Celebrating our February and March Employees of the Month!

Nellie Z. is the Aurora Charter Oak Employee of the Month for February. Charter Oak Employee of the Month - Nellie Z.

Nellie was recognized by supervisors and management for her excellent orientation and training of new staff members, and always remaining very positive, even when her work load is high.


Aurora Charter Oak Employee of the Month - SuzanneSuzanne J. is the Aurora Charter Oak Employee of the Month for March. 

Suzanne was recognized by her supervisors and management for her compassion and excellent education in working with adolescent patients and their families.


As Employees of the Month, both Nellie and Suzanne received cash awards, use of the Employee of the Month parking space, and engraved trophies.

 Congratulations Nellie and Suzanne! 




California Hospitals See Massive Surge In Homeless Patients

By Phillip Reese April 1, 2019 - California Healthlin

Homeless patients made about 100,000 visits to California hospitals in 2017, marking a 28% rise from two years earlier, according to the most recent state discharge data.

More than a third of those visits involved a diagnosis of mental illness, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. By contrast, 6% of all hospital discharges in California during that time involved a mental health diagnosis.

Health officials and homeless advocates attribute the trend to the surging number of people living homeless in California in recent years. From 2015 to 2017, the state’s homeless population grew by about 16%, to 134,000, according to point-in-time reports compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Those figures cover only a single day, and homeless advocates argue far more Californians experience homelessness at some point over the course of a year.

Many researchers say California’s skyrocketing housing costs have helped drive the overall spike in homelessness. Studies also indicate that more than a quarter of people living on the streets are dealing with mental illness.

Besides mental illness, a disproportionate number of homeless were hospitalized for treatment of HIV infections, alcohol and drug addictions, skin disorders, burns, drug overdoses and traumatic injuries.

“The folks who are living in the streets are sicker than the general public,” said Christie Gonzales, director of behavioral health operations for Wellspace Health.

Wellspace Health provides respite care to homeless patients in the Sacramento region after they are discharged from the hospital. “We tend to see more of them with injuries and trauma, co- occurring with alcohol and drug problems,” Gonzales said.

Los Angeles County saw the most discharges involving homeless patients in 2017, with 35,234, followed by San Diego, Sacramento, Orange and San Francisco counties. The number of homeless patients treated in L.A. County grew by about 7,500 from 2015 to 2017, the largest numerical increase in the state. (That is largely due to the county’s size; the percentage growth in L.A. County homeless discharges was similar to the state average.)

Among places with at least 5,000 hospital discharges in 2017, the counties with the highest proportion of discharges involving homeless patients were San Francisco, Yolo, Santa Cruz and Humboldt. In all four counties, homeless discharges made up at least 4% of all hospital discharges.

“There is no housing out here,” said Nicole Ring-Collins, who manages a winter shelter program for Mercy Coalition of West Sacramento in Yolo County. “It is so expensive.”

Providers who work with homeless people say it is no surprise they end up hospitalized at disproportionate rates. Living in deep poverty can lead to health problems. Many homeless people are driven to the streets by health issues, particularly mental illness and drug addiction. Most of their inpatient health care is paid for through Medi-Cal, the state-federal insurance program for the poor, or Medicare, the government insurance program for seniors and people with disabilities.

“When folks are forced to live outside with no shelter, the trauma they experience can result in more medical issues,” said Noel Kammermann, executive director of Loaves and Fishes, a homeless services agency in Sacramento.

Often, people living homeless do not see the doctor until they have a serious problem, Kammermann said. That lack of preventive care can lead to hospital stays. And living on the streets makes it all the more challenging to follow post-discharge instructions for rehabilitation and recovery.

“You heal better at home,” said Peggy Wheeler, a vice president at the California Hospital Association. Homeless patients struggle after discharge when they “have to go right back out to the street for a wound that needs to heal or medicine that needs to be taken on a regular schedule,” she added.

Hospitals across the state are working to provide respite care to the homeless after discharge, similar to the collaborative program at Wellspace in the Sacramento region, Wheeler said. Hospitals design such programs to lower readmission rates.

The homeless “are more vulnerable to other things because they don’t have a home to go to convalesce,” said Trina Gonzalez, director of community integration at UC Davis Health. “We want to make sure they are connected to the appropriate follow up care.”

Source: California Healthline 

Phillip Reese is a data reporting specialist and an assistant professor of journalism at California State University-Sacramento.

Update on Laura's Law

To download a brochure about Laura's Law for Los Angeles County, click here.

Dr. Cruz: Charter Oak Medical Staff President-Elect

Aurora Vista Del Mar Re-Opens More Beds

February 12, 2019


Creating Healthy Habits

How to Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions!

NIH News in Health

We know that making healthy choices can help us feel better and live longer. Maybe you’ve already tried to eat better, get more exercise or sleep, quit smoking, or reduce stress. It’s not easy. But research shows how you can boost your ability to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s frustrating to experience setbacks when you’re trying to make healthy changes and reach a goal,” says NIH behavior change expert Dr. Susan Czajkowski. “The good news is that decades of research show that change is possible, and there are proven strategies you can use to set yourself up for success.”

Lots of things you do impact your health and quality of life, now and in the future. You can reduce your risk for the most common, costly, and preventable health problems—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity—by making healthy choices.

Know Your Habits

Regular things you do—from brushing your teeth to having a few drinks every night—can become habits. Repetitive behaviors that make you feel good can affect your brain in ways that create habits that may be hard to change. Habits often become automatic—they happen without much thought.

“The first step to changing your behavior is to create an awareness around what you do regularly,” explains Dr. Lisa Marsch, an expert in behavior change at Dartmouth College. “Look for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change.”

Maybe you eat too much while watching TV or join a friend on smoke breaks even when you don’t want a cigarette. “You can develop ways to disrupt those patterns and create new ones,” Marsch says. For instance, eat meals with the TV off or join friends for healthy activities, like walk breaks.

Make a Plan

Make a plan that includes small, reasonable goals and specific actions you’ll take to move toward them.

“If you walk by the vending machine at work and buy junk food every afternoon, try walking a different way to eliminate that decision and bring healthy snacks from home,” Czajkowski says. “Whenever possible, make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Consider what you think you’ll need to be successful. How can you change things around you to support your goals? You might need to stock up on healthy foods, remove temptations, or find a special spot to relax.

Get friends and loved ones involved. Research shows that people’s health behaviors tend to mirror those of their family and friends. Invite them to join you, support you, and help you stay on track.

It’s also important to plan for obstacles. Think about what might derail your best efforts to live healthier. How can you still make healthy choices during unexpected situations, in stressful times, or when tempted by old habits?

Stay on Track

Doing positive things for yourself can feel exciting and rewarding. But there will also be times when you wonder if you can stick with it.

“Identify negative thoughts and turn them into realistic, productive ones,” Marsch advises.

Keeping a record can help. You can use a paper journal, computer program, or mobile app to note things like your diet, exercise, stress levels, or sleep patterns. A study of people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for at least a year found that they often tracked their progress closely.

“Even when you think you’re about to ‘fall off the wagon,’ hold on,” Czajkowski says. “Continue to track your behavior. Sometimes when you feel like you’re failing, you can learn the most.”

Marsch and others are working on digital technologies, like mobile apps, that could support you in a moment of weakness. Her team is also using technology to learn more about how to measure and increase the ability to monitor and control our behavior.

“The more you practice self-control, the better you become at it,” says Dr. Leonard Epstein, who studies behavior change and decision-making at the University at Buffalo. “You develop the capacity to act and react another way.”

Think About the Future

Epstein has found that some people have a harder time than others resisting their impulses. He calls this “delay discounting,” where you discount, or undervalue, the larger benefits of waiting in favor of smaller immediate rewards. This can lead to things like overeating, substance abuse, drinking or shopping too much, or risky sexual behavior.

“You can learn to postpone immediate gratification through episodic future thinking, or vividly imagining future positive experiences or rewards,” he explains. “It’s a great way to strengthen your ability to make decisions that are better for you in the long run.”

Epstein is now studying how to use this technique to help people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes prevent the disease.

Focusing on how a change might heal your body and enhance your life can help. When you stop smoking, your risk of a heart attack drops within 24 hours. Reducing stress can lead to better relationships. Even small improvements in your nutrition and physical activity can reduce your health risks and lengthen your life.

Be Patient

Sometimes when you’re trying to adopt healthier habits, other health issues can get in the way.

“When you’re really struggling with these behaviors, ask yourself if more is going on,” Czajkowski says. “For example, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can be tied to unhealthy behaviors.”

A health professional can work with you to address any underlying issues to make change feel easier and to help you be more successful.

You’re never too out of shape, too overweight, or too old to make healthy changes. Try different strategies until you find what works best for you.

“Things may not go as planned, and that’s okay,” Czajkowski says. “Change is a process. What’s most important is to keep moving forward.”



Aurora Charter Oak and The Jason Foundation

Providing Suicide Prevention Education to Local Community

Suicide is a national health problem that is also one of the leading causes of preventable death in our nation. 

In California:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for middle and high school age youth (12 – 18).
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for college age youth (18 – 22).

The California Youth Risk Behavioral Survey reported:

  • Over 1 out of 7 young people seriously considered suicide in the past twelve months
  • Almost 1 out of 11 young people attempted suicide in the past twelve months

The Jason Foundation and Aurora Charter Oak Hospital are partners in raising awareness and providing education in our local community about youth suicide. 

The Jason Foundation, Inc. (JFI) is a national leader in youth suicide awareness and prevention programs targeted to address the “Silent Epidemic” of youth suicide.  Aurora Charter Oak Hospital is the affiliate office for JFI in Covina, CA. Affiliate offices serve as a hub where parents, teachers, guidance counselors, students, churches and other community organizations can obtain educational materials and learn about training programs available through JFI.  All programs, services, and materials are available to the public at no cost. 

Todd Smith, CEO of Aurora Charter Oak Hospital, said, “We are proud to be affiliated with The Jason Foundation.  Aurora Charter Oak Hospital recognizes how serious the problem of suicide is among adolescents and young adults. Every day, we work with individuals who are at-risk for suicide.  The Jason Foundation has developed excellent awareness and education materials and we are very pleased to have these additional resources for our community.”

Clark Flatt, President of JFI said, “Awareness and education are the foundation for prevention. We are very proud of our work with Aurora Charter Oak Hospital in helping to provide communities across California with programs and resources to help build this foundation for prevention.”

About JFI

JFI is a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting “The Silent Epidemic” of youth suicide through educational programs and resources for young people, educators, parents, and other community groups.  JFI, headquartered in Hendersonville, TN, was founded in 1997 after the tragic death of Jason Flatt, the 16-year-old son of Clark Flatt. For more information, please visit JFI’s website, www.jasonfoundation.com   

The Jason Foundation representative at Aurora Charter Oak Hospital is Steve Jennings, who may be reached at 626-214-2029 or steve.jennings@aurorabehavioral.com       

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