctors flew by helicopter to the winery and helped extract the man from the machine.

Dr. John Sherk, chief trauma surgeon, and anesthesiologist Dr. Barry Waddell amputated the man’s right leg at mid-thigh, before he was taken to Valley Medical in San Jose.

“It’s amazing,” said hospital spokeswoman Amy Carta. “The community should know that doctors go out to the site when necessary.”

When a registered nurse speaks, people listen…

I am reminded often that my voice is, by definition, only so effective…after all, I get paid to say nice things about Valley Medical Center.

So when a woman who gets paid to provide health care to people offers a strong opinion on Measure A, it just means infinitely more.

Cynics might say “oh, she’s just watching out for her job.” Rubbish. The nursing shortage in this nation means she can work where she likes, whether VMC remains or not. Anyway, the following ran in yesterday’s Mercury News, and if you are interested in hearing more, please come to the Info Rally and news conference on Tuesday Oct. 7 at VMC, high noon:

Vote yes on A for sake of health

I am writing to encourage voters to vote yes on Measure A on Nov. 4. This measure provides funding for the seismic upgrades to our county hospital, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (VMC). After the 1994 Northridge earthquake shut down 11 Southern California hospitals, the state Legislature passed a law (SB 1953) requiring hospitals and other public buildings to meet certain earthquake safety standards. If these standards are not met by 2013, the buildings must shut down.

VMC will lose over half its beds should this measure be defeated. The residents of Santa Clara County cannot allow this to happen. We cannot allow the loss of our renowned adult and pediatric trauma and burn centers.
If Measure A is defeated, you can only imagine what it would feel like to learn that your badly burned child must be flown 100 miles away to the next nearest burn center. Some voters may feel that because they have private insurance they won’t go to “The County,” but think again. No matter where you go for health care, chances are that if you are hurt, you will be taken to VMC.
As a registered nurse working for our county residents at VMC, I implore you to get to the polls Nov. 4 and cast your “yes” vote for Measure A.

Deborah Gazay