Diabetes Law Collaborative removes barriers to staying healthy

The Diabetes Law Collaborative, housed on the VMC hospital campus, helps individuals living with diabetes advocate for their health. Please read the article below, originally posted on the Diabetes Forecast blog, to learn more about this important program.

Removing Legal Obstacles to Good Health

By Katie Bunker

[The Diabetes Law Collaborative] is the nation’s first medical-legal partnership specifically for people with diabetes. It is housed at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif., where doctors may refer patients to a lawyer or social worker under the same roof. People with diabetes whose income is under 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $43,000 a year for one person, may get legal help with any obstacle to their staying healthy.


Our report to the community…VMC 2.0!

Welcome to VMC 2.0 – the most comprehensive and best-looking publication the VMC Foundation has ever produced.

We’re not just proud of this report, of course…we’re proud of the men and women of Valley Medical Center who spend their lives saving ours every day. We’re proud of the innovations that make VMC a world-class medical center, and probably the finest public hospital in the state.

We’re proud of the fact that, after nine consecutive years of budget cuts, we’re still able to serve our community…and those same nine years have seen the patient population grow and grow.

…but you, alert “Wilderside” reader, already know that.

What you may not know is the value proposition that VMC provides the taxpayers of Santa Clara County – but you will when you see page 33. You may not have seen the breath-taking renderings of our “new VMC” that’s being built as we speak – but you will if you look at 44.

And you may not know what VMC is doing to prepare for health care reform…so please, take a few moments to peruse VMC 2.0. I think you’ll find it a beautiful and educational publication. Let’s face it: Not all the media attention VMC has received this year has been positive…and to be frank, not all has been accurate. This report, in part, helps tell the full story.

A huge thanks to The Health Trust and the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal for assistance in getting VMC 2.0 released, and to PRx Inc. for making it look so beautiful.

As always, if you have questions about what you’re reading, call me any time at 408-885-5299. If what you learn has you considering a donation to support our work, well then we’ve done our job! Thanks so much.

“Pedaling what they preach”…

Leah Toeniskoetter is not just a board member of the VMC Foundation, and not just the most recent Chair Emeritus…she’s also a die-hard cyclist.

How die-hard? She rides her tires off every year in one of the world’s most treacherous bike races: The Death Ride.

Leah does this to raise much-needed money for the VMC Foundation’s “Turning Wheels for Kids” program, which provides new bikes to children in low-income families. This is great for their health, their self-esteem and their sense of independence.

Leah’s energy is catching: She now has a huge team of “Death Riders”, and if you want to hear more from this young dynamic leader on why she does it, she just appeared on Carl Guardino’s CEO Show on KLIV Radio, along with Sunpower CEO Tom Werner. Check it out here, and if you would, join me in supporting Leah’s efforts!

Non-traditional fundraising methods produce results

Booster ShotTraditional methods of fundraising are well established – direct mail, planned giving and gala events. The non-traditional? Try dressing your Executive Director in a ridiculous costume to dance for potential donors in a music video posted on the Internet.

The VMC Foundation is many things – traditional is not often one of them.

By now, we hope you’ve had a chance to watch the “Give a Booster Shot 2010” launch video, featuring our favorite VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder. The video, available for viewing at www.giveaboostershot.org and YouTube, was produced to kick-off our annual fundraising campaign that asks employees of the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital system to donate to the VMC Foundation. Within a week of posting the video online it earned more than 1,000 views (mostly via the giveaboostershot.org website, which aren’t counted in the YouTube tally).

The video features Chris Wilder dressed as the “Give a Booster Shot” mascot: surprising, dancing for and sometimes confounding VMC staff during an impromptu tour of Valley Medical Center. The idea behind the video was simple – create something fun and joyous that would drive traffic to the campaign website and spread delight among employees.

Humor and delight, in fact, have been central to the VMC Foundation’s fundraising strategy for years, particularly when it comes to asking for money from hospital staff. From producing fun-filled events like “VMC Idol” (yes, exactly what it sounds like), to Chris’ often amusing “Wilder Side of Health” blog, the Foundation believes that a campaign dedicated to raising money from hospital staff must also serve to improve employee morale.

“We wanted to do something that would make people laugh and take them out of the daily grind,” said Wilder. “Working at VMC is tough right now. We have more patients than ever, and are dealing with some challenging budget cuts.”

The video did in fact make people laugh and feel good about working at VMC. A three-person crew followed Chris as he walked through the hospital for an afternoon, surprising staff everywhere he went. In addition, the Foundation recruited existing hospital employee donors to participate in three dance routines; each featuring a group of doctors, nurses and protective services officers. Those scenes were choreographed by Ian Leonard, a San Jose-based actor and director for San Jose Children’s Musical Theatre.

“People were very excited to participate,” said Wilder. “They helped to create a lot of buzz for the campaign.”

The video premiered at a special donor reception at Santana Row’s Sino Restaurant on April 27. By the end of the following week, after Give a Booster Shot was officially launched, over $15,000 in donations had already been raised.

“We’re not sure exactly how much of that was due to the video, but judging from how many people have told me that they loved it, it’s safe to say the video has made a big impact,” said Wilder.

The man they call “Sweden’s Christopher Reeve” visited Valley Medical Center today. Claes Hulting, M.D.(find him on Facebook) is consulting with the Palo Alto VA, about his dream of 20+ years ago to build the world’s greatest spinal cord injury rehabilitation center.

Many say he’s done it, and predictably, it took a combination of private donations and new thinking. Dr. Hutling was injured in 1984, and his doctors immediately told him he should not follow through with his marriage (planned for two weeks later) because he’d just be a vegetable. Shocking and outrageous, yes, but it set him on a path to create Spinalis.

Spinalis is his amazing rehab center in Sweden which looks more like a Silicon Valley tech company. Bright colors, elliptical corridors, a huge central kitchen, tables that bolt to the ceiling (great for users of wheelchairs), and a vibrant atmosphere that makes you think you’re in Google’s café rather than a hospital. “I wanted a Studio 54 feel”, he told VMC’s assembled physicians this morning.

That “feel” begat media coverage, more grant funding, and allowed him to spread his methodology of healing – summed up best by Iggy Pop’s immortal “Lust for Life”. “As time goes by,” Dr. Hulting told us, “I’m less interested in the body and more interested in the mind” as it relates to life beyond a spinal cord injury.

So here’s the good news: We’ve been operating with the same philosophy for decades at Valley Medical Center, which is partly why we’re a nationally-recognized rehabilitation destination. Better news: VMC’s rehab center is moving in a couple years to the new wing we’re building as a result of 2008’s “Measure A” passing.

The best news: We have an opportunity to incorporate many of the great ideas that Dr. Hulting shared with us today…but like his Spinalis center, the “New VMC Rehab Center” will need private philanthropy and partnership to reach its full potential. The alert reader of this blog will remember that we’re already out in front on patient technology access, and in fact Dr. Steve McKenna simul-cast today’s lecture to the VA Hospital, but there’s so much potential.

So, if you are able and interested in helping create our own “Spinalis” concept right here in Silicon Valley, contact me and let’s talk!

VMC Foundation music video launches internal giving campaign

I am thrilled to announce that the 2010 Give a Booster Shot campaign officially launches today!

Give a Booster Shot is our annual employee giving campaign, and it’s a great way for Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System staff to invest in VMC by making a donation to the VMC Foundation.

To show you that I will do anything to earn the support of hospital employees, we put together a little video to promote the campaign.

This year’s campaign is all about showing your love for VMC and HHS. If you’re an HHS employee (and even if you’re not, but just want a dose of fun), please visit the http://bit.ly/dfq5EF and make your donation today.