Sunday’s Mercury News: Telling the story of VMC

Today’s Mercury News has done it, yet again. The alert reader of this blog is used to seeing us point out that the Newspaper of Silicon Valley does us proud…seems like every week there’s at least one feature on why WE ALL NEED VALLEY MEDICAL CENTER.

How about two at once? First, today’s lead editorial describing the crisis of Santa Clara County having so few hospital beds…and how much worse it could get. The Merc reminds us how we “lost San Jose Medical Center’s 302 beds in 2004, when the corporate owner realized it could not afford to rebuild or retrofit the facility to meet state seismic standards. If Los Gatos Community Hospital’s 143 beds disappear next spring, the shortage during a disaster could be serious.”

They go on to describe the $840M bond measure to bring VMC to seismic compliance – Measure A, of course. Read the whole thing here – it’s an excellent editorial.

Second, a super front page story on childhood obesity, and how the family unit is the key to kids eating healthy. Kudos to Dr. Dan Delgado and his Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center, funded in part by the VMC Foundation and our generous donors like the Myra Reinhard Family Foundation, Kaiser, and others. Check it out here…it’s a reminder that VMC is not just about making you well when you’re sick: It’s about keeping you healthy in the first place.

And keeping VMC here, open, with all 524 licenced beds intact, is crucial for the health of Silicon Valley. Spread the word!

Relying on cuts alone will devastate our health care system

Earthquakes are a real threat. Yet, there are other ways that Santa Clara County’s health care system could fall apart.

In Today’s Mercury News, Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System CEO Kim Roberts puts it like this: “It is no exaggeration to say that Valley Medical Center is the cornerstone of the county’s health care system. Without it, our county health care system would collapse.

“I’m not being dramatic. it would, in fact, collapse.”

Not convinced? Read her Special to the Mercury News…because facts are facts.

Medical care in our community is absolutely at risk, and whether we’re discussing seismic safety or Schwarzenegger’s proposed draconian cuts, WE ALL have a role to play in solving this crisis.

Wow…you want a humbling experience?

Now, I know I’m not the first person to Google themselves…but really – how many people find out that they share a name with a famous serial killer?

Yep. Especially because I’m trying to educate folks about Measure A on the November ballot, I figured it would be important that they be able to find me on line. Oops! That’s not me…that’s, uh…some other guy! Who killed people. Bad luck? Yes. I’m not even REMOTELY related to that Chris Wilder. Honest.
So, then I Googled “Chris Wilder Health” and found a cool copy of Connections, the employee magazine for those who work for the Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System. It’s over four years old, but it told me three things:
1. The mission of the VMC Foundation hasn’t changed – we’re still at it, with all enthusiasm!
2. The photo, taken a full 12 years ago, shows I could use some time on the stairmaster.
3. We’ve got to figure out a way to get “googlers” to get to , right?
I’m no Internet expert, so I’ll share this with my brillaint staff and they’ll help me figure out how to get more traffic to our website, and to info about Measure A, and not to a serial killer. I mean, honestly…killing Captain Crunch? King Vitamin? Too horrible.

Leah’s wild ride!

Leah Toeniskoetter (left) is the Board Chair of the VMC Foundation, and a bit of an understated overachiever. If you read the post below this one, you know how passionate she is about Valley Medical Center (that’s your cue to read it if you haven’t already).

She’s also passionate about cycling, and the two passions meet each year at the Death Ride. Leah completed it Saturday – 135 miles up and down the California Alps…15,000 feet of elevation change. I know…it sounds totally bananas, yet hundreds complete the ride each year.

But Leah didn’t do it just for herself: She did it for the VMC Foundation program called “Turning Wheels for Kids.” More and more children battle obesity and a sedentary life every year, and a bicycle can provide a way out. Leah, personally I am astounded. Professionally, I’m so grateful for the $10,000 + your ride raised. WAY TO GO!!!

(Oh…and the photo up top shows San Francisco 49’er players riding bikes they helped build for Turning Wheels late last year…they’ll do it again this year as well. Want to help? Give us a call.)

Did you feel the quake?

Yes – we had a small earthquake early this morning in San Jose. Yet another reminder of the discussion, growing louder every day, about how we must safeguard our community’s largest hospital – Valley Medical Center – in case the next one is NOT a small earthquake.

Seismologists agree with we who grew up here: It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”.

Please read today’s Op/Ed piece in the Mercury News by our own Leah Toeniskoetter, Chair of the VMC Foundation Board of Directors…it makes the point far more eloquently than I could. It starts like this:

Last month’s devastating earthquake in China’s Sichuan province, in which thousands died and more than 270,000 were injured, has once again focused California’s attention on our own vulerability to this type of tragedy.

Please read on by clicking here. Thanks, and by all means, spread the word.

Silicon Valley losing another hospital?

A story appeared in the San Jose Mercury News this week that you may have missed…but to paraphrase Paul Harvey, it could be “the day’s news of most lasting significance”.

The story reports that Los Gatos Community Hospital’s future is in doubt, as Tenet Healthcare Corporation – LGCH’s operator – will not renew their lease next year. Scary, since we already have fewer hospital beds per capita in the South Bay than any other urban center in America.

True. I attended the National Association of Public Hospital’s annual conference last week, and learned that the nation’s average is 2.7 beds per 1,000 residents. In our community, it’s about half that. If we lose Los Gatos Community Hospital next year–not three years after San Jose Medical Center closed–well, we’d have a problem.

But that problem will seem minor compared to what would happen if Santa Clara Valley Medical Center loses half its beds. That’s what Santa Clara County is trying to avoid by placing Measure A on the November Ballot. If passed, the alert reader of this blog will recall, SCVMC would be able to meet state seismic safety law by rebuilding the oldest parts of our hospital.

If not, best estimates are that 11,000 people a year who need a hospital bed would be unable to find one available. Lives truly hang in the balance. Please watch this space as this story develops…and let me know what you think:

Special delivery…and it’s a BIG ONE!

Wanna see something fantastic? That big machine there is called a linear accelerator…and no, it’s not the mile-long kind at Stanford. Rather, that’s the VERY high-tech cancer treatment device, made by Varian, and purchased by a team of dedicated donors to the VMC Foundation.

It weighs five tons.

This is where we trust in cranes…and the folks who operate them.

Our “linac” was delivered last weekend, and as this photo shows, lowered down into the new Sobrato Cancer Center. Very carefully. Besides being five tons, it’s nuclear medicine. Yep, we’re moving slowly with this one!

Just a reminder: Without the County of Santa Clara, the Sobrato Family Foundation, The Levy Family, Cypress Semiconductor, and a host of generous contributors, this delivery would not have been possible. Soon, this amazing medical equipment will begin saving lives – and that’s what the VMC Foundation is about. We’re so proud!

…and if you think the linac is heavy, you should see the concrete bunker it’s housed in. Would you like to? Give us a call at 408-885-5299 and we’ll arrange a tour!