The past year has been one of pain and perseverance. Our communities and our organization has been tested in ways we could not imagine. I am so proud of our team. They responded with fortitude, resourcefulness, and an abiding commitment to caring for others. Between the patient surges, the new variants, and the unexpected complexities, we found ourselves clinging to the one part of CTH life that didn’t change — our mission.
Our mission is more than words on a wall. Our mission is about a trusting partnership with the communities we serve. When like-minded organizations come together for the common goal of improving health, it is remarkable what can happen. This past year we’ve taken short-term actions to help us achieve a long-term vision — to create a healthier future for all.
We know we are called to care for the sick, but we must also focus on keeping our neighbors well. CTH is committed to improving the core of what we do. We bring people, talent, technology, and compassion together to serve others. We also understand that our long-term vision requires a transformation of what we do and how we do it. We must innovate and create new thinking. At our very core, CTH is about people. People in community with other people. With this driving us, we can be an instrument of hope and inspiration for all of us to live our best lives.CEO Letter Print PDF
Throughout December 2020 and into early 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine was administered to Carson Tahoe Health employees, a historic event and one of the first steps toward the new normal.
Nurse Kathy Merrill, one of the first to get the Pfizer vaccines told KTVN 2 News, "Just in the hallway, right here, you can hear laughter and hope and all I've heard is 'We're so excited to have the vaccine at our hospital." – Kathy Merrill, RN
An anonymous donor pledged $25,000 match for Carson Tahoe’s Center for Philanthropy’s “Sponsor A Caregiver” fundraiser. Donations helped provide 1,000 employees with comfortable and reusable N95 masks and two months’ worth of filters.
Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center’s Starbucks Café was awarded the “#1 Starbucks in Nevada” for great customer service.
It’s Bernie on a Bridge! The Sierra Surgery building officially connects to the Regional Medical Center via the walkway connector, a project started in October 2019 as part of phase one of our ten-year master campus improvements plan. As the connector was being finished, Bernie and his mittens went viral online.
Nevada’s Attorney General Aaron Ford received his second COVID-19 vaccine at Carson Tahoe Health. Ford worked with GI Consultants doctor Jason M. Collins, M.D. to promote well-being during the pandemic and encourage minority populations to get vaccinated.
“The additional space will enhance the support we can offer those experiencing a substance use or mental health crisis,” said Christina Sapien, Director of Carson Tahoe Behavioral Health Services.
Following an $800,000 donation from the Mallory Foundation, Carson Tahoe Health’s Behavioral Health Services Mallory Crisis Center unveiled 15 new patient beds, triage/holding spaces for shorter stay patients, and three extra offices for additional providers.
The COVID-19 triage tent, set up outside the Emergency Department (ED), officially came down. The tent was set up to be an extension of the ED, while caring for the influx of patients during the height of the pandemic.
The Carson Tahoe Leadership Academy kicked off. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we reassessed and made it a priority to invest in additional education for our leadership team. Not only does this help connect our leaders more, but the investment trickles down to staff.
Carson Tahoe Health joined Career Day with the fabulous kiddos and staff of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America of Western Nevada. Colin the Colon, from the Nevada Cancer Coalition, made a special appearance, as well!
After nearly two years since breaking ground, CTH staff and board members finally stepped into the new walkway connector between the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center and Sierra Surgery.
Michelle Miller joins Carson Tahoe Health as new Chief People Resources (HR) Officer and Vice President
The 11th Annual Hopefest fundraiser raised $100,210 surpassing Center for Philanthropy’s goal of $90,000! The event supports our Cancer Center and their goal for 2021 was to direct the money to refurbishing the Merriner Cottages, a home away from home for patients and their families who are going through cancer treatment.
Cardiac Electrophysiology (Cardiac EP) became available at Carson Tahoe Health after the organization welcomed Electrophysiologist Dr. Jeffrey Turner to the team. Electrophysiologists are often described as being the “electricians” of the heart, diagnosing and treating abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias.
Advanced Neurosurgery is now available to the Quad County through Carson Tahoe Health following a new partnership with Sina Rajamand, DO from Battle Born Brain & Spine.
The William N. Pennington Foundation recently granted $543,898 for renovations of the Merriner Cottages, the only no-cost lodging in our region for patients facing cancer.
Members from Carson Fire Academy Station 52 rocked our No Shave ‘Movember’ t-shirts! Proceeds go towards our Cancer Resource Center, helping local patients facing cancer! Thanks so much for the support Carson City Fire Department!
Meet Mary Sue Zinsmeister. Carson Tahoe Health welcomes new Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President Mary Sue Zinsmeister. Read more from Mary Sue.
Throughout 2021, we remained committed to strengthening the services we offer to our community, while also strengthening our excellent team. We successfully built on the strong foundation of caring and service already present at Carson Tahoe Health. A number of new services were added in 2021, along with several physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, techs, and many other caregivers. We are proud of our entire team and all that they accomplished. The pandemic has been a challenge, to be sure, yet it has brought us together and bolstered our commitment to improving the health and well-being of the community we serve.
If 2020 was the year of adaption and resiliency, 2021 was the year of hope and progress. With that progress, came an abundance of construction dust and hard hats. A project that had been in the works since 2017 — before the fires — finally reached its completion. After much planning, two years of construction and fine-tuning, and a blessing from Peggy Locke, CTH Chaplain, the Carson Tahoe Walkway between Carson Tahoe Health’s Regional Medical Center and Sierra Surgery building opened on October 4, 2021.
The enclosed structure spans Eagle Valley Creek, offering spectacular views of the surrounding flora and fauna through its expansive windows while providing patients, staff, and visitors convenient access between the two buildings. With two levels, the multi-purpose walkway can be used by both visitors and guests on the upper level and by staff and emergency medical services to transport patients on the lower level.
In addition to reducing transportation barriers, the connector also now houses the 9,800 sq. ft. Carson Tahoe Laboratory. “We outgrew the existing lab,” said Michelle Joy, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “The additional space allows breathing room, allowing lab staff to process around 2,100 orders per day.” Carson Tahoe’s lab services touch the lives of approximately 600 patients per day, performing over 3.1 million tests annually.
As we continued to battle the difficulties of the pandemic, construction never stopped. We stayed vigilant in our planning efforts and saw the vision through. The blueprints of the project were a symbol of hope, as opening day of the connector was a symbol of our progress.
The hard work and effort made in improving patient care by Carson Tahoe Health was recognized in 2021 through a number of notable achievements, both on a local and national scale. Carson Tahoe Health achieved the Pathway to Excellence® designation, our Cancer Center was re-accredited as a quality program from the Commission on Cancer (a part of the American College of Surgeons), we received Primary Stroke Center designation, and we even took home “Best Place to Receive Medical Treatment” from the Best of Carson City Awards.
Carson Tahoe Health joined just three percent of hospitals in the nation to have received Pathway to Excellence® designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The Pathway designation is a global credential highlighting an organization's commitment to creating a healthy work environment where nurses feel empowered and valued. CTH nurses — from the urgent cares and medical group clinics to the Regional Medical Center and surgery rooms — are an integral part of the healthcare team.
Also in 2021, Carson Tahoe Cancer Center was recertified with full accreditation as a Quality Program by The American College of Surgeons, Commission on Cancer (CoC). The CoC recognizes cancer care programs internationally for their commitment to providing comprehensive, high quality, and multidisciplinary, patient-centered care. The Cancer Center worked vigorously the past three years to help meet these rigorous standards.
Carson Tahoe earned the prestigious designation Primary Stroke Center Certification by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CIHQ). We received this certification by developing care protocols, enhancing the efficiency of care, and, most importantly, achieving better patient outcomes. Utilizing tools within the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Overview, we were able to benchmark the quality of care the patients at Carson Tahoe were receiving against other hospitals in Nevada and the nation. Through adhering to the requirements of CIHQ, the American Heart/American Stroke Association, and the Brain Attack Coalition, our staff requirements and patient education now both align entirely with the CIHQ Stroke Program, as well as Carson Tahoe's mission to enhance the health and well-being of the communities we serve.
Last year taught us a lot about adversity and (like the pandemic required of us) how to remain “fluid and dynamic.” It also taught us about the importance of remaining strong and facing the challenges still ahead. When we thought we had reached the peak of the pandemic and were heading back to normal, the Omicron variant hit, and Carson Tahoe Health saw a record impact on our internal and external community. We dealt with caregiver burnout, mental exhaustion, turnover, and staff challenges. We needed to shift the work environment and focus on our employees. We asked the questions, “What do they need right now?” and “How can we make it better for them?” We focused on two areas that we knew needed improving: compensation and mental health.
Carson Tahoe Health made a commitment in 2021 that included a multi-million dollar investment in our most valuable asset—our employees. We re-evaluated the job market and spent many months of the year restructuring our employees’ compensation through increased wages. As a result, we made great strides to position ourselves as having one of the most competitive compensation and benefits packages in Northern Nevada. We’re proud that we were able to do that for our employees.
In addition, thanks to our philanthropic community partners, we were able to offer subscriptions to the Calm app and now have over 500 employees subscribed and engaged with the application. Calm offers curated content to assist with sleep, meditation, breathing, stretching, and more. “The feedback received has been overwhelmingly positive from staff, with more active subscribers each week,” says Michelle Miller, Vice President and Chief People Resources Officer. “This is a step in the right direction for providing a holistic approach to caring for our caregivers’ minds and bodies.”
While we all know the phrase, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” it is much easier said than done. We knew last year — and we know now — that retaining great employees and rewarding staff for showing up through what may be one of the most challenging times of their career was crucial. In a period of history where the trend has been to turn inward and isolate, we knew that we had to expand and extend our efforts to energize our team and show them that they were cared for and that their sacrifices did not go unnoticed.Strengthen the Core Print PDF
Carson Tahoe Health is excited to welcome new ideas, new technology, and new initiatives, all in an effort to build a culture where employees are inspired to innovate and patients feel safe about the quality care they receive. By investing in technology that makes the healing process easier and inviting our staff to help us create positive changes, Carson Tahoe Health is upholding its role as a pillar both in our community and throughout the region.
At Carson Tahoe Health, we believe convenience in healthcare is paramount. When it comes to our patient's health, comfort, and well-being, we never stop seeking new, effective ways to better their care journey.
Even through a tough financial year, last year we made several changes and upgrades to our technology, all in an effort to serve the community’s needs. For starters, we replaced our outpatient MRI scanner at our location inside the Eagle Medical Center Building, received the latest cancer-fighting technology for the Cancer Center, and introduced a new and improved simulator at our Carson City Therapy location.
The Philips Ambition, the new MRI scanner at our Eagle location, is the first and only helium-free MRI scanner. This new MRI scanner achieves our goal of providing the highest diagnostic technology available to our patients that is also friendlier to the environment, more comfortable for our patients, and uses significantly less power.
Our Carson Tahoe Radiation Oncology group at the Cancer Center upgraded all of their radiation-delivery technology to the latest and greatest radiation therapy system available for treating cancer. The new Siemens Confidence RT PRO dual-energy large bore CT scanner, combined with the latest version of Varian's Eclipse Treatment Planning System and TrueBeam linear accelerator, will allow us to treat the majority of cancer sites where radiation therapy is appropriate. This new tech is unique because it provides incredibly accurate imaging to better plan and help pinpoint precise radiation. When it comes to diagnosis and treatment, we always have our patient's health and comfort in mind. The TrueBeam linear accelerator runs quietly, offers built-in music capabilities, and allows our patients to be in constant, two-way communication with their physician during the process.
Joe Herrick, M.S., DABR Director of Medical Physics at Carson Tahoe Radiation Oncology Associates, says, "Being diagnosed with cancer is difficult, no doubt. We're happy to now offer this advanced technology for an overall better care experience, with the best outcomes."
Lastly, Carson Tahoe Therapy got a new driving simulator. Many thanks to the Center for Philanthropy and Occupational Therapist Ben L. for making this upgrade possible. This new feature helps assess how fit a patient is to drive following a serious health issue like having a stroke. The simulator replicates real-world driving conditions, such as driving on a windy day.
While we know compassionate care is at the heart of all we do, we also make it a priority to stay at the forefront of technology and tools to help along the way.
In late 2020, Carson Tahoe initiated the use of a new event reporting system called RL Datix. This platform, widely used and implemented in 2021, has changed how Carson Tahoe handles serious safety events, near misses, and feedback from our patients.
One of the most significant improvements RL Datix offers is the ability for all Carson Tahoe employees to submit events and provide patient feedback. In addition, we have expanded our reporting process to encompass every Carson Tahoe location, including the Emergency Department at the Regional Medical Center, our primary care and specialty offices throughout the region, our outpatient surgery centers and our Behavioral Health Services locations.
All Carson Tahoe facilities and caregivers have a voice in the quality of care and experience we provide. RL Datix allows all caregivers — not just leadership — to participate in quality assurance and process improvement. Additionally, it ensures everyone is an active participant in the safety of our patients and caregivers.
This open submission process has transformed the Carson Tahoe culture of safety by making everyone more aware. In addition, it allows the organization to track where and why serious safety events occur, so they can be prevented in the future.
According to our Patient Experience Department, RL Datix has transformed how Carson Tahoe manages complaints and grievances and allows for more timely responses from our leaders and frontline staff.
“The RL Datix process has done wonders to improve not only the communication between departments, but it has opened the door for patients’ feedback to be heard by leaders,” said Holly Van Essen, Patient Experience Specialist. RL Datix allows us to improve workflow and better listen to our community, so the patient is at the heart of everything we do.Transform & Innovate Print PDF
Last year we continued efforts to inspire both our internal and external Carson Tahoe Health communities. With the ongoing pandemic, local fire disasters, and a multitude of other geographical and industrial challenges, CTH nevertheless remained committed to a balanced approach while making a positive impact. Equity, inclusion, and diversity remain intertwined with our mission in order to support the ever-changing needs of those in our community, as we continue to be inspired by the calling to serve the place that we call home.
From Angelina Craig, Director of Philanthropy - Our mission is to enhance the health and well-being of the communities we serve. While our incredible staff and resources work daily toward accomplishing this, it cannot be done through the hospital alone. We serve a population of more than 250,000 people spread out over 18,000 square miles — that’s at least 93 trips around Lake Tahoe!
As a not-for-profit healthcare organization, Carson Tahoe Health relies on community members, local businesses, and partners to help us accomplish our mission.
The advancements in the care we were able to provide in 2021 are largely due to the generous support of our community members and their families. Thanks to everyone who made healthcare happen last year by donating to your favorite service line through CTH Center for Philanthropy.
Your donations meant something, from supporting the Cancer Resource Center to Behavioral Health Services and so much more. The regional community stepped up in significant ways in 2021, especially through two major initiatives, the first of which was our Sponsor A Caregiver’s Envo N95 fundraiser that provided reusable and comfortable masks (along with two months’ worth of filters) for our frontline workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, Carson Tahoe Health raised $85,850 (117 percent of our goal), helping provide more than 1,100 masks to our staff. The feedback from staff was overwhelming.
I love it! It’s wonderful and seals so
tightly you can
your glasses with zero fog.”
– CTH Emergency Department Team Member, Kayleen.
The second initiative went beyond physical support, providing our staff with access to the Calm app, a digital platform that offers a full suite of resources to help mental and emotional well-being. From guided meditations to breathing exercises, this gift could not have come at a better time, especially following a tumultuous 2020 for healthcare employees. In total, more than $20,300 was raised to sponsor our Calm for Caregivers initiative.
CTH’s largest appeal in 2021 was for the Merriner Cottage Refurbishment. Once again, our community did not let our neighbors facing cancer down. Over the last several years, donations, grants, and HopeFest contributed over $1,026,898 to the refurbishment of our region’s ONLY no-cost lodging for patients facing cancer. The refurbishment is expected to be complete in 2022. CTH sends a BIG thank you to all supporters, including the William N. Pennington Foundation, for their generous $543,898 grant.
In our small healthcare system, every dollar truly matters. Thank you for investing in the health and well-being of our staff, helping make our community even stronger.Read Our Impact Letter
Center for Philanthropy Team
Angelina Craig, Director
Jordan Smoczyk, Philanthropy Specialist
Center for Philanthropy Council
Alan Garrett, President and CEO Carson Tahoe Health
Bob Sewell, Chair
Angelina Craig, Director
Dr. Ryanne Walther
Every year seems to be increasingly important for conversations around mental health and, through an ongoing pandemic, last year was no different. Carson Tahoe expanded its mental health services in a variety of ways. In 2021, the Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation, which has served Northern Nevada as a non-profit since 1980, donated a vehicle to Carson Tahoe Health for its behavioral health outreach programs. The vehicle has assisted CTH professionals and increased access to care through programs such as Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), First Episode Psychosis (FEP), school suicide-risk assessments, and community education around mental health awareness and suicide.
“Our primary goal for these programs is to improve access to mental and behavioral healthcare for individuals in our community who struggle to find resources,” said Christina Sapien, LCSW, Director of Behavioral Health Services for Carson Tahoe Health. “Thanks to this donation, we were able to ensure that transportation is not a barrier to care. Our teams were able to bring patients to and from treatment, group sessions, and other appointments, while also supporting individuals through our community outreach education programs. We are immensely grateful to the Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation for championing community health through this gift.”
A 501 (c) (3) private, not-for-profit healthcare system, Carson Tahoe Health includes Behavioral Health Services, the mental health division of the health system and the Mallory Behavioral Health Crisis Center, the region’s only 24-hour mental health crisis facility. Additionally, CTH has two innovative behavioral health outreach programs (ACT and FEP), which focus on providing individuals in crisis the care they need through community-based treatment. This treatment keeps individuals connected to services and other treatments in their community, but transportation can still be a barrier for many. Through the Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation donation, trained staff will now assist these individuals in accessing crucial mental health resources.
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic both highlighted and exacerbated the need for additional mental health resources in the community and schools. As a result, CTH has also used the vehicle for its community mental health education program, which provides suicide-risk assessments in local schools to support these populations.
“In 2019, roughly 32 percent of our served population showed symptoms of chronic depression, a number that, like the need for suicide risk assessments in schools, has only gone up due to the pandemic,” said Jacob Ricks, Behavioral Health Services Nurse Manager. “This donated vehicle has provided our team with reliable transportation, regardless of distance, to assist students in elementary, middle, and high schools across the region in Carson City and in Douglas County.”
When the vehicle is not used to transport patients to appointments, it is utilized for community mental health education programs and local school suicide-risk assessments. The vehicle ensures that patients in various CTH behavioral health programs can access the care and resources needed to avoid potential mental health crises. To learn more about Carson Tahoe Health’s behavioral health services, visit CarsonTahoe.com/BHS.
The Carson Tahoe Health Community Partnership Fund was established in 2019 as an extension of Carson Tahoe Health’s mission. Utilizing the strengths and diversity of our neighbors, it provides funding and assistance to improve the health and well-being of the underserved and vulnerable in CTH’s service area. Through the Fund, CTH seeks to advance health equity, a state where everyone has the opportunity to live their healthiest life.
In 2021, the fund supported 17 local organizations, including four with multi-year commitments, to help build capacity, with support disbursed across Carson City, Douglas, and Lyon county organizations. The resulting partnerships provided much-needed immediate assistance at a time when our community was experiencing significant physical, mental, financial, and economic strain as a result of the ongoing pandemic. From meals for chronically hungry youth through local non-profit Food for Thought to First Aid Stations at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada, we addressed diverse needs in partnership with local organizations. Needs addressed include access to healthcare, access to safe and healthy spaces to recreate and play, housing for vulnerable populations, and support for seniors and veterans.
In addition to immediate assistance, the partnerships created a foundation for a more resilient community into the future by investing in and strengthening existing infrastructures, leveraging community strengths and funding sources, and creating linkages between clinical services and community health improvement activities. Nevada Rural Counties’ RSVP program, the expansion of Nevada Urban Indians’ Carson City Wellness Clinic, and The Nature Conservancy’s docent program at the River Fork Ranch in Genoa are all CTH Community Fund-supported projects to look out for in 2022!
For more information on the Community Partnership Fund, visit CarsonTahoe.com/Community.
Organizations supported in 2021 by need addresses:
Access to Healthcare
Access to Behavioral Health Services
Food security for youth, seniors, and families
Housing for Vulnerable Populations
Access to Education
Sports & Recreation for All
Another year for the books or the birds? Looking back and seeing what we have overcome and what we have endured for over two years is incredible. We certainly have stayed busy and kept our facilities full due to the multiple surges of COVID patients. We also saw some extreme pricing increases throughout the year that made us look at how we were doing things and even putting some things on hold. We continued to be agile and found new ways to overcome some of the increases while still providing the best care possible to our patients. It is going to be a long road ahead of us, but we are all committed to our community as we continue to maintain our financial stability and grow in areas of need.