National Hospital Week and BB King…

B.B. King In Concert At B.B. King's Blues Club At The MirageToday is the final day of our week-long celebration of National Hospital Week, and I’m feeling a little melancholy. By now I’m sure you heard that blues legend BB King passed away last night.

BB was a hero to me and darn near any rock/blues musician. Today at noon, VMC’s “house band” Idol Hands will be performing for the staff as we offer gourmet food at a deeply-reduced price. Just our way of saying THANK YOU to the selfless and essential team at Valley Medical Center.

And, so, we’ll be playing some blues today in tribute to The King. Here’s something to think about: BB King was 89 when he passed. That means he outlived the average life expectancy of African American men by at least eleven years. Depending on the source, it could be as high as 16 years…and for African American men born in Mississippi (as BB was), tack on another four years.

We have a great deal of work to do in this country regarding the social determinants of health. For more on that, check out the World Health Organization’s website or locally, The Health Trust. And remember, BB King has passed but the thrill is NOT gone!

I hope everyone had a great National Hospital Week. Cheers and good health to you.

VMC Farmers’ Market returns May 13


Spinal cord injury patients use iPads to stay connected during rehab

Bergevin familyThe Spring 2015 issue of the VMC Foundation’s Impact Report features the moving story of Chris Bergevin, the husband and father who was airlifted to VMC’s Spinal Cord Trauma Center after he dove into the ocean and struck a sand bar, damaging his spinal cord and neck.

During his rehabilitation at VMC, Chris was able to stay connected to the outside world with the inclusion of an iPad in his rehab therapy. Distribution of iPads to rehab patients is made possible by a generous grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

Chris shared, “When you’re injured and in the hospital, it’s really important to get connected to friends, family, and the outside world. This iPad made these things possible for me! I’m very grateful.”

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


Dr. Yvonne Truong brings big smiles to Valley Health Center community clinics

YT PicMeet Dr. Yvonne Truong

Yvonne Truong was an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz when she visited a friend in dental school and watched her fabricate dentures for an HIV patient who had lost his teeth due to malnourishment. She was hooked!

“Becoming a dentist was almost an immediate decision – I could see myself doing this. I liked to work with my hands, and I wanted to make a difference,” shared Dr. Truong. She practiced as a dental assistant for a couple of years and then graduated from the Goldman School of Dental Medicine at Boston University.

While in dental school, Dr. Truong completed an externship at the Dorchester House, a community health center in a low-income neighborhood of Boston. There she discovered a passion for working in a community clinic setting, supporting underserved populations: “I saw that I could really make a difference in people’s lives.”

Dr. Truong joined VMC in 2004, working for many years in the mobile dental clinic, providing dental services to high-need areas throughout Santa Clara County. She now staffs the dental clinics at Valley Health Centers Sunnyvale, Milpitas, and Tully.

Dr. Truong shared that her typical day “is very fast paced! I see at least 16 patients each day – doing exams and cleanings, taking dental impressions, giving oral hygiene instructions, and performing extractions, fillings, and other procedures. Every day is different because our patient population tends to have a lot of dental emergencies.” Indeed, the dental clinics serve a combination of patients with appointments and those who walk-in with urgent needs.

“The best thing about my job,” says Dr. Truong, “is seeing immediate results. If a patient comes in with pain, most of the time I can make them feel better right away.”

Take, for example, a recent patient of Dr. Truong’s. A male in his 30s, he hadn’t seen a dentist in five years after losing his job and his dental insurance. The patient traveled by bus from Palo Alto to Valley Health Center Tully to attend a walk-in clinic because he had severe tooth pain. Dr. Truong informed the patient that the tooth had decayed and that he would need a root canal and crown, but the patient didn’t have the money to pay for the procedure so he requested that the tooth be extracted instead. Dr. Truong did some research and found that the patient lived in the catchment area of VHC Sunnyvale, and that funds were available to help pay for his root canal and crown – no extraction needed! The patient was extremely grateful and has been coming back to VHC Sunnyvale for comprehensive treatment ever since.

With financial support from the El Camino Healthcare District, the dental clinic at VHC Sunnyvale expanded to offer one evening dental clinic per week so patients with daytime jobs and family responsibilities could better access care. Dr. Truong shared, “We wanted to be better able to accommodate patients who can’t miss work, those who don’t have insurance, and those who walk in with emergency needs. Without the grant funding, these patients would not have the oral health they need to lead a healthy and comfortable life.” The evening dental clinic is consistently booked at least 2-3 weeks in advance and demand far exceeds the current capacity of the clinic.

Still, Dr. Truong is inspired by the work she does, sharing, “I feel honored and privileged to be part of VMC, working here with such a dedicated groups of dentists. This is a challenging job – we have a lot of medically-compromised patients with financial limitations and language barriers. But I love coming to work every day because of how rewarding it is.”

When Yvonne Truong isn’t practicing at VMC, she is operating her own part-time private dental practice or spending time with her 4-year-old son at her home in San Jose.

El Camino Healthcare DistrictYou can learn more about El Camino Healthcare District’s investment in the health of our community in their 2014 Community Benefit Report.

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!

The Economic Gap is Now a Canyon

Findex2015-coverolks in Tallahassee or Saint Paul or Topeka often assume that everyone living in Silicon Valley drives around in a BMW. That’s why, when I’ve traveled, I’ve tried to share the truth…and it’s shocking to many: One in four families in “wealthy” Silicon Valley cannot simultaneously afford food, clothing, shelter and medical care.

But not anymore.

As alarming as this fact sounds, I learned yesterday at the “State of the Valley” Conference that it’s no longer true.

It’s worse.

The number, according to Joint Venture Silicon Valley who compiles the “Silicon Valley Index” every year, is now 30%. That’s how many households don’t meet what they call “minimum self-sufficiency standards”. Working families, typically, whose incomes cannot make ends meet. They rely on Second Harvest Food Bank, or Homefirst or other shelters, or Valley Medical Center for their most basic of needs.

We’re not talking about the Federal Poverty Level here; that number is a joke—and a not-funny one. That’s because it’s not adjusted for region. In the most expensive housing/rental market anywhere, your family of three is considered above the Federal Poverty Rate if you earn $21,000 a year. Try living on twice that in Silicon Valley. Three times that.

Know this about Joint Venture: They’re not some lefty-liberal group; They are an inclusive team of leaders in tech, development, banking, government, academia and more…and what they really do is gather the data, report on it, and then allow you and I to have conversations about what it means.

Sometimes, like in the statistics I just mentioned, they’re shocked by their findings. This year they discovered a frightening gender/wage gap that I think caught a lot of Silicon Valley leaders off-guard…but there it is, staring us in the face.

We have to deal with these issues. Think of it: 30% of families in the richest region of the richest nation on earth struggle to get by every day, every month. And yes, I understand that you don’t have to live in Bangor, Maine to be surprised by this economic chasm…it surprises people who live in San Jose and Sunnyvale too.

It’s also why Valley Medical Center is here, and why I’m proud to serve its Foundation. Not only do we offer this crucial part of the safety net to the 30% who need us, the care is as excellent (or better) than anywhere else.  More and more families with coverage and good incomes are choosing us for that reason. This is a good thing.

But let’s not forget VMC’s mission, which based on Joint Venture’s findings this year, has never been more important for the health of our entire community.

Learn more about the Silicon Valley Index here, and thanks to Russell Hancock, Joint Venture CEO, for asking me to participate as an Index Advisor.

President Cortese: “If we are bold,” we can stop diabetes

President Dave Cortese gave his “State of the County” address on Tuesday, January 27 to a packed house at San Jose’s Montgomery Theater. He spoke about many of our county’s pressing problems, and in each case, how we can only solve them if we work together.

That sounds cliché, but it’s really not: If homelessness was easy to end, wouldn’t someone have done it already? If steering kids away from gangs and drugs had a step-by-step manual, we’d follow it wouldn’t we? Sadly they don’t, which is why I was glad to hear President Cortese’s call to unite across our differences and work together on solutions.  No single tech genius or business leader or dynamic politician can do this alone.

Such is the case with diabetes, which affects hundreds of thousands of our county’s residents. 40 million Americans have “pre-diabetes”, according to the American Diabetes Association, and alarmingly, most who have it don’t know it. This is why President Cortese is calling for increased screenings to catch pre-diabetes before it gets worse. Type-2 diabetes used to be called “Adult-Onset Diabetes”. No more. Valley Medical Center’s pediatricians have been fighting this disease in children for too long.

The VMC Foundation has been fighting with them. Through grant funding, we helped launch VMC’s Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center led today by the amazing Antonia Charles, MD. Our Turning Wheels for Kids program aims to get kids off the couch and pedaling their own brand-new bike. With The Health Trust, we opened a Farmers Market on VMC’s main campus. With our partners El Camino Healthcare District and Kaiser Permanente, grant dollars become innovative programs at VMC’s health centers and specialty centers to battle diabetes every day.

But, as President Cortese said, we have to do more.

His colleague, Supervisor Ken Yeager, will be leading the fight against diabetes and he’s already recruiting soldiers. The VMC Foundation vows to continue our role in this fight, as we’ve done for decades.  Thank you for your leadership, President Cortese. We stand with you.

To read President Cortese’s State of the County address, click here.

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.

Second Annual Heroes Run raises $20K for VMC Pediatrics!

A HUGE thanks to everyone who participated in and supported this year’s Sheriff’s Heroes Run Sponsored by SAP

Together we raised over $20,000 for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Pediatrics Unit.

Check out all of the fabulous photos from this year’s event by clicking on the photo below.

2014 Heroes Run Group Photo

To learn more about the Heroes Run visit