COVID-19 Information for Journalists
Sutter Health’s media relations team assists journalists supporting print, broadcast and online content.
Sutter Health is actively responding to the COVID-19 emergency in Northern California. If you would like to speak with a Sutter expert, call the news media hotline at 800-428-7377. Please note that responses will only be given to professional journalists. In addition, because our experts are extremely busy at this time, they may not be able to immediately speak with media.
Due to health and privacy concerns, we are unable to provide access to patient areas in our clinical settings.
- We are unable to provide information about individual cases.
- All inquiries about COVID-19 patients should be directed to the California Department of Public Health, local county department of public health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Other excellent resources include the California Hospital Association, the California Medical Association and the California Office of Emergency Services.
To request an interview (including photo or video shoots) with Sutter Health experts, please contact the media relations team at 800-428-7377.
Note: a member of the media relations team must accompany all reporters on site.
Photos and Video
Video and stills available for download here. Please credit Sutter Health.
Sutter Health Newsroom
For more stories about Sutter Health, visit the Sutter Health Newsroom.
Statements Related to COVID-19
Sutter is Prepared
“Sutter has a long history of caring for patients with complex illnesses, including infectious diseases. Our teams are trained and equipped to provide high-quality care while protecting the safety of care providers, hospital staff and other teammates. We continue to work closely with county, state and federal agencies, including local county health departments and the CDC to address COVID-19 related issues. Sutter has treated and released patients who tested positive for COVID-19. We are also keeping our staff and affiliated physicians throughout our integrated network prepared for and informed about local health department and CDC guidance COVID-19. Staff have been trained to address infectious respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.”
Surge Planning at Sutter
“Sutter is working closely with state officials and other healthcare partner organizations to comprehensively prepare for a surge in patients. Sutter Health is prepared to use the breadth of our integrated network to increase our critical care capacity. Our integrated network allows us to shift quickly so hardest-hit areas can receive the necessary resources, whether that’s personal protective equipment, ventilators or beds. We understand bed capacity is critically important and we are focusing our efforts on utilizing every resource we have to prepare for a surge in patients. Our surge planning efforts will allow us to expand our critical care capacity by 2-3 times.
Some of these
- Postponing elective surgeries that can be safely postponed to free up supplies, staff and space.
- Increasing our supplies of PPE and essential equipment like ventilators.
- Preparing to serve a larger percentage/greater number of ventilator-dependent patients.
- Setting up surge tents to treat respiratory patients away from the general population.
- Standing up a COVID-19-specific advice line to triage patients before they’re seen in person.
- Increasing our video visit capacity to prevent sick patients from infecting other patients and our staff.
- Standing up drive-through testing for patients who have a doctor’s order and meet criteria for testing.
- Tapping into Sutter’s internal labor staffing pool, retraining employees and bringing in more advanced practice clinicians and travel nurses to support staffing needs.”
Elective Surgery Statement as of 4-23-2020
Dr. Bill Isenberg, chief quality and safety officer, Sutter Health: “While we are encouraged by the Governor’s announcement, which was based on the administration’s assessment of progress toward the surge preparedness of the state’s hospitals and health systems, surge readiness remains our top clinical priority. There are key principles to keep in mind as we look at conducting some procedures again, including PPE availability and testing capacity, as well as continuing to make sure that our plans are in line with guidance from government entities and medical professional societies.
For all these reasons, we will resume services with a phased, safety-first approach. We know patients are eager to reschedule deferred procedures and care, and we want them to know that we are here to care for them. We will proactively reach out to our patients with details soon. At the same time, we continue to care for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients across all our care settings and anticipate caring for patients with respiratory symptoms and/or COVID-19 for at least the next several months.”
“Sutter Health has mounted a comprehensive response to this pandemic and we have worked diligently to expand our internal testing capabilities, including obtaining equipment that uses molecular testing technology and can produce a positive test result in as little as five minutes. The instruments are already deployed, enabling us to perform “close proximity” COVID-19 testing for 11 of our hospitals. By providing “close proximity” testing at our busiest hospitals, we can very quickly diagnosis and correctly treat our most vulnerable patients, improve infection control measures and preserve valuable personal protective equipment.
Because instrument manufacturers are unable to provide enough instruments for all Sutter hospitals, Sutter’s core laboratory in Livermore also supports prompt diagnosis and treatment—delivering COVID-19 test results to our hospitals well within 24 hours.
Currently, we are performing approximately 650 COVID-19 tests per day on samples collected from Sutter patients and employees, and our Sutter labs have the capacity to meet this demand.
We expect to bring serology testing online for our patients in the next two to three weeks. We can share details at that time. In the meantime, we also expect to be able to refer serology testing to our commercial reference lab partner, Quest, next week. Doing so will help us to provide this testing to Sutter patients until Sutter labs are able to do so.”
“As part of Sutter’s continued commitment to safety during this historic COVID-19 pandemic, this week we are implementing mandatory temperature screenings for clinicians, employees, vendors and contractors upon entering all Sutter Health acute and ambulatory care delivery venues, as well as non-clinical sites. Those found to have a temperature of 100.0 or higher will not be allowed to proceed to their workspace. We believe this is an important measure to help us promote the health of our patients, community, colleagues, and the staff and clinicians working tirelessly to provide care during these challenging times.”
“SutterHealth is working closely with state and local officials and other healthcarepartner organizations to support the Governor’s science-based, safety-firstapproach to reopening. We continue to closely manage our supply of PPE and workround the clock to secure additional PPE, so we can meet critical communityneed while maintaining patient and frontline staff safety. PPE is a significantconcern still acutely felt by healthcare organizations across the nation,including us, and we are doing everything we can to secure additional supplies.Because we are an integrated system, we are able to shift suppliesaround our network to where they are needed most. Our hospitals are not ontheir own: they have an entire network backing them up and working to helpensure they have what they need to care for patients now, while continuing toprepare for future surges. While we are encouraged by our progress in securingPPE—and our supply is currently adequate to match the current need—our job isfar from over.”
Patient Guidance for Accessing Care
“Get Care Today: this webpage page offers a comprehensive list of the care offered by Sutter affiliates and how to access it.
What to Do If You’re Feeling Ill (Including chronic conditions, colds, flu, suspected COVID-19, etc.):
- Send a message to your care team via My Health Online.
- Consider a Sutter same-day Video Visit. They’re available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Video Visits help you avoid exposure to colds and flu and prevent you from exposing others if you’re sick. Your provider may direct you to a testing site, the hospital or your county’s public health department.
- Call the Sutter COVID-19 Hotline at 866-961-2889 to connect with a clinician who will direct you to the proper level of care. The line is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
- Sutter’s Medical
Symptom Checker can direct you to the right healthcare for your symptoms.
For Healthcare Concerns Not Related to COVID-19: For other illnesses and injuries, you can also access Sutter walk-in clinics and urgent care centers. Find locations at sutterhealth.org.
Emergencies: Call 911 for life-threatening events. A true emergency is when an illness or injury places you or your child’s health or life in serious jeopardy and treatment cannot be delayed. In these situations, call 911 or go immediately to the nearest emergency room. (Click here for a list of Sutter-affiliated Emergency Departments).
During the current pandemic, precautions are in place at Sutter-affiliated hospitals to protect the health of patients and our staff. Upon arrival to the emergency department, the medical team will place patients with respiratory symptoms in special areas away from the general population to avoid the possibility of spreading the virus.
When to Go to Urgent Care vs. an Emergency Room
If you hurt yourself or your child suddenly falls ill in the middle of the night, you may be unsure whether you should go to the nearest emergency room immediately or wait until morning to visit an urgent care center.
If possible, it’s best to see your primary care doctor or your child’s pediatrician for routine healthcare needs because they are already familiar with the relevant medical history. However, if you’re unable to see your regular doctor and need to be seen the same day, a visit to an urgent care center is a convenient, cost-effective option.
Urgent care centers can treat moderate, unforeseen medical problems in adults and children that – while not emergencies – require care within 24 hours.
Some of the common conditions treated in an emergency room include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Spurting blood
- Chest pain or pressure
- Severe allergic reactions
- Moderate to severe burns or wounds
- Convulsions or seizures
- Serious head, neck or back injury
- Sudden inability to speak, see, walk or move
- High-speed car accident or a high fall
Urgent care situations can include:
- A cut that needs stitches
- Abdominal pain
- Sore throat
- Ear pain
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- An eye scratch
- Worsening of an existing condition, such as mild to moderate asthma
- A spike in blood pressure
- Routine injuries, such as sprained ankles and back problems
- Simple broken bones
- A non-life-threatening accident or fall”
Is it safe to go to the Emergency Department?
“Hospital emergency departments
across the Sutter network remain open and are providing care beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
They provide a critical access point of care when treatment cannot be delayed for
those with life-threatening illnesses or injuries.”
“Sutter facilities have put in place safety measures for masking patients and visitor restrictions (with a few exceptions); keeping patients with COVID-19 symptoms away from common waiting areas, entrances and other patients; arranging for environmental services staff to perform extra cleaning and disinfecting; and requiring all staff to have their temperature taken before each shift.”