Labor of Love: Alta Bates Summit Employee, 90, Celebrates 70 Years on the Job

Posted on Apr 5, 2016

Elena Griffing 70th anniversary

Elena Griffing says she wants to work forever.

Elena Griffing has been breaking records, charming everyone she meets and wearing stylish heels on the job at Alta Bates Summit for 70 years. Watch the video.

Elena was honored last week during Women’s History Month by more than 3,000 Sutter Health leaders in Sacramento.

“By pushing the boundaries of opportunity, Elena—and so many other influential women across the United States—shaped the destinies of future generations of women. I’m so thankful for their determination and drive,” said Sarah Krevans, president and CEO of Sutter Health. “And all across Sutter Health, nearly 250 female employees like Elena have dedicated 40-plus years of their careers to caring for patients and their families. Through fresh ideas, hard work and genuine compassion for others, they’ve made the world a better place. I’m proud to work beside them.” Read More

Nurse’s Inspiration Leads to a Permanent Health Clinic in Uganda

Posted on Apr 4, 2016

Emily Rymland with patient

Emily Rymland, R.N., and patient

Em’s Health Clinic — the first permanent health clinic in remote western Uganda — is open every day all year round caring for close to 300 patients per month.

When Emily Rymland first traveled to East Africa in 1985 she was exposed to the devastation caused by “Slims Disease,” now known as AIDS. Shortly after returning home from that trip, one of her best friends in San Francisco was diagnosed with AIDS. At that moment, Rymland committed to fighting the deadly disease and improving the well being of those in need.

In the early 1990s she attended nursing school at Samuel Merritt University focusing on HIV care and while earning her master’s degree specializing in outpatient HIV care she also became a family nurse practitioner. Throughout her professional career Rymland has dedicated herself to helping people with HIV and AIDS. Read More

Grateful Parents Talk About Their Leap Day Twins

Posted on Mar 4, 2016

Leap Baby Couple 2

Ryan and Summer Erickson, of Oakland, are the proud parents of twin boys with one born on Leap Day.

Ryan and Summer Erickson, of Oakland, are proud parents of premature twins Miles, born Feb. 28; and Walter, born Leap Day, Feb. 29; at Alta Bates Summit.

“We are so very grateful to the entire care team that has taken such great care of us,” Summer says. “As scary and overwhelming as the whole experience has been, we’ve had a lot of calming moments because we know Walter and Miles are in the best of hands.” Read More

When Seconds Count: Life-Saving Care Is Close to Home

Posted on Feb 19, 2016

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Provides Award-Winning Emergency Care for Heart Attack

heart-healthHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The same is true for Alameda County. Receiving high-quality, effective care for the body’s hardest working muscle can mean the difference between life and death.

For more than 10 years, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center has been a designated “cardiac receiving center” for Alameda County. Hospitals with these designations must have demonstrated that they have the facilities, physicians and cardiac team needed to provide immediate diagnostic tests and the interventions necessary to save lives. Read More

Ask an Expert About Non-Invasive TAVR Heart-Valve Surgery

Posted on Feb 17, 2016

Patients can recover quickly from the non-invasive procedure.

Patients can recover quickly from the non-invasive procedure.

By Mitul Kadakia, M.D.

Sutter Health

There’s new hope for patients with aortic stenosis who are at high or extreme risk for open heart surgery.

Severe aortic stenosis, or narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve, causes fainting, fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath and heart failure. Without treatment, many patients with severe aortic stenosis ultimately die of this condition.

A new treatment option, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), can be beneficial for patients at high risk for open heart surgery. This minimally invasive procedure allows replacing the aortic valve without open heart surgery.

A catheter is placed through a small incision in the groin or in the arteries in the upper left side of the chest. This catheter is used to deliver a new aortic valve to the heart.

The procedure is generally done with conscious sedation, which is easier on the patient and shortens recovery time. Many patients go home on the second day after surgery. There are no scars on the chest.

Mitul Kadakia, M.D.

Mitul Kadakia, M.D.

TAVR has been studied in large numbers of high-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis, showing excellent results and favorable outcomes.  It is supported by major medical society guidelines. (2014 AHA/ACC Guideline for the Management of Patients With Valvular Heart Disease http://circ.ahajournals.org/ content/129/23/e521.full)

Is TAVR Right for You?

If you have been diagnosed with aortic stenosis, talk to your cardiologist to find out whether TAVR is appropriate for you.

Mitul Kadakia, M.D., is a Sutter Health affiliated cardiologist at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and part of the Alta Bates Summit Heart Team along with Drs. David Daniels and Russell Stanten. Together, they have performed more than 140 TAVR procedures with outcomes that have exceeded national benchmarks. To learn more, visit altabatessummit.org/heart or contact us at 510-869-6700.

 

Ask An Expert: It’s Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot

Posted on Feb 3, 2016

By Jeffrey Silvers, M.D.

Medical Director, Quality and Infectious Disease

Sutter Health

There's still time to get a flu shot.

There’s still time to get a flu shot.

Good news for those who have been vaccinated for flu this season and for those who have been procrastinating: This flu season’s vaccine is a good match to the virus circulating in the U.S.

That means the vaccine reduces your chance of getting influenza by 50 to 60 percent. So what are you waiting for? It’s not too late – flu season peaks in February or March each year.

What if you do get the flu?

Anyone who develops influenza and contacts a healthcare provider within 48 hours can be treated with the antiviral medication Tamiflu.

Those with a high risk of developing complications from flu should begin treatment with Tamiflu as soon as flu is identified – even if it has been longer than 48 hours.

Tamiflu can be very effective for high-risk patients, including pregnant women, women who’ve given birth within two weeks, those 65 or older, kids under the age of 2, people in chronic care facilities, people with diabetes or heart, lung, kidney or liver disease.

Still, prevention is the best approach to self care. Do what you can do to fight the flu and stay healthy:

Get a Flu Shot

A flu shot is your first step in fighting the flu. The Centers for Disease Control recommend vaccination for everyone six months of age or older, all healthcare workers and any person at high risk for severe illness.

Stop the Spread of Germs

Practice good health habits like washing your hands regularly, covering your cough and staying home when you are sick:

  • Sneeze or cough into the bend of your arm or use a tissue.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth to keep germs from entering your body.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
  • If you feel worse, call your doctor or visit an urgent care clinic.

Take Care if You Get the Flu

If you have the flu you may feel very sick and tired as well as achy, feverish and dehydrated. Sore throat, dry cough, runny or stuffy nose, headache and diarrhea are common symptoms.

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce fever. Do not give children
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Keep separate from other members of your household.
  • Do not use alcohol or tobacco.

If you have severe illness or are at high risk for flu complications, please contact your doctor or seek medical care.

Find a physician.

Learn more about the flu.

Ask An Expert About Heart Disease in Women

Posted on Feb 2, 2016

By Vindhya Hindnavis, M.D.

Sutter Health

plastic heart sitting on echocardiogram print outQ: Are symptoms of coronary artery disease the same in women and men?

A: Too often, women are unaware that coronary artery disease is a serious health risk and don’t get evaluated for heart disease, even though it could save their lives. Chest pain is a common symptom in men and women, but they often experience it differently.

Men tend to feel sharp chest pain during physical exertion, while in women, chest pain may occur with exertion or with emotional stress alone. Women also may experience unexplained fatigue or shortness of breath.

On average, women develop coronary artery disease 10 years later than men. This may be due to the protective role estrogen is thought to play in preventing heart disease. With menopause, estrogen levels drop, which may place women at greater risk for the disease.

Although men and women can have high LDL cholesterol, women naturally have higher levels of the “good” HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol than men, which helps remove the “bad” LDL cholesterol from arteries. So, low HDL levels in women are a serious risk factor for heart disease.

Vindhya Hindnavis M.D.

Vindhya Hindnavis M.D.

African-American and Latina/Hispanic women have a greater prevalence of certain risk factors.

The Basics of Coronary Artery Disease

This type of heart disease occurs when fat and cholesterol, known as plaque, build up in the vessels that supply blood to the heart. The plaque narrows the blood vessels, which reduces the flow of blood. Most heart attacks occur when a blood clot forms on the plaque and cuts off the blood supply to the heart.

What’s Your Risk?

Common risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Low HDL cholesterol 
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of exercise

Stress Test Often Used to Diagnose

A cardiac stress test is often used to diagnose coronary artery disease by monitoring the heart’s electrical activity and pumping performance. However, even when their hearts are healthy, women are more likely than men to show irregularities during cardiac stress tests. This can create a false positive for heart disease, so doctors also use an imaging test to confirm the results of stress tests in women.

If you are diagnosed with the disease, many effective medications and interventions are equally successful in men and women.

How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Prevent a heart attack by catching heart disease before symptoms begin. Have your cholesterol and blood pressure levels checked regularly beginning at age 45. You can also reduce your risk for coronary artery disease by

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a diet low in fat, salt and simple sugars
  • Exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes, five times a week)
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain optimal cholesterol and blood pressure values

February is American Heart Month. Take the opportunity to talk with your doctor about your heart health. Find exceptional cardiovascular care in the East Bay.