Mills-Peninsula Women’s Center has been awarded $25,000 by the Safeway Foundation to extend breast cancer care services to medically underserved women in San Mateo County. This is the seventh grant that Safeway has made to Mills-Peninsula’s Women’s Health Center, for a total of $140,000 since 2008.
The Mills-Peninsula Breast Cancer Program for Underserved Women fills the urgent need in San Mateo County for high-quality breast cancer screening and diagnostic services for women who would otherwise not have access to resources that can ensure that their cancer is detected and treated as early as possible.
“Safeway and the Safeway Foundation’s annual Breast Cancer fundraising and awareness campaign allows us to fund organizations like Mills-Peninsula to further local research, treatment and access to preventive services in the neighborhoods where our customers and employees live,” said Wendy Gutshall, manager of Public and Government Affairs for Safeway Inc. in Northern California.
“We deeply appreciate this generous gift from the Safeway Foundation. It will help us to continue a program that is helping medically underserved women in our community who rely on the Mills-Peninsula Breast Cancer Program for their care,” said John Loder, president of Mills-Peninsula Hospital Foundation.
Mills-Peninsula’s Breast Cancer Program for Underserved Women provides:
- Care from experts in oncology and radiology
- Free screening and diagnostic testing, including laboratory, radiology, ultrasound and stereotactic biopsies using the most advanced technologies available
- Saturday Breast Cancer Program offering free screenings for women who cannot leave work or family during the week
- Individualized treatment plans and referrals for new breast cancer diagnoses
- Community education in partnership with local community-based organizations to inform women of breast cancer risk factors and the many resources available at the Women’s Center
Breast Cancer in San Mateo County
One in every eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. While technological advances in the detection of breast cancer have greatly improved patient outcomes, many low-income women do not have access to high-quality screening and diagnostic services that can effectively detect and diagnose their cancer so it can be treated before it spreads. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that women living below the poverty line were significantly less likely than higher-income patients to have annual mammograms, which public health experts cite as a primary reason why low-income women experience lower five-year survival rates than their wealthier peers.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer among women in San Mateo County, yet increasing numbers of low-income women are at-risk of having their cancer go undetected until it is too late to be treated successfully.
Last year, funding from generous supporters in the community enabled the program to provide 341 low-income women with screening and diagnostic services. Of these patients, 26 received ultrasound or stereotactic biopsies after an initial screening revealed a potentially cancerous growth. Mills-Peninsula surgeons also conducted 11 procedures to remove tumors, of which six were malignant and potentially life-threatening. Women who were served through the program received personalized treatment plans when needed and were referred to partner agencies for follow-up care and monitoring.
About Mills-Peninsula Women’s Center and Breast Health Program
Located in the city of San Mateo, the Mills-Peninsula Women’s Center is one of the region’s foremost providers of comprehensive health care for women, seeing more than 27,000 patients annually. Since opening in 1994, the Women’s Center has become a leader in the detection and treatment of breast cancer with an expert staff specially trained in mammography and ultrasound who are equipped with some of the best available technology, including the area’s first all-digital mammography.
Mills-Peninsula is part of the Sutter Health network.
Over the past 20 years, robotic surgery has advanced and redefined surgery across all specialties. Mills-Peninsula is pleased to announce a cornerstone addition to their suite of surgical services with the installation of the new da Vinci® Si robotic surgery system. The Si system is the latest state-the-art version of the da Vinci®.
While not a robot in the strictest sense, the Si surgery system is a computer-enhanced surgical device that allows a surgeon to view surgeries in high definition 3D while manipulating mechanical arms with micro-instrument tips to perform intricate surgeries with increased stability. Some of the benefits for patients can include a faster recovery, less pain, lower risk of infection and less blood loss and scarring.
“Mills-Peninsula prides itself on offering the latest in medical technology to our patients,” says Mills-Peninsula CEO Bob Merwin. “Adding robotic technology to our suite of surgical services enhances our ability to perform robust minimally invasive surgery with substantial benefits to our patients, specifically faster recovery times so they can return to their daily activities sooner.”
Since the da Vinci® system was installed at the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame in November 2012, more than 45 surgeries have been performed using robot-assisted surgery. The system can be used for a variety of surgical procedures, including removal of the prostate (prostatectomy), hysterectomies, removal of uterine fibroids (myomectomy), colorectal surgeries, and a variety of cancerous tumor removals (including thoracic, liver, gastric and biliary tumors).
The da Vinci® Surgical System is comprised of three components: a surgeon’s console, a patient-side robotic cart with four arms manipulated by the surgeon (one to control the camera and three to manipulate instruments), and a high-definition 3D vision system.
The new da Vinci® Si has the ability to perform “single site surgery” using a specially designed robotic arm. Single site surgery is performed through one small incision, leaving little to no scarring. The first single site surgery to remove a gallbladder was performed in January, making Mills-Peninsula the first hospital in the San Francisco area to perform this type of procedure.
“Using robotic technology, I am able to offer a level of surgical precision with minimal trauma that is difficult to achieve through traditional open incisions,” says Karen Whang, M.D., FACS. “Incisions made for robotic surgery are quite small, about the size of a dime. With the smaller incisions, my patients typically recover in half the time of traditional open surgery.”
“Working as a traditional laparoscopic surgeon for 20 years, I have seen a lot of advancements but none are even close to this robotic system which is truly a giant step forward in women’s health care,” said Claire Serrato, M.D., an OB/Gyn at Mills-Peninsula’s San Mateo Center. “The technology is such a great advancement over classical techniques, particularly the 3-D viewer and the ability of the robot to rotate instruments better than the human wrist. Using this technology I can offer minimally invasive surgery to many more women in a safe manner. Most of my patients who have myomectomies or hysterectomies robotically can stop taking their pain medicines in a few days or a week.”
Mills-Peninsula is part of the Sutter Health network.
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Great advances have occurred in diabetes research over the past decade, often in incremental steps, some which were taken at Mills-Peninsula’s Dorothy L. and James E. Frank Diabetes Research Institute in San Mateo, California.
“Diabetes is one of the most serious health problems of our time,” says David Klonoff, M.D., medical director of the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at Mills-Peninsula Health Services. “We conduct research to tackle this problem and work toward breakthroughs in care.”
Throughout 2012, the DRI conducted research studies, participated in hospital initiatives for diabetes care and performed service for Mills-Peninsula, the U.S.government, and the national and international scientific communities. In January, Dr. Klonoff compiled a summary of the DRI’s 12 grants for research conducted in 2012.
“A complex set of social, financial, behavioral and organizational hurdles can slow advances in high-quality diabetes care,” Dr. Klonoff concluded. “Despite these barriers, we are making significant advances translating our clinical research findings into medical practice.
“Last year, we worked with many novel technologies for patients with diabetes. We are particularly proud that our DRI served as the lead center for the first multicenter outpatient study of the world’s first artificial pancreas product.”
The artificial pancreas system contains a continuous glucose monitor, an insulin pump, a wireless monitor and software which controls insulin delivery. The device is intended to protect from hypoglycemic brain or heart damage by shutting off insulin delivery for two hours in case a patient has a low sugar level and does not respond to an alarm.
Mills-Peninsula’s DRI was one of only two research centers in the United States conducting a trial in outpatients of a new type of insulin delivery system. The device heats the skin which increases local blood flow and speeds up the absorption of insulin that is pumped into the body continuously through a subcutaneous catheter. Mills-Peninsula’s DRI studied adult patients and Yale-New Haven Hospital studied pediatric subjects.
Last year, the world’s only non-invasive glucose monitor was approved. It uses light reflected off skin to determine the concentration of glucose in the body. The first research studies to support regulatory approval of this product were conducted at the Mills-Peninsula DRI, and were mentioned in the regulatory submission document.
In 2012, the DRI performed a trial of a novel long-acting GLP-1 agonist drug for diabetes that is intended for once-weekly use.
The DRI helped design a protocol for a diagnostics company to assess the analytical accuracy and human factors performance of an outpatient test for self testing of Hemoglobin A1C and was the sole test site for a pivotal clinical trial of this method. This method allows patients to collect blood specimens at home and ship the specimens to a qualified testing laboratory.
Additionally, the DRI worked on therapeutic trials of four new types of insulin. One of them is an inhaled powdered insulin using a tiny delivery device to facilitate absorption from the lungs faster than liquid insulin injected into the skin. Another insulin type is an injectable liquid that is absorbed faster into the circulation than any currently approved rapid-acting insulin. The other two are time-release insulins with longer durations of activity than any currently approved long-acting insulin.
During 2012, DRI conducted three trials of a combination treatment consisting of investigational insulin to lower glucose levels between meals combined with a recently approved novel GLP-1 agonist drug to lower glucose levels after meals with once-daily use.
About the Dorothy L. and James E. Frank Diabetes Research Institute
In 2000, community donors Dorothy L. and James E. Frank gave a gift of $3 million to the Hospital Foundation and Silicon Valley Community Foundation to found the Diabetes Research Institute. Today, the Dorothy L. and James E. Frank Diabetes Research Institute is a leading Bay Area research institution dedicated to improving quality of life for people with diabetes. Researchers work with health care companies that are developing diabetes management treatments and technologies such as needle-free devices for delivering insulin; safer, more effective oral medications; and less painful, more convenient blood tests.
Two physicians from Beijing, China saw health care from a very different point of view while visiting the United States as part of an International Health Fellowship, sponsored by Health Bridge International, a non-profit organization based in the United States.
Yong Jiang, M.D., vice chair of the Department of Surgery, and Sheng Wu, M.D., attending physician of the Emergency Department at Peking University First Hospital, spent a month visiting Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, in Burlingame,Calif., to learn about the U.S. health care system. In December the physicians explored the outpatient setting at Palo Alto Medical Foundation. In January, they spent time at Mills-Peninsula in as many departments as possible and shadowed several physicians.
At the conclusion of their stay, they spoke at a briefing at Mills-Peninsula to share their thoughts about health care in China and what they have learned during their visit to the medical center.
They related that in China, one of the biggest health care challenges is the disparity between health care need and resource allocation.
“Seventy percent of the population in China is rural but they get only 30 percent of the medical resources,” Dr. Jiang said. “The cities have 30 percent of the population but get 70 percent of the medical resources. As a result, rural people flood the city hospitals.”
Another problem is the lack of an appointment system at hospitals in China.
“Patients just show up at the hospitals and take a number,” Dr. Jiang said.
The photo he shared with the audience depicted long, dense lines of people waiting, making the emergency room entrance look as crowded as an international airport closed for severe weather.
Dr. Wu said that doctors never know how many patients they will see in a day and may have only 10 minutes to spend with each person.
He also cited Chinese hospitals’ inefficient processes for transferring of patients between departments.
“We don’t have a quick way to get a heart attack patient from the Emergency Department to the cath lab,” he said. “In China it can take three hours.”
When asked what he has learned about health care in the United States that could be implemented in China, Dr. Wu said, “Everything and nothing. We have learned from your ideas, but we cannot copy them because our systems are just too different.”
One of the goals of the visit was to learn more about the patient-centered approach to care in the United States.
Mills-Peninsula Physician Services Manager Donna Everix, who coordinated all of the scheduling for the month-long visit, described a visit to the Mills-Peninsula cardiac catheterization (cath) lab.
“While visiting the cath labs, Drs. Wu and Jiang were surprised to see that we asked the patients what they wanted to do, rather than ask the family, which is how they do it in China. They are not accustomed to a patient-centric approach so seeing how we make that a priority was eye-opening to them.”
Dr. Yong Jiang described health care inChina as a “ticking time bomb”:
- 350 million people smoke
- There is a huge aging population
- Rural residents lacking health care insurance often have to take out loans or sell their homes to pay for hospital care
- There is very high resistance to antibiotics and penicillin because of over prescribing and self prescribing; antibiotics are sold over the counter with sales and use regulations are not always enforced.
- There are no public health workers or community health programs.
- Philanthropy and volunteerism are very uncommon
Peking University First Hospital is quite large; three campuses house 60 wards, 36 clinical departments and 1,500 beds. Nearly 7,000 patients are treated there every day. More than 45,000 patients are admitted and an estimated 20,000 operations are performed annually. The medical campus integrates health services with teaching, research and preventive medicine. Opened in 1915, the hospital is near the old imperial city in the center of Beijing.
“Many of our physicians and staff took time to meet with Drs. Wu and Jiang and show them all of Mills-Peninsula’s wonderful programs and services,” Everix said. “They are very grateful for the time and knowledge we have shared.”
In the last days before they return home, Mills-Peninsula scheduled the doctors to meet with local representatives of the Red Cross, emergency operations at San Francisco International Airport, and the San Mateo County Department of Public Health.
“This was a great opportunity to learn from each other and we hope to have ongoing programs to share our best practices,” Dr. Jiang said. “Our goal is better health care at a lower cost and we have a long way to go.”