Teams Coming Together
As firefighters worked to contain the wildfires, people across Sutter Health collaborated around the clock to support and serve our community, including hundreds of our own teammates.
One Sutter Team: Healing During Crisis
Learn how teams within our network rushed to support Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, as it kept care accessible to patients within the fire zones.
Teams Coming Together: Voices from the Sutter Network
As wildfires burned across seven Northern California counties, people from all corners of the Sutter network sprang into action. Together, they provided critical support to serve patients and teammates in crisis.
Antonio Ervin, R.N., Alta Bates Summit
“Sutter went above and beyond to make sure there was enough staffing and resources. I went up to Novato Community Hospital to take shifts. It’s a small hospital, and beds filled up pretty quickly. We had nurses who had come there from Santa Rosa and Roseville. I had quite a few patients who were displaced, including some from an assisted living center. Some patients didn’t know the status of their houses.
“I’m just proud of Sutter Health and everybody, helping people in their time of need. There was an outflowing of compassion—caring people doing what was needed.”
Elaine Henderson, R.N., Sutter Roseville Medical Center
“When I found out that Sutter needed nurses to help at its Bay Area affiliates, I signed up immediately. I wanted to do whatever I could. It was sad to think my fellow nurses were going through this. I worked at Sutter Solano for three Med-Surg night shifts. Then they needed help at Novato, and I worked there another three days. I met a nurse’s aide who didn’t have running water or electricity at home, but she kept coming to work. Those things touch you. These are real people being affected, and they were still at work trying to help. I felt honored to be a part of it.”
Cecille Luna, supply chain purchasing lead, Sutter Shared Services
On replacing supplies damaged by heat and smoke: “I was very proud of our team. About 20 people were assigned to expedite orders to replace all the damaged medical supplies. This was a team effort that took about 100 hours of work. When you’re in a crisis, you need to be methodical but not waste any time. The fires affected our colleagues, our coworkers, our friends. We wanted to do whatever we could to help out.”
Erin Knight, director of care coordination, Sutter Solano Medical Center
“The support from across Sutter Health was amazing—and in turn, we were able to respond to the needs of our network. For example, Sutter Care at Home called us, and we helped them place hospice patients into a facility in Vallejo. It was truly a group effort.”
Cathy Leon, director of quality services, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation
“What really helped us with the SHEMS (Sutter Health Emergency Management System) structure itself was to divide and conquer the work and make sure the right people with the right expertise were doing the right thing. I had several staff up in Santa Rosa area needing to evacuate. People were losing their homes. A lot of work had to be done. But we always kept in mind the human component and the emotions behind it.”
Kelley Jaeger-Jackson, chief nursing executive, Sutter Solano Medical Center
“It was the beginning of my third week at Sutter Solano, and I knew very little about the facility. But we had strong nursing leadership that had been through HICS (Hospital Incident Command System) training. With the SHEMS calls, we had a good understanding of the situation and what the bed capacity was across Sutter, so we could make just-in-time changes. I came away knowing this was the right job and the right place for me. It makes me proud to be part of a facility that has such a sense of family and integrity and a willingness to band together to get it done, without any complaints.”
Michele Dewyea, VP of workforce relations, Sutter Health
On finding and helping evacuated employees: “We had people reaching out by every means and every way. We set up a 24-hour call center. We quickly put together a disaster pay code so they could get paid. If they needed additional financial help, we placed calls at all hours getting those claims processed. We had a whole logistics team trying to find them places to stay so they weren’t living in their cars. It was amazing. Someone called in who’d been sleeping in their car with their family but was still getting to work the next day. We got them into a hotel and sent a check to them.”
Kiren Rizvi Jafry, VP of operations, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation
“All of our front line staff went to work immediately trying to open up our clinics. Several of our employees and physicians had lost their homes, and yet they were trying to open up clinics and see patients. And that spirit of generosity, that spirit of collaboration, that spirit of incredible commitment to doing what we all signed up for in healthcare—to make a difference in patient care and to be on-the-ground support—that was something you saw in every single person who showed up to work.”
Toni Brayer, M.D., CEO, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation
“Everyone was running on adrenaline and working pretty much without sleep and without a lot of comfort for themselves. And eventually, that can break down. So we were mindful about exactly what was happening with each and every staff member.
“It truly does take a village—and Sutter Health is that village for all of us. Our patients look to us to be that village for them—and I am really happy that we are fulfilling that role.”
Flo Di Benedetto, general counsel and incident commander, Sutter Health
On the value of a system: “I cannot imagine a stand-alone hospital dealing with this. What we’ve been through illustrates the value of a network of resources and expertise.”
Lizz Vilardo, M.D., Sutter Health CEO of Medical Foundations
“I have to give a shout out to our network and the foundation teams. People came in from San Francisco and the South Bay—dropping everything and coming to work. Some of our clinics were filled with smoke, so we asked for HEPA filters. Within an hour, 17 were on a truck to go to all the care sites.”
Tracey Pomeroy, operations director, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation
“We were able to reestablish chemotherapy infusions for some of our most critically ill cancer patients. They were in the middle of chemotherapy regimens or just starting new regimens and were very concerned there may be a gap in their chemotherapy resulting in growth of their cancer or suboptimal treatment. So our priority was not to have that gap occur—to reestablish infusion centers in other locations.”
Patricia LaVine, Sutter Care at Home Hospice Administrator, Santa Rosa
“There was never a gap in the hospice care we provided to our patients. As part of Sutter Care at Home, we have an infrastructure that allows us to take care of patients throughout Northern California. We have nine hospice locations, and every one of those locations stepped up to take care of our patients who were evacuated from the affected area.”
Jennifer Peterson, ICU nurse practitioner, California Pacific Medical Center
“I was driving to work at CPMC that morning and saw there was a fire burning toward our house. We evacuated our kids to Lodi and after making sure our house was OK, my husband and I changed into scrubs and went to work volunteering at one of the evacuation shelters.
“We pulled our resources together from UCSF, CPMC, Kaiser. We came together and gathered supplies and created a little clinic at our shelter. We started a website asking for volunteers. CMPC was amazing, sending out an email asking for resources: physicians and respiratory therapists and nurse practitioners.
“We staffed all the shelters in Petaluma 24 hours a day. We saw cardiac arrest, a lot of respiratory issues from the smoke. We saw a lot of pet attack wounds from people trying to evacuate their pets. A lot of just general medical care. We provided it all free of charge and saw more than 400 patients. It was a wonderful experience and a way to see teams from all areas come together. It was a place to help.”