VMC’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Honored with the Wirtschafter Quality Improvement Award

NICU staffThe California Association of Neonatologists recognized the excellent “Quality Improvement” work of the VMC NICU staff in boosting outcomes for preterm babies through enhanced breastfeeding practices, advanced breast milk nutrient analysis, home healthcare visits to help families transition from the hospital setting, and delayed umbilical cord clamping during delivery, resulting in lower rates of intraventricular hemorrhage, intubation, and transfusion.

The VMC Foundation is proud to support the NICU by providing donations that fund new equipment purchases and staff training for these innovative therapies. Donors include FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, the Will Rogers Institute, and many generous individuals.

Read more about how charitable donations are being put to good use at VMC in our Spring Impact Report.

Announcing NEW Donor Gift Clubs!

Join TodayThe VMC Foundation is excited to announce the launch of our annual donor gift clubs: the Friends of VMC and the Leadership Circle.

Annual gift clubs are a way for us to express our gratitude to our many generous and loyal donors with additional recognition and engagement opportunities. Donors who give at least $100 in a calendar year are welcomed at the Friends level. Those who give $1,000 or more per year are welcomed into the Leadership Circle.

Read more about the giving levels and associated benefits on our Gift Clubs page.

Donors to the VMC Foundation support the crucial work of Valley Medical Center, enabling the purchase of vital equipment and supporting initiatives that improve healthcare for everyone, regardless of ability to pay. We rely on the members of our donor gift clubs to continue this important work. Now we can offer recognition and engagement that honors the generosity of our donor community. We thank you!

Support the VMC Foundation on Giving Tuesday

December 1st 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 – VMC Foundation CEO Chris Wilder has teamed up with one of our generous donors, Dave Culler, to MATCH ALL DONATIONS received by the VMC Foundation up to $5,000. Can you help us reach our goal?

>> Click here to make a secure donation

CW and DC

Dave Culler is senior financial consultant with Pacific Advisors and an overall awesome guy! For over 30 years, Dave has helped clients grow and protect their wealth while integrating charitable planned giving strategies in support of organizations like the VMC Foundation. We are so grateful for his partnership.

 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.

 

 


UPDATE: What an exciting day! We reached our initial goal of raising $5,000 by 12:00pm and claimed the full match offered by Dave Culler and Chris Wilder.

Chris and ElaineWith several hours left for ‪Giving Tuesday, another donor has offered a NEW $5,000 MATCHING CHALLENGE!! Thank you to VMC Foundation board member Elaine Elkin! If you haven’t gotten around to making a donation yet today, please do it now and have your donation doubled by this matching gift.

>> Click here to make a secure donation

 

Healthcare philanthropy should help everyone, not just VIPs

carson

At some hospitals, donors practically get their own butler. At VMC, the goal is to provide the same great care to all.

One major reason I joined the VMC Foundation 12 years ago is that Valley Medical Center cares for anyone, regardless of status. It remains the cornerstone of my commitment.

Furthermore, the quality of care doesn’t vary according to any sort of “wallet biopsy”. The woman living in a shelter gets the same world-class care as the woman living in a Monte Sereno mansion.

You might think this is a matter of basic human dignity, but in fact, this is not the way it goes everywhere. Some hospitals – more than you might suspect – do play favorites, and do so as a matter of policy and practice. “Concierge service” or other VIP treatment of wealthy patients is not uncommon…and I’ve lost count of the number of seminars/conference sessions/webinars I’ve attended that encourage we medical charities to push for this.

As last week’s NY Times’ op-ed points out, this makes obvious sense on one level: Treat your wealthy patients better, and philanthropy flows. But, as the article also reveals, this can also lead to worse care…not just for the non-wealthy patients, but for the wealthy ones too!

It’s also unfair.

And it’s the last thing you’ll find going on at Valley Medical Center.

Read the full article here, and ask yourself: What are the values you’d prefer your medical care team believe in?

VMC Provides Specialized Care for Complex Issues

McNamara familySiobhan and Ryan McNamara became concerned when, on a Saturday in late February, their energetic eight year-old son Henry, was coughing, lethargic, and his lips were swelling. Doctors at a local emergency department tested for strep throat and flu and sent Henry home with antibiotics and steroids, but Henry didn’t respond to the drugs.

The McNamaras came to Valley Medical Center, where doctors determined that Henry had Stevens Johnson Syndrome – or SJS – a rare and serious disorder that affects the mucous membranes. Henry spent nearly a month at VMC, where staff in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit have the skills and equipment to manage the unique needs of SJS patients.

“I’ve never felt so helpless in my entire life,” shared Siobhan, “but I knew that Henry was going to be okay at VMC. They were equipped.”

Henry is now back in school and has regained the eleven pounds he lost during his illness. The McNamaras credit VMC for a speedy diagnosis of this rare disorder, and their ability to provide the special care he needed.

You can read more about this story, and see updates about our other programs, in our Fall 2015 Impact Report.

Chris Wilder injures self again, goes to VMC ED: part 2 in an (apparently) ongoing series

The dedicated reader of this blog will remember the bizarre finger accident that last led me to Valley Medical Center’s Emergency Department a few years back.

Really? Again with the finger?

Yes. But in my defense, let’s consider fingers for a moment: they are busy little appendages out at the extreme ends of human bodies, and are constantly employed to do some of the most perilous and fiddly tasks. Like cutting veggies, which we strict vegetarians do with great frequency…

If you are prone to queasiness, you’ve already stopped reading, right?

The moment the knife went from the tomato into my ring finger I knew it was not good. I grabbed a towel as half a centimeter of myself slipped down the drain, gone forever. Dinner would be late.

My lovely wife Kate trained at UC Davis in large-animal veterinary medicine, and did a job dressing the wound that impressed Matt Slater who is an expert. Dr. Slater saw me the next morning, because although Kate did her best, the bleeding persisted all night long. So that became Job #1 when I arrived at VMC at 8:45am Sunday. Here are some highlights and observations:

  • Sunday morning was surprisingly quiet, so my wait time was zero minutes.
  • The woman at the desk asked me if I’d recently traveled to West Africa – in case you had forgotten about ebola. At VMC, we have certainly not.
  • Backing up: if you want to really feel a knife wound while cutting veggies, a tomato does the trick. A lemon would have been worse, but it did get worse…
  • …because direct pressure didn’t work to stop the bleeding, so Dr. Slater used something called Surgicel. It helps clot, and stings like a scorpion.
  • While I was sucking air through my teeth in pain, Matt put his hand on my shoulder. He didn’t have to do that, but it helped a great deal and I won’t forget it. The human element of medicine is something VMC gets right, because doctors work here for the right reasons.
  • Matt didn’t prescribe antibiotics, because in all likelihood (he explained) I wouldn’t need them, and we need to control the over-prescription of antibiotics as a society. So he’s thinking not just about me, but about better health for all.
  • VMC’s electronic health record, MyHealth Online, is wonderful! However, I take umbrage with it calling my incident an “amputation”…makes it sound like I did it on purpose.

Having received top-notch care, the healing process now continues. It may be a long path, but I’ve been pointed firmly in the right direction by the great team at VMC. I won’t take time for self-pity, because I know there is a hospital full of good people with bad problems around me, making mine look pretty insignificant. And I have once again reaffirmed, based on my experience, that those people are in great hands.

Do you have a VMC Emergency Department story that makes mine sound like a trip to the Farmers Market? Do tell!

 

I took a photo of my injured finger as Dr. Slater was working on it. Because you may be enjoying lunch, I thought instead to post this picture of my puppy, Houla, with her favorite toy, Hornet Coleman.

hornet

Omar’s Dream: Educating kids…no matter what!

Remember when you were little, and the anxiety you felt missing school due to a long illness? Falling behind is sad reality for too many kids facing a long hospitalization, but now a solution is at hand.

The VMC Foundation, on behalf of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, is partnering with Omar’s Dream Foundation to enable hospitalized and medically supervised children to remotely attend school allowing them to stay connected to their teachers and classmates. The services are free for all qualified students and their educators.

We know that education and health are both equal building blocks for a child’s success. We’re so grateful to Omar’s Dream and the ability to keep those building blocks strong!

VMC Foundation staff gratefully accept a large gift from Jamila Hassan, Founder of Omar's Dream Foundation.

VMC Foundation staff gratefully accept a large gift from Jamila Hassan, Founder of Omar’s Dream Foundation.

Happy 30th Birthday Valley Health Plan!

Chris Wilder Flu Shot 2013

Long story short: When I first started here at the VMC Foundation, the job afforded no health coverage. Which was ironic, don’t you think?

My wife’s company did, and I was already on her plan. I don’t remember what it was, or any of my doctors’ names. That’s because the few times I ever went to see one I felt like a number (at best) or an imposition (at worst). Nobody ever got to know me, or talked to me about my overall health. Many of us have experienced the “five minute doctor visit”…and until 2006 I thought that was normal.

That was the year the VMC Foundation became a true “employer” and had to decide what kind of company we were going to be. If we were going to hire staff, we needed to offer benefits—and they’d better be good, since that’s a core value that the VMC Foundation and Valley Medical Center holds dear. We were finally ready to talk to Valley Health Plan about doing something they’d never done before: Offering coverage to a private non-profit. We were the first, and suddenly, my health care was with VHP and Valley Medical Center!

What. A. Difference.

My doctor, Chris Snow, asked me questions, and not just about me, but my whole family. Some of them went like this: “Why are you taking cholesterol medicine when you’re vegan, and when everyone on both sides of your family live into their 90’s or longer?” Other questions, like “How much time to you spend sitting at your desk?” or “What would it take to schedule some more cardio?” demanded that I truly think seriously about the answers – because by then, I had come to like and trust Dr. Snow and I wanted him to be proud of me.

Not long after, Chris Snow moved on…but not his caring manner. He left that for Dr. Bob Horowitz who inherited me next. Just like Snow, Dr. Horowitz took the time to learn about me and me about him. Rarely, he would refer me to others throughout the VHP system and always, I met world-class providers and Nurse Practitioners and X-Ray Techs and – well, everyone really. Even when I showed up at 3am with the weirdest emergency I’d ever had, I was met with compassion and technical brilliance. I still have ten fingers as proof.

Over the years, as the VMC Foundation grew from a tiny nonprofit to one more robust, Valley Health Plan has also grown. What a thrill it was when they were selected to be part of the Covered California health exchange! Suddenly, our “little” VHP was one of just a handful of choices that anyone could choose through our state’s exchange. For me, it was no choice at all; when was the last time you got to interact personally with the CEO of your health plan? For me, and “super-local” VHP, it happens frequently.

Here’s a bonus: Whenever I get medication or visit my doctor, I’m not asked for a co-pay. This isn’t always the case, but at Valley Health Plan, it certainly is the norm. Other perks include acupuncture, the widest array of specialists for whatever might ail me, MyHealth Online, and because I work here, running into my doctor in the hallway all the time. Okay, that last part has its downsides, but the occasional “getting those 10,000 steps in, Chris?” do have an effect.

And the result? I’m a healthier person for my VHP membership. I know it, and I appreciate it. Happy birthday, VHP. I’m writing this on my 48th, and I expect you and I will both have a lot more birthdays to share.

World Breastfeeding Week: VMC a Top CA Hospital in Breastfeeding Rates

National Breastfeeding WeekDid you know that VMC is among the top hospitals in the state in breastfeeding rates for new moms? That’s no accident — VMC is a leader in innovative programs to encourage breastfeeding. We all know that breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start, providing them with an ideal balance of nutrients for their growth and development, reducing the risk of infection and disease, promoting mother-child bonding, and even reducing the risk of childhood obesity.

Funding from FIRST 5 Santa Clara County and Kaiser Permanente has made possible over 8,000 hours of training for VMC’s newborn care providers in offering best practice and evidence-based breastfeeding instruction to moms. Funding also enables follow-up calls to recently discharged moms to help address any breastfeeding challenges they face at home.

VMC is investing in an on-site Milk Lab in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to ensure that even the most vulnerable infants benefit from this healthy start. Support from FIRST 5 Santa Clara County and other generous donors has helped fund special freezers and storage units, prep stations to standardize breast milk processing (breast milk for preemies is often fortified with additional calories and nutrients), and designated staff to ensure that each baby gets the nutrition he or she needs. With a recent donation from the Will Rogers Institute, VMC will soon be adding an on-site breast milk analyzer to determine how much protein, fat, and carbohydrate is in a mother’s milk. This is important because providing sufficient nutrition for NICU infants is crucial to maximizing weight gain and assuring proper physiological development.

VMC has a fabulous team of lactation experts leading efforts for increased breastfeeding rates and creating a hospital culture that supports and encourages breastfeeding. The VMC Foundation is proud to support their work, during World Breastfeeding Week and all year long!