KTVU’s Claudine Wong visited our Redwood City Food Pharmacy, the first of its kind in California, as part of a story on hunger in the Bay Area. To view the segment on Samaritan House, please go to 2:25:
KTVU’s Claudine Wong visited our Redwood City Food Pharmacy, the first of its kind in California, as part of a story on hunger in the Bay Area. To view the segment on Samaritan House, please go to 2:25:
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.
Laura 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.”
1,900 Women and Men conquered 39.3-miles to crush #breast cancer!
A huge thank you and congratulations to everyone who participated in San Francisco’s 14th annual #AVON 39 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.
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 #San Mateo 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 #Walk to End Breast Cancer, or for additional resources visit avonfoundation.org.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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 #dentistry. Having completed 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.
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:
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.
Did you know: Uninsured individuals with diabetes have 79% fewer physician office visits, but also have 55% more emergency department visits than diabetic individuals who have insurance? (Source: American Diabetes Association)
It is for reasons such as these that Samaritan House is excited to begin offering monthly ‘Diabetes Care Days’ at our Redwood City Clinic. This exciting new program will help empower our patients with the self-management tools and educational resources they need to prevent and control a variety of diabetic issues.
At a special weekend clinic event in January, diabetic patients were screened for complications, provided with medications, and given flu vaccinations. Because individuals with diabetes are more prone to foot problems, a screening station was set up to identify potential issues and instruct patients about how to keep their feet healthy.
Educational classes were also provided by a volunteer dietitian from Sequoia Hospital, who provided one-on-one counseling about what to look for on food labels, how to plan meals, and how to exercise proper portion control.
Samaritan House patient Jeanine Ortiz was one of the individuals taking part in the nutrition classes offered that day. According to Jeanine, she came to Redwood City Clinic a few years ago for help maintaining her high blood pressure, but was informed during her initial visit that she was exhibiting elevated glucose levels and was at-risk of developing diabetes.
“I had no idea that anything was wrong,” says Jeanine. “I was unemployed at the time and didn’t have the money to afford any extra medications, so I knew that I had to do whatever I could to avoid becoming diabetic.”
Fortunately, through weight loss and watching her diet, Jeanine has been able to maintain a normal glucose range. She feels great and is so thankful for the help she received from Samaritan House.
A special thank you to all of our program volunteers for helping provide these very necessary screenings and classes and to Stanford Hospital and Clinics for their financial support! As always, we also extend our sincere appreciation to the Sequoia Healthcare District, which over the past ten years has contributed more than $5 million dollars in support of our Redwood City Health Clinic, and has continued to help us serve a very vulnerable group of residents.
If you are a physician interested in volunteering with the Diabetes Care Program or in either of our medical clinics in San Mateo or Redwood City, please visit our volunteer page to see how you can help!