Thanks to FIRST 5, genetic counseling is provided to low-income families

First 5 Logo

Due to a generous grant from FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, VMC can offer genetic counseling to high-risk families in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Bill Campbell, a genetic counselor at VMC, recently supported the parents of a NICU

FIRST 5’s grant support makes care like this possible for babies in VMC’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. You can read more about this story, and see updates about our other programs, in our Fall 2013 Impact Report. baby born with the chromosome abnormality 4p minus, commonly called Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Bill worked through an interpreter to provide support to the parents who were understandably worried and confused – they had never heard of their baby’s condition and had many questions about what it meant. Bill met regularly with the family and together they developed a plan to guide them through the testing and treatment options. Without this specialized support service, the family would have been completely unprepared to care for the unique needs of the baby.

A surprise visit to a VMC pediatric patient thanks to the Heroes Run

Joseph Supnet-Puerile, left, shakes hands as he says goodbye to UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez during a surprise visit for Heroes Run at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Supnet-Puerile was involved in a car accident which killed two of his friends. At far right is Velasquez's coach Javier Mendez. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Joseph Supnet-Puerile, left, shakes hands with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez during a surprise visit for Heroes Run at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Supnet-Puerile was involved in a car accident which killed two of his friends. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

SAN JOSE — Joseph Supnet-Puerile has spent the past month fighting for his life and fighting to regain mobility after a devastating car crash that killed two of his friends and injured two others.

So it was fitting that a fighter was the one to buoy his spirits Wednesday. Cain Velasquez, who holds the heavyweight belt in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, appeared in his Valley Medical Center hospital room to pay him a visit.

The 15-year-old’s eyes lit up, and he was momentarily speechless when his idol walked in with gear to sign for him.

“It was crazy,” Joseph said.

The meet was made possible by Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Jones and the San Jose-based American Kickboxing Academy, the training grounds for Velasquez and Jones’ brother Victor.

The kickboxing academy is a primary sponsor for the Heroes Run, an inaugural charity 5K run to be held Nov 9. The run is sponsored by the Sheriff’s Office and the Valley Medical Center foundation, with proceeds going toward upgrading the hospital’s pediatric department where Joseph received the bulk of his treatment.

“These kids are the true heroes,” Jones said.

Beyond the autographed fighting gloves, shirts and action figure, the well wishers, which included Velasquez’s trainer Javier Mendez and fellow heavyweight fighter Daniel Cormier, also told Joseph he would be flying to Houston for a front-row view of the champion’s Oct. 19 rubber match with rival Junior dos Santos.

Lying in his hospital bed and showing the ability to move his legs still encased in casts and braces, Joseph was speechless.

“He cares about his fans,” the San Jose teen said of Velasquez. “It’s pretty amazing. Everything about it.”

Jones said he first met Joseph last week when he was touring the pediatric facility while helping plan the charity run. In trying to strike up a rapport with Joseph, Jones started listing possible interests they shared; they quickly settled on UFC fighting.

Joseph told Jones that he and his father, Tom Supnet, were originally fans of Brock Lesnar until Velasquez pummeled Lesnar in 2010 for a first-round victory and the title belt that Velasquez has since lost and regained in fights with dos Santos.

“Joey said he thought Cain was going to beat (Lesnar),” Supnet said. “We’ve been behind him ever since.”

The 6-foot-1, 250-pound Velasquez, shadowed by a UFC camera crew shooting a special to air Oct. 9 to promote his title bout, said the visit helps him put the bright lights of his profession in perspective.

“They usually only see one side of us. We are people you can come up to,” Velasquez said. “It really touches your heart to help someone’s day out. He’s going to have this memory for a while.”

It was a welcome respite for Supnet and the rest of his family, who have been holding vigil over Joseph since the Aug. 10 crash that critically injured him. Just before midnight that Saturday, the teen and four other friends were riding in a car when the 19-year-old driver lost control and crashed into a tree on Chynoweth Avenue. The two front occupants, the driver and a 16-year-old boy, were killed.

Joseph and another friend were pinned underneath the car, with a rod impaling both their legs, Supnet said. A third surviving passenger suffered moderate injuries.

It sparked a harried night where Supnet learned through his children’s social media accounts that Joseph, who had been at a

Joseph Supnet-Puerile, left, shakes hands as he says goodbye to UFC fighter Daniel Cormier during a surprise visit for Heroes Run at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Supnet-Puerile was involved in a car accident which killed two of his friends. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

sleepover, was involved in the crash. He visited multiple hospitals before coming to Valley Medical Center.


“For two days, I thought he wasn’t going to make it,” Supnet said. “I’m so thankful he’s alive.

Joseph was set to leave the hospital Thursday. Supnet has the house ready, using his skills as a homebuilder to install wheelchair ramps.

Jones said wheelchair or not, Joseph will be a guest of honor at the Heroes Run, noting that his unexpectedly rapid recovery will serve as inspiration.

Lifted by meeting his hero, Joseph was in the mood for optimism.

“I’ll be running, hopefully.”


For more information about the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Heroes Run, to benefit the Valley Medical Center pediatrics department, go to

Representative Zoe Lofgren reads with our pediatric patients at VHC Tully

Representative Zoe Lofgren reads with Autumn, one of Valley Health Center Tully's pediatric patients.

Representative Zoe Lofgren reads with one of Valley Health Center Tully’s pediatric patients.

Representative Zoe Lofgren dropped by a VMC clinic this morning to read to our young patients. The visit was intended to showcase VMC Foundation’s Reach Out and Read Program which gives out roughly 30,000 free books to children ages 0-5 at each of their well-child visits.

Reach Out and Read is a national program that prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. During regular pediatric checkups, Reach Out and Read pediatricians, family physicians, and nurse practitioners give new, developmentally-appropriate books to children, ages 6 months through 5 years, and advise parents about the importance of reading aloud. As a result of this evidence-based intervention, parents learn new ways to stimulate their children’s literacy development, have more books in their home, and read to their children more.

VHC Tully, a VMC community clinic in San Jose, serves nearly 6,000 kids a month, providing essential preventative care, regardless of ability to pay. Those patients will now enjoy pediatric exam and waiting areas that are fun, engaging and promote healthy living, thanks to the Sharks Foundation.

Concussions: When in doubt, sit ’em out!

Pop Warner CoachesI’ve never seen so many big, bald dudes in one room at the same time. Yes—these are my people.

But seriously… the event Sunday, July 21 was extremely important and the VMC Foundation is proud to have helped make it happen. 700 Pop Warner Football and Cheer coaches from around California assembled in San Jose to learn about spotting, preventing and treating concussions.

And they learned from our experts,  Valley Medical Center’s specialists:  Henry Huie, MD, Associate Chief of Physical Medicine & Rehab; Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, PhD, Director of the Rehab Research Center; Gaurav Abbi, MD,  Chief of Spine Service, Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery and Kimberly Archie, CEO of the Cheer Safety Foundation. The theme of the day relates to ANY indication that a young athlete may have sustained a concussion on the field: When in doubt, sit ‘em out! (and then follow very specific protocols to assess and get treatment for an injury, of course).

You might be thinking: So how did a huge group of huge tough guys take hearing from brainiac doctors in suits? This, from Don Preble, President of Almaden Pop Warner and co-planner of the conference: “I can’t begin to tell you all just how spectacular this presentation was. Never in the 14 years I have been involved with Pop Warner have I seen 500 Football coaches sitting on the edge of their seats and listening with enthusiastic anticipation for the next piece of information.”

The coaches also heard from Chris Bauerle, a former patient of VMC’s Rehab Center. His own story of a life-threatening brain injury on the football field is frankly WAY more compelling. Chris is also a member of our peer support team at VMC, helping people with new injuries.  As if that weren’t enough star-power, we had Dan Garza, MD, team doctor for the 49’ers and Jon Butler, National President of Pop Warner who both flew out for the conference and supported the teachings.

The media was all over this event, as we’ve heard so much more lately about the tragic results of concussions leading to long-term disabilities—from the NFL on down. Of course, it’s not just football and cheerleading either, and we’re confident that this awareness will only grow.

If your employer blocks video, you can also see this great article from the Mercury News on the event. A huge thanks to Don, Laura, Stephanie, Henry, PRx and everyone who helped make young athletes safer.

Teaming up with the Sharks Foundation (again!)

SAP-Sharks Bike Build Photo

Erik Bue and Cynthia Lam assemble a new bike as Sharkie looks on following a ceremony to unveil the newly renamed SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. The SAP Center name replaces HP Pavilion, home of the San Jose Sharks. The unveiling ceremony was followed by a volunteer bike-building event to benefit underprivileged families.

You probably have heard that the big arena downtown has a new name: The SAP Center. The home of the San Jose Sharks unveiled the name in a huge media event yesterday that included the VMC Foundation!

Our hugely inspiring program, Turning Wheels for Kids, was there to lead a “bike build” with a team of volunteers along with the San Jose Sharks Foundation. The Sharks Foundation has been a great partner of the VMC Foundation for years–if you missed the announcement about the Sharks Pediatric Center at VHC Tully, we have it saved for you here.

And, if you’d like to see more about yesterday’s Bike Build, which provided 150 new bikes to kids in underprivileged families, the Mercury News took some cool pictures. We even had a mention in the Wall Street Journal…not bad for a program that, just a few years ago, produced just forty bikes in a year for children (we’re giving away thousands now.)

Led by the amazing Sue Runsvold, RN, Valley Medical Center’s own, Turning Wheels rocks!

The (healthiest) State of the County Address…

President Ken Yeager, far right, with Supervisor Wasserman, Congresswoman Eshoo and First 5 CEO Jolene Smith

President Ken Yeager, far right, with Supervisor Wasserman, Congresswoman Eshoo and First 5 CEO Jolene Smith

In my 9+ years of service to the VMC Foundation, I’ve never been more excited about a “State of the County” speech than I was today. Board President Ken Yeager succinctly outlined his goals for 2013, which he explained would require close collaboration from everyone present…and that’s a lot of county leaders – the Board Chambers was standing-room only.


Why was I so excited? First, because President Yeager has demonstrated for years that he truly cares about and works hard on these issues…so he’ll make it happen. Second, because the VMC Foundation is actively working on half of the goals he presented. Mathematically, that lines up: The Santa Clara County Health & Hospital System is roughly half the County’s budget, and half of President Yeager’s goals involve that “system” directly…and what do you know: the VMC Foundation is engaged in nearly all!

This, in a nutshell, suggests to me that the VMC Foundation has its priorities straight. In addition to raising funds for vital equipment and programs within the walls of the medical center, we’re addressing community health needs.

Here, then, are President Yeager’s health-related goals and a bit about how your VMC Foundation is lending a hand:

Prepare Santa Clara County for Health Care Reform

The VMC Foundation has, for years, been part of the committee to further improve the patient experience. From the moment someone walks in the door (or arrives by ambulance), we have countless opportunities to make them feel welcome and cared for. In part, this is how medical centers will be measured under the Affordable Care Act – and if we fall short, VMC loses money. Yes—this is a big deal. We also fund programs to keep patients from being re-admitted once they go home, another crucial measurement of the ACA.

Ensure every eligible child has medical and dental coverage

You likely know already that Santa Clara County was the first in the United States to offer health coverage for every single child. But that was 11 years ago, and since then county budget cuts have eroded this wonderful program. The VMC Foundation was part of the team (and the largest contributor) that campaigned and passed Measure A in November, which President Yeager confirmed generated enough funding to fully restore medical and dental services to each and every child in our county…what a huge victory!

Reduce the over-consumption of sugar-loaded beverages in our community

Again, you know this because I rarely shut up about it: The VMC Foundation is the fiscal sponsor of the county’s “Re-Think Your Drink” campaign and works to encourage kids and adults to drink more water, not soda.

Create a program to install hydration stations where kids and families gather

An extension of, and example of, “Re-thinking our Drink” in our communities – and an example of how good health originates not in a medical clinic, but where we live, work and play.

Expand HIV and STD testing programs

The VMC Foundation has raised tens of thousands to support the Positive PACE Clinic, part of the Health & Hospital System and the only county agency that provides testing, clinical and support services for residents living with HIV/AIDS. The PACE Clinic also conducts testing, and with the help of the VMC Foundation, led a huge World AIDS Day event last month to bring more awareness to the issues.

Perform developmental screenings of children during pediatric visits

This is a biggie for the VMC Foundation, as we run the Reach Out and Read Program at our Valley Health Center pediatric clinics—serving a quarter of all kids living in Santa Clara County. VMC’s pediatricians provide new books to young children, and as they present the books and the importance of reading to the parents, the doctors carefully assess how the child is reacting to the book. There’s a whole developmental screening model associated with Reach Out and Read, and yearly our team identifies lots of developmental delays that may otherwise have been missed. Great to see this as part of an expanding effort to catch developmental issues as early as possible.

To me, President Yeager’s goals had everything to do with public health in a very progressive sense of the term; not just preventing disease, but Better Health for All – which is the new motto of the Santa Clara County Health & Hospital System. I’d say “let’s get started”, but as you now know, we’re already off and running.

Mercury News: County supervisors honor Almaden Kiwanis for VMC murals

The following article was published in the January 10, 2013 edition of the San Jose Mercury News.

(photo courtesy Valley Medical Center)One of the finished murals in a pediatric room at Valley Medical Center is Under the Sea, designed and drawn by Carissa Rosario, a Pioneer graduate who is currently studying at Mission College. This project was headed by the Almaden Kiwanis Club. The County of Santa Clara is presenting a commendation to the Almaden Kiwanis Club for these murals.

One of the finished murals in a pediatric room at Valley Medical Center is Under the Sea, designed and drawn by Carissa Rosario, a Pioneer graduate who is currently studying at Mission College.

Changing Valley Medical Center’s pediatric exam rooms from dull, blank white walls into fantasy murals has won the Almaden Valley Kiwanis Club a commendation from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

The commendation presentation, which is planned for Jan. 15, acknowledges the club members and volunteers who by the completion date of Jan. 12, will have transformed 47 pediatric exam rooms at VMC into fanciful environments for children.

“It’s a good mood enhancer,” says Laura Cutler Kazanovicz, program manager for the VMC Foundation. “The walls are distracting and not so scary for patients. It’s changed the atmosphere.”

VMC has specialized staff and facilities allowing the doctors to treat rare illnesses as well as a wide variety of children’s health problems.

Club members, along with area artists, community volunteers, hundreds of high school Key Club members and 30 Circle K college students began the seven-month job last April. The idea behind the project was to take the plain white walls and make them bright and pretty, allowing children to feel more comfortable visiting the doctor.

High school volunteers came from a number of local schools including Pioneer, Leland, Silver Creek, Yerba Buena, Milpitas and Sobrato. These students did most of the artwork, creating the designs. Some of the murals were images manipulated from websites, while the artists imagined the others.

The idea began when Sarah Gianocaro, vice president of the Almaden Valley club, took her daughter for a doctor’s appointment and noticed the cute murals in the exam rooms. She t decided to create something similar for a nonprofit hospital.

“I inquired on a website, and it turned out the CEO of Valley Med had toured the pediatric clinic and wanted to see it beautified. So I began working with the VMC Foundation in November,” Gianocaro said in an interview.

Gianocaro and other volunteers received almost $1,000 in donations from six hardware stores and four paint stores for materials. Three local restaurants and two grocery stores provided food for the artists and volunteers. Almaden Valley Kiwanis donated an addition $714.48. Other and diverse volunteers came from Facebook, Twitter, Kiwanis communication emails and meetings and articles in community newspapers.

Each of the six weekend projects required a significant amount of work. First, the team submitted artwork for review and approval. About midweek, the club organized materials and paint. On Friday room preparation began and included removing wall items, placing drop cloths and taping while artists sketched their murals on the walls.

On Saturday, volunteers began painting, with artists overseeing the

work. And on Sunday volunteers applied polyurethane finish to preserve the artwork and allow easy wall cleaning. The final Sunday projects included paint cleanup, tape removal and putting the equipment back on exam room walls. In all, six weekends were required to complete the 47 rooms.


The board of supervisors will present the commendation shortly after its meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the county government building, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose, 95110, in the board chambers.

Too good not to share…

The VMC Foundation is proud to support all sorts of efforts to improve the health of Silicon Valley – the “Re-Think Your Drink” campaign, the forthcoming Farmer’s Market on our campus, the Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center…

…and yet, we’re up against an enemy so powerful it often seems we cannot win.

The video created by a Canadian physician recently gives me a glimmer of hope. The fact that it was picked up by the Huffington Post brightens that glimmer.

Education is the key, and deterring the food industry from selling unhealthy food dressed up as healthy food is the lesson. But they won’t do it unless we demand it.

This is not only worth your time to watch, it’s worth your time to share with others. Please do.


We are facing AIDS!

Frank Yang, Bellermine High School Student's Winning Poster Submission Entitled "Save Lives. Stop AIDS."

Frank Yang, Bellarmine High School Student’s Winning Poster Submission Entitled “Save Lives. Stop AIDS.”

This past Saturday, December 1st, World AIDS Day Silicon Valley spread the word to the community about the importance of facing AIDS.

A special thank you to the Ira Greene Partners for AIDS Care & Education Clinic for putting on the event as well as The Health Trust, and Santa Clara County Public Health .

High School & College youth were awarded for their poster & video contest submission including Frank Yang, a senior at Bellarmine High School, who was inspired to create his poster to, ” bring awareness to AIDS. I thought the best way to stop AIDS was first to protect ourselves, then educate others about the importance of preventing AIDS.”

To check out photos from the event,  click here.

Please also check out the Facing AIDS photo gallery to see Silicon Valley represented amongst the nation.

World AIDS Day Silicon Valley this Saturday!

No plans yet for tomorrow?

Come out and  join us for a celebration of the victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services, creative efforts from youth, remarks by community leaders, reflection of those impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and a call to action.

The PACE Clinic in partnership with the VMC Foundation presents World AIDS Day Silicon Valley at the Locatelli Student Center at Santa Clara University from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

The event will feature a Red Ribbon Tree, a Facing AIDS photobooth, free HIV testing from Santa Clara County Public Health, and the displays of posters submitted by youth in Silicon Valley about HIV/AIDS prevention & intervention.

The program will be MC’ed by St. John from 99.7 and will include talks from Fred Ferrer, CEO, The Health Trust,  Fr. Michael Zampelli, SJ, community members as well as the presentation of awards for the youth poster & video contest.

We hope you can make it!