Recognizing Kathy Madlem, VMC Quality Improvement Coordinator

Katherine L MadlemThe VMC Foundation congratulates superstar VMC employee Kathy Madlem for her important role in combating sepsis at Valley Medical Center. Kathy is the manager of the VMC Foundation’s Sepsis Quality Improvement Fund and we support her coordination of VMC’s Sepsis Seminars. Kathy’s excellent communication skills, positive can-do attitude, and amazing follow-through make her a true partner of the VMC Foundation. Thank you, Kathy!


Kathy shared her thoughts in a recent interview with VMC Foundation Development Officer Debbie Burdsall:

Debbie: Can you give me some background on the sepsis training for VMC staff and how you became involved?

Kathy: I have been in my current role as Quality Improvement Coordinator for about three years. I am responsible for the coordination of hospital-wide efforts to prevent sepsis through early diagnosis. Since I have led the effort, VMC has seen a 50% decrease in mortality due to sepsis through improved screening and staff education.

A large part of my job is to provide training to VMC staff on the prevention and management of sepsis. I coordinate VMC’s Sepsis Seminars, bringing in experts on sepsis to educate staff. I really feel like part of my job is to inspire VMC staff and keep their passion for saving lives through early sepsis detection alive and ongoing.

Debbie: How long have you been at VMC and what do you like most about working here?

Kathy: I have been at VMC for 16 years. I spent 13 years working the night shift in the MICU. I very much enjoy working with our patient population because I feel like those we serve are vulnerable. By providing education and training on the prevention and early management of sepsis, I have a stake in improving the quality of care for all of our patients. I enjoy helping our staff develop the skill set to be better care providers, thus ensuring that our patients receive the best care possible.

Debbie: How has the VMC Foundation supported you and your work?

Kathy: The VMC Foundation helped me establish a fund for the Sepsis Seminars which allowed me to focus on planning the seminar content. Payments from seminar participants are processed through the Foundation’s Sepsis Quality Improvement Fund, and the fund is used to pay vendors and speakers. The Foundation recognized how important the sepsis training is for VMC staff and has been instrumental in helping to significantly reduce the cost for VMC staff to attend the seminars by helping to sponsor the training.

Debbie: What is something people might not know about you?

Kathy: I enjoy riding horses in my spare time, and I have 2 cats and 1 dog – all rescues!

Inspired by the leadership at SAP

Ferose - SAP Photo - cropped

Last fall, when SAP joined us as the Presenting Sponsor at the Heroes Run, we had the opportunity to meet many of the incredible people who work at SAP as they volunteered at our event. One volunteer in particular stood out, and two weeks ago, we had the pleasure to spend the afternoon at the SAP offices in Palo Alto, and boy were we inspired!

Upon arriving to SAP, we had lunch and the opportunity to spend time with the very impressive, Ferose V.R. Not only is Ferose the Senior Vice-President of Globalization Services for SAP Labs, but he is also the author of Gifted, a wonderful book that celebrates the inspiring stories of people with disabilities.

Over lunch we shared in great conversation and among other things, especially enjoyed talking about exploring Silicon Valley’s relative generosity and the way nonprofits operate. Having recently moved her from India, Ferose was particularly interested in gaining insight on how philanthropy is a part of our culture here in the valley.

After lunch, we had the opportunity to go on a tour of the Innovation Center on SAP’s Palo Alto Campus – what a great work environment and culture to get to see.

Thank you to Ferose, and the wonderful team at SAP who we continue to enjoy our ongoing partnership with!

Support the VMC Foundation on Giving Tuesday

December 2nd is Giving Tuesday, a national day of selfless generosity around the annual shopping and spending season – and we’re asking for your support.

For today only – one of the VMC Foundation’s most generous donors, Elaine Elkin, has offered to MATCH ALL DONATIONS received by the VMC Foundation up to $7,500. You can you help us reach our goal.

Please take a moment to show your support for the life-saving care provided by Valley Medical Center, home to San Jose’s only Level 1 Trauma Center. This is a service any of us could rely on in case of a serious accident, regardless of where you typically receive your healthcare.

Click here to make a secure donation

Giving Tuesday is a great way to balance the consumerism marked by Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the holiday season. Please join us by making a gift to the VMC Foundation today, and have it doubled.

From Earthquakes to Ebola…VMC is here.

cypress-viaductToday is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake…and if you were here, you remember where you were.

Of course, Valley Medical Center was here and cared for the injured—my neighbor Judy, for instance, who owes her life in part to VMC. The role of a comprehensive health and hospital system like ours is central in a disaster. With a top-level trauma center, burn center, brain and spinal cord injury center and so many other specialties, VMC was ready on October 17, 1989.

And here we are, a quarter-century later, facing another potential disaster: Ebola. The similarities are these: It may be coming, but we don’t know when. A big quake and Ebola are things for which we can drill, practice, and prepare. That’s what VMC is doing now, and what VMC has always done.

The differences are critically important: A virus is much smarter than an earthquake. We can’t be sure the Ebola today will act like the Ebola of tomorrow, or a year from now. Quake-related injuries look nothing like hemorrhagic fever, and broken bones aren’t contagious. VMC’s world-class doctors and nurses heal wounds every day…but Ebola, in Silicon Valley, is new.

So new, in fact, that it’s not here—and maybe, hopefully, will never be. But I am proud and sleep better at night knowing that Valley Medical Center is preparing, drilling and asking as many hard questions as we can think of. VMC is here for all of us, as it was for Judy 25 years ago, as it is in times of crisis or disaster. Count on it.

How did he survive that flight, anyway?

Preemie NICUWe woke today to hear the news about a 16 year old boy who survived a flight from San Jose (home to Valley Medical Center) to Hawaii…in the wheel well of a jet. At 35,000 feet. And -50 degrees cold. The nation is asking: How is that remotely possible?

My first reaction to the news is now being repeated by pundits around the globe: When cooled, the human body can do some pretty amazing things. It’s very possible, experts are now saying, that the boy went into a kind of “hibernation” which allowed him to survive the cold and lack of oxygen.

At VMC’s neonatal intensive care unit, our team of newborn care doctors have been doing something similar for the last few years. We call it “total body cooling”, which is done on infants born after a period of asphyxia – like an umbilical cord prolapse (being literally strangled by the cord upon delivery).

When that happens, the infant is cooled down to prevent further possible neurological damage and then slowly warmed up. Our infants are doing remarkably well after this procedure, and the practice is gaining popularity in hospitals around the country.

Here’s the story, in case you missed it:

…and a bit more about Total Body Cooling at Valley Medical Center:

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.

Too good not to share…

The VMC Foundation is proud to support all sorts of efforts to improve the health of Silicon Valley – the “Re-Think Your Drink” campaign, the forthcoming Farmer’s Market on our campus, the Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center…

…and yet, we’re up against an enemy so powerful it often seems we cannot win.

The video created by a Canadian physician recently gives me a glimmer of hope. The fact that it was picked up by the Huffington Post brightens that glimmer.

Education is the key, and deterring the food industry from selling unhealthy food dressed up as healthy food is the lesson. But they won’t do it unless we demand it.

This is not only worth your time to watch, it’s worth your time to share with others. Please do.


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.

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:

Our Kids are Drowning in Sugar…

Produced by our coalition of agencies looking out for kids’ health, this image should be shared if it’s to succeed…please help!

Please help me spread the word about this…there’s NO WAY Valley Medical Center’s pediatricians should be seeing 4th graders with “adult onset” diabetes – but they are, every day. And please, don’t talk to me about the “nanny state” telling you what do drink. Do you think it’s awesome that billions of dollars in advertising have resulted in kids thinking they need soda, and otherwise well-meaning parents giving in to that pressure? Sorry – I get a little incensed about this, and if we don’t call out the enemy, we’ll never know who were fighting. The VMC Foundation is proud to have worked as fiscal sponsor of the “Re-Think Your Drink” campaign in Santa Clara County for the past few years…and I believe we’re making an impact. Share this info, and I’ll be right.