President and Executive Director Chris Wilder Hospitalized, Interim Executive Director named by Board

Statement by the Board of Directors

March 8, 2021

The Valley Medical Center Foundation announced today that President and Executive Director, Chris Wilder is on medical leave after having a stroke this past weekend. Wilder is currently hospitalized and receiving care. The Foundation is in direct contact with the Wilder family and will provide further updates on his condition as they become available.

Wilder has led the Valley Medical Center Foundation since 2003, and is a passionate advocate for high-quality healthcare for all. Since March of 2020, he has been integral in the County of Santa Clara’s COVID-19 response, securing over $30 million in funds and donated supplies to protect healthcare workers, expand testing, and support vaccination efforts.

“Chris is an extraordinary leader and an inspiration to all of us,” said Dennis Low, M.D., Chair of the Valley Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors. “Our thoughts are with him, his wife Kate and his entire family as we hope for his speedy recovery.”

VMC Foundation Chief Operating Officer Michael Elliott will serve as Interim Executive Director until further notice. Elliott has been with the Foundation since 2007. In his current role, he is responsible for communications, ethics, programs and events, and since last March, the COVID-19 donation center at the Foundation headquarters. He previously worked for Working Partnerships USA and City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley.

“We are fortunate that the Foundation has an extraordinarily deep and talented team,” said Low.  “Chris always set a high standard and Michael and the team are prepared to meet it.”

The Foundation requests privacy for the Wilder family during this difficult time. Please direct any inquires to the VMC Foundation Office. For more information, visit www.vmcfoundation.org.

Why I Give: Mary Drottz, RN

Mary Drottz is an RN and works in quality improvement at St. Louise Regional Hospital—that means she sees every step of patient care and works to make it safer. With covid-19, it was vital to ensure that staff were protected as well.

With more patients coming in with the new virus, Mary says, “we had to put new systems into place, creating protocols that required everyone to abide by them. They were a lot and you had to be careful, but the nurses did such a great job.” Staff were exhausted by the work, scared for patients and for themselves.

“I saw what the VMC Foundation did for all staff, giving PPE but also providing boosts to staff morale —from the frontlines to those of us in the back offices. It takes all of us to keep things going,” she said.

The team has worked hard, for months now. As we head into the cold season, Mary is hopeful that the plan they built will hold together. “We haven’t had any cross contamination and we haven’t seen staff infected by patients.”

Mary reflects, “You can’t build a house and you can’t support a health system without a strong foundation. And you don’t want a community without a hospital. I donate because it all goes back to the community.”

Thank you, Mary and thank you to all of the staff throughout our health system who fight to keep us safe.

Why I Give – Keeping Rose On Her Feet

At 89 years old, Rose lives a full and vibrant life. She’s a life long resident of the Valley, and is part of a community she loves. Several years ago, when her husband had an accident — a woodshop project gone awry — he received care at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. So Rose has been a kind donor ever since.

She didn’t know much about the county health system. She donated because she cares about her community and she was glad there was a county hospital for everyone.

One day in March of this year, while standing in her kitchen, Rose’s vision blurred and she started feeling dizzy, then… she lost consciousness. She was having a terrible reaction to new medication.

When she opened her eyes again, she was startled to be in a hospital room at SCVMC. She had fallen on the kitchen floor, face first after blacking out. Her lip had split open, she had badly injured her face, and likely had a concussion. The paramedics had taken her to the only hospital in the region with a top-level trauma center to ensure her care.

But what Rose talks about most eagerly is the people who cared for her. “My two doctors were wonderful. They were so nice and I felt so cared for. They provided me outstanding quality of care,” she said. Having never been inside the hospital she was extremely impressed.

Now when Rose recounts her injury story to friends, she makes sure to emphasize the great care she received at SCVMC. “Most people don’t know!” she says.

These days, Rose spends most of her time safely in her home with her husband. But once a week they go take socially-distanced folk dance lessons which they do outdoors. Back on her feet in more ways than one, Rose is proud to be a loyal donor to the VMC Foundation now knowing firsthand the quality of care that all patients receive in the Santa Clara County Health and Hospitals system.

Colorful installation transforms courtyard at SCVMC Women & Children’s Center

Montalvo Arts Center alum Leah Rosenberg debuts color-inspired “Like a Multivitamin” at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center thanks to National Endowment of Arts grant

SAN JOSE – The outdoor courtyard on the 3rd floor of the Women & Children’s Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is a special place.  Situated between Labor & Delivery and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, it’s a natural gathering spot for families celebrating the birth of a child. It’s also a space for staff to take a break from their busy day or get some sunshine without leaving the building.

First opened in 1998, its’ glass, concrete and metallic look was beginning to show its age – and did not fit with the building’s new identity as a Women & Children’s Center. Revamping the space was a priority for hospital planners.

Thanks to the work of San Francisco-based artist Leah Rosenberg, in collaboration with SV Creates and the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, a process to beatify the courtyard was initiated in 2018. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, “Like a Multivitamin” was completed in early October. Using vinyl film in 30 colors and short, haiku-based messages, Rosenberg has brought dramatic transformation to the space.

Click here to see the space and meet the artist.

The incorporation of haiku, much like color, offers a sense of a specific moment in time – a special event, a change of season – something that encourages one to pause, take notice, to come to attention. The courtyard, now full of color, provides an opportunity to share a moment or experience of awareness by including colors that produce emotions in us; helping to lift the burden and stresses of the daily experience, whether visiting just once or returning every day

The colors were not picked at random, as the “multivitamin” name suggests.  The various palettes speak to the range of emotions that visitors may experience while there; from celebration to sorrow.  As a multivitamin provides various sources of nourishment, each color can respond to different emotions. The installation is designed such that each moment of the day, each season creates its own dynamic visuals. That combined with the alchemy of light, shadow, color and reflection ensures the space is not only enchanting but also continuously evolving.

“It was important to me that the installation could be experienced from various vantage points,” said Rosenberg. “Walking around it, sitting in its glow, meditating on one, and then another, taking them all in at once; gazing down from above or looking up from below.”

Completion of this installation could not have come at a more opportune time, when hospital staff are under unprecedented pressure and stress due to the physical and psychological demands of serving at the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rosenberg’s color-filled inner courtyard, provides a space of sanctuary; one that fosters mindfulness, rest and resilience for caregivers and patients alike.

The project is the result of a collaboration with SV Creates, the Montalvo Arts Center – where Rosenberg was a participant in their highly regarded artist residency program, and the Valley Medical Center Foundation.

“SV Creates believes in the healing power of the arts and the transformative qualities of color,” said SV Creates CEO Connie Martinez. “Leah’s installation is inspiring and will bring joy and healing to patients, visitors and SCVMC staff for years to come. This installation could not have happened without the collaborative leadership of SCVMC, VMC Foundation and Montalvo Arts Center.  And we are so excited to have been part of it.”

Angela McConnell, Montalvo Arts Center Executive Director said, “We are thrilled to be a part of such a successful and inspiring partnership, and a model for future collaborations, that engages artists to create spaces that ignite curiosity and lift the spirit.”

“I haven’t stopped smiling since I’ve seen the completed project,” said VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder.  “Anything that brings joy and comfort to visitors and staff is important, especially during this time when any visit to a hospital building comes with a bit of extra stress.”

“Like a Multivitamin” is part of a larger effort to transform public and family areas in the Susan B. Wilson Women & Children’s Center into a vibrant and welcoming space for children and families.  In partnership with SV Creates, additional art exhibits and interactive installations are planned as the building undergoes major renovations.

To see video images of the courtyard and an interview with the artist, visit https://youtu.be/SR4tnNJeJx4

 

For more information visit www.imaginevmc.org.

STEMBoost in action with online workshops

WHY I GIVE – Students of STEMBoost

Before Covid-19, STEMBoost was a locally organized student group who were excited by science, technology, engineering, and math. They organized in-person workshops to spread interest in the STEM fields, hoping to inspire young talent.

When Covid-19 emerged in the community, STEMBoost re-organized their workshops to online platforms (like many of us had to). They continued to raise funds through these workshops but this time, they decided to donate those funds to Covid-19 relief efforts.

One of their co-founders is 17 year-old David Smith. In May, David contacted us and said that STEMBoost had raised $4,000 and they wanted to donate it to the VMC Foundation.

Then in October, David called us again. They raised another $6,000 from summer workshops that registered students from all over — even internationally! They made another gift.

When we talked with David, he put it simply. Covid-19 has been a disruptive event—and for young people, it has been THE event of their lives. They’ve seen the chaos of scrambled school activity, remote learning, and how this has affected student learning. They wanted to throw their efforts behind the fight against this deadly disease.

David says “I am happy we did our part in this global pandemic to support our local hospitals. This effort has been in honor of students in our community who have been highly impacted by the effects of covid disrupting their education. I thank all students who attended our workshops and everyone who helped us raise these funds.”

STEMBoost has shown us how deeply affected all lives are by the pandemic. These students have also shown us the power of young people to care for each other and their community by supporting efforts to fight Covid-19. We’re so thankful for the inspired actions they took. And we know that they will make huge impacts on their community in the years ahead!

Google donates 49,000 face shields for local healthcare workers

Will protect frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers throughout Silicon Valley.

“We’re feeling lucky,” says Valley Medical Center Foundation CEO Chris Wilder.

SAN JOSE – Responding to a national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, the Valley Medical Center Foundation announced today a donation of 49,000 face shields designed and assembled by teams at Google. The shields will be deployed at hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities, and other high-risk environments throughout Santa Clara County during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Google is stepping up in our most trying time in Santa Clara County,” said Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “Thanks for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our community.”

Google developed the face shields in consultation with physicians and nurses at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospitals & Clinics. The device is made of clear plastic, foam and elastic – materials that are in short supply given the high demand for PPE, and is intended to shield the face from liquid spray and droplets. Google was able to tap its global supply chain and source needed materials, and devoted a team of engineers to design and fabricate locally.

“Bottom-line, these face shields will help save lives,” said Valley Medical Center Foundation CEO Chris Wilder. “We need to keep the people on the frontline of this crisis safe and Google’s donation is helping us do just that.”

The donation caps off a month of remarkable generosity from other Silicon Valley-based companies, small businesses, faith organizations, student groups and community organizations that have donated over 2 million items of PPE to the VMC Foundation. But to Wilder, the Google donation is special.

“They put really talented people on this, worked with our experts and delivered what we needed quickly,” he said.

Face shield distribution will be coordinated by the County of Santa Clara Emergency Operations Center.

COVID-19: the first 30 days.

30 days.

That’s how long we at the Valley Medical Center Foundation has been working this crisis – nearly 24/7 (and hats off to the many County staff who have been at it for twice as long).

The VMC Foundation of March 17, 2020 no longer exists. On that day, for at least the foreseeable future, we became a new organization.

Our marching orders were clear; we needed to raise (lots of) money and material to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients at our local hospitals. We had no time to waste. A national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other materials meant we were vulnerable. As we watched the horrors of Italy and New York unfold (and before that Wuhan, Iran, and elsewhere), we thought of our friends and colleagues at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, O’Connor Hospital, and St. Louise Regional Hospital who would be putting their lives at risk.

We resolved that they would not go into that fight alone.

That day, we launched a major campaign to collect PPE from the community and raise funds to buy whatever else was needed. Within hours, our phone lines were jammed and our office was full of boxes.  It has been that way ever since. That’s because big-time leaders stepped up to help, like Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino, and many, many others.  Churches, small businesses struggling on their own to survive, student groups, and some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies came through with donations big and small.

The numbers speak for themselves. In 30 days, we have:

  • Secured pledges of $5,873,210 in donations;
  • Received over 2,554,869 donated items of personal protective equipment to support healthcare workers Valley-wide;
  • Purchased $1,998,876 in urgently needed materials, supplies, and services including ventilators, rapid testing equipment, and tele-health technology;
  • Sourced and purchased PPE worldwide, bringing in tens of thousands of additional N95 masks, disinfectant wipes, gowns, and more;
  • Worked with DIYers and some of the Valley’s most prominent companies to design and fabricate 100K+ face shields locally;
  • Engaged a mighty army of sewers to produce over 10,000 hand-made masks for healthcare workers;
  • Coordinated delivery of 17,340 donated meals and coffees to tired (and hungry) healthcare workers;
  • Supported the launch of the Field Respite Center @ Santa Clara Convention Center with essential supplies like clothing, toiletries and other personal items for patients;
  • Secured heavily discounted hotel space for healthcare workers who must self-isolate from their families; and
  • Launched mobile staff shower facilities at SCVMC.

None of this would have been possible without your support and the extraordinary leadership of the County of Santa Clara and SCVMC, O’Connor Hospital and St. Louise Regional Hospital staff.  We are particularly grateful to Board of Supervisors President Chavez, SCVMC CEO Paul Lorenz, Public Health Officer Dr. Sarah Cody, Dr. Jennifer Tong and Nari Singh at the County Emergency Operations Center, the terrific SCVMC Logistics team, and many, many others.

In normal times, this would all be a cause for celebration. But we aren’t there yet. This crisis is far from over, and while we are so grateful for your support, We Still Need Your Help. Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors (6 feet apart, of course) and tell them what you have done — what we have done together. Ask for their support in money and material. Consider making another gift yourself.

At the end of this sadness and devastation, let’s look back knowing that we did everything we could to end it. Together.

 

 

 

Phuc’s Story: The Art of Healing

The end of the year makes us so thankful for the incredible generosity of donors who make it possible for so much good throughout the year. In the hopes of inspiring you once more this holiday season, please read the story of one young man who has been helped by donors like you…

Art by Phuc

Though he was born strong and healthy, Phuc’s legs would soon stop developing. His parents were desperate to find answers. When their family eventually immigrated to the US in 2013 they brought Phuc to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC). Here his doctors and care team diagnosed him with muscular dystrophy, a condition that atrophies specific muscles—and in his case, his legs.

Art by Phuc

Though difficult to hear, it gave his parents some comfort in understanding his health needs. It prepared them for when in February 2018, he was hospitalized when a simple cold made it difficult for him to breathe. Eventually he would have to have a tracheotomy surgery to assist his breathing. Though his journey has been difficult, one part of his life that has given him strength is… his art.

With his nurses’ encouragement, Phuc has been working with hospital art therapist Lydia Rosso. Since that first meeting, a new form of healing began. Through acrylic paint and canvas, Phuc’s art—and Phuc himself—has thrived.

Art therapy is just one of the many programs and wrap-around services that SCVMC provides to patients. The doctors, nurses, and care teams are dedicated to caring for the whole patient, and often some of the best medicine doesn’t require a prescription.

Programs like art therapy, music therapy, and even play therapy exist because of you, our best supporters!

Please make a gift to ensure that programs that care for the whole person can continue.

Meeting the needs of today

It is a great comfort to head home after a long day. Sometimes there’s a family to enjoy dinner with, sometimes there’s a great show to catch up on. Likely, for you and me, there is a dry roof and warmth to get through the night.

For an increasing number in Santa Clara County though, this is not reality. In just the last two years, the homeless count in the County has increased by 31%. The stories of those who are homeless are innumerable, their vulnerabilities are untold. How does our health system help this critical population?

We know that for many who are homeless, the healthcare system isn’t seen as a place for prevention, it is a last resort. But this model isn’t sustainable—for the health of the individual or for the County. What systems are in place to create the best health outcomes for those who are homeless?

You can trust that our health system means what it says. We serve everyone. No matter what. So that means we treat homeless individuals every day of the year for any health need. Period.

But you see, we can’t just patch up what’s immediately wrong and leave it be. With you by our side, we have made a deeper commitment to these patients. SCVMC believes that treating the whole person is the important work of our time. And you help us achieve this. Through one of our programs called “Whole Person Care”, a team of providers assesses the surrounding needs of a patient with complex issues and when the VMC Foundation can support them, your gifts allow us to be there.

Sometimes, the small things matter the most

Maria came across Whole Person Care’s radar because of how frequently she used emergency services to help her with health and behavioral health issues. Last winter, when Behavioral Health staff first reached out to her, she was living with her adult daughter in a rundown RV. The roof of the RV was leaking, causing mold and critter infestation – the situation was quite unsafe and exacerbated her health issues. Her housing was uninhabitable.

Working with Maria’s care team, the VMC Foundation was able to provide critical funding for a tarp and other survival items such as clean clothes and food. These “small things” matter because beyond meeting Maria’s basic needs and improving her living situation so she could more safely survive the winter, they helped build trust and rapport with Maria’s behavioral health team. And that trust and rapport led to her working with staff to get connected to resources to meet her critical needs — including housing.

Fast forward to May 2019, and Maria has officially moved into permanent supportive housing and can focus on achieving her health and wellness goals.

Maria’s story illustrates the powerful relationship between donor support and health outcomes for our homeless population. The issue is big and it is unyielding. But one thing we know is that this partnership is sacred. Our champions in the community, donors like you, make it possible for the VMC Foundation to bridge the gaps that can feel too big to bridge. Until together, we get it done.

The County Hospital: When the Community Needs Us

Charlie and his brothers

In 1945, the Santa Clara valley was living through sharp incongruities. While the country had just succeeded in protecting democracy in World War II, domestically, communities were still reconciling with injustice and the human costs of Japanese internment. While the vast stretches of land in Santa Clara County were filled with mass producing orchards and vineyards, the region’s economic engine was fast transitioning to canning, industrialism and technology. Workers in the area reflected the diversity of immigrants and migrants to the Bay Area, and yet so many were shut out of jobs and economic opportunities—especially recently released Japanese-Americans and returning war veterans.

Unlike most Japanese-Americans, Charlie was not in an internment camp during the war. Instead, he was serving in the U.S. Army. In 1945, after receiving an honorable discharge, Charlie returned to Los Altos where he was born and raised. At the time, Charlie and his brother, Henry, earned a living working for local farmers and ranchers; jobs were hard to obtain, particularly for Japanese-Americans. One day during that year, the two brothers were hired by a local farmer to remove a tree trunk. They went to the site and set dynamite, but the dynamite exploded prematurely spraying the brothers with shards of dirt, wood, and debris. Their faces were blasted with gravel, their skin was burned, and neither of them could see.

The area of the accident was somewhat remote; no one else was in the vicinity except for their nine-year-old brother Harry who had accompanied them on that day. Charlie often said in the years that followed that he knew that they had to receive medical care immediately and that the only place they could go for care was Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, that it was the one place where they would not be turned away, even if they were Japanese-American.

Incredibly, they managed to get to SCVMC by having young Harry load his brothers into their pick-up truck and getting behind the wheel. Once at VMC, they received care that Charlie said saved their lives. There the two brothers were treated for burns, flesh wounds, and their eye injuries. Eventually, both brothers would make a full physical recovery, regaining their vision although Henry lost one eye due to the trauma of the explosion. Nevertheless, they were thankful to have medical doors open to them and help available for them. Both went on to live long and productive lives.

All three brothers grew up in the region and would live their lives deeply engaged in the South Bay. During the war, Charlie served as part of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), a newly created, top secret unit consisting of Japanese-American soldiers. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his achievements and after his passing, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

His prodigious service testifies to the extraordinary contributions of local Japanese-American residents. Charlie gave so much of himself to the U.S. despite the fact that his entire family was interned for three years. In the second half of his life, he returned to school, joined General Electric as a technician where he built his professional career until his retirement. Most importantly, he raised a family.

One of his children is Carolyn Brown, RN. Having experienced so much racial injustice, her father had always taught her to pursue equality and excellence, his lifelong mantra. So, Carolyn became a nurse, earned a master’s degree in nursing and worked for many years at a local community hospital. In 1995 she decided to take a leadership role at SCVMC where she could pursue her desire to ensure equitable care and health services for all people.  A fun fact: for the past six years, in her “free time” Carolyn has taught courses in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at San Jose State University with a focus on health systems, because hospitals function best when their systems are effective, efficient, and reliable. And lucky for us, Carolyn has been at SCVMC for 25 years and is the Director of Quality and Safety, ensuring that our systems and processes provide quality and ensure safety in settings where we serve EVERYONE, no matter what.

As Carolyn’s father experienced, our hospital doors are open to anyone who needs us while our providers ensure that every level of care is of the highest quality. This is our commitment to the County—this is YOUR impact.

With the end of the year upon us, I hope you’ll keep Charlie and Carolyn’s story in mind. When you make a gift to the VMC Foundation, you support a public system of health and helping that cares for all people, and your reach will be far. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has for the first time in its history become a multi-hospital system. With the County’s acquisition of O’Connor and St. Louise hospitals, and the DePaul Health Center, the scope of care for our public safety net system just grew like never before.