Sutter Announces $158M Expansion To Its Santa Rosa Hospital

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital announced Friday it will hold a groundbreaking event on Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. to mark the official start of its $158 million expansion project — a 3-story structure that will add dozens of hospital beds, more treatment areas in the emergency room, and additional surgical suites.

Lisa Amador, assistant administrator and director of philanthropy, North Bay Sutter Health, announced the news during the Business Journal’s 20th annual Health Care Conference, held Friday at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country in Santa Rosa.

“The expansion is a $158 million project and also will include a $15 million capital campaign for philanthropy for (more) services, innovation programs and technology,” she said, adding that Sutter is taking a two-pronged approach to the expansion.

The first will be a three-story tower on the east side of the hospital, located next to the medical office building. The tower will include 40 additional beds, plus two more operating rooms to be located on the lower floor. The timeline for completion is April 2022.

“It takes a long time,” Amador said. “We’ve been in the planning process for a couple of years as well.”

The second phase of the expansion involves increasing the hospital’s emergency room department.

The work involves renovating the internal part of the building to accommodate an additional nine treatment areas, bringing the total number to 27, she said.

“We’ve been experiencing a lot of demand in the ER department, which is really the reason that we are expanding it,” Amador said, adding that support services will be increased as well. “That part of the project will be completed by Sept. 2022.”

The expansion project will mark the completion of the entire Sutter hospital plan, according Gary Helfrich, a planner with Permit Sonoma.

The current Sutter Hospital, which opened in 2014, completed phase 1 of the 2-phase project, he said.

“This expansion is the completion of phase 2, with some minor changes to the original project. Compared to the original approval, the revised phase 2 actually slightly reduces the final project size by 22,000 square feet, while slightly increasing the number of beds (up to 132 from 127),” Helfrich said. “There is also a small increase in height, and two additional employees (569 versus 567).

Sutter’s recently completed solar project also is part of the expansion, Helfrich said.

The hospital on June 17 officially “flipped the switch” on 4,627 solar modules covering approximately 565 parking spaces, supporting 40% of the main hospital’s electricity, Shaun Ralston, regional manager at Sutter Health, told the Business Journal at the time. The solar panels are expected to generate 2.4 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy annually, which would be equivalent to powering 206 homes in one year, according to Sutter.

College of Marin Gets $200K Grant for Career Training Online

College of Marin is proposing to add nine new job-focused online certificate and degree programs in multimedia studies, hospitality management and business as part of a $200,000 grant from the state.

David Wain Coon, the college president, said the one-time grant was part of $27.5 million awarded earlier this month to 70 California community colleges in support of online programs in career technical education, or CTE. Formerly called vocational education, CTE has been expanded beyond trade school curricula to encompass modern tech careers.

“As we continue developing curriculum in response to the needs of our local economy, this funding will allow the college to expand offerings and reach students who might not otherwise have access to these classes,” Wain Coon said in an email. “Once they enroll, support services like financial aid information, counseling, and guidance in finding internships will be there to help ensure their success both as a student and as part of the workforce.”

Wain Coon said the grants are administered by the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, which serves as the fiscal agent. The timeline for the grant is the 2019-20 fiscal year. COM will use the grant to expand its online certificate and degree programs, he said.

“The primary focus of COM’s proposed project, ‘Creating Online CTE Pathways,’ is to develop new online and hybrid CTE certificates and degree programs,” Jonathan Eldridge, a vice president at College of Marin, said in an email. “These programs are already developed as on-campus programs with less than 50% of the respective courses offered online. Currently, COM does not offer fully online degrees or certificates.”

Eldridge said the proposed online certificate and degree programs include business administration, hospitality management, multimedia studies, entertainment, graphic design and web design.

Eldridge added that “additional nine-unit, short-term certificates in multimedia graphic design and digital illustration will also be developed. These certificates will provide ‘upskilling’ opportunities for employees currently working in the field. These short-term certificates will also be ‘ladder’ certificates, which can lead to degree completion.”

The grant award comes on the heels of a critical report on Marin’s career technical education progress by the Marin County Civil Grand Jury. The grand jury’s report, issued earlier this month, said Marin’s K-12 schools and colleges could do a better job in communicating CTE options for students — and that students who might be able to benefit from such communications were “underserved.”

Eldridge said the grand jury’s report failed to fully recognize existing CTE partnerships between the K-12 schools and College of Marin.

“The Marin County Civil Grand Jury report focused on CTE offerings at the secondary level, and presupposed that not all students would or should continue with post-secondary coursework,” Eldridge said. “As noted before, College of Marin has partnerships with local high schools that allow students to complete much of a CTE program by high school graduation.”

“It is important to understand with technical education that re-certifications, upskilling, and learning evolving technologies/new equipment requires continuing education,” Eldridge added. “The purpose of this grant is to expand and enhance opportunities for students in CTE programs to complete their educational goals by offering required courses and general education courses in online/hybrid formats.”

According to Eldridge, a third of the students in the state community college system take at least one class online.

“The expansion of College of Marin’s existing distance education program to include CTE and four-year college transfer degrees, certificates and credentials will provide the community with access to high-quality online programs and student support services,” he said.

Sonoma County Office of Education’s Dr. Steve Herrington is the 2019 Sonoma Changemaker Honoree

10,000 Degrees invites you to the Second Annual Sonoma County Changemakers Dinner in celebration of our cherished community partners who deliver transformative change in the lives of our students and families from low-income backgrounds.

Please join us for an intimate evening of fabulous food and special friends, old and new, as we look to help even more Sonoma County students realize their dreams of becoming college graduates.

All proceeds benefit the 10,000 Degrees students and programs in Sonoma County.

Thursday October 10th 2019 • 5:30 pm
Prelude Restaurant at Sonoma State’s Green Music Center, 1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA

Steve Herrington, PhD

Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools

10,000 Degrees supporter since 2014

“The goal of the Sonoma County Office of Education is to ensure that all Sonoma County students, regardless of background, graduate high school ready to succeed in college and career. That’s why we’re proud to partner with organizations like 10,000 Degrees that are working hard to close the achievement gap and create opportunities for all students.”

Buck Institute for Research on Aging Professor Gordon Lithgow Receives Prestigious Award From the American Aging Association

Gordon Lithgow, Buck Institute professor and Chief Academic Officer, will receive the Denham Harman Award from the American Aging Association today, in recognition of lifetime achievement in the field of research on aging.  The award will be made at the organization’s annual meeting, held this year in Burlingame, CA.

Created in 1978, the award was named in honor of Dr. Denham Harman, a pioneer in research on aging who is credited with establishing the free radical theory of aging in a paper he published in 1954.  His hypothesis did not attract serious consideration for almost 30 years, but its core insights opened new avenues of research into the causes of many age-related diseases. Harman died in 2014 at the age of 98.

At the Buck, the Lithgow lab is focused on uncovering genes and identifying small molecules that prolong lifespan through enhancing the molecular stability that often goes out of balance during aging.  The lab concentrates on identifying small drug-like molecules that re-engage and enhance homeostatic mechanisms in the microscopic nematode worm C. elegans, aiming to boost mechanisms that prevent protein misfolding and remove damaged proteins and other forms of molecular damage. Treatment with such molecules frequently results in lifespan extension and postpones disease pathology. Lithgow’s team collaborates with other Buck researchers to test the effectiveness of these compounds to prevent chronic disease in mouse models.

A native of Scotland, Dr. Lithgow received his PhD from the University of Glasgow and obtained further training at Ciba Geigy AG in Basel, Switzerland, and the University of Colorado. He established his lab studying the biology of aging at the University of Manchester, England, before moving it to the Buck Institute in 2000.

Dr. Lithgow has been recognized for his research with many honors, including a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, a senior scholarship from the Ellison Medical Foundation, and the Tenovus Award for Biomedical Research. He has served on many national advisory panels in both the United Kingdom and the United States, including the National Institute on Aging’s Board of Scientific Councilors, and has served as the chair of biological sciences at the Gerontology Society of America.

Buck Institute for Research on Aging Faculty Chronicle 30 Years of Research on Aging in Review Article Published in Nature

Understanding aging and the processes that limit lifespan have challenged biologists for years. Thirty years ago, aging biology gained unprecedented scientific credibility when gene variants were identified that extend the lifespan of the nematode C. elegans. In a major review – From discoveries in ageing research to therapeutics for healthy aging – published in the July 10 issue of Nature, six Buck faculty members highlight discoveries that have moved the field forward, suggesting that aging research is entering a new era that has unprecedented medical, commercial and social implications.

“We are at an inflection point, not only in aging research, but for all biological research on the human healthspan,” said Eric Verdin, MD, Buck Institute President and CEO, and lead author of the review. “Research shows that aging is much more plastic than expected. The fact that the cellular pathways that control aging are remarkably conserved in simple animals and humans has brought to the fore the idea of interventions in humans. We anticipate that targeting these conserved pathways will protect against multiple diseases of aging and represents a disruptive approach to tackling the rapidly growing burden of chronic disease worldwide.”

The review highlights some of the key aging pathways and processes that have emerged during the past 30 years, including the insulin-like signaling pathway, target of rapamycin (TOR), Sirtuins and NAD+, circadian clocks, mitochondria and oxidative stress, senescence, chronic inflammation and proteostasis. The review provides an overview of interventions that are being tested to increase healthspan and/or lifespan including rapamycin, senolytics, NAD precursors, sirtuin-activating compounds, metformin, exercise and caloric restriction.

The authors also address challenges that lie ahead for the field, in particular the need to account for the genetic heterogeneity that plays a role in disease susceptibility, lifespan and individual responses to drugs. They note the need for close interaction between the fields of personalized medicine and geroscience, and highlight newer technologies which are enabling the development of new biomarkers of aging.

“This new era of research on aging holds unprecedented promise for increasing human healthspan, and for preventing, delaying or, in some cases, reversing many of the pathologies of aging,” said Verdin. “What is clear is that, thirty years after the fundamental discoveries that linked unique genes to aging, a solid foundation has been built and clinical trials that directly target the aging process have been initiated. Although difficulties can be expected as we translate this research to humans, the potential rewards in terms of healthy aging are extraordinary.”

Citation: From discoveries in ageing research to therapeutics for health ageing
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1365-2
Other Buck faculty contributing to this review include Judith Campisi, Pankaj Kapahi, Gordon J. Lithgow, Simon Melov and John C. Newman.

Star Staffing to Host Sexual Harassment Trainings Ahead of 2020 Requirement

Star Staffing, the premier recruiting and workforce solutions agency for Northern California employers and job seekers is offering comprehensive sexual harassment training that will comply with California’s training requirement. Both employee and supervisor training can be requested from the staffing agency.

Sexual harassment training (SB 1343) is now a requirement for most employees in the State of California and must be completed by January 1, 2020.

While companies may opt to offer a more expensive video option, the in-person training offered by Star Staffing will have an interactive approach with the ability to ask questions and talk through specific scenarios. The training is especially ideal for large groups who want to get it done in one sitting rather than tracking progress individually.

“The safety and compliance of the companies we work with is of utmost importance to us,” shares Star Staffing’s HR Director Cristina Coate. “Our training not only fulfills the requirement but ensures employees are digesting the information and taking the subject seriously. MSN reports that one in three people in the US admits to having been sexually harassed at work, so there is definitely work to be done.”

With the recent spotlight on sexual harassment, it’s imperative that companies put the upmost effort not only in compliance but to get ahead of any potential issues to keep their employees safe in the workplace.

“We take this topic very seriously and are proud to be able to offer this service to companies. We want to do our part to make sure every employee feels safe and comfortable at work,” says Star Staffing President Nicole Serres.

Companies can connect with their Star Staffing representative or call 707-762-4447 to schedule a training.

About Star Staffing

Founded in 1998, Star Staffing is the premier staffing provider in Northern California, holding offices in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Napa, Fairfield, Hayward, Sacramento, and Lodi. Star Staffing is a certified woman-owned, full-service staffing firm focused on providing flexible staffing solutions to Northern California businesses.

Press Contact

Ciera Pratt, Marketing Manager

(707) 789-6564

Buck Institute for Research on Aging – Do Wildfires Impact How We Age?

Californians have always known wildfires to be a part of their lives, but in recent years things have changed for the worse. Due to the deleterious impact of climate change, and compounded by the fact that more and more fire-prone land is being developed, fires are becoming deadlier, more destructive, and more frequent throughout the western United States. The horrible devastation caused by the Tubbs Fire in 2017 and the Camp Fire in 2018, only 150 miles from the Buck Institute, prompted us to ask, “how do wildfires affect aging in survivors and those impacted by poor air quality?”

Smoke from wildfires is composed of some nasty stuff, including but not limited to gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, plus tiny particles that can get inhaled into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Needless to say, the body doesn’t take too kindly to these foreign contaminants; they can interact with vital parts of our biology, usually not for the better.

One hallmark of aging is telomere shortening. Telomeres are the last bit of DNA at the end of a chromosome. Every time our DNA replicates, a little bit of the end is cut off, so our telomeres act as protection for the rest of our coding DNA. As we age, our telomeres become shorter and shorter, and once the telomere is too short to sufficiently protect the DNA during replication, then replication of that chromosome stops. When telomeres were discovered, it was such an eye-opening and important discovery that three scientists – Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Grieder, and Jack Szostak – were awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Telomere shortening leads to permanent growth arrest of the cell, known as replicative senescence. At the Buck Institute, we study many of hallmarks of aging, including replicative senescence in Dr. Judy Campisi’s laboratory, and how these senescent cells affect our lifespan and healthspan.

Vast amounts of research, including a meta-analysis of over 12,000 people, support the hypothesis that air pollution from smoke can affect telomere shortening. This tracks with other research that urban firefighters have an increased risk of lung cancer. In 2000 the World Health Organization (WHO) completed a comparative risk assessment to determine the burden of disease worldwide due to outdoor air pollution. A 2018 study found that air pollution reduces global life expectancy by almost two years. Through the 2000 assessment, the WHO determined that outdoor air pollution causes approximately 1.2% of all premature deaths globally (800,000 people), which equates to a total of 6.4 million lost years of life. This analysis may be hard for somebody to wrap their mind around, so to put it in perspective it is estimated that unsafe water causes 1.7 million premature deaths, outdoor air pollution causes 800,000, and lead causes 234,000 annually. It is undeniable that outdoor air pollution caused by wildfires and other sources is detrimental to our global lifespan, so what can people do to protect themselves?

When there is smoke in the air, the people most affected are older adults, the young, and those with lung and heart conditions ( This is because pollution from smoke adds a stressor to the body, and those with systems less prepared to deal with stressors will feel the impacts the most. The best way to protect yourself is to limit exposure.  It is always a good idea to check the local air condition, found at, where an “Air Quality Index” (AQI) is listed and ranked for safety. In the event of poor air conditions, it is a good idea to reduce time spent outdoors, especially for strenuous activities. People can also choose to wear N95 or P100 masks designed to protect lungs from inhaling dangerous pollutants that become airborne with fire.

Regular exposure to smoke pollution is certainly associated with adverse health effects. Exposure that takes place over a single wildfire season might exacerbate pre-existing conditions, but is unlikely to accelerate aging over the long term, However, as fires become more widespread and the fire season extends year-round, taking smoke pollution as a serious health concern that needs to be managed will help protect your cells from toxic pollutants and support healthy aging in the long term.

Anja Holtz went to the University of Minnesota and graduated in 2017 with a BS in Genetics, Cell Biology and Development as well as Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. Since then she worked at the Masonic Cancer Center doing breast cancer research for a year until she joined the Buck Institute in the summer of 2018. Anja has been extremely interested in genetics ever since the Human Genome Project was first publicized.

Dominican University of California Names New Business School Dean

Yung-Jae Lee, Ph.D., has been named the new dean of the Barowsky School of Business at Dominican University of California.

Lee’s appointment begins Aug. 1, the San Rafael-based private institution stated Monday. Lee succeeds Sam Beldona, Ph.D., who recently was named dean of the Kania School of Management at the University of Scranton.

Immediate tasks for the new dean, according to the university, include guiding the Barowski school as it seeks accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and developing “new degree and certificate programs in line with Dominican’s traditions and strengths.”

Lee comes to Dominican from Saint Mary’s College of California in the East Bay community of Moraga. He spent the past year as interim dean of its School of Economics and Business Administration. Lee, who joined Saint Mary’s in 1998 as a professor of business analytics, also has served as associate dean of graduate business and global programs, director of the professional MBA program, and chairman of the Operations Management and Quantitative Methods Department.

He previously taught at the University of California at Irvine, Chapman University, the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, and California State University campuses in Fullerton and San Marcos. Courses taught include Global Operations and Supply Chain Management, Operations Management, Quantitative Methods, Data Analysis, and Business Statistics.

He has also consulted with global companies, including Roche, McKesson, OASIS International, Abbot Medical Optics, Lucky Stores, Varian, Transcept and Walt Disney.

Lee earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Korea University and an MBA and Ph.D. in operations management from the University of California, Irvine.

Dominican University of California is one of the oldest educational institutions in the state. It was founded in 1890 as Dominican College by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael.

Sonoma Raceway Hosts NASCAR Weekend and Raises MoreThan $269,000 for Sonoma County Groups

Charitable programs combined to raise more than $269,009 for local youth groups during the 31st annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Sonoma Raceway, June 21-23.

The majority of the proceeds raised during race weekend will benefit Sonoma County youth organizations through the Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities (SCC). SCC has distributed more than $6.4 million to youth-serving non-profit groups since 2001.

The Children’s Champions NASCAR Banquet on Friday, June 21, at Viansa Sonoma Winery featured Toyota Racing Development (TRD) President and General Manager David Wilson. In addition, FOX Sports commentator Michael Waltrip hosted a Q&A session with NASCAR legends Hershel McGriff and Ernie Irvan, and celebrity chef Guy Fieri entertained fans during the sit-down dinner at the new location. during the sit-down dinner at the new location. TRD, represented by Wilson, served as Grand Marshal of the Toyota/Save Mart 350,  where he joined TRD representatives to give the official command of, “Drivers, Start Your Engines” on race day.

A live auction at the banquet featured exclusive items, including a “Drivers High-Five Experience,” as well as a live painting commemorating Sonoma Raceway’s 50th anniversary by David Arrigo, and a Pixar gift basket and tour package. Overall, the banquet and live auction raised $259,000, a record high for SCC.

In addition, more than $6,000 was raised through various donations during the weekend, including a $5,000 donation on behalf of the Transporter Drivers of Motorsports Association (TDMA), which participated in the 9th annual NASCAR Hauler Parade in Sacramento on June 20.

For more information about the Sonoma Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities or to donate, visit or contact Cheri Plattner at (707) 933-3950 or

Marin Sanitary Service’s Patty Garbarino Chosen as a Member of the SMART Board

Golden Gate Bridge District appointed board member Patricia Garbarino to the SMART board of directors, filling the last vacancy of the 12-member group that oversees the transit agency.

Golden Gate Bridge board members voted 12-0 last week to select Garbarino, of San Rafael, to complete former Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board member Jim Eddie’s term through January 2021. Eddie stepped down from both positions at the beginning of the year.

Garbarino has been a member of the Golden Gate Bridge District since August 2017 and has a background in education, as well as recycling and sanitary services. In 2000, she followed in her father’s footsteps to lead Marin’s Resource Recovery Center, and also serves on the Marin County Board of Education.

Garbarino joins SMART board vice chair Barbara Pahre in her appointment from the Golden Gate Bridge District. Her addition makes six Marin County appointees on the transit agency’s board. Sonoma County has five people on the board, while Pahre is Napa County’s lone appointee.