VMC Farmers’ Market Grand Opening May 15th

Farmers Market flyer

The VMC Foundation is pleased to announce the grand opening of its Farmers’ Market on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.  The market will open at 10 a.m.  A special ribbon-cutting event will occur at 11:30 a.m.  Normal hours will be 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. each Wednesday until November.  The market will be located at the Valley Specialty Center, 751 S. Bascom Avenue, San Jose. WIC and CalFresh/EBT will be accepted.

The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Farmers’ Market is a partnership between the VMC Foundation, Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, County Employee Wellness Department and The Health Trust. To learn more, download Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Farmers’ Market flyer.

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.

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.

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.

Electronic medical records: It’s going to be Epic!

Jeff Scarafia of Epic, presenting June 5 to a group of county health leaders. His slide shows just a few of the medical centers using Epic.

Yesterday I got to learn a bit more about Epic, the system being implemented here at Valley Medical Center to catapult us into the 21st century!

That’s not even hyperbole: Epic is truly epic. Once it’s fully implemented, we’ll be part of a growing national network of medical systems using the same electronic medical record platform…and we’ll all benefit.

I’ll be able to make appointments or change them right from my computer at home or iPhone. Accessing lab results, re-ordering medications? All a snap. History of my constant, frustrating battle to lose weight? The info is at my fingertips.

But most importantly, if I’m visiting Epic’s HQ in Wisconsin, and I’m wandering through a field and get hit by a cow*, the local trauma center using Epic will have instant access to my medical history and know that I’m allergic to Bovinabutanol.**

This is technology that will truly save lives – maybe mine, maybe yours. And just another great innovative step being taken by our public hospital. Learn more at www.epicsystems.com

* This is unlikely to happen.

** I totally made up that medication.

VMC’s Healthier Living Program makes the Wall St. Journal!

The team of VMC's H.E.L.P. program, nationally recognized!

Every day, teams of dedicated men and women run great programs at Valley Medical Center…but it’s not every day that the news makes the  Wall Street Journal.

This week, it did! The article (read it here) features photos from a VMC Healthier Living Class, and talks about this growing nationwide movement .  Our Healthier Living program has graduated over 800 participants since 2006.

Healthier Living is staffed by the SCVMC patient association HELP: Health, Empowerment, Leadership People which consists of SCVMC patient-volunteers. The VMC Foundation is proud to support this great program (and I’m proud to be part of the photo above!)

Free Chronic Disease Self Management Program “Healthier Living” Classes are available for all VMC patients and staff, regardless of insurance or non-insured status.  This program was developed at Stanford University Patient Education Research Center.  The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is a workshop given two and a half hours, once a week, for six weeks.  The program was developed for people with chronic health problems and their significant others. People with different problems attend the same workshop together. Workshops are facilitated by two trained leaders.

Subjects covered include: 1) techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation, 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance, 3) appropriate use of medications, 4) communicating effectively with family, friends, and health care professionals, 5) nutrition, and, 6) how to evaluate new treatments. There is also great emphasis on three process skills: action planning, disease related problem solving, and decision making.

Amazing device improves patient/doctor communication!

Most medical devices can't be found at REI. This one can.

Dr. Gary Lee is Valley Medical Center’s director of palliative care, and he’s using a new high-tech wonder in his daily communication with his patients.

Yes, I know it may not look that amazing. But consider: This portable, light-weight camping stool allows Gary to carry it wherever he goes, and when he’s ready to speak with a patient at the bedside, he unfolds it and sits at eye-level with the person in the bed.

Barbara Zahner, Chaplain here at VMC, puts it like this: “the presence of this simple, low cost piece of equipment changes the environment from clinical to remembrances of comforting campfires, cozy conversations, and the grandeur and spirit of nature and creation.”

Gary first read about this in the New England Journal of Medicine, and has found it a real game-changer: The national statistics are that a patient is interrupted by their doctor (at most) 18 seconds into being heard…and in Gary’s practice, that just won’t do.

You see, Gary’s work involves end-of-life discussions with patients and families, where listening is a critical part of delivering care. If done right, the alert reader of this blog will remember that palliative care can not only provide dignity, it can actually extend life.

A simple camping stool! How wonderful to slow that hurry-up dynamic between doctor and patient, letting both feel more present and “in the moment”. Anyone can do this, right Gary? “Well, it requires training”, he told me…and remember, VMC is the teaching hospital for Stanford: “We teach medical students that the most important part of the stethoscope is the six inches between the ear pieces. By the same token, the most important part of the camping stool is – well, you get the idea.”

We’ve all heard it before, and it’s so true: Before they care how much you know, they have to know how much you care.

Let’s make cigarettes OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive!

On the June ballot in California, Proposition 29 deserves your vote…and the campaign deserves our support.

The idea is simple, and we’ve done it before: Another tax on tobacco –  a dollar a pack this time – to support cancer research and other fine things.

Frankly, I don’t care as much about what the tax money does. Cigarettes kill a hundred Californians, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. What I like is that cigarettes will be even more unaffordable, and that has proven to be a major reason why people finally quit.

And that’s the point: If you smoke, you just have to quit. For yourself, your family, for those around you…as hard as it is, and I know its miserable, you just have to get help and stop. Also, a dollar a pack more might keep one more 15-year-old from starting.

Visit www.californiansforacure.org to learn detials, and check out the video below featuring our own Public Health Officer Marty Fenstersheib, MD, and Supervisor Ken Yeager, on why Santa Clara County is behind Proposition 29.