It’s time to re-think charity…for the good of us all.

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When I first watched Dan Pallotta’s TED talk, I wound up yelling back at my computer screen: “That’s IT! That’s what I’ve been trying to say!”

Of course Pallotta, the founder of the AIDS Ride, said it far better than I could. His talk, “The way we think about charity is dead wrong”, lit a fire under me and many of my colleagues in the public benefit sector. He discusses why salary ranges are all wrong, why marketing and advertising is undervalued, and why the mission and potential of a charity (like the VMC Foundation) is more important than that of a video game company…yet the double-standard of for-profit vs. non-profit keeps societal problems from getting solved.

He also points out something getting new traction: The amount a charity spends on “overhead” – meaning fundraising and administration – is a poor measure of their worthiness. Now, a letter written by the leaders of three leading charity watchdogs called The Overhead Myth, is making the case in a loud and clear voice.

I would add to this conversation that another area where charities under-participate is in issue advocacy. Many nonprofits believe they are not allowed to get involved in politics, and in some cases that’s true. But in others, like the county Measure A campaign in 2008, the VMC Foundation was the largest donor. Why? Because a victory would mean a new hospital building and seismic compliance for Valley Medical Center. Seriously – how could we NOT have been involved? It was the very definition of “go big or go home” for us. By the way, we won, and the Sobrato Pavilion opens next year as perhaps the finest public hospital building in the nation.

So we learned a lot in 2008, and we applied it again last year in another “Measure A” campaign. This time, the $400,000,000 generated over the next decade will support county services that include fully funding the Children’s Health Initiative—ensuring that every child in our county has health coverage. This is not just good, but GREAT for Valley Medical Center…and more importantly, for our young patients.

Is issue advocacy a risk? You bet it is. We failed in 2010 with a similar ballot measure, and I wish we had that money back! But the private sector risks all the time, and frankly, Silicon Valley rewards aiming high and failing when it’s followed up by trying again. The public benefit sector has too much expertise and mission alignment to be sidelined when issues like hunger, homelessness and health become the subjects of political decisions.

Charities need to be bold, take calculated risks, and be measured not by the smallness of their spending but by the largeness of their dreams.

The art of VMC’s teaching program…

Medical school is NOT what it used to be. Seriously – art museums? Yes, art

Medical students digging deep into art at Stanford's Cantor Art Museum.

Medical students digging deep into art at Stanford’s Cantor Art Museum.

museums! But first, a little background…

Valley Medical Center has been the teaching hospital for Stanford’s School of Medicine for more than 75 years. That’s a lot of doctors whose careers were launched here. How many? One in four who practice medicine in Silicon Valley trained at VMC.

That training environment is not just great for doctors; it’s great for patients. The collaborative spirit and team approach to diagnoses and medicine has demonstrated better patient outcomes. And of course, the best doctors fall in love with VMC’s mission and stick around for the next 40 years or so. Pretty cool.

So speaking of cool, the way VMC teaches our young doctors-in-training is pretty special too. Yeuen Kim, MD, invited me to spend part of my Friday morning with our young doctors and her fellow faculty at Stanford’s Cantor Art Museum. If you’ve never been, you really should go. Like VMC, it’s world-class.

We were there as part of Dr. Kim’s four-week seminar on medicine and the humanities. Art, music, literature and poetry. “We’re measuring empathy, attitudes and visual diagnostic skills to see if humanities help improve those aspects of professionalism and physical diagnosis,” Dr. Kim explained to me.  This concept is funded by a National Institutes of Health Clinical Translational Sciences Award, administered by the Stanford Office of Community Health – a true scientific study of outcomes (see? Art and Science DO mix!)

While gathered around a particular painting with Cantor Museum Curator Patience Young, I got the feeling that Dr. Kim was right on target. “What are you seeing? What is the artist telling us about this girl? How would you describe her facial expression?” For art students, these questions are basic ones, but Curator Young drew great responses from our medical students – few of whom had any knowledge of art history and were hesitant (at first) to respond…but opened up more and more as the morning went on.

By the time we convened around Rodin’s “The Thinker” and “The Kiss”, the conversation was lively and detailed. Hand position, toes and fingers, the back story of the characters. A true thoughtful exploration of these masterworks.

Dr. Kim and her team believe humanities training can help recapture “the dying art of the physical examination, which our students often struggle with.” She explained to me that technological advances have changed the way patients are examined and diagnosed, and training has changed a lot since she finished medical school in the late ’90’s. “We need to teach our future physician leaders to truly connect with the whole person, to see them for who they are. That’s the best way to help them.”

What struck me was the length of time we all spent on each artistic work. This is the very antithesis of how most people these days think of a doctor’s visit and exam: Quick! Get in, get out, on to the next patient! How many can we see in an hour? More productivity!

My personal experience getting care at VMC for the last decade is not this. Sure, our doctors don’t waste time, but there is a sense of care and connection I get that I understand doesn’t mirror some of my friends’ experiences elsewhere. Training our new doctors to slow down, see the whole patient, learn about WHO they are and not just WHAT ails them can make a big difference.

And as of last week, I see where it comes from.

Gregg Adams is on a mission to keep you alive.

The following article appears in “One Giant Leap,”  a special advertising supplement of the March 29, 2013 edition of the Silicon Valley Business Journal.  You can view the entire publication online here, or pick-up a copy of the Journal at your local newsstand.

Meet the man who keeps San Jose’s only top level trauma center at the ready for just about anything, how he copes with the loss of a young patient, and what Hollywood gets wrong about emergency medicine.

California Valley Medical Center

In casual dress, a cup of hot tea, and an office over-flowing with books, paperwork and framed credentials on the wall, Valley Medical Center’s Chairman of the Department of Surgery Gregg Adams, M.D. could easily pass as a college professor.

Which, befitting of a man as accomplished as Gregg, he is – an Associate Professor for Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine, to be exact.

But his calm exterior belies a passion and intensity for what he does each day – save lives.

The Southern California native came to VMC first in 1990 at a Stanford resident, and full-time in 1999.  For the faint of heart, his job responsibilities would seem daunting; manage over 130 surgeons, maintain VMCs high standards for trauma services and disaster response and – oh yeah – scrub in for between 200 to 400 surgical procedures each year.

VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder sat down to talk with Gregg about his career, his day-today-day responsibilities, how he manages the stress of life-and-death situations, and what makes VMC such an inspiring place to work.

Chris Wilder: You started out a pediatrician.

Gregg Adams: I did when I was in training at Oregon Health Sciences University. I liked the science.  I really liked the kids.  Parents were really fun to talk with.

My downfall in pediatrics was during my internship, I did a rotation of pediatric surgery, which was six weeks of absolute bliss, and I thought, I think I’ve made the wrong decision, so I changed.

CW: How is it blissful?  I want to get inside the head of a surgeon because I have no idea what it’s like to do what you do. There must be so much pressure.

GA: I think the pressure is in the trying to do it right.  I think to a certain degree it’s like trying to learn to ride a unicycle. There is a significant front end involvement and commitment.  And you begin to learn and you begin to try and you do a lot of failing and adjusting.

CW: I spend a lot of time touring people through VMC, and when I tell them that we have the only top level trauma center in San Jose, they often ask me what’s the difference between that and an emergency department?

GA: A trauma center is more than just one department.   You not only have to have a top-flight emergency department, but you have to have a top-flight surgery department.  You have to have access to MRIs, you have to access to specialists. All of these systems have to talk to one another.  You have to continually better yourself through education.   So it’s not just an emergency department, it is the entire hospital and the infrastructure that’s built around that to support the trauma center.

CW: True or false – the trauma team springs into action only when an ambulance drives into the ambulance bay or a helicopter lands on the roof.

GA: False.  Trauma begins with prevention.  We go out and talk about wearing set-belts, and talk about wearing helmets on motorcycles and bicycles, and talk about the problems with drinking and driving and talk about gang violence.

CW:  There have been times where you have actually been called to the scene of accident.  Can you tell me one of those stories?

GA:  I’ll use the example of a young man who was at a worksite.  He was digging a hole for a foundation that collapsed around him and was buried up to his neck in dirt.  He could obviously not hop into an ambulance because we was completely surrounded by dirt, and they couldn’t just dig him out, because they feared it might destabilized more of the structures around him, endangering everyone around him.

So we figured out a way to slowly remove the dirt, to reinforce the hole, monitoring his vital signs – because when you are crushed by dirt, actually releasing the pressure can be as dangerous as the crush himself.

CW:  That’s fascinating.  And you saved his life?

GA:  Yes we did.

CW:  So that’s a pretty unique situation, but VMC does a lot of work thinking about the potential for bigger disasters and emergencies that might impact hundreds or thousands of people.  You have a big role in that work.  Are we prepared?

GA: We are prepared in the sense that we have thought about all the things that have happened in the past and that we anticipate that can happen here.

CW: Meteor strike we maybe haven’t thought about yet.

GA:  Right.   A hospital that encounters an earthquake, for example, might say we didn’t have enough gauze sponges, so you buy more gauze sponges.  And we didn’t have good communication, so you buy specialized phones.  So now you have that stuff to handle the next earthquake.  And so of course the next thing that happens is a flood.  And you think – oh my gosh – we ran out of sandbags, so you buy more of those. And you realize you didn’t think of a way to keep the lab from flooding, so you move the lab to the 4th floor.  So now you can handle an earthquake and a flood.  So what’s the next thing that happens?

CW:  A plane crash.

GA:  A plane crash. So while you can prepare in general for a disaster, the disaster that you encounter will require a dedicated crew thinking creatively.

CW:  How do you train for that?

GA:  You practice.

CW:  And VMC actually does practices this stuff?

GA:  We do drills twice a year – and go through all the problems that we encounter and try to fix those each time.

CW: That makes me think of every medical drama and movie.  Hollywood does a pretty good idea of showing people what an emergency department looks like.  But what do they get wrong?

GA:   One is that they have an enormous number of exciting things that happen in 60 minutes with time for commercials.  The second thing is that we are not all beautiful.  And the third thing is probably something I should not say with children present

CW:  I didn’t realize children were present, but I catch your drift.   One thing the TV shows do is make the emergency departments feel like controlled chaos.   Does it feel like that in real life?

GA:  You are never confronted with one problem.  You are confronted with 5, 10 or 50 problems.  Someone that was hit by a car may be drunk, may have cracked their spleen, have a head injury, etc. The only information you have may be what their vital signs are, or what laboratory tests tell you.  So, to a certain degree, it’s a little bit of sensory deprivation and learning to make decisions in a data poor environment.

 

CW:  So it would seem to me that would take a bit of the pressure off if the patient doesn’t survive, but it doesn’t.

GA:  No. I think that we are all set up as a system, as human beings, as professionals, as people who have pride in their work – I would love for everyone to survive.  Trauma in particular is a killer of young people.  That takes a toll and you have to learn to manage that as a human being.

CW:  How do you do that?

GA:  Everyone does it differently.  You get a hobby, you get a pet, you hug your kids, you get involved in public service in a different way, you begin to give lectures on wearing your helmet, safe practices, gang avoidance.  They become passions for you because you are tied up in the last patient you treated that didn’t survive.

CW: And you find that passion in so many people who work at VMC.
GA:  Oh absolutely. And it’s one of the reasons why people not only come here to work but stay here to work.  You come here because you want to take care of the most complex, most interesting, and challenging patients you can imagine.  And ultimately you stay here because you are working with some of the best colleagues you find anywhere in the world.  Dedicated.  Smart.  Funny. Compassionate.  Absolutely beautiful human beings.

CW:  We have had the pleasure of working together for many years now.  I’m interested in your thoughts on the VMC Foundation itself.

GA:  The Foundation in particular is the most pure, beautiful expression of support for VMC that I have ever experienced.  It is completely focused in what it sees as necessary not just for VMC, but uses VMC as it’s vehicle to support for the entire community.  And that’s the part I love about it.

 

The (healthiest) State of the County Address…

President Ken Yeager, far right, with Supervisor Wasserman, Congresswoman Eshoo and First 5 CEO Jolene Smith

President Ken Yeager, far right, with Supervisor Wasserman, Congresswoman Eshoo and First 5 CEO Jolene Smith

In my 9+ years of service to the VMC Foundation, I’ve never been more excited about a “State of the County” speech than I was today. Board President Ken Yeager succinctly outlined his goals for 2013, which he explained would require close collaboration from everyone present…and that’s a lot of county leaders – the Board Chambers was standing-room only.

 

Why was I so excited? First, because President Yeager has demonstrated for years that he truly cares about and works hard on these issues…so he’ll make it happen. Second, because the VMC Foundation is actively working on half of the goals he presented. Mathematically, that lines up: The Santa Clara County Health & Hospital System is roughly half the County’s budget, and half of President Yeager’s goals involve that “system” directly…and what do you know: the VMC Foundation is engaged in nearly all!

This, in a nutshell, suggests to me that the VMC Foundation has its priorities straight. In addition to raising funds for vital equipment and programs within the walls of the medical center, we’re addressing community health needs.

Here, then, are President Yeager’s health-related goals and a bit about how your VMC Foundation is lending a hand:

Prepare Santa Clara County for Health Care Reform

The VMC Foundation has, for years, been part of the committee to further improve the patient experience. From the moment someone walks in the door (or arrives by ambulance), we have countless opportunities to make them feel welcome and cared for. In part, this is how medical centers will be measured under the Affordable Care Act – and if we fall short, VMC loses money. Yes—this is a big deal. We also fund programs to keep patients from being re-admitted once they go home, another crucial measurement of the ACA.

Ensure every eligible child has medical and dental coverage

You likely know already that Santa Clara County was the first in the United States to offer health coverage for every single child. But that was 11 years ago, and since then county budget cuts have eroded this wonderful program. The VMC Foundation was part of the team (and the largest contributor) that campaigned and passed Measure A in November, which President Yeager confirmed generated enough funding to fully restore medical and dental services to each and every child in our county…what a huge victory!

Reduce the over-consumption of sugar-loaded beverages in our community

Again, you know this because I rarely shut up about it: The VMC Foundation is the fiscal sponsor of the county’s “Re-Think Your Drink” campaign and works to encourage kids and adults to drink more water, not soda.

Create a program to install hydration stations where kids and families gather

An extension of, and example of, “Re-thinking our Drink” in our communities – and an example of how good health originates not in a medical clinic, but where we live, work and play.

Expand HIV and STD testing programs

The VMC Foundation has raised tens of thousands to support the Positive PACE Clinic, part of the Health & Hospital System and the only county agency that provides testing, clinical and support services for residents living with HIV/AIDS. The PACE Clinic also conducts testing, and with the help of the VMC Foundation, led a huge World AIDS Day event last month to bring more awareness to the issues.

Perform developmental screenings of children during pediatric visits

This is a biggie for the VMC Foundation, as we run the Reach Out and Read Program at our Valley Health Center pediatric clinics—serving a quarter of all kids living in Santa Clara County. VMC’s pediatricians provide new books to young children, and as they present the books and the importance of reading to the parents, the doctors carefully assess how the child is reacting to the book. There’s a whole developmental screening model associated with Reach Out and Read, and yearly our team identifies lots of developmental delays that may otherwise have been missed. Great to see this as part of an expanding effort to catch developmental issues as early as possible.

To me, President Yeager’s goals had everything to do with public health in a very progressive sense of the term; not just preventing disease, but Better Health for All – which is the new motto of the Santa Clara County Health & Hospital System. I’d say “let’s get started”, but as you now know, we’re already off and running.

New Institute of Regenerative Medicine being generated at VMC!

“As a physician and researcher at Stanford University and the Palo Alto VA, I was very gratified to see world leaders in spinal cord injury and regenerative medicine come together in conferences on the Stanford campus two weeks ago.  This collaboration is remarkable and essential for translating regeneration research into clinical treatments.

SCVMC Rehab has played a key role in forming these collaborations through the efforts of Dr. Stephen McKenna and his pioneering work in the first clinical trial of human embryonic stem cells for spinal cord injury. SCVMC stands to be a pillar in translational research for SCI, through the visionary leadership of Dr. Jeff Smith and Liz Kniss and Santa Clara County, which has set up the Silicon Valley Institute for Regenerative Medicine. I congratulate all involved and look forward to exciting breakthroughs in this field.”

Graham Creasey, MD

Spinal Cord injury Service, VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Professor of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, Stanford University

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You may remember Katie Sharify, the young woman who made history at Valley Medical Center a year ago, when she received stem cells into her spinal cord in a ground-breaking procedure. Since then, a lot has happened. A whole lot, in fact.

First, readers of this blog may remember that VMC is now the home of the Silicon Valley Institute of Regenerative Medicine – “regenerative” meaning to use robotics, molecules and stem cells to actually cure paralysis. We are a long way off, but we have to start somewhere…and somewhere is here. And now.

Second, just after the Board of Supervisors voted for the creation of the “SV Institute”, VMC helped plan and sponsor a conference at Stanford called Regeneration, Repair and Restoration of Function after Spinal Cord Injury. The conference brought experts from around the world to Silicon Valley and examined, among a range of topics and discussions, the lessons learned from recent clinical trials of spinal cord interventions as well as knowledge management and dissemination moving forward.

Third, you may also remember that the initial trial was sponsored by a firm called Geron, who discontinued their funding of the trial just as Katie was enrolling. Well, for a number of reasons it looks like Geron is back – so watch this space for more updates on this potentially exciting development.

Because, we now know full well that launching a new field of medicine cannot be done by one corporation, or one hospital…it needs to be a collaboration between (in our case) VMC, Stanford, UCSF, the Palo Alto VA, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and many others. The launch of this collaborative has been documented expertly by David Alvarado, award-winning film maker, in his 7-minute documentary “The Cure”.

Please take the time to watch this video (above). You’ll meet some of the world’s experts and advocates in this brand-new field, including VMC’s own Stephen McKenna MD. You’ll also learn how the political will of Santa Clara County helped create this new Institute.

If you are thinking “how can I help?” then I like the way you think! Many already have, including a major gift from the Mulcahy and DiNapoli Families. If you want to be a part of this game-changing work, let us know in the comment section below.

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.

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:

Get out of our hospital, and STAY out!

You may have seen yesterday’s Mercury News article about hospitals being penalized for having high patient readmission rates. The article reported that 30 Bay Area hospitals will forfeit a small percentage of Medicare funds this year due to their too-high rates of patient readmission.

While we’re proud to report that Santa Clara Valley Medical Center was NOT included on the list of hospitals with excessive readmissions, we want you to know that is an important issue VMC takes seriously. The leadership and providers at VMC have made concentrated efforts to improve patient outcomes, and those efforts are paying off!

Some say that penalizing hospitals who see a larger number of poor and uninsured patients isn’t fair, because they tend to have higher rates of readmissions… but I think we can all agree that ALL hospitals should be working as hard as they can for better patient outcomes, and at VMC, the proof is that it CAN be done – even in a medical center that sees the largest number of low-income, underinsured members of our community.

Every hospital is trying to curb unnecessary readmissions. There are a number of complex reasons a patient may be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, including lack of a discharge plan or the quality of a patient’s post-discharge care. Whatever the reason, the federal government considers readmission rates to be an indication of the quality of care patients receive at a facility, and we want every patient who visits VMC to receive the best care possible.

Reducing readmission rates is critical to VMC receiving Medicare funding, but to the hardworking folks at VMC, it’s not just about the money. VMC’s providers are working to reduce patient readmission rates because it’s the right thing to do… and because it’s what’s best for patients.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out the article, and let us know what you think!

El Camino Hospital District Awards $1.4 million to VMC Foundation

Building on a partnership that has already delivered health and dental services to nearly 14,000 low-income residents, the El Camino Hospital District announced a $1.4 million grant to the VMC Foundation to support adult medical and dental services at Valley Health Center (VHC) Sunnyvale.  The grant will fund adult dental care services for over 1,300 people, and strengthen existing efforts to improve medical care for 4,000 patients with a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease.

“We are delighted and honored that El Camino Hospital District has decided to continue this important partnership,” said Chris Wilder, Executive Director of the VMC Foundation.  “Without their support, literally thousands of people in the north county area would be without access to medical and dental care.”

Since 2009, ECHD has provided over $5,000,000 to the VMC Foundation to support VHC Sunnyvale, a community clinic owned and operated by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC). Grant funds are specifically targeted to strengthen the VHC Sunnyvale “medical home model,” providing patients with an integrated array of services bundled in one setting.  From care managers, pharmacists and social workers to nurses, doctors and mental health specialists, ECHD funding offers VHC Sunnyvale patients with an entire team of healthcare professionals that can coordinate care for the best results, while reducing unnecessary doctor and emergency room visits.

“It really marries our distinct vision for improving the health of our community through patient centered healthcare,” said Barbara Avery, El Camino Hospital Director of Community Benefit.  “It’s been a very successful partnership for both of us.  Our goal is to bring prevention, wellness and easy access to care to our community.”

“It means fewer trips to the emergency room.  It means fewer trips back to the doctor. That’s not only good for the patients, but it helps us reduce healthcare costs at SCVMC and El Camino Hospital,” said Wilder.

The grant also funds adult dental services, a critical and often under-reported need in low-income communities.  Few public programs support dental care, so adults without private insurance are often hard-pressed to find services they can afford.  Thanks to ECHD funding, VHC Sunnyvale can offer this service to adults.

“Prior to this clinic having primary care services, people from the north county had to travel down to theSan Josearea to get services.  It meant bus transfers, it meant missing work and lost wages, so the consequence was that many people simply did not access care,” said Cecile Currier, Vice President of Corporate & Community Health Services at El Camino Hospital.

The grant has one other notable impact – it makes ECHD the largest institutional donor in VMC Foundation history.  No other single organization, foundation or corporation has given more.

“Healthcare is a team effort,” said Wilder.  “The only way for us to provide the healthcare that this community needs is to work together.”

UPDATE: Sal Pizzaro wrote about the partnership in the Sunday, July 22 edition of the San Jose Mercury News.  You can read the article here.