Posts made in October, 2012

PAMF Donates $200K to Local Healthy Kids Program

Nearly 200 local children in need will receive medical, dental, vision and mental health benefits thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) to the Healthy Kids program of Santa Clara Family Health Foundation.

PAMF Regional President Dr. Lizz Vilardo (l) presents the $200,000 donation to Kathleen King (r) of the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation

PAMF Regional President Lizz Vilardo, M.D., presented the check to Kathleen King, executive director of Santa Clara Family Health Foundation. “This gift will fund health insurance for 194 children who otherwise would not receive appropriate health care,” said Dr. Vilardo. “For years, state budget cuts have negatively impacted county health programs and have reinforced the importance of philanthropic support. This gift reinforces PAMF’s long-time commitment to keeping children and their families healthy.”

“Healthy Kids fills the crucial gap in insurance and health care access for many low- and moderate-income families who can’t insure their children because they lack access to employer-sponsored insurance or are not eligible for public coverage via Medi-Cal and Healthy Families,” King explained. “In Santa Clara County, those families can enroll their children in Healthy Kids. We believe one uninsured child in our county is one too many.”

PAMF’s donation, combined with a gift from the El Camino Hospital District, will enable all under- and un-insured children in Mountain View to receive essential health care coverage this year. As an expression of appreciation, at the most recent City Council meeting Mountain View Mayor Mike Kasperzak proclaimed Wednesday, October 23, 2012, “El Camino Hospital District and Palo Alto Medical Foundation Day.”

Launched in 2001, the locally funded Healthy Kids health insurance program increases access to and use of both medical and dental care, which are crucial contributors to children’s overall well-being and health.

“The physicians and professionals of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation recognize this need and we are committed to helping children in the communities we serve,” said Dr. Vilardo. “The work that the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation does to help the neediest of our county’s children is constant and critical.”

About Santa Clara Family Health Foundation

Santa Clara Family Health Foundation (SCFHF) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization whose focus is on raising funds to support the Healthy Kids program and the Children’s Health Initiative in Santa Clara County. Through the Foundation, community leaders, community members, foundations, corporations, local businesses, friends, and other supporters can contribute funds to help achieve the goal of providing every child in Santa Clara County with access to quality health care through insurance.

Media Contacts:

Cynthia Greaves
PAMF Public Affairs

Kathleen King
Santa Clara Family Health Foundation

PAMF, Safeway Partner to Combat Childhood Obesity

Receiving the Safeway Foundation grant on behalf of PAMF are (l. to r.): Aidan Choi; Nancy Brown, Ph.D; Enoch Choi, M.D.; and Natalie Choi. Stan Lau, manager of the Menlo Park Safeway store, (second from left) presented the check.

The rise of childhood obesity is a huge concern but what can be done about it? Palo Alto Medical Foundation health educator Nancy Brown, Ph.D., has some concrete ideas and these recently became a reality thanks to a grant from the Safeway Foundation.

The $60,418 grant will be used to fund PAMF’s WAY2GO! Preteen Family project that educates preteens and their families about the importance of making good food choices and maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI).

“WAY2GO! Preteen Family focuses on children aged 9 to 12 years old as this is a critical time for establishing good nutrition and exercise habits for life,” says Brown who is leading the WAY2GO! Preteen Family project. “This is also very much a family-based program as for this age group the parents still control the whole families’ health habits. This valuable tool will make it easier and more fun for families to make lasting behavior changes.”

Brown worked together with Martha Simmons, M.D., Ph.D., a content manager at PAMF’s David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation, to obtain the Safeway Foundation grant. Elizabeth W. Lee, M.D., a family medicine doctor at PAMF’s Palo Alto Center, provided a medical review of the WAY2GO! Preteen Family online tool.

Schools and community-based organizations can participate in this project that provides many components to help get the whole family on track to good health:

  • WAY2GO! Preteen Family Tool: Participating families take an online health assessment. They then receive a report based on their answers and access to their online dashboard where they can set health goals or track behavior.
  • Free Preventive Health Screening: Up to eight members of each participating family are screened at a local Safeway pharmacy for preventive health goals, BMI and blood pressure. The screening helps families prioritize health goals and provides resources, including information on low-cost clinics for families without health insurance.
  • Follow Up: Before the end of the school year, families will be encouraged to repeat their online WAY2GO! assessment and share their experiences about participating in the program.
  • Data for Schools: Each participating school receives aggregate data (gathered through the WAY2GO! tool) about the health challenges of their participants and suggestions for meeting those challenges (for example, through parent education or bike helmet safety campaigns).

The first school to participate in the project is Landels Elementary School in Mountain View, Calif., with many other local schools slated to participate soon.

More About WAY2GO!

The online WAY2GO! Preteen Family tool is based on the teen version of the program that is free for schools and doctors’ offices to use to assess teenagers’ health and motivate healthy decision making. WAY2GO! for teens won the 2011 Society for Adolescent Health Care and Medicine’s Hilary E. C. Millar Award for Innovative Approaches to Adolescent Health Care and is being used by more than 400 teenagers through doctors’ offices and high schools in the U.S. There’s also a version of the online tool for young adults (18 to 25 years old).

More About the Safeway Foundation’s Grant to PAMF

The grant for the WAY2GO! Preteen Family project is part of $2 million in grants that the Safeway Foundation is giving back to community health programs and hospitals to launch grass-roots projects for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity in the Bay Area and across the United States.


Aging, Social Isolation of Seniors Discussed with Danish Leaders

As generations age, how do different countries and cultures plan and provide for them? Information and ideas about senior support and preventing social isolation spanned the Atlantic when a group of 12 health care leaders from Denmark spent the afternoon at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation on October 10, 2012.  

Danish and American physicians, executives and directors from large health systems, government, universities, senior centers, hospitals and hospices joined for the four-hour exchange at the Innovation Center. The goal of the visit was to share knowledge of and opinions about the diverse challenges of aging populations in Denmark and the United States. From the many dynamic conversations underway at any given time, it appeared that that goal was met or exceeded.


Paul Tang, M.D., vice president and chief innovation and technology officer, Palo Alto Medical Foundation

Paul Tang, M.D., vice president and chief innovation and technology officer for PAMF’s Innovation Center presented on the health care system in the United States, including the changes required to adapt for the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and accommodate the needs of the enormous and growing aging population.

“Already about 13 percent of the U.S. population are seniors, the vast majority of whom are covered by Medicare,” Dr. Tang said. “The U.S. faces several challenges somewhat unique in the world: a fee-for-service care delivery model, the lack of universal health care, and health information systems that are not connected or, in some places, nonexistent.”

“In Denmark, 16 percent of our people are 65 or older,” explained Mikkel Bülow Skovborg, Research Attaché, Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education, outlined the health care system and focus on care for the elderly in Denmark. “We have a highly structured and well-funded system to provide long-term care at home for our elders. We haven’t built a nursing home in our country since 1987.”

Comparing Senior Support in the United States and Denmark

In Denmark, a high percentage of the gross domestic product is spent on social services and a lower percentage on health care. All health care policies are set on a national level but are implementing regionally via hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers and other health service centers. The municipal level tends to home care and preventive care services. Because of this comprehensive system, people rarely if ever “fall through the cracks.” There is a continuum of care with coordinated services.

Danish seniors have access to a wide range of services provided at the local, regional and national level, by people whose specific job it is to care for the elderly and support their ability to live in the community. A number of meeting attendees, however, observed that the high-level benefits, free at the point of delivery, may create a level of dependence on the system that enables families to “check-out” of their important caregiver roles. This relates particularly to their role in providing emotional support, the absence of which may contribute to isolation.

By contrast, the United States spends a low percentage of its gross domestic product on social services and a high percentage is spent on health care. The burden of care is on the family, not the government – basically, a private sector approach in which every person or family must research available options. The system is more fragmented, with some communities and cultures more adapted to solutions for elder care than others.

The attendees were divided into several groups, each of which discussed a different query and then reported out to the entire group at the end of the afternoon. Lively, engaging discussions covered these questions:

  • What are the drivers of isolation?
  • How does isolation impact aging?
  • Who has the responsibility for tackling social isolation of seniors?
  • What solutions to social isolation are being implemented?
  • What are your “dream” solutions?

The discussions yielded a variety of perspectives and suggestions for the need to:

  • Reduce health care and senior care costs. For example, in the United Stages, five percent of the people use 50 percent of the care.
  • Reduce hospitalizations through overall improved health
  • Become more community-centered, with more multigenerational composition, and nurture the spirit of volunteerism
  • Improve transportation systems that effectively alleviate isolation, and use IT systems that support natural human interfaces
  • Focus on seniors as people, not patients
  • Embrace and support advanced care planning, beginning at an earlier age


“Seniors seek to maintain their independence and to live out their lives in the community,” Dr. Tang said. “We are committed to keep the dialog about successful aging going.”

Learn more about the Innovation Center at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Danish Leaders to Visit PAMF’s Druker Center for Innovation

Contingent to Explore Successful Aging Ideas

On Wednesday, October 10, 2012, from noon to 5 p.m., the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation is hosting a delegation of 15 leaders from Denmark who work in diverse capacities to address current challenges in health care, particularly with issues relevant to aging. Attendees include C-level executives and directors from large health systems, universities and private corporations in Denmark.

The focus of the visit is to exchange information and knowledge around challenges related to aging, from the diverse perspectives and approaches of Denmark and the United States.

The population of Denmark is 5.5 million, comparable to the San Francisco Bay Area’s more than six million residents (Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties). Life expectancy for women is 81 years and men 77 years. According to the United States Census Bureau, American life expectancy is only slightly lower: women averaging 80 years and men 75 years.

“We feel that advancing cross-cultural leadership engagement in exchanges of shared knowledge will allow us to broaden the scope of our thinking as we work to address the needs of our fast growing and increasingly vulnerable, older adult population,” said Paul Tang, M.D., vice president and chief innovation and technology officer for PAMF’s Innovation Center.

The event has the endorsement of Liz Kniss, Chair of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Scott Strickland, Kniss’ Senior Policy Analyst, will kick off the event with a welcome on her behalf.

After a meet-and-greet lunch, there will be a presentation by Mikkel Bülow Skovborg, Research Attaché, Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education, who will outline the health care system and focus on care for the elderly in Denmark.

Addressing elder care and aging in the United States will be PAMF’s Paul Tang, M.D, and Albert Chan, M.D., PAMF chief medical information officer, and medical director for the Innovation Center.

The speakers will introduce issues and potential solutions to social isolation among seniors, and then the group will break into teams for a series of workshops, culminating in a panel discussion to share the different perspectives.

Guests for this special gathering also include leaders from the public sector, other hospital systems, senior centers, foundations and nonprofits. 

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Pathways Home Health & Hospice Honors PAMF’s Dr. Kushlan

Paula Kushlan, M.D.

For more than three decades, Paula Kushlan, M.D., has provided cancer care at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Palo Alto Center. She regularly receives warm expressions of gratitude from her patients and on October 5, 2012, she was honored by  Pathways Home Health & Hospice for her years of dedication and service to the home health and hospice community.

Dr. Kushlan received a special 35th Anniversary Physician Award. The award recognizes physicians who significantly contribute to promoting the Pathways Mission: compassionate, family-centered care in a patient’s home.

“Hospice nurses are my feet, eyes and ears in the patient’s house,” Dr. Kushlan said. An oncologist for 35 years, Dr. Kushlan describes her career guiding people through the diagnosis of cancer as “a passion and a privilege.” She considers it an “honor.”

“Pathways has partnered with Paula to care for hundreds of patients through the decades of her career,” said Sandra Coolidge, Pathways’ vice president of admissions, community relations & philanthropy. “Dr. Kushlan has always been a strong advocate for her patients’ right to dignified and compassionate care in the face of serious illness.”

Pathways CEO Barbara Burgess,  said, “Dr. Paula Kushlan embraces the honor of helping people through a difficult and frightening part of their lives, whether it is a curable disease requiring complex therapy, a controllable chronic disease involving ongoing monitoring and therapy, or a life-limiting illness necessitating efforts directed at comfort and support for patient and family.”

In addition to Dr. Kushlan, other “One from the Heart” award recipients this year were Doreta Strotman (Volunteer Award) and the Los Altos United Methodist Church  (Organization Award).

Pathways’ 22nd annual breakfast  was held at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel in Palo Alto. The annual event attracts more than 600 community leaders, medical professionals, philanthropists and other hospice supporters, and is also open to the public.

Emmy, Peabody and Murrow Award winner Rita Williams of KTVU Channel 2 returned for her 13th year as host of the event. The featured speaker at this year’s event was author, journalist and photographer Jon Katz.  Katz shared endearing and funny stories about the joy and love he and Izzy, his rescued Border Collie, brought to hospice patients. Their story is told in his heartwarming book, Izzy and Lenore: Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me.
Events and photos from the “One from the Heart” breakfast were tweeted using the twitter hashtag #OFTH.
About Pathways Home Health & Hospice

Pathways Home Health & Hospice is a community based, not-for-profit organization that provides a family of health services at home to families in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1977, a comprehensive array of health and supportive services including home health and hospice care, private duty non-medical and personal care, elder care, care for children with life-threatening illnesses, grief support and community education. For more information, call 888-755-7855 or visit