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Celebrating Age-Friendly Care at Sonoma Valley Hospital

A Message from CEO John Hennelly
This month, we at Sonoma Valley Hospital are proud to spotlight our dedication to age-friendly care—a key pillar of our strategic plan aimed directly at addressing the needs of our community.

Sonoma, with its significant population of older adults, necessitates a healthcare system that is not only responsive but also anticipates the needs of this demographic. To lead these efforts, we have brought on board Geriatric Nurse Practitioner Becky Spear, our featured expert this month. Becky has been instrumental in orchestrating system-wide changes—from enhancing our emergency room to be more geriatric-focused, to ensuring seamless transitions to post-operative care, and making our facilities more accessible with multiple resting areas throughout the hospital.

Beyond our hospital walls, our partnerships with local organizations like Vintage House and La Luz have enabled us to broaden our impact. These collaborations bring valuable programs to the community, such as brown bag lunches for prescription reviews and educational seminars on vital health topics like heart health and diabetes prevention. Additionally, we are excited to host the upcoming Senior Resource Fair in September, which will offer further support and resources to our senior community.

Looking forward, the expansion of our Physical Therapy program and facilities is set to meet the growing demand from our community. These enhancements stand as a testament to our unwavering commitment as your community hospital.

As you explore the materials in this month’s ‘Hospital Happenings’, remember that Sonoma Valley Hospital is more than just a provider of healthcare; we are your partner in the health and wellness journey.

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John Hennelly
CEO, Sonoma Valley Hospital

Ask the Expert with Becky Spear, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, Sonoma Valley Hospital

A: One of the biggest challenges has been fostering an interdisciplinary approach and shifting the hospital culture to embrace these changes. For instance, mobility assessments require more than just checking off a box; they’re about reminding patients of the importance of staying active to avoid deterioration.

A: We had a poignant case where discussions about end-of-life care preferences led to a patient deciding to spend their final days at home, surrounded by family, rather than in a hospital setting. This case illustrates how ‘What Matters’ can significantly influence care decisions and improve the quality of life.

A: We are looking to expand our efforts to perioperative and preoperative care, ensuring that our older adult patients receive the best possible treatment across all departments. We’re also working towards making our Emergency Department geriatric-focused, ensuring comprehensive care tailored to the unique needs of older adults.

A: By integrating Age-Friendly practices across various settings, including outpatient care, we ensure a seamless transition for patients post-hospitalization, which can significantly improve long-term health outcomes.

A: Community partnerships are vital. For instance, our involvement in the Senior Resource Fair and adherence to the California Master Plan on Aging demonstrates our commitment to integrating community resources to enhance care for older adults.

April 2024 Health Tips

Focusing on What Matters: How Sonoma Valley Hospital Supports Our Aging Community

At Sonoma Valley Hospital (SVH), we’re deeply committed to enhancing the care of our older adults. Becky Spear, our Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, emphasizes this commitment: “At SVH, we’re not just about leading in patient care; we’re about learning, sharing, and growing with the community to ensure every older adult in Sonoma Valley receives the care they truly need.”

The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative revolves around the “4 M’s”—four essential elements of care that help us address the specific needs of our aging population:

  • What Matters: We focus on understanding and respecting each older adult’s health goals and care preferences, ensuring
    these are prioritized in all care settings.
  • Medication: We’re careful to use medications that do not interfere with the patient’s daily life, mobility, or mental state.
  • Mentation: Our team is dedicated to the proactive management of dementia, depression, and delirium, offering consistent
    support across different care settings.
  • Mobility: We strive to keep our seniors active and mobile, which is crucial for maintaining their independence and quality
    of life.

Our approach isn’t just about enhancing healthcare services; it’s about providing a supportive network that values and actively responds to the unique needs of our community’s older members. This initiative is one of the many ways we’re working to ensure that our seniors can lead healthier, happier lives.

Partnership and Community Outreach: Brown Bag Medication Reviews

Sonoma Valley Hospital is proud to partner with Vintage House and La Luz Center to expand the no-cost “Brown Bag” medication review program. This program, led by SVH Pharmacist Baqara “Maya” Yoder, PharmD, is designed to optimize medication use and ensure the health and safety of valley residents.

Program Details:
La Luz Center (1st Thursday each month) • 17560 Gregor Street, Boyes Hot Springs, Registration at 707.938.5131.
Vintage House (3rd Thursday each month) • 264 First Street East, Sonoma, Registration at 707.996.0311.

These sessions provide 45-minute private consultations with a SVH Pharmacist, focusing on a comprehensive review of all medications, supplements, and over-the-counter medicines to ensure safe and effective usage.

This program is a key example of how Sonoma Valley Hospital collaborates with community organizations to extend healthcare services and improve the overall health and wellbeing of older adults in the community. We hope to see you at one of the upcoming sessions!

Expanding Physical Therapy Services at Sonoma Valley Hospital

Sonoma Valley Hospital is expanding the Physical Therapy (PT) department, thanks to the support from the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation and generous community contributions. Taking place on our Highway 12 property, this expansion will include renovating space and hiring additional therapists to better meet the growing needs of our community—particularly our aging population.

Since becoming the area’s primary PT provider in 2011, the demand for our services has significantly increased. To address this, we’re adding 3,500 square feet of new exam rooms and expanded gym and pediatric areas, along with hiring 7 new therapists to enhance our treatment offerings, including specialized therapies for vestibular disorders and stroke rehabilitation. This initiative underlines our ongoing commitment to comprehensive healthcare and maintaining a vital role in the health and wellness of Sonoma Valley. Find out more at

Upcoming Age-Friendly Events

Active Aging: Fridays in September, 3 – 4:30pm, at Vintage House
Senior Resource Fair: Saturday, September 28th, at Sonoma Community Center in partnership with Cogir

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