The State of the County…not bad, considering!

Today the baton was passed from Liz Kniss to Ken Yeager, who is now the President of the Board of Supervisors of Santa Clara County – that’s the “county of Silicon Valley”, for youse out-of-towners.

In a ceremony before hundreds led by VMC Foundation Board Member Susie Wilson, Ken outlined his plans for 2010. I won’t recount them all now, because you can do that here, and I encourage you to read his official “State of the County” address.

That’s beacuse most of his initiatives have to do with our health. He wants to keep teens off tobacco, create a council on health, and fight childhood obesity. Ken is also a big-time environmentalist, which is also good for…yes! Our health!

So congratulations, Ken, and here’s to a successful 2010. As you stated powerfully in your address, the economy may be in the tank, but our community is TOPS.

“The doctor will see you now. Like, RIGHT now.”

We’re having crazy-bad weather in Silicon Valley, which always makes me grateful for Valley Medical Center’s Emergency Department – at the ready 24/7/365.

But it’s gotten harder to meet the need, what with fewer hospitals around, and a skyrocketing number of unemployed coming to the “ED” (we don’t call it an “ER” like the TV show) because they just don’t have anywhere else to go.

So, to meet the need, the team opened an “Express Care” clinic across the hallway. It’s there for folks who are sick, but not sick enough to need a bed in the ED. “When you get there,” explains Dr. Jeff Arnold, Chief of the ED, the first person you see, right when you check in at the registration desk, isn’t a clerk or an administrator. It’s a doctor.”

Dr. Arnold has seen this speed up care dramatically. “If the first person you meet is an M.D., they can say things like ‘Okay, I want you to see the attending physician, but while you’re waiting I’ll refill your blood pressure medication'”. Then the doctor does it with a few key strokes, just moments later. The medication can be ready before the patient is ready to leave!

He’s really bothred by the number of newly-uninsured who have to choose between their vital medications and, say, groceries or paying the rent on time. “The advantage of having a doctor see patients right there at the desk extend beyond the obvious,” Dr. Arnold says. “Our patients know that right away, their care has begun. It gives them a feeling of comfort at a time when they are feeling pretty vulnerable and lousy.”

Sometimes, that’s as important as the clinical care VMC provides. If you want to help fund this unique program, visit the VMC Foundation website, or as always, give us a ring any time. To learn more about VMC’s emergency services, click here!

A gift shop that’s MORE than a gift shop

Happy New Year, everyone…hope 2010 brings good things your way. At the VMC Foundation, I’d like to start the year by celebrating a sometimes underappreciated part of our organization: The VMC Gift Shop.

Managed by Kathy Trutz and staffed by volunteers, our gift shop is a really special place. That’s a group of our volunteers there in the photo, pitching in to build the new VMC Bed Building.


So why is our gift shop more than a gift shop? It’s really a place of refuge and community. Patients might go there to buy a book while waiting for an appointment, but what they’ll find is a team of caring people willing to listen. Even VMC’s staff visit to escape, share a laugh with a volunteer, or pick up a gift for a friend. Let’s face it, many of our daily schedules don’t leave room for shopping.

The intent may be that the gift shop is a place for family and friends to buy something nice for their loved one while staying at VMC…but over the years, it’s become known as the place where you can just escape for little while. In fact, during last year’s audit of the VMC Foundation, the gift shop was figured as a program expense, not just a fund raiser…that’s how powerful the human element is.

Oh – and of course, everything is low-priced, high quality, and every dime of “profit” gets donated right back to VMC. So, next time you are visiting your public hospital, stop in and brouse…you’ll be surprised what you find, and delighted with whom you meet.