Health Partner Profile: Dr. Diana Baker, California Advanced Imaging Medical Associates

 

Dr. Diana Baker_2

Samaritan House Director of Development, Mary Dunbar, recently sat down with Dr. Diana Baker of California Advanced Imaging Medical Associates (CAIMA) to talk about CAIMA’s commitment to the health and well-being of our neighbors in need. CAIMA donates upwards of $90,000 worth of imaging services to Samaritan House each year, so that the volunteer doctors at our two free healthcare clinics have the tools they need to adequately diagnose and treat the patients in their care.

Mary Dunbar: Diana, I’m so glad that you’re here.
Dr. Diana Baker: Thank you for having me.
MD: Tell us a bit about CAIMA and how long have you been partnering with Samaritan House?
DB: I’m a partner at California Advanced Imaging Medical Associates, which is a group of radiologists in the Bay Area. We work with several hospitals in the Bay Area including Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, San Mateo Medical Center and Sequoia Hospital among others! Between Mills-Peninsula and Sequoia Hospitals, we donate $90,000 of professional services to Samaritan House each year. We’ve been working with Samaritan House and donating free professional services for as long as any of us can remember, it’s probably close to 25 years.

Our Samaritan house patients are seen during our regular hours, alongside all of our other patients. The Samaritan House clinician orders whatever imaging study they feel is important for that particular patient’s care, whether that is a chest X-ray, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound etc. The professional services for that exam is then donated by us for free.  Each of us participates.

MD: Wow. First of all, that’s incredibly generous. Thank you.
DB: It’s our pleasure.
MD: The partnership with the CAIMA doctors is so important, because radiology alone is quite a major expense when you think about it.
DB: It is so important for people to be able to get the imaging studies that they need, whatever they may be. Imaging studies are expensive but they can be incredibly important.
MD: I heard a story that the doctors at CAIMA were donating the pro bono services and it comes out their bonuses, is that true?
DB: It does come out of our personal salary which includes bonuses. We split it evenly among the partners.
MD: That’s incredibly generous when you think about how it impacts the doctors financially. That makes it an even more special and unique gift to the community.
DB: Certainly, and we are thrilled to do it. We all live in this community. We all are really happy to help and it is a valuable service that we can uniquely provide.
MD: Your expertise is obviously something that’s highly needed. Have you had any personal experiences with the Samaritan House patients you see? Is there one story that stands out?
DB: Several Samaritan House patients come to mind! I remember a few years ago there was a patient who had been experiencing episodes of severe abdominal pain for several months but had not had the time to see a doctor. The episodes were so severe that she was often unable to work. She finally sought care at the Samaritan House, and the clinician ordered an abdominal ultrasound.  We found that she had gallstones and had even developed a serious complication from them.  She had surgery and has fully recovered!
MD: What inspired you to get into radiology?
DB: In medical school, at first, I thought I wanted to be a surgeon, and I did a lot of surgical rotations and research. I found myself in every single one of those rotations most interested in going down to the Radiology department and looking at the patients’ images.   I realized “wow, when I am working in OB/GYN I’m most interested in looking at the ultrasound pictures. When I do surgery I’m most interested in looking at the CT …“ That is how my interest in radiology began.  I signed up for radiology rotations and fell in love with it!

The other thing I love about radiology is that we see everything. We can help to diagnose a brain tumor one minute and the next moment we may be looking at an ultrasound of an unborn baby to be sure that is developing normally. The following day we may be reading mammograms. We are involved with every aspect of healthcare from beginning to end, and I love that. I love the images. I’m a visual person.

MD: Oh, that’s great. So it’s not just about diagnosing people with illness. It’s also about preventative care.
DB: That’s right. Much of what we do is preventative care.  A great example is screening mammography.  I also love developing relationships and interacting with patients. Many people think that radiologists sit behind a computer screen and never see patients! People are surprised to hear that we perform many of the exams ourselves, including breast ultrasound and interventional procedures such as biopsies, etc.
MD: Great, so you get a little bit of both. Just out of curiosity, how do you learn to become a doctor of radiology? You go through medical school like everybody else, but what’s the actual specialty?
DB: You do medical school which is four years and then you do a one year internship, typically in internal medicine, or surgery. That is followed by four more years of dedicated radiology, including night and weekend call.  In our group we have all also done an additional one or two year fellowship to specialize within the field of Radiology. Fellowships might be in Neuroradiology, Body Imaging, Breast Imaging, Ultrasound etc. My fellowship was in Ultrasound.
MD: Do you sometimes feel a bit like an investigator or a detective?
DB: Absolutely. Every day and every patient is different too, so you start looking at a case you never know what you’re going to find. It’s interesting. It’s never boring.
MD: Were you raised here on the Peninsula?
DB: No. I’m from North Carolina and I came out here when I was 17 to go to Stanford.
MD: Wow, 17!
DB: I came here and fell in love with the Bay Area. I went to Stanford for undergrad and I got a master’s degree there, stayed for medical school, and then I went to UCSF for residency and fellowship. I settled between the two in San Mateo at Mills-Peninsula with California Advanced Imaging, so here I am.
MD: That’s great. After you did your residency at UCSF and your fellowship, where did you go?
DB: Straight to work with CAIMA! This was my first job out of fellowship and I have been here for 14 years!
  Personally, I know all of us, including myself, have roles that we play in our community outside of work. I work with my daughter with National Charity League and I work with my son with Young Men’s Service League, outside of my professional world. The CAIMA radiologists do a lot of community service outside of donating our professional services, each one of us in our own way.
MD: You mentioned that you were here for something to do with a drive of some kind?
DB: Yes! My daughter and her friends got together and did a coat drive years ago. We collected coats and brought them all in. We then toured the facility and were amazed. It’s I think incredible for our kids to see what is happening in our community and to help.
MD: That’s powerful.
DB: All of us at CAIMA try to serve our community outside of work as well. Personally, I have three children who are 11, 13 and 15 years old. We are very involved in National Charity League and Young Men’s Service League. In fact, I am the incoming VP of Philanthropy for our National Charity League chapter. Of course, the kids also have their own schoolwork, sports and activities and I love to exercise and read in my spare time.
MD: That’s a lot. I don’t know how you manage that.
DB: It’s busy. It’s very busy but it’s fun.
MD: That’s good. But do you sleep?
DB: Yes, sleep is so important!
MD: It is! I don’t know if you’re aware, but both NCL and YMSL are both huge supporters of Samaritan House.
DB: Yes, we are so thankful for this partnership and absolutely love working with Samaritan House
MD: What inspired you to be so civic minded and philanthropic?
DB: I have always been involved in community service and I feel it is so important for young people to give back and serve their community. I wanted to share those experiences with my kids. I personally found it difficult as a working parent.  That is why I am so happy to be able to donate my professional services to Samaritan House.  Also, working with NCL and YMSL with my kids has been a wonderful and meaningful experience.
MD: And so you get to do a little bit of everything.
DB: Yes. I try to get the kids involved in many different kinds of community service. I hope they will develop a lifelong commitment to our community.
MD: Wow, that’s neat. You truly are a community leader then, leading by example for your children.
DB: It’s happened organically, just as a result of wanting them to get involved.
MD: Is there anything else that you’d like to share about CAIMA, your group, and the good works that you do in the community, about your practice?
DB: California Advanced Imaging like I said before is separated into divisions at different hospitals in the Bay Area. Each division is like a family. It’s nice for us to, as a family, feel like we’re helping and doing things for our own community. We’re a very close knit group of equal partners, so for us it’s definitely a community within a community.
MD: After learning more about what you do for the community, I think you qualify as one of our health heroes.
DB: Thank you. I think I can speak for my partners at CAIMA when I say that we really value our relationship with our Samaritan House patients and are so happy that we can contribute our specialized expertise!
MD: And your superpower is radiology.
DB: Ha! Thank you!

Health Partner Profile – John Skerry, M.D., Physician in Chief, Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco Medical Center With Mary Dunbar

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Over the past few months, Samaritan House has been featuring our Healthcare partners as we approach The Main Event on March 24, 2017 – Health Heroes Unmasked, What’s Your Super Power? We hope you will join us to celebrate volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses and other volunteers who have kept our Free Clinics in operation for decades. It is through their individual and collective support that tens of thousands of uninsured, low income patients have received quality, primary and specialty healthcare.

Mary Dunbar: Samaritan House is grateful for the years of support from Kaiser Permanente and for all the volunteer physicians who’ve supported our Free Clinics. How did you first become involved with us?

Dr. John Skerry: Each year our medical staff gathers to plan and prepare for the coming year. When I became Physician in Chief here five years ago, I decided I wanted to devote a chunk of that time towards getting our doctors out into the community. Now we spend time each year doing volunteer activities within the community. It was our anesthesia department that got involved in serving meals at Safe Harbor Shelter.

JS:  We also come together every March to celebrate National Physicians Day and I realized that we would get these little tchotchkes to recognize our doctors and I couldn’t believe how much money we were spending on them. Now, instead of buying tchotchkes, we make a donation to an organization where our doctors are volunteering. And so, Fan Xie, Jamila Champsi, Jerry Saliman, and Sid Rosenburg, both active and retired, were working at Samaritan House. So, we honored their work by making a donation.

JS: That’s where I think it also dovetailed nicely with the fact that we’ve been a partner with Samaritan House for several years now. It’s part of our mission. We’re trying to improve the health of the communities in which we live and work. Sometimes it’s volunteering using your own clinical skills, however, I was just as pleased when our anesthesia department went and served meals at Safe Harbor because it gets us out in the community. I’m no longer operating, but as an ophthalmologist by training, I went on several medical missions to Guatemala. As satisfying as practice is when you’re doing it as a part of your career, when you get in the places where you’re actually really doing it out of the goodness of your heart, boy, it gives back tenfold.

MD: Tell me about some of the partnerships that Kaiser is really proud of in this community?

JS:  Healthy eating is one area where we partner; we work with the Food Bank and others. We have our farmer’s market every week. And we focus on getting people active because, again, obesity is one of the big risks in San Mateo County. Our pediatricians are great about getting out in the community providing education. If our goal is to try to improve the health of the communities in which we serve, Samaritan House is the epitome of the kind of causes we like to support.

MD: What inspired Kaiser to start offering farmer’s markets?

JS: Again, it dovetails entirely with our ethic about keeping people healthy and intervening when they’re ill…it started in Oakland and stemmed from the passion of one physician, Dr. Preston Maring. He realized the Oakland Medical Center was located in a food desert so he started a farmer’s market. That idea just spread like wildfire. Now we have farmer’s markets at virtually every medical center. The markets allow local growers to participate, and since medical centers tend to be busy places, you’re pretty much guaranteed good foot traffic. It’s worked out really well.

MD: What was your first inspiration to become a doctor?

JS: Here’s a funny story…I’m the youngest of four boys, Jim, Jay, Jeff, and John. And Jim’s an engineer, Jay is a lawyer, Jeff is an accountant, and I became a doctor. My dad said he wanted to buy land in Maine and start his own town. Right? He’d have all the professions covered.

MD: That’s funny! How’d you choose Ophthalmology? Ophthalmology is very specific.

JS: I always had an interest in medicine and then, interestingly, I thought I was going to be an internist or a neurologist but then, when I did my surgery rotation, I realized I liked surgery. So, then I did an ophthalmology rotation and it appealed to my attention for detail. I liked the precision of eye surgery. It’s been incredibly satisfying.

MD: When did you begin your career at Kaiser Permanente?

JS: Quite frankly, I sort of stumbled into The Permanente Medical Group – it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s an amazing group. I had grown up in the east coast, didn’t know much about Kaiser Permanente or The Permanente Medial Group. I took the job partly because it was an area of the country I wanted to live…The longer I’m here the more I’m impressed, you know? It’s been 23 years now as of December 2016, all of it at Kaiser, and all of it in South San Francisco.

MD: What do you think is unique and special about Kaiser’s South San Francisco Medical Center versus other Bay Area medical centers?

JS: There’s so many ways in which we’re unique, but I think one of the ways we really are different is that it truly is a group practice. The sense of collegiality is just amazing. It’s not something you necessarily get in every practice. What really does impress is our self-perception is that we are a local, community hospital. However, when you look at our performance, we match up against any hospital in the United States, if not the world. No joke. When you look at the rest of the nation, if someone has hypertension there’s about a 50/50 chance that it’s under control. But because of some of the leadership in this medical center, people like Dr. Mark Jaffe, we’ve embarked on a regional program to improve hypertension control. While the rest of the country is controlling hypertension at about 50%, within Kaiser Permanente Northern California it’s 85-86% controlled, that’s a huge difference. Here in South San Francisco, it’s closer to 90%. If you stacked up every medical center in the United States, you would not find many medical centers that control hypertension at a 90% rate.  I think what it shows is the power of group practice. There’s almost nothing that we accomplish based upon the heroics of any one person.

JS: Virtually everything we do is a team effort. Modern medicine is a team sport. A surgeon, Atul Gawande, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a writer for The New Yorker authored a great article a couple years ago about medicine moving from cowboys to pit crews. It’s a big adjustment for a lot of doctors. And we’ve had pit crews all along. That’s the secret sauce for us.

MD: In your role as Physician in Chief, you’re leading teams of doctors. What does it mean to you to have your peers acknowledge and recognize you by putting you in this role?

JS: I sometimes call myself the accidental Physician in Chief, because this wasn’t the role that I was really looking for. I joined the group and I was a general ophthalmologist and I think I did a good job at that, and then I became the chief of the ophthalmology department, and again, it wasn’t something I was necessarily prepared for but I really enjoyed it. It was great fun to see things change, to see things improve. The person who was in the role before me, Michelle Caughey, who is a great mentor to me, asked me if I wanted to become one of her assistants, and I did. Thinking that was probably as far as I was going to go with it, Michelle got promoted, the opportunity arose, it was now or never, and so I threw my hat in the ring. I was just fortunate enough to have people think well enough of me that I became the Physician in Chief. That’s what I’ve just loved about my career here is the sense that I’ve been here 23 years, yes, I’ve been an ophthalmologist, but I’ve had five different careers within that time.

MD: Thank you for sharing your story with me, Dr. Skerry. We hope you’ll join us for The Main Event this year so that we can recognize you and your colleagues for being our Health Heroes!

Dr. John Skerry received his undergraduate degree (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna cum Laude) from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and his medical degree (Alpha Omega Alpha) from Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York, New York. He completed his Ophthalmology residency training at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and is the Physician in Chief at Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco Medical Center in South San Francisco, California.

 

Health Heroes: Keeping People Well

Laura BlackwellLaura Blackwell is a nurse practitioner at the Samaritan House Redwood City Free Clinic, and one of the many Health Heroes you will see if you come in to visit us there. She had originally worked as a hospital nurse, and changed paths out of a desire to work with patients long-term, in a more relaxed setting.

“Samaritan House gives me an opportunity to see patients, keep my skills, and I really enjoy it, so I continue to volunteer here over the years.”

One of the advantages of working with recurring patients is that it provides the opportunity to teach patients how to improve their diet, exercise regime, and self-care. She asks patients about the choices they make, and delights in witnessing improvements in diet, fitness, and weight loss. Medical providers usually have to have these conversations in the doctor’s office, in a removed setting away from delicious but unhealthy foods that may be tempting their patients. It’s one thing to say you will choose broccoli over cake, it’s another to remember that at a family gathering surrounded by your favorite foods. This isn’t the case at the Redwood City Free Clinic.

Laura had an opportunity to see these choices in action at a potluck thrown by the clinic. She noticed that following the year in which staff particularly stressed nutritional education, patients brought healthier foods, like vegetarian options and salads to the event. “You could see that people had incorporated this into their life, and you could see the example with things they brought in the following year.”

This type of prevention and education is necessary for long-term improvements in people’s health. In Laura’s words, “This is why the clinic is so crucial. By keeping people well instead of having them end up in an emergency room situation where they’re very, very sick, we can treat them before their illness reaches a point where they require emergency care and keep them healthy. I think it’s very important that people have this place to go.”

Samaritan House Participates in AVON 39: the Fight to Crush Breast Cancer!

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1,900 Women and Men conquered 39.3-miles to crush !

IMG_5597A huge thank you and congratulations to everyone who participated in San Francisco’s 14th annual walk.  The event raised a whopping $4.4 million dollars! These funds will help accelerate breast cancer research,  improve access to screenings, diagnosis and treatment, and educate people about breast cancer.

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Samaritan House’s Medical Director, Dr. Jason Wong, accepted a check for $376,580, on behalf of Avon’s Western U.S. Breast Health Outreach Programs in Alaska, Arizona, California, Montana and Utah.

The $30,000 that Samaritan House received will support the Samaritan House Breast Care Clinic (SHBCC). The SHBCC reduces barriers to providing uninsured women with access to a continuum of comprehensive, high-quality and timely breast health care services through the provision of education, screening, clinical breast examination (CBE), referrals for free mammography and surgery, and yearly follow-ups. The program utilizes a culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate intervention strategy that targets low-income uninsured women residing in Central County.

An extra special thank you goes out to a few special Samaritan House staff members who actually participated in the weekend-long event. Amy Hsieh spent her weekend volunteering with the Food Services Crew Team and Jamie Nugent and Christiana Weidanz completed the Walk! It was moving and memorable experience for everyone who participated and the community sincerely appreciates your devotion on behalf of the fight to end breast cancer.

For more information on Samaritan House’s Free Breast Care Clinic, visit: http://samaritanhousesanmateo.org/what-we-do/freeheathcareclinics/. For more information about AVON 39 The , or for additional resources visit avonfoundation.org.

Julieta’s Story

Julieta Photo

Julieta Photo

Just two years ago, Julieta was at her annual check up at Samaritan House’s Breast Care Clinic when one of our volunteer physicians found a lump in her left breast. The staff at Samaritan House’s clinic referred her to Mills-Peninsula Hospital to get a free mammogram, but she put it off because she feared losing income from missing work and she didn’t want to disrupt her family. Sylvia Pratt, the Clinic Coordinator, and Eileen Lopez-Guerra, the Breast Care Clinic Coordinator, kept calling her, telling her how important it was that she get a mammogram immediately. When the shock of the news settled, Julieta remembered her sister, who died of breast cancer only three years prior. She went for her mammogram, which revealed what turned out to be a malignant tumor.

The hospital recommended that Julieta have the tumor removed immediately. However, Julieta, who was trying to hide her illness from her family so as not to worry them, put it off. She also didn’t know how she was going to pay for the surgery. Samaritan House clinic staff stepped in again, filling out all the paperwork she needed to qualify for a program that would cover it. Two months after finding out she had cancer, Julieta had the surgery to remove her tumor.

Unfortunately, her battle with cancer didn’t end there. Because the lump was very close to her heart, Julieta had to undergo chemo and radiation. The treatments made her very weak and she was unable to work. Her husband missed a lot of work as well, taking her to frequent doctor’s appointments, and their financial situation quickly declined. The kids were also worried about their mom and it showed in their school work.

Samaritan House was able to provide comprehensive support with the things the family needed to get through this difficult time, including produce and groceries, clothing for the children as well as toys during the holidays, ensuring  Julieta’s children could have a  joyful holiday season.

Today, Julieta is still recovering, but she says she’s getting stronger. Her doctor has said she can work up to four hours a day, so she is looking for ways to help support her family. In the meantime, Samaritan House continues to help, giving her family fresh produce and meat every month through the Family Harvest program.

Julieta is grateful for the support her family has received and wants to give back; she’s currently volunteering at a local high school and at a church afterschool program. Her kids are doing better too, “They can see Mommy is getting strong,” she says. When asked “What’s next for you?” she flashes a gorgeous smile and says, “Happiness.”

Because of you, we are able to make sure that hardworking families like Julieta’s get the essentials they need to live. And, because of you, we can provide crucial medical care and supportive counseling necessary to save lives like Julieta’s.

Make a gift today, and be the reason that we can keep saving lives, sustaining families, and supporting our neighbors in need on their path towards independence and a healthy, more prosperous  future.

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Community Connections Blog – Improving Your Memory

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memory-loss-woman-625Written By:

Samaritan House Volunteer,

Dr. Jerry Saliman

With advancing age, many adults worry not only about their health, but also about their memory. First, let us examine why we value our memory, and then look at some of the latest research in how to improve memory.

With the externalization of memory by cell phones, computers, digital photographs, books, and pencil and paper, one can wonder why we need our brains to remember anything at all. However, thousands of years ago the major way we passed along information was orally, which required focused attention and memory. Dating back 2500 years, the Iliad and the sequel, the Odyssey, were transmitted orally by the rhythm of the words. It is said that the Torah, or Five Books of Moses, was memorized by Moses, then taught to the leaders of the Hebrew people, and then passed on to the 1 million or so who left Egypt around 1500 BCE. The Torah chant or trope aided memorization, and may have even contributed to more precise interpretation. For 1000 years, not one word of Torah was recorded in the written word. The value of “knowing” the Torah in the mind was that it could be scanned quickly for reference and applied meaningfully to any life situation. Today, with the exception of some Torah and Talmudic scholars, few possess this skill. Although computers are useful memory tools, digitalized knowledge cannot be applied in situations requiring emotional awareness and response. For example, a musician who performs a piece from memory can evoke musical pathos or elation that extends beyond the printed notes.

There are scores of self-help books on improving memory. One that I recently enjoyed reading is Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by an investigative journalist, Joshua Foer. He states this about the process of improving his memory, “My experience has validated the old saw that practice makes perfect. But only if it’s the right kind of concentrated, self-conscious, deliberate practice.” The main technique he utilized was the “PAO system.” A specific person, action, or object is associated with a specific card in a deck, or a segment of poetry, or a number to be recalled. I won’t reveal the ending of the book, but the memory feat Joshua Foer was able to accomplish was quite extraordinary. Moreover, the tools he used can be learned by anyone.

There have been many medical studies to investigate memory loss and interventions to improve it. Despite early hopes that computerized brain games or taking gingko biloba could make a significant difference, follow up studies have not confirmed their long-term benefit. One novel medical study from UCLA (in the journal Aging, September 2014) showed actual Reversal of Cognitive Decline. In this study, 9 of 10 patients with early Alzheimer’s, or mild and subjective cognitive impairment improved within 3-6 months using a comprehensive program involving up to 36 interventions. The one patient who did not improve had advanced dementia. Patients who had quit their jobs because of poor memory were able to return to work. Notably absent from the regimen were prescription medicines. Although the program was personalized, here are some of the key components:

  1. Exercise 30-60 minutes, 4-6 times per week. (Exercise stimulates the growth of new neurons of the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain, and preserves existing neurons.)
  2. Eat a healthy diet. Eliminate simple carbohydrates, increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and non-farmed fish.
  3. Reduce stress; meditate, practice yoga, or listen to music.
  4. Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night.
  5. Fast 12 hours per night including 3 hours prior to bedtime to reduce sugar and insulin levels. (The higher one’s glucose, the greater the risk for memory loss.)
  6. Supplements such as B12, Vitamin D, fish oil, and curcumin were individualized in this study.

Although none of the participants followed the protocol entirely, the results were still impressive. Dr. Dale Bredesen, the neurologist and author of the study, advises a full clinical trial to substantiate the findings.

I instruct my patients who have concerns about their memory to incorporate heart-healthy habits: “What is good for the heart is good for the brain.” Other measures that aid our memory that I have witnessed watching my 3-year-old granddaughters and 92- year-old mother include:

  1. Learn by song or rhyme. Think of the ABC song. Singing or chanting triggers additional nerve pathways to aid memorization and recall. Whenever I attend Shabbat services with my mother, chanting of a prayer aids her ability to remember it.
  2. When I observe my granddaughters learning a new word, they repeat the word out loud. When you meet a new person, try to state the name of the person 2-3 times to reinforce it in your memory bank.
  3. New experiences add links to memory circuitry. Socialize with others, take your children or grandchildren to the zoo, or travel to maximize the opportunity for memorable moments. Stay active.

In summary, keep yourself focused, exercise your mind, and practice a healthy lifestyle to stay sharp. Your personal memories are valuable because they define you. Protect them.

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff.

This article was reprinted with permission from Peninsula Jewish Community Center. For complete original version, visit blog.pjcc.org.

Beyond Compassion Weekend

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The 9th annual Beyond Compassion Weekend at our Redwood City Free Clinic was a huge success! Volunteers from the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC) join our team at the clinic to help provide medical & dental services to members of the community in need.

MPPC’s goal for compassion weekend is to extend the good feelings from serving others throughout the year. Here are a few suggestions from MPPC to help you move towards a lifetime of giving:

  1. Be a Regular
    Eat and have coffee at the same places each week. Get to know the staff by name. Ask questions and listen to their stories. Tip generously. Hold meetings and celebrations in those places.
  2. Be a Neighbor
    Take a walk around your neighborhood at the same time each day and get to know your neighbors. Welcome the newcomers. Hang out often in your front yard or front porch. Organize neighborhood get-togethers.
  3. Be a Servant
    Find a place to volunteer regularly in the community at mppc.org/ServeBayArea. Keep a supply of food gift cards or bus tokens for the homeless folks you encounter. Help elderly and disabled neighbors.
  4. Be an Inviter
    Be on the lookout for people who are a good fit for where you volunteer, and invite them to join you. Get neighbors and co-workers involved in the ministries you serve by organizing food, clothing, or book drives.

Thank you to everyone who took part in serving at Compassion Weekend 2015! Your gift of time and energy was a tremendous blessing to others that will carry on throughout the year.

Meet our New Dental Director, Dr. Robert Rideau

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Dr. Rideau has practiced in San Mateo and the Bay Area for more than 25 years, providing quality dental services in both Cosmetic and Restorative . Having Dr. ROb Rideaucompleted more than 2000 hours of continuing education in the practice of dentistry, Dr. Rideau remains abreast of the most current trends in the science and art of dentistry. 

As a graduate of the UCLA School of Dentistry, Dr. Rideau is a member of the American Dental Association and the California Dental Association. In his commitment to the community, he currently serves on the Board of the San Mateo County Dental Society. You can also find Dr. Rideau volunteering at the Dental Clinic in San Mateo.

Samaritan House’s free dental program was established in 1998 and has since expanded tremendously. Dental Clinic services include fillings, cleanings, extractions, and root canals. With the guidance of a part-time Dental Director, a small paid staff, and countless volunteers, we are able to provide professional dental care to low-income families.

San Jose Mercury News – Wishbook 2014

We are very honored and excited to be a featured nonprofit in the San Jose Mercury News Wish Book this year!

Read the full article below:

JORGE CASTILLO FUNEZ

SAN MATEO — By the time Jorge Castillo Funez was diagnosed with diabetes this past December, his condition was severe. Without twice-daily injections of insulin, he would soon die.

However, an obstacle blocked the young man’s path to recovery: an intense fear of needles that Funez traces back to a childhood trauma in El Salvador.

Unable to perform the injections himself, Funez relied on the staff of the Free Clinic of San Mateo, a health center run by nonprofit Samaritan House that provides care for people who lack adequate insurance. He visited the clinic every day for more than a month so medical assistant Yesenia Hernandez could administer the insulin, then teach Funez’s girlfriend how to do it.

“I have never been treated the way they treated me here,” said Funez, who works as a hotel housekeeper. “They saved my life.”

Funez, 32, is one of roughly 1,200 low-income people who visit the clinic every year. Many have slipped through the cracks in state and federal health insurance plans, failing to qualify for Medi-Cal or the Obama administration’s new insurance mandate. Others have insurance but still struggle to pay for medication.

“We’re the safety net for the safety net,” said Sharon Petersen, director of operations for Samaritan House, which runs a second Free Clinic in Redwood City. The clinics benefit not only the clients, she said, but the broader health care system: When people with chronic conditions get preventive care, they make fewer trips to the emergency room.

The clinics provide a wide range of services, from basic care to neurology and orthopedics, despite having fewer than a dozen full-time staff members. Most of the clinics’ several dozen doctors and dentists volunteer their time.

Samaritan House, which gets most of its funding from private donors, will spend roughly $820,000 this year to operate the clinics. But there is still a critical need for medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, including the insulin provided to Funez and other diabetic patients. Wish Book readers can help by donating $6,000, which covers a month’s supply for both facilities.

Diabetes is the most common chronic illness among patients at the San Mateo clinic, Hernandez said, though most of the patients are not insulin-dependent. Many of the clinic patients are Latino, a group with higher rates of diabetes than the general population. Clients don’t have enough money to buy fresh, healthful food — fast food is much less expensive — and often face linguistic or cultural barriers.

Funez’s father was a diabetic, but his family didn’t know that until after he died. Doctors determined that his fatal heart attack in 2004 was brought about by untreated diabetes.

The information shocked and scared Funez, who came to America when he was 20 and speaks halting English, but he still didn’t understand much about the disease — or that he was genetically predisposed to it.

He continued eating fast food and drinking soda — “mas Coke,” he recalled with a sheepish smile. In October 2013, he developed a suite of diabetic symptoms: blurry vision, thirst, frequent urination and unintended weight loss.

Now, a year later, he is looking and feeling much better. He eats less fried food and more salads, and has eliminated his soda habit. Besides regular checkups with an endocrinologist, Funez has visited clinic nutritionists, optometrists and dentists.

But he’s still afraid of needles. Insulin shots make him cringe, and he faints every time his blood is drawn. Funez said he developed the phobia after he witnessed a needle break off in a classmate’s arm during a round of vaccinations at his elementary school. The boy’s arm later had to be amputated, Funez said.

To keep his diabetes under control, Funez will need to master his fear. Hernandez said she worries about what would happen if his girlfriend weren’t around. But she’s determined.

“My goal,” Hernandez said, “is to one day see him inject himself.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about Samaritan House’s free dental and medical clinics, go to http://samaritanhousesanmateo.org and click on “What We Do.”

Your donation to Samaritan House helps individuals like Jorge  receive the medical treatment needed to live a full and healthy life. Read his story in the Wish Book and please consider a donation to help patients like Jorge. Click here to make a donation.