Keeping You Connected

The SMLMA keeps you up to date on the latest news,
policy developments, and events


2024 Physician Wellness Leadership awards announced

Nominations and award recipients were announced at the Physician Wellness EXPO and Dinner on April 26, 2024, in Petaluma. Awards were presented to physicians in six categories of wellness leadership achievement. Click here or the icon below for the full dinner program, which includes photographs and statements from each of the nominees. Additional details and list of awardees may be viewed in May 2024 News Briefs.

2024 Physician Wellness Expo & Dinner



April 2011

CMS issues regulations for Accountable Care Organizations

On March 31, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued regulations implementing the Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Shared Savings Program. In conjunction with the regulations, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice issued guidance on antitrust policies related to ACOs.


CMA is currently reviewing the regulations and will be working to ensure that ACOs are physician-led and patient-centered and consistent with the CMA Principles for Accountable Care Organizations. The medical association will continue to press upon CMS the need to provide start-up funding and resources to help those physicians who want to organize into ACO coordinated care models.


Fact sheets and other materials about ACOs are available on the Physician Resources page at In addition, a May 7 conference at the Alamada-Contra Costa County Medical Association will address ACOs and other new models of care (see Resources section below). A New England Journal of Medicine article on ACOs by Medicare Administrator Dr. Don Berwick is available at

Tickets still available for Medicare coding course

“Coding and Medicare Updates 2011,” a valuable three-hour course for physicians and office staff, will be offered at the Fountaingrove Inn in Santa Rosa on Friday afternoon, April 15. The course, developed by the Practice Management Institute, focuses on sweeping changes affecting your 2011 Medicare reimbursements. Participants will review major changes for 2011 coding, learn how to improve claim accuracy, and maximize reimbursement opportunities with Medicare incentive programs.


Cost is $105 for SCMA members and their staff and $165 for nonmembers. To purchase tickets, contact Rachel Pandolfi at 707-525-4375 or

Local breakthrough: MRI-safe pacemaker implanted in Santa Rosa woman

In a first for Sonoma County, cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Peter Chang-Sing implanted an MRI-safe pacemaker in a 50-year-old Santa Rosa woman in March. The new device avoids the serious complications that can ensue when traditional pacemakers are exposed to an MRI’s magnetic fields, such as unintended cardiac stimulation and damage to the pacemaker.


“For many of our patients, as medicine advances and they live longer, they’re going to need an MRI to diagnose health-related problems,” said Dr. Chang-Sing, who directs electrophysiology services at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. “Now we have a device which allows these patients to take advantage of the MRI’s diagnostic capabilities and its lower risk of radiation exposure compared to other imaging tests.”


An estimated 200,000 pacemaker recipients in the United States forgo MRI scans every year because of the safety risks. The new MRI-safe pacemaker, manufactured by Medtronic, was approved by the FDA in February.

Nonprofit offers help with pediatric development and autism screenings

The Early Learning Institute, a Rohnert Park nonprofit, has received a grant to provide free training and technical assistance in screening children 0-5 for developmental delays and autism. Following guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute can help implement screening protocols within any medical setting, train staff in the use of screening tools, and provide assistance with referrals. For more information, visit or contact Michele Rogers, PhD, at 591-0170 or

New SCMA Physician Directories for sale

The 2011 edition of the Sonoma County Physician Directory, which was distributed free to SCMA members in March, is now available for sale to nonmember physicians and the general public. The directory offers alphabetical and specialty listings for all Sonoma County physicians, along with detailed entries for SCMA members. Cost is $40 for nonmember physicians, or $35 each when ordering five or more copies. Members can purchase additional copies for just $30. To order over the phone with a credit card, contact Rachel Pandolfi at 707-525-4375, or order online at

Buck Institute study: Yellow dye extends lifespan in worms

Researchers at the Buck Institute in Novato have discovered that Basic Yellow 1 dye (ThT) can extend the lifespan of nematode worms by 50% and slow disease processes. In a study published in the March 30 online edition of Nature, lead researcher Dr. Gordon Lithgow found that ThT supports protein homeostasis, a major contributor to longevity. “We have been looking for compounds that slow aging for more than 10 years,” said Lithgow,” and ThT is the best we have seen so far.”


The Institute, which continues to grow rapidly, recently announced plans to launch a graduate degree program in biological sciences and build on-site housing for employees and students.


Dr. Danny Arzanipour, a physiatrist from Kaiser Vallejo, has been appointed medical director of the acute rehab unit at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. A 2004 graduate of UCLA’s medical school, Arzanipour completed his internship and residency at the University of Pennsylvania, and a fellowship in traumatic brain injury at the Kaiser Foundation Rehab Center.


Thirty-nine SCMA members from A to Z have received Excellence in Patient Satisfaction awards from the St. Joseph Health System. The awards were based on post-discharge patient surveys at Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley hospitals. The winning physicians received kudos for showing concern and sensitivity to patient needs, answering questions about health, and explaining illnesses or treatments in a way that patients could understand.


A free app from AMA that helps doctors find CPT codes is available at the iTunes store. The app, compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, helps doctors determine the correct E/M code for quick and accurate billing. In conjunction with the new app, the AMA has launched the 2011 App Challenge to find the next great medical app. Open to all U.S. physicians, residents and medical students, the Challenge runs until June 30. Participants can visit to submit their app idea and be eligible for up to $2,500 in cash and prizes.


Background information on Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans has been posted at Like credit unions, CO-OPs allow physicians, hospitals and employers to provide health benefits to members. They are an alternative to government-run programs and for-profit insurance companies.


AMA is hosting a free two-hour webinar on April 5 to help physicians learn more about medical and public health implications of radiation events. Topics will include different types of ionizing radiation, acute radiation syndrome, and preparing for radiation emergencies. To register for the webinar, which begins at 9 a.m. Pacific time, click the following link: AMA radiation emergency webinar


A “listening” meeting on health information exchanges will be held from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on April 7 at Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol. The interactive forum, sponsored by the nonprofits Cal eConnect and Redwood MedNet, will allow physicians to learn more about HIEs and offer feedback about potential future services. Lunch is included. To RSVP, contact Alex Barrios at


CMA is offering two hour-long webinars on electronic health records on April 13 at 12:15 and 6:15 p.m. The webinars, which are free to CMA members, cover the basics of EHRs, the federal incentive programs, and meaningful use. They are intended for physicians and staff who are beginning to research EHRs. Cost for nonmembers is $100. To register, visit


SCMA members are invited to attend a free conference in Oakland on May 7 titled Strategies for Independent Physicians to Succeed in the Era of Health Reform. The conference—to be held at the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association (ACCMA), 6230 Claremont Ave.—will feature presentations by CMA staff attorneys on ACOs and other models designed to improve quality as part of health care reform. Topics include:

• Business considerations for physician practices

• Legal issues related to hospital affiliations

• How improving quality can increase reimbursement

The conference runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To register, visit


On May 10-13, the Society for Hospital Medicine is hosting a four-day hospitalist conference in Dallas that offers up to 26.5 hours of CME. Education sessions cover a wide range of current topics. To register, visit


The annual SCMA Alliance Garden Tour is returning to Santa Rosa on May 13 and 14. Proceeds will be used to fund six local nonprofits that are working to improve access to healthy eating and to reverse obesity trends. The tour includes gardens at the fabled McDonald Mansion, as well as six other pastoral sanctuaries. Tickets are $40 for adults and $10 for children 5 and older. The event includes a raffle, musical performances, and presentations by local artists and authors. To purchase tickets, visit

The next Smartphone Salon is scheduled for Thursday evening, May 19, at a location in Santa Rosa. The salon runs from 6 to 8 p.m., and participants are free to come late or leave early. Topics include favorite medical apps and time/project management. To RSVP and receive the location, contact Dr. Rachel Friedman at Smartphone enthusiasts are also encouraged to visit, a local website devoted to smartphone apps for physicians.


Natasha Bernard, DO, Family Medicine, 3569 Round Barn Cir., Santa Rosa 95403, 303-3600, Fax 303-3611, Touro Univ 2009


Andrew Cunningham, MD, Family Medicine, 3569 Round Barn Cir., Santa Rosa 95403, 303-3600, Fax 303-3611, Univ Louisville 2008


Christine Hancock, MD, Family Medicine, 3569 Round Barn Cir., Santa Rosa 95403, 303-3600, Fax 303-3611, UC San Francisco 2010


Joshua Kucker, MD, Emergency Medicine*, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4800, Fax 393-4741, Hahnemann Univ 2001


Francisco Trilla, MD, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, 3569 Round Barn Cir., Santa Rosa 95403, 303-8905, Fax 303-3635, Harvard Med Sch 1980


* board certified


Physician wanted

Physician wanted for ethical medical weight control. Part time. Pleasant conditions. No billing, no on-call. Short shifts. Perfect for semi-retired or someone looking for a little extra work. Locations in Vallejo and San Francisco. Please call 415-447-4200 or email


Office space

Small suite for lease. Reception, 3 rooms, Summerfield Rd., Santa Rosa. Contact Connie, 707-525-0211.


How to submit a classified ad
To submit a classified ad for SCMA News Briefs or Sonoma Medicine, contact Erika Goodwin at or 707-548-6491. The cost is one dollar per word.


The Sonoma County Medical Association, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit association, supports local physicians and their efforts to enhance the health of the community. Founded in 1858, SCMA is affiliated with the California Medical Association and the American Medical Association.


© 2011 SCMA, 2901 Cleveland Ave. #202, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

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