Navigating breast cancer care | November 22, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - November 22, 2013

Navigating breast cancer care

ValleyCare benefits from Holiday Fund

by Jeb Bing

ValleyCare Health System is a major beneficiary of the Pleasanton Weekly's 2013 Holiday Fund, with donations going to support the medical center's Breast Cancer Patient Navigator Program, The Women In Need Fund and breast cancer education.

"Cancer touches each of us in some way and with one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the U.S., we are targeting funds toward our Breast Cancer Program at ValleyCare," said Denise Bouillerce, director of ValleyCare Marketing/Public Relations and its Charitable Foundation.

ValleyCare's breast cancer patient navigator is Sherry LaSalle, a registered nurse with special certification in helping women with breast cancer.

"Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be quite scary and confusing," Bouillerce said. "Sherry helps these women navigate the entire process from diagnosis, through treatment and follow-up, providing support, education, guidance and compassion all along the way."

The "Women in Need" fund began in 2010 and allows ValleyCare to provide financial assistance to underinsured and underprivileged women in need of a diagnostic mammogram if their screening mammograms show areas of concern. It also can help defer costs for wigs, post-surgical compression sleeves, bras and swimsuits for breast cancer patients during and after treatment.

Through the ValleyCare Health Library and Ryan Comer Cancer Resource Center, ValleyCare provides breast cancer educational material, assistance in research and support to anyone in need of this information.

"As a not-for-profit health system, any donations given to ValleyCare assist us in providing these specialized health services to people right here in our community," Bouillerce said. "We are grateful to all who give so generously."

ValleyCare, which opened its first medical center 50 years ago in Livermore, is now rated one of America's top 100 hospitals and a medical technology leader as it starts its second half-century.

Incorporated as ValleyCare Health System (VCHS), the organization's roots go back to the 1950s when the 18-bed St. Paul's Hospital proved too small for the fast-growing Livermore/Pleasanton communities.

Local residents, weary of traveling to Oakland or Hayward for health care, banded together and raised enough money, along with state funds, to build Valley Memorial Hospital in 1961. The 46-bed facility was built on land donated by Kaiser Paving, with a third floor added in 1969, raising the total to 110 beds.

Needing more room in a building that would meet California's increasingly strict earthquake protection requirements, ValleyCare purchased a 23-acre parcel at Santa Rita Road and West Las Positas Boulevard in 1974, opening its new ValleyCare Medical Center in Pleasanton in 1991.

Today, with a two-campus health system and 242 beds, a medical staff of 400 and numerous hospital and outpatient services, ValleyCare is still the unique, fiercely independent health care facility in the Bay Area that is locally controlled just as its founders envisioned more than a half-century ago. Its board of directors includes ValleyCare doctors and members from Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore, ValleyCare's primary marketing and service area.

Its current chairman, John Sensiba, has just been reelected for a third term as managing partner of the leading regional CPA firm, Sensiba San Filippo. He also serves on the board of Innovation Tri-Valley.

In addition to offering convenient medical care and services, ValleyCare also provides more than $14 million in charity care. So it's a local asset that not only serves the Tri-Valley, it also gives back to the communities it serves.

As a not-for-profit independently operated health care system, ValleyCare relies on community support from contributions made through the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund and also its own fundraising campaigns.

In fact, its signature fundraiser Christmas Tree Lane and holiday boutique are underway now in Pleasanton. Called a "Midwinter Night's Dream," the benefit has transformed the Palm Event Center into a Christmas wonderland with decorated Christmas trees and offering gourmet fare.

"Tinsel Teas" are scheduled for today, Nov. 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a "Silent Night Soiree" starting at 6:30 p.m. That event features a silent auction, sit-down dinner and entertainment by Special Blend and dancing to a DJ. Tickets for the evening event are $90.

While medical care and its medical centers in Livermore and Pleasanton remain a top focus, ValleyCare has become much more.

It also operates urgent-care facilities in Dublin and Livermore. Its Meals on Wheels program has served home-bound seniors and low-income children more than 1.5 million hot meals over the last 14 years. People without health insurance or those underinsured gain access to primary care through ValleyCare's mobile health unit, which operates in partnership with the Livermore Rotary Club. ValleyCare also operates a clinic at Walmart's store on Las Positas Road in Livermore.

Over the years, the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund has contributed more than $100,000 to ValleyCare with donations used to support its ValleyCare Health Library and Ryan Comer Resource Center in Pleasanton and the expansion program of its emergency room operation.

More services are coming at ValleyCare and Holiday Fund donations will be there to help.


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