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October 2016

The Director's Report 2.0

In a dynamic health system like ours, effective communication is essential but never easy. We have the responsibility of not only communicating with each other—both within our own work unit and cross-divisionally—but also with the residents we serve.

It is a constant challenge to meet these needs and we are utilizing a variety of media to get our messages and information across.

One method that I use to communicate with all of you as leader of the health department is the Director's Report newsletter. You may notice the new format that we're using, starting with this edition. We've made these changes so that it is easier to click on links, read the newsletter on mobile devices and quickly scan what's going on at Contra Costa Health Services.

Despite the new look and feel, the focus of the Director's Report will remain the same. It is a tool that I use to highlight the issues, services and people in our department. I am hopeful that you will find the new format provides a better reading experience.

A Digital World

CCHS was a much different place when I came to work here in 1974. We didn't have smartphones or tablets, and we certainly didn't have the use of social media. It's not only amazing how much things have changed, but how fast they change. The iPhone didn't exist 10 years ago, but now it is one of the most utilized methods of communicating.

Our electronic health record, ccLink, is now an essential communication tool for our healthcare delivery system. As of August, our patients can even make appointments online. Last month, our hospital and health centers began rolling out TigerText, a secure HIPAA-compliant messaging service that allows medical staff to text colleagues about patient care.

As the director of a large county department, I rely greatly on digital tools to communicate with CCHS employees and the public, such as all-staff emails, iSITE (our intranet), (our public website) and, of course, this newsletter. Even with all of the advancements in communications technology, we realize we still have a ways to go to achieve effective communication by providing the right information to the right people at the right time. Improving our newsletter is one more step in this process.

Let us know what you think about the new newsletter format and any suggestions you have to improve effective communication at CCHS. Send feedback to our communications officer at


Family Residency Program Named one of Top 10 in the U.S.

For the second consecutive year, the Contra Costa Family Medicine Residency Program has been named one of the top 10 such medical training programs in the country by the physician network Doximity.

Contra Costa's program was recognized as ninth nationally by clinical reputation out of more than 500 family medicine residency programs in the U.S., according to the annual Doximity Residency Navigator survey.

Our popular residency program, which receives 800 applications for 13 residency slots each year, also earned a top 10 ranking from Doximity in 2015.

New Transgender Health Clinic Coming This Month

A new monthly outpatient clinic serving transgender patients will debut on October 14 at our Martinez Health Center. The clinic will provide a welcoming environment for transgender people to receive medication and hormone therapy, surgical referrals, and other transition-related care. Dr. Michelle Orengo-McFarlane will be the lead physician at the clinic, which will be staffed by providers trained in transgender health issues. Planning for the clinic has included many stakeholders, including Contra Costa Health Services' LGBT Pride Initiative.

Hazardous Materials Investigates Oil Spill on San Pablo Bay

The Hazardous Materials Program is participating in a multi-agency investigation of an oil spill on San Pablo Bay that likely occurred at the Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery marine terminal.The spill left a mile-long sheen on part of the Bay and near the Phillips 66 dock. At the same time there was a strong odor across the Carquinez Strait in Vallejo on Sept. 20, prompting several residents to seek treatment at local emergency rooms for respiratory problems.

The source of the odor is being investigated by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and may or may not be related to the oil spill. A response team including Hazardous Materials, the U.S. Coast Guard, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, Bay Area Quality Management District and Phillips 66 worked to contain and clean up the spill, as well as investigate its origin.

The refinery stopped unloading a ship at its terminal when the spill was discovered. Phillips 66 tested all of their unloading lines and found no leaks. The Coast Guard sent divers to investigate the ship and found no leaks. When the unloading of the crude oil started again another oil sheen was observed. There was a leak from the ship that caused the oil sheen.

What impact, if any, the spill had on human health remains under investigation. There were no reports of serious injuries or oiled wildlife. There is no evidence that the oil reached shore and all of the oil has dispersed.

Flu Vaccine Required for Healthcare Workers

This is a reminder that healthcare workers throughout Contra Costa County must get their annual flu vaccines or wear masks if they work in patient care settings. The requirement is in effect from November 1 to March 31. The mandate applies to anyone who works in patient care settings such as local hospitals, ambulances, ambulatory health clinics, skilled nursing and other health facilities. CCHS offers free flu vaccines to Health Services staff subject to the mandate, including several employee clinics during the month of October at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center.

Annual Flu Walk-In Clinics Add Colon Cancer Screenings

Contra Costa Regional Medical Center & Health Centers' patients will be able to double their prevention this year when they get their influenza vaccines at our annual walk-in flu clinics in October. This year, people between the ages of 50-74 will also be able to take home free fecal immunoassay testing (FIT) kits to screen for colon cancer. Flu immunization and early detection of colon cancer saves lives. See flu clinic schedule.

Concord Adopts Bike Plan

In September, the Concord City Council voted unanimously to approve the Concord Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Plan, a culmination of two and a half years of work. Our Community Wellness & Prevention Program (CWPP) played a key role in the process by working with the city to identify funding opportunities and co-wrote a grant to support development of the plan. CWPP also facilitated community workshops and provided data and analysis.

Concord's new plan focuses on changing streets in Concord to accommodate all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and mobility challenged residents, as well as motorists. The city will use the plan to write grants and guide the build-out of a pedestrian and bicycle network for the next 20 years. Next year, the city will appoint a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee to promote pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Please contact Coire Reilly of CWPP at 925-313-6252 or for more information.

iSITE Upgrade Coming Soon

Later this month, iSITE, our intranet at CCHS, will be getting an upgrade after a new software update is installed. The new software will make improvements to how team sites are managed. While there will be some minor changes to the look and feel of team sites, all user content, including documents, will still be available and accessible. The software update is scheduled to take place on October 22.

For more info, contact

Laura's Law Program Reports Strong Voluntary Participation

During its first six months, Behavioral Health Division's Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program placed 16 people with severe mental illness into its intensive, community-based care services and is working to add 13 more who qualify. The program received 101 referral requests from February to August, according to a report to the Board of Supervisors in September. Of those cases, 16 were referred to other mental health programs, 26 remain under investigation and three have pending court hearings.

AOT, developed with Superior Court, the Public Defender's Office, and other partners in accordance with Laura's Law, began screening prospective patients Feb. 1. Laura's Law allows California counties to use the civil court system to supervise care for people with mental illness who meet specific legal criteria, which include a history of hospitalization or violence and of declining offered treatment.

AOT creates both a treatment program and a process for referring prospective patients that includes clinical evaluation, emphasis on voluntary participation, and respectful and fair court representation if needed. Behavioral Health has only petitioned the court in six cases so far, with the patient voluntarily joining the program in three of them.

The program has capacity for 75 patients in its first 12 months. AOT is funded this year with $2.25 million in Mental Health Services Act funding and about $400,000 from the county's General Fund.

Medi-Cal 50th Anniversary Celebration

WHAT: Contra Costa Health Plan (CCHP) is hosting a celebration of 50 years of Medi-Cal coverage and service in Contra Costa County.
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday, October 17
WHERE: Pleasant Hill Community Center
320 Civic Drive, Pleasant Hill [MAP]
WHO: Speakers will include retired Congressman George Miller and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

Annual Combined Charities Campaign Begins

The Contra Costa County 2016 Combined Charities Campaign runs through the end of October. Each year, county employees donate to several nonprofit groups that help our community by giving to the cause of their choice. CCHS employees were sent pledge forms and booklets listing participating charities earlier this month. Pledge forms are due to your division coordinators by Oct. 31.

HazMat Team Wins Award

Members of our Hazardous Materials Division's Incident Response Team took home the second-place prize after completing a battery of training exercises at the Urban Shield competition last month. Urban Shield is a full-scale exercise and competition testing the preparedness and capabilities of first responders in the event of a large-scale terrorist attack. Congratulations to the winning HazMat crew!