VMC employee shows support for VMC Foundation…and then some!

Tina Thibeau BoydAs many of you know, we are right in the middle of our annual Give A Booster Shot Campaign. The Give a Booster Shot campaign encourages VMC employees to support their hospital by giving to the VMC Foundation. To date, close to 400 employees have decided to participate in this program. This serves as a testament to the dedication the staff of the Health and Hospital System has to keeping VMC open for the entire community. After all, they give their time and energy already, often in the face of stressful work conditions. To give their own money as well is truly special.

Last Friday, a true hero emerged from this group of 400. After a 12-hour shift in the Emergency Department, Assistant Nurse Manager Tina Thibeau-Boyd called our office announcing that she had recruited 16 new donors representing $16,000 in pledged donations to the VMC Foundation! For that we are eternally grateful. Tina truly exemplifies the dedication VMC employees embody every day in their world.

Thank you, Tina, you are our hero!

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.


Technology Empowers VMC Rehabilitation Patients

Imagine that you wake up one day in a hospital after a serious accident and are told that you are paralyzed. How do you communicate with the outside world? What do you do when you need to write someone an e-mail or access the Internet? Luckily, patients who are admitted to VMC’s rehab center have an answer: the Technology Access Program (TAP), championed by the VMC Foundation’s own Debbie Burdsall.

An Occupational Therapist with 22 years of experience, Debbie understands her patients and their shifting needs. “The whole point of rehab is to become as independent as possible and to get back to life,” Debbie explains. “Technology is now a part of almost everyone’s life, and part of getting back to life today is resuming paying your bills, talking to your friends online, and emailing.”

Because technology is so pervasive, allowing rehab patients access early on is empowering. “It is the connectivity to the outside world and what happens as a result of that that is the most compelling part of TAP,” Debbie explains. “Because of this program, patients are now looking online and seeing what their options are for bath equipment, wheelchairs, etc. They are doing price comparisons and taking a much more active role in making decisions early on. I think that translates into a better outcome when they go home.”

Another one of TAP’s strengths lies in its ability to facilitate a patient’s interaction with their life and loved ones; to communicate with a world that doesn’t easily accommodate their life changing injuries. Using technology to communicate is such a creature comfort these days, checking e-mails and chatting online serves to reduce stress levels and improve the mood of patients, all elements that help the healing process.

While outcomes vary for each patient, the stories of recovery Debbie catalogs really solidify TAP’s importance. Take the young girl who wasn’t expected to live when she came in as an example. Her diagnoses was dire, but she began showing lightning fast progress when she was re-connected with the poetry she had written on her MySpace page after being loaned one of TAP’s laptops. At the time she was re-introduced to the Internet, she could only move her eyes. But because of the Technology Access Program’s ability to match technology assistance to a patient’s need (i.e. voice recognition, eye tracking software, and customized operating system) her recovery occurred that much faster. Today she is talking and beginning to walk; two skills doctors never thought she would accomplish on her own.

And the stories go on and on, one after the other highlighting a different strength of the Technology Access Program. Each laptop that patient’s use, every head mouse and customized operating system are purchased through the generous donation of community members and corporations. Currently, Debbie has 14 laptops to loan out to patients during their stay. Those laptops are in constant use and require maintenance from wear and tear. It’s hard for Debbie to keep up with the demand, so what does her ideal world look like? “Well,” she thinks out loud, “More laptops for patients to use while they are here, and I really wish I was able to send a laptop home with the patients who can’t afford to buy one of their own!” A noble goal for a very special program.

To learn how you can contribute to this program, please contact Michael Elliott at 408-885-5299.

As H1N1 fears subside, support for Public Health Departments should not

Fifty-seven million Americans were infected with H1N1 since last April, according to a new estimate for The Center for Disease Control released today. That’s roughly the population of all of Italy. While thousands did sadly perish form the disease, the rate of mortality was nowhere close to previous flu pandemics, thanks in large part to the aggressive response by local, state and federal public health agencies.

Of course, the danger from this pandemic and others is still present. And while we breathe easy that our worst fears about H1N1 never materialized, major weaknesses to our public health infrastructure have been exposed, so says Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, public health officer for Santa Clara County. Many public health agencies, including the one in Santa Clara County, are have seen budgets and staff slashed in recent years, slowing the ability to monitor and respond to major public health crisis.

As we think about health care reform in this country, it is critical that we remember how essential Public Health Departments are to our safety net. It seems we dodged a bullet this time with H1N1 – but it’s a game of Russian Roulette not worth playing.

VMC Foundation submits Beacon Community grant application for $20M

The VMC Foundation just submitted a $20 million federal grant application to establish a Patient Care Collaboration Platform through the Beacon Communities program. This exciting health information exchange will create seamless transitions of care for the “shared” patients seen at both the Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System and the Community Health Partnership clinics by creating an online portal where providers can access information about common patients. A huge thanks to the grant team from SCVHHS and CHP for their contributions to the submission. This is the VMC Foundation’s largest grant application ever! Stay tuned to find out if we are awarded the funds in March.