Message From The Director
Inspired By the Work We Do
As I begin to settle into my new role I've had the opportunity to visit many of you to learn more about the important work you do every day here in Contra Costa County. Health Services is a large department that does diverse work. Many of us are deeply immersed in our jobs that keep people healthy and safe. Yet few of us have the opportunity to learn about the work going on in other divisions, or even in the program down the hall.
As I've gotten to know our department's divisions better through meetings with staff, site visits and learning tours, it's been affirming, even humbling, to hear stories about our work.
However, few of us may ever hear these stories as they are rarely told outside the immediate workplace.
Stories of Lives Saved
Did you hear about the sick 8-month-old baby whose life was recently saved by the quick and decisive actions taken by staff at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center? Everyone involved, from front-line staff in the Emergency Department to the primary care provider to the interim CEO – who helped the family overcome a language barrier – rallied around the family to ensure a speedy airlift to Children's Hospital in Oakland, where the baby was later discharged smiling and “perfect.”
Or what about the public health nurse who quickly notified our partners in the Office of the Sheriff after a client made statements of wanting to harm himself? The situation resolved peacefully with help from law enforcement, and the client received mental health services. If nobody spoke up, that situation could have ended much differently.
Or the veteran who, after at least a decade of homelessness, substance use and ER visits, turned his life around with some help from our homeless outreach and engagement team? The team connected with him four times last year and helped him work with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now he is sober, has health benefits through the VA and just signed a lease for permanent, supportive housing.
Last week, I had the privilege to spend some time at Discovery House, a substance abuse residential treatment program, listening first-hand to the stories of our residents. As each of them described their difficult journey up until now, they consistently said two things over and over – that they were grateful for the opportunity to get treatment, and that it is the connection to the staff and fellow residents that makes the biggest difference.
Collaborating and Connecting
What I learned from these stories is that united we can achieve great outcomes. All of these accounts demonstrate how collaboration and connections amongst our own divisions and programs, with our partners and with our community members themselves can make the difference between life and death.
Please keep collaborating and connecting and caring and doing the kind of work that becomes the lore of our institution. And let's keep talking about it, so everyone has a chance to share and celebrate our achievements.
Going the Extra Mile:
These CCHS Employees are GEMs
Find out how the people named below went the extra mile.
May Torres, RN
Kelly Quintero Velasquez, LVN
Acela Vergara, RN
Archiebal Ginez, RN
Belaynesh Biwota, RN
Janice Prado, RN
Lily Cook, RN
Maria Ana Gonzales, RN
Maribeth Dalit, RN
Neysa Ramos, RN
Rabbert Bala, RN
Ramon Garcia, RN
Remi Daodu, RN
Shannon Dockham, RN
Sinju Kawk, RN
Maria Regina Panaligan, RN
Luis-Felipe Torres III
Charlene Seaberry, LVN
Emily Bautista, RN
Emmanuel Asabia, LVN
Erin Crowley, RN
George Flores, RN
Hanahle Mirason, RN
Maria Duquilla, RN
Regina Panaligan, RN
Jomil Bayot, RN
Elizabeth Berryman, MD
Catherine Cribben, RN
Reginald Olivar, LVN
Mary-Kay Massey, RN
Brigitte Imhof, RN
Jo Dean, RN
CCHS Converting to New Email System
Health Services will soon be switching from the aging Lotus Notes email system to Microsoft Outlook. As part of the switch, CCHS employees will get shorter email addresses ending in @cchealth.org. (Example: email@example.com.)
Employees' old email addresses (@hsd.cccounty.us and @hsd.co.contra-costa.ca.us) will still work. If someone sends an email to the old address, the message will route to your new Outlook account.
The Information Technology (IT) division will be conducting a pilot within IT in July to test the new system before rolling out the software to the rest of the department in the following months.
After Outlook is successfully implemented, IT will roll out other elements of the Microsoft Office 365 package. A great advantage of using Office 365 is that we will get regular updates of programs such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Consequently, CCHS staff will always be using the newest Microsoft tools.
More details regarding training, support, and migration information will be provided over the summer and prior to the move of your specific account. Training will be a combination of on-site instructor-led, web training and laminated quick guides.
For more information, contact Bryan Thomas at Bryan.Thomas@hsd.cccounty.us.
Free Wifi Coming to Health Centers
Patients at our outpatient health centers will soon be able to access free guest wifi. Our Information Technology (IT) will start the project in July when the funding is received. Full deployment is expected in the Fall.
Earlier this year, IT asked the county administrator's office for venture funding to pay for the installation and maintenance of guest wifi in several health centers. IT submitted the request after the PRIME outpatient-satisfaction team shared data showing that free wifi reduces patients' frustration while waiting to be seen in the clinics. Long wait times are our patients' top complaint.
These clinics are slated to receive free wifi: Antioch Health Center, Brentwood Health Center, Concord Health Center, Miller Wellness Center, Pittsburg Health Center and West County Health Center. Martinez Health Center and Contra Costa Regional Medical Center already offer guest wifi.
From Homeless and Sick to Healthy, Housed and Employed
In January, 30-year-old Adriana Lara was living in her car with her two daughters and struggling with depression. In recent years, she made many visits to the emergency room and had been hospitalized a few times. Her outlook wasn't good.
That all changed the day she got a call from Roshawn Adams, a case manager for our CommunityConnect program, which aims to reduce inappropriate healthcare utilization by addressing patients' underlying social and behavioral needs.
Adriana had been identified by CommunityConnect as someone at risk for poor health outcomes. Roshawn's job was to get Adriana stabilized before things became a crisis and Adriana had to go to the hospital again.
Adriana and Roshawn developed a shared care plan with goals of behavioral health support, food security, housing, and employment identified. CCHS psychiatrist Dr. Alina Faramazyan met with Adriana and identified the right medications to treat Adriana's depression.
Adriana and Roshawn then began locating local food pantries and Cal Fresh benefits to support Adriana and her family. Roshawn worked with housing resources in Sacramento – where Adriana had a better social support system -- to secure an apartment with childcare services.
"The small things added up to the larger things," said Adriana, crediting the consistency and persistence of her case manager as key factors to her success in the program. Roshawn would call Adriana every few days to follow up on the progress of applications, share new resources, and meet in the community to work on their care plan. "Working with Roshawn made me realize that there was someone there who did care and I was worth their time when I hadn't felt that way in a long time."
Adriana moved into her new apartment in mid-April and was recently offered a job at Walmart.
Supporting Roshawn was a CommunityConnect multidisciplinary team of social workers, Public Health Nurses and mental health clinical specialists. CommunityConnect is a care coordination program under the state's Whole Person Care program.
County Sues Drug Manufacturers and Distributors for Creating Epidemic
Contra Costa County is one of 30 California counties that have filed litigation against drug manufacturers and distributors for creating an opioid epidemic in this state.
The lawsuit seeks reimbursement of taxpayer funds that already have been spent responding to the opioid epidemic in Contra Costa County; for ongoing costs of continuing the fight, including emergency response, prevention, monitoring and treatment; and for prospective relief to help the County undo some of the widespread damage that these drug manufacturers and distributors have caused.
According to the County's complaint in U.S. District Court, many of the nation's largest drug manufacturers misinformed doctors about the addictiveness and efficacy of opioids. In addition to the wrongdoing by drug manufacturers, the lawsuit asserts that the nation's largest drug distributors – including Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corp. – failed to monitor, identify and report "suspicious" opioid shipments to pharmacies, in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act.
"This litigation is an important tool to help us recover the taxpayer funds currently being used and desperately needed to intervene and try to counteract the opioid epidemic," said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.
HazMat on the Scene for Concord Fire
Health Services Hazardous Materials crews responded to a massive fire in downtown Concord that gutted a construction site April 24, forcing about 250 people to evacuate from an apartment complex next door.
The cause of the three-alarm fire near the corner of Concord Boulevard and Galindo Street remains under investigation. It began about 1 a.m. on a 2.75-acre parcel where new apartment buildings and a parking garage were under construction.
Our hazmat team responded to the incident to address air quality concerns in the area. Smoke from the blaze prompted Health Services to issue a health advisory for people with pre-existing respiratory conditions, which was lifted shortly before 8 a.m.
Our hazmat team, in coordination with Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and the Concord Police Department, remained on scene for several days following the incident to evaluate air quality issues during the clean-up phase of the incident. No additional health advisories were issued.
Mobile Dental Clinic Gets Rolling
Our new mobile dental clinic is now providing services at the Brookside Homeless Shelter in Richmond. The mobile clinic will be making the rounds elsewhere in the county, including at several schools.
Application Period Opening for Volunteer Birth Coaches at CCRMC
The doula program at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC) will begin accepting applications for new birth-coaching volunteers on June 1. The popular Heart & Hands Doula Program, which is coordinated by the hospital's volunteer office and perinatal unit, will take applications until August 1.
Doulas offer physical comfort and emotional support during the birth experience. They also provide support in the hours and days leading up to and following birth, assist with lactation, and with baby care in the nursery. The doula service is free to patients who have their babies at CCRMC.
CCRMC's doula program was started nine years ago by doctors and nurses in the labor and delivery unit. CCRMC is one of the only hospitals in the Bay Area with a volunteer doula program. CCRMC's program offers volunteers an opportunity to give back to their community by assisting new moms have a positive experience before, during and after birth, one of the most beautiful times in a woman's life.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Addressing Digital Disparities Among Latino Patients
One-fourth of CCRMC & Health Centers patients (about 34,000) have signed up for myccLink, our online portal, since it was launched in 2014. But Spanish-speaking patients have been slow to adopt myccLink, which allows patients to schedule appointments online, view lab results and email their providers.
As of May, 8% of Spanish-speaking patients had enrolled in myccLink compared to 30% of English-speaking patients. This disparity exists in spite of the fact CCHS offers a Spanish version of the portal and widely promotes the portal in Spanish.
To address the disparity, the myccLink steering committee recently eliminated the requirement that patients submit their social security numbers during the signup process. The Health Equity Team had identified the SSN requirement as a significant barrier to enrollment for the Spanish-speaking population. Our promotoras, who help Latino patients navigate the healthcare system, have also been helping patients sign up for myccLink.
Research suggests Latino patients have been resistant to online portals because they fear the portals will erode their personal relationships with their providers.
Thanks to these employees for their long years of service:
Norma Butler, Shirley Drumin, Lorraine Conner, Korinne Ternes
Letitia Datuin, Cynthia Sook, Fowzia Younos, Suzzette Johnson
Marcelino Matute, Rosa Linda Aviles, Angela Cottone, Teresa Gregory, Charles Guthery, Corinne Concannon, Paula Zavala, Melissa Sendelbach, Omar Carranza, Judy Pearl, Catherine Brandt, Rachael Bailey, Steven Garcia, Elio Bracho, Linda Stevens, Jonathan San Juan
Dave Woodhouse, Analyn Hernandez, Danira Oseguera, Junar Suriba, Manojani Vethavanam, Regina Parenti, Anita Green, Jamar Moon, Frances Tolentino, Joshua Slattengren, Tiombe Mashama, Maria Trujillo, Chantelle Stroman, Sarah Gonzalez, Sylvia Rodriguez
Paramjit Dhillon, Beverly Hines, Kelvin Jaquias, Delano Doelitzsch, Alma McRae, Zenaida Ampil, Jean Moss, Lisa Keller, Dawn M. Carofanello, Jacqueline Esguerra, Naikouan Saechao, Rita Matli, Kristine Miller, Sandra Sanusi
Send feedback and story ideas to editor Will Harper at email@example.com