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

Avon Logo

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

Dr. ROb Rideau

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.

Diabetes Care Days at Redwood City Clinic

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Pauline Chau, RD, CDE, a volunteer from Sequoia Hospital, speaks with one of our patients about the importance of nutrition as an essential component to diabetes management during one of our Diabetes Care Days.

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.

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“I love volunteering with Samaritan House because I get to spend more time talking with my patients. I enjoy being able to give individuals my full attention and help them with their issues.” Laura Blackwell, RN, FNP – El Camino Hospital.

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!

 

 

San Mateo Clinic in the San Jose Mercury Wishbook

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Patient Ronaldo Romero with Samaritan House Dental Assistant Alex Vilchez

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

This year’s Wish Book story from Samaritan House features dental patient, Ronaldo, who came to our clinic from by way of our Safe Harbor Shelter. Ronaldo, who is currently uninsured, was seen at the San Mateo Clinic for help maintaining his diabetes, dental work, and for a referral to surgically treat the cataracts which previously rendered him unable to work and to see.

Your donation to Samaritan House helps individuals like Ronaldo receive the medical & dental 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 Ronaldo at both of our free clinics:

http://www.mercurynews.info/wishbook/2013/wbsam.shtml

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month…

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“I am very thankful for the Breast Clinic. I have learned the appropriate way to examine myself…Thank you very much for all your help provided to us as women.” Samaritan House Breast Clinic patient

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, approximately 1 in 8 women (12%) will be affected by breast cancer in her lifetime.

The Samaritan House Breast Care Clinic was started in 1999 by a group of female physician volunteers at the Free Clinic of San Mateo who were concerned that low-income women, without access to healthcare, were not aware of the importance of routine breast screenings. Our Breast Care Clinic exists today to provide breast cancer prevention, education, and screening services for low-income women in San Mateo County.

The Breast Care Clinic reduces barriers to providing uninsured women with access to high-quality and timely breast health care services. Many clients in our target population are unaware of the risks they face and the importance of regular self-examination, clinical breast exams, and early detection. This program is particularly important in getting clients to change their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors about regularly performing a breast self-exam and screening mammograms.

Dr. Lynn B. Rosenstock, a volunteer physician at Samaritan House’s San Mateo Clinic, spoke recently about the breast care clinic and the importance of education about breast cancer.

Show your support for our Breast Care Clinic – Your donation helps provide education and screenings for women in need. Make your secure online donation today.

Beyond Compassion Weekend at Redwood City Clinic

We had an amazing day on Saturday, July 27th at the Beyond Compassion Weekend at our free clinic in Redwood City. Volunteers from the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church joined us to help provide medical & dental services to members of the community in need.

We are proud to report that we served 57 medical and dental patients during this one event! A big thank you to all of the volunteer physicians who saw patients that day, and to those volunteers who helped support the doctors by interpreting, assisting patients, finding charts and doing the important stuff behind the scenes that keeps our clinic running.