For VMC, for our County: YES on Measure A.

It’s Friday, lunch-hour, and time for a little politics: No, not the Obama/Romney kind, but the local kind that will have a more immediate and direct impact on all of us who live in Santa Clara County.

The sad fact is this: Our county has faced ten years IN A ROW of budget cuts, and we just can’t count on Sacramento or Washington DC to come to the rescue. Our County Supervisors have met the challenge again and again, cutting, combining, employing technology – all while firefighters, doctors, nurses and staff accept cuts in pay and benefits.

But we just can’t cut anymore without risking vital services like VMC’s emergency/trauma care, law enforcement public safety, children’s health coverage and more. That’s why I hope you’ll join me in voting YES on Measure A in November.

It’s a simple 1/8 of a penny tax increase. ALL the money stays in the county and cannot be taken by the State. The funds raised go to the County general fund and support all those services I mentioned and more. It lasts ten years only.

This is a simple and powerful tool to strengthen our community. Learn more by clicking here, and join me and the VMC Foundation in supporting Measure A.

Moore Foundation grants 600k for VMC’s innovative heart failure treatment program

In one of the largest grants ever given to the VMC Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Irene Moore Foundation has pledged over $600,000 to significantly grow VMCs innovative heart failure treatment program.

If successful, the grant will help VMC improve care for heart failure patients,  reduce the risk of readmission to the hospital for the same reason, and potentially save the medical center hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The project is as straight-forward as it is high-stakes.  By creating “intervention teams” of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, health education specialists and others, patients will be provided with the best, personalized care during their hospital stay, and – just as importantly– be given the tools and support they need to maintain their own recovery at home.

Heart failure, after all, is a tricky business. Once discharged from the hospital, patients must manage complex (and confusing) dietary, exercise and medication regimes – all after going through a near-death experience.  For many patients – especially those in poor health to begin with – managing their disease at home proves a burden too much to bear.   Many of them end up right back at the hospital, often within 30 days, for more invasive (and expensive) treatment.  In 2011 alone, 23% of patients discharged for heart failure at VMC were readmitted within a month.  It’s a cycle that doesn’t make people well, and makes poor use of resources.

But with support from the Moore Foundation, VMC can expand an already successful program with the goal of reducing 30-day readmissions for heart failure patients by 30%.   The benefit to patients is obvious.  Better care at the hospital, better care for themselves at home.

The benefits for VMC as significant as well.  Thanks to healthcare reform, the days of a hospital billing for services provided regardless of the actual patient outcome will be a thing of the past.  Under the new model, hospitals that can’t keep heart failure patients out of the hospital won’t get paid for readmissions. And why should they when the tools and know-how exists to keep these patients well.   The incentive is now to focus on better treatment, prevention and education to help patients stay out of the hospital.   That’s better for patient healing and, by reducing unnecessary and expensive hospital visits, better for the bottom-line.

Thanks to a vote from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, work is set to begin in November.  If successful, the county will have the option to continue the program on a permanent basis.

This is the third major grant awarded to the VMC Foundation by Moore since 2006.  Few private Foundations have done more to improve the quality of hospital care in the Bay Area.

The VMC Foundation congratulates the project steering committee who worked with the Moore Foundation to develop the project, including Aravind Swaminathan, Cathy Marlatt, Dionette Kelton, Jessica Song, Yi Chao Huang and Cliff Wang.  Special thanks to Nari Singh, Dave Manson, Michael Perry, Chanthavy Sivogxay, Jennifer Sprinkles, Mathew Harrington and Amy Carta for critical HHS support, and to Trudy Johnson, Rene Santiago and the Board of Supervisors for seeing this across the finish line.

Last but not least, our heartfelt thanks Liz Malcolm, MD, from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.  Without her, none of this is possible.

Winners of the Flu Shot Poetry Contest!

The judges have voted, and the votes are counted! Yes, the first-ever Flu Shot

No, it didn’t hurt – I’m just acting, hoping to try out for “Shakespeare in the Clinic” next season.

Poetry Contest winners are about to be announced, and we here at the VMC Foundation can hardly contain ourselves; we are just giddy with excitement.

We know you are too, so let’s get right to it:

We had tons of submissions from the original announcement of the contest…some on the website, some sent by email, some slipped under our door in the night. All were excellent, but three stood out.

Our first winner is Sunshine Weiss, M.D., who submitted the ONLY haiku other than the sample I provided on September 7.  She calls it a “hai-flu”. Breathe deeply and take it in:

Will you roll the dice
on your risk of spreading flu ?
Are clean hands enough ?

Powerful. Concise. A true reflection of an ancient art form. Thank you, Dr. Weiss!

Our next winner is also “internal” to our Health & Hospital System, and goes right to the issue of staff needing to vaccinate to protect patients, especially those who are immunocompromised. Fortunately, Cheryl Blankenship Kupras, Psychiatric Social Worker, didn’t use that word as it doesn’t rhyme with anything.

What she did do, that our judges loved, is use data, cite the law, and give a well-deserved shout-out to Parvin Rahnema. Parvin delivers more flu shots to more county staff than most anyone (including me, here). Congratulations Cheryl, and now…your poem:

The flu kills between 3000-49,000 Americans each year,
If you get the shot you’ll have nothing to fear!

The law requires that you get the shot or wear a mask;
Protecting your coworkers and our patients that is your task.

Even healthy people can get the flu,
Get the shot so it won’t happen to you!

It is a quick little shot in the arm,
Parvin is gentle, she won’t do much harm.

The shot is safe and won’t give you the flu;
Protecting your coworkers and patients, it’s up to you!

Washing your hands can help a lot:
For better protection, GET THE SHOT!

Finally, for her top-notch use of the classic limerick, we honor the amazing poetry of Ms. Valerie Hopkins. Valerie’s meter is perhaps bested only by Carl Kasell of NPR’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me”:

To avoid feeling ill, turning green
Get your shot of the new flu vaccine
You might feel icky, but you won’t get sicky
And could possibly Begin the Beguine

We hope you won’t catch the flu
The vaccine is a good thing to do.
One poke in the arm will do you no harm
And you can tell that old flu, adieu!

Remember what the flu feels like?
Well now you can say “take a hike”,
If you had your shot, the flu you won’t got
I guess you could say you’re on strike!

Every smart guy and his date
Gets a shot- and while it’s not great
A pop in the arm will do you no harm
And now you’re flu-free, celebrate!

If you’re wondering what “Begin the Beguine” is, so did I…even though I’m supposed to know jazz, this had to be explained to your humbled author by one of our judges. Good going, Valerie, to insert a little old-school show tune – but we have the last laugh, since Michael Buble did the song recently as well.

If you’re wondering what our winners actually won, well! They got a VMC Foundation tote/computer bag, and my voice on their home answering machine. Okay, just the first thing. But they also got the honor of winning the first ever Flu Shot Poetry Contest!

…and we all hope this all was enough to convince you – go get vaccinated. Today. Thanks, and thanks to all who submitted their excellent work.

“Gala in the Garden” Directions and Event Info

“Gala in the Garden”  is sold out.  Thank you to all sponsors and attendees. We look forward to a terrific event.


Event parking and complimentary shuttle service is located at Sacred Heart Schools Atherton, 150 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton.  For a map, click here.

If you have questions about your tickets or sponsorship, please call Beth Williams at 408-885-5206 or contact her via email.


For a preview of live auction and silent auction item, please click here.


El Camino Hospital


Santa Clara Family Health Foundation


Gardner Family Health Network

SCVMC Medical Executive Committee


SCVMC Newborn Medicine

Sorci Family Foundation


Santa Clara Family Health Plan


Nexus IS


Hensel Phelps Construction Co.


Mary Ellen and Michael Fox, Sr.


F.W. Spencer and Son, Inc.


Valley Health Plan


Burrell School Vineyards & Winery


Joseph J. Albanese, Inc.

California HealthCare Foundation

Davidson Family Foundation

E Two and Associates


Focus Business Bank

Norman Kline

Lexus of Stevens Creek

Registered Nurses Professional Assn.

SCVMC Emergency Medicine Physicians

SCVMC Radiology Physicians

Michelle Sandberg, MD

John A. Sobrato

Trepel, Greenfield, Sullivan & Draa

URS/JKL Construction Services


Flu shot poetry contest…let’s do this, people!

No flu for me, I’m safe from harm;
I got a small stab in my arm!

I got my shot this morning, and it hurt substantially less than the photo would indicate. In fact, I complained so much I didn’t notice anything until they told me to vacate the chair.

I then thought about poetry, which I’m told is NOT a side-effect of the vaccine. Not getting the flu is, though, and so is not giving your flu bug to others…pretty important stuff working in a medical center!

So I thought this up:

After the Democratic National Convention,
It’s time to give your flu shot some attention!

I know – pretty good, right? Or this way:

When the Democratic Convention
You have seen;
It’s time to get
Your flu vaccine!

Perhaps you prefer haiku:

I miss the outdoors
in bed all week with the flu
I should have listened

Think you can do better? I think you can too. Like, WAY better. Please, send me your flu shot poetry and I’ll tweet, Facebook, blog and share with others who need to get the message – getting vaccinated is a smart thing to do, and now is the time!

Write your poem in the comment section below: