President’s Message

Posted on Jan 4, 2022 in President's Message | 0 comments

Happy New Year!

Omicron is here.

I was hopeful that this winter would be safer, but COVID 19 is starting to feel like the unwanted guest that refuses to leave. Already, my plans for an extended family get-together were scrapped by a symptomatic positive among us (we are all vaccinated and boosted, but we took the extra precaution of testing before getting together).

This variant is highly infectious, with an R naught of 15-20, and it is likely that a good portion of us will possibly be infected by the time this thing is done. It is comforting to know that PPE works, however, constant vigilance is required – not just at work, but also in our personal lives. It would be advisable to avoid large gatherings, particularly amongst unvaccinated and vulnerable people. We also know that vaccination works even with this variant. Though not as effective in limiting infection, it does prevent serious disease and hospitalization. Spread the word to your patients, friends, family and make sure they get boosted.

Already, the emergency department is overwhelmed with high numbers of new daily cases, which limits our capacity to care for other patients. Thankfully, the number of admissions has remained steady and are smaller in comparison to last winter, but the next few weeks will be telling as to where our hospital resources are. No elective procedure cancellations are planned. Perhaps early reports indicating less severe disease with Omicron will ring true.

Please be safe out there. Our patients need us the most now, and first and foremost, we have to be present to help. We’ll get through this together!

Use this link to upload your booster info if you haven’t already done so.

This applies if you did not get your booster through a Sutter vaccine clinic.

Below are the guidelines for returning to work if you test positive.

SHEMS Return to Work Requirements for Employees – Changes Based on New CDC Guidelines

Symptomatic or asymptomatic employees may return to work when all of the following criteria are met:

·       If these criteria are met, there is no requirement to test negative prior to returning to work.

·       Employees who have moderate disease (shortness of breath, difficulty breathing) and are not severely immunocompromised may return to work after at  least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive viral diagnostic test.

·       Employees who are identified as severely immunocompromised or were hospitalized for severe or critical COVID-19 may return to work after consultation and clearance with an infection control expert. In those situations, up to 20 days before clearance to return to work (RTW) is common and occasionally a test-based clearance approach is indicated.

·       Employee Health Services (EHS) will only manage the RTW process for employees who are diagnosed with or test positive for COVID-19.

Employees who test negative:

·       If a symptomatic employee tests negative for COVID-19, they may return to work once their symptoms resolve and they meet any standard affiliate policies and local health authority requirements. For example, affiliate policy may require a doctor’s note or other medical clearance if an employee has been off work for more than 3 days, and such requirements would apply.

Jeff Chen MD, MPH, FACEP
Chief of Staff, ABSMC Summit Campus

Alta Bates Summit Earns Highest Quality Honor for Heart Bypass Surgery

Posted on Jan 4, 2022 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Alta Bates Summit Earns Highest Quality Honor for Heart Bypass Surgery

ABSMC has earned a distinguished three-star rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its patient care and outcomes in mitral valve replacement and repair (MVRR) surgery combined with coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). The three-star rating, which denotes the highest category of quality, places ABSMC among the elite for MVRR+CABG surgery in the United States and Canada. This is the fifth time in six years Alta Bates Summit has achieved the three-star rating for its patient care and outcomes in cardiothoracic surgery. Congratulations to all our physicians who have been instrumental in making this achievement possible!

Secure Chat Offers Convenient Tool for Physician Advisors and Hospitalists to Communicate

Posted on Jan 4, 2022 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When Epic’s Secure Chat feature was introduced into Sutter EHR on Nov. 6, it caught the attention of users across the network. One early adopter of the tool is Sutter’s Internal Physician Advisor Services (IPAS) program, with 10 centralized physician advisors and nine on-site physician advisors. Click here to learn more.

Preventing Burnout with Mindfulness

Posted on Jan 4, 2022 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Preventing Burnout with Mindfulness: Each month, in partnership with Sutter’s Joy of Work team, psychiatrist Mark Levine, M.D., teaches a series of four free 75-minute weekly live online group sessions. The mindfulness course is offered to Sutter employees and clinicians to teach the neuroscience and psychology of mindfulness with practical skills to reduce stress and enhance happiness. Register today or learn more for the next mindfulness session beginning Jan. 5.

Writing for Well-Being Course in 2022

Posted on Jan 4, 2022 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Writing for Well-Being Course in 2022: In partnership with Sutter’s Joy of Work team, the Clinician Writing Workshop series is back! Join published authors Barbara Kivowitz, MSW, MA in Comparative Literature, and Claire Unis, M.D., MFA in Creative Writing, for an instructional series intended to offer support and guidance to clinicians who want to write. The course is an opportunity to connect with your peers in a supportive environment. Classes will take place Monday evenings 7-8:30 p.m. (Jan. 10, Jan. 24,  Feb. 7 and Feb. 21). Sign up by sending an email to

Why Sutter Community Connect (SCC)

Posted on Jan 4, 2022 in Announcements | 0 comments

New Physicians Memo

Posted on Jan 4, 2022 in New Physicians | 0 comments

President’s Message

Posted on Dec 1, 2021 in President's Message | 0 comments

I hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving. I was working most of the week through the holiday and weekend, so I sent my family down to LA to be with grandparents. I figured they would have more fun there rather than dealing with my usual work-related fatigue and grumbling.

The emergency department was humming with activity. Thanksgiving and the days before and after will bring an interesting mix of patients, those with nowhere else to be, those who have held out on acute issues to be with family and friends, only to have those problems escalate to the more serious, and those who have perhaps overindulged and are paying the price.

I had finished taking care of a patient, with an uncomplicated diagnosis and treatment plan, and she took the time to say to me, “thank you for all you do.” I felt heartened, thanked her for being such a nice patient, and in the spirit of things, catalogued some of the things that I should be thankful for.

I have a job – it’s not easy, but there a plenty of folks out there who are supremely dissatisfied with their jobs and have left the workforce altogether.

I have my family – they are all doing well, bar the occasional mishaps and whining (especially from the four-legged variety) and are mostly in good spirits.

I have my health – sure, my hair is getting gray, my midsection is flabbier, I think I’m shrinking in height, but all in all, not too many serious medical issues (that I’m aware of).

I have great friends and coworkers – doctors and nurses can be a tempestuous bunch, but I am continually impressed how hard everybody works to help each other and do the right thing for patients.

I have relative financial security –I still owe mortgage to the bank, but I am dutifully saving for retirement and my kids’ higher education. I live simply – aside from a sordid collection of bicycles. All the things I need (even if they are not all the things that I want) I can pay for.

These are a few of things that I am thankful for, and I encourage you to think along these lines during the holidays. Many of our patients are not so lucky.

Omicron is coming.  This particular variant is notable for having multiple mutations within the spike protein that may evade our current vaccines. Already, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna are signaling that they will likely be developing new vaccines to address the latest variant.  Last month, I was hopeful that we were through the worst of it, that we would soon be in the endemic phase of this COVID nightmare, but perhaps that was too wishful. Europe is going through its fourth major wave of infections, lockdowns are once again being imposed. Global vaccine equity is the key here – while most developed countries have vaccinated 50-70% of their population, the African continent has only vaccinated 7% of the population. Complacency in adequately vaccinating developing countries has fostered an environment rich for mutation.

With that somber note, I wish you all a peaceful winter holiday. Take stock of everything that you are thankful for, and spread some gratitude to your colleagues and patients.

Jeff Chen MD, MPH, FACEP
Chief of Staff, ABSMC Summit Campus

Reflections on 2020, Aspirations for 2021 – With a Science of Well Being Lens

Posted on Dec 1, 2021 in Wellness Committee | 0 comments

Reflections on 2020, Aspirations for 2021 – With a Science of Well Being Lens

I was feeling the weight of 2020 last week when I went to Ms. K, a patient who has had a particularly rough year.  “This is the year I lost my leg in the spring, and now, I am losing this battle with lung cancer all on top of Covid-19,” she said, “but I learned something this year, too.  I learned we all need each other, and we all need love”.  As she said this her eyes brightened and the heaviness that pervaded the room lifted and I felt a warmth in my chest.

“Yes, you are right, Ms. K,” I said, “We have learned some important things this year.”

“2020 = a dumpster fire” “2020 = world turned upside down”.  Taking my cue from Ms. K, I have been trying to see it rather as a world revealed. A world where we have a newfound appreciation for relationships and community.  A world much more fragile then we had understood it to be.  A world that needs our tender attention.

We may understand these things, but how do we move forward when so much tough stuff is still weighing us down?  Leaning on the research in social and cognitive sciences, I try to remain optimistic. It is in our DNA to care about the person in front of us and our community.   What we need now are cognitive nudges first to foster our own wellbeing and then our relationships with others.

Here are some ideas that people have embraced in 2020 that we can all explore moving forward in 2021.

Humility: We were humbled by the virus scientifically and socially by our threatened institutions.  And as it turns out, being humbled can be a good thing. There is a rich body of research to suggest that humility first makes us question our assumptions; then often this leads to listening to other people’s ideas and a less “self-focused” outlook.  Gratitude and a greater sense of connection with others follow. Humility is a good first step in self-compassion which can be very helpful in dealing with personal setbacks. 

Research has demonstrated that humility can be cultivated.  As clinicians to whom people look for answers, humility typically is not something we spend time developing. Given that we have all had a good taste of it in 2020, now is a good time to truly work at incorporating humility into our way of being.  And it starts with quieting our inner voices, deeply listening and letting go of some of our assumptions.

Compassion: Across the world Covid-19 wrought tremendous suffering and everyone felt the pull of compassion which is defined as sensing suffering and moving to address it.  Witnessing the compassion on social media moved us all weather this was images of people visiting isolated neighbors or the cheering of health care workers.  Those of us lucky enough be providing health care, we were inspired by our colleagues moving toward danger to express their compassion.

As providers, compassion is foundational in how we move through our world and should be our greatest source of inspiration and energy.  But what I call “the healthcare compassion paradox” can easily get in the way of the natural flow of compassion.  In order to feel compassion, one must witness the suffering of another.  All too often, we rush to the diagnosis and the treatment and miss this crucial step in generating compassion. Take a moment to open your heart and quiet your mind when you first see your patient; their story will inevitably provoke compassion that will sustain you through the encounter and give you energy going into the next.

Awe: Awe is the feeling we get in the presence of something vast or beautiful that challenges our understanding of the world. It is something we depend on the keep life fresh and in 2020, those vacations to “awesome” places like New York or the Grand Canyon didn’t happen, and this contributed the flat feeling we all experienced. Awe makes us feel more alive, but importantly, it also makes us more humble, generous and less self-centered.

This year researchers from UC Berkeley and UCSF demonstrated that awe can be cultivated, and we don’t need to travel the world to find it. A group of seniors were randomized to go on a brisk exercise walk or a walk where they were told to move more slowly but look carefully at their surroundings with a wonderous, aesthetic eye. Those on the “awe walk” reported a greater increase in wellbeing than the exercise group.   So, if we are looking for awe, we can find it nearby if we take the time to look for it.   People can be a great source of awe, too. With some attention, we can find awe in the beauty of our patients’ struggles; this can be another way our work can energize and inspire us.

Here is the link on how to do the awe walk yourself.

Purpose: A decade of research confirms that a meaningful life or life well lived has plenty of joy, but more important is living with purpose.  While we are all a little joy deficient now, 2020 certainly made up for it with opportunities to live with purpose.  Purpose is an abiding intention to achieve a long-term goal that is personally meaningful and makes a positive mark on the world. Wearing a mask, staying home in the spring and over the holidays, seeing our patients despite the risks: this is living with purpose. We are leaders who daily work to promote the health of our patients and community. Never has the importance of this work been clearer.

But living with purpose requires stating our purpose.  As with compassion, purpose is so built in our work that we can easily fail to appreciate it.   I have made friends with a former patient and every week he texts me, “Have a beautiful day on purpose!” After each text, I feel energized and approach my work with a more open heart.  We all need reminders like this.

Love:  As we know now, about the only bright side of2020 is our greater sense of our shared humanity and with that, a greater sense of concern for others and need for connection.  This is an opportunity we shouldn’t miss to build upon.  To promote the health of patients and communities, we need to take the next step to make sure we all learn from this insight. We must use our platform in our communities and exam rooms to promote what people now intuit – that an open-hearted, connected world is a healthier one. We need to talk about love.

I am not talking about romantic love but love as defined by Barbara Fredrickson: a moment-to-moment experience of warm, mutual caring that we feel with any person – even strangers – in everyday interactions.  What she also calls more dully “shared positivity” creates a mutual sense of wellbeing. According to her research, our brains are wired to look for this love and if we have this mindset, we can see the world as a source of expanding connectedness and wellbeing.  As healthcare providers, by talking about the health benefits of love and encouraging them to “spread the love” we can promote the health our patients and communities.

Each day I saw Ms. K in the hospital, we had amazing, pithy little conversation.  When she was feeling stronger and ready to go home, she said. “Thank you, Dr. Hass for all you have done, and I’m glad you are almost through your 2020.”

“Well, we have all suffered, but we have become a little wiser as a result” I replied. Then I took her hand, gently rubbed her back and looked into her eyes for a moment.  We both teared up as I said, “Along with medical care, I will try to make sure everyone leaves our med center with a little love, too!”

Leif Hass, MD
Wellness Chair – Summit Campus

Immediate Post-Op Note Timing: MUST be done AFTER incision closure/procedure end

Posted on Dec 1, 2021 in Health Information Management | 0 comments