Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital goes VR; Solano County's NorthBay Healthcare, Anthem Blue Cross ink new deal

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St. Joseph Health says virtual reality is proving successful in reducing pain and anxiety at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Meanwhile, in Solano County, NorthBay Healthcare’s patients with Anthem Blue Cross insurance are breathing a sigh of relief.

Virtual reality goggles

St. Joseph Health reports it recently purchased more than a dozen virtual reality goggles from Los Angeles-based appliedVR to help reduce anxiety and relieve pain for pediatric and obstetrics/gynecology patients, both at the hospital and doctor’s office.

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is using the technology for its pediatric patients. “Whether they’re playing a video game or watching farm animals grazing, kids enter another world while care providers insert IVs or change dressings,” St. Joseph Health said in an announcement.

The wireless virtual reality headsets are powered by a smartphone preloaded with a variety of 360 degree, virtual reality experiences that patients can choose from to distract, manage pain or ease anxiety, according to St. Joseph Health.

Clinical trials at Cedars-Sinai and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles have shown the goggles reduce self-reported pain by 24%; a CHLA clinical trial also showed anxiety was reduced by 31%, according to St. Joseph Health.

NorthBay Healthcare reunites

After negotiations for a new contract fell apart in May, NorthBay Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross have agreed on a new three-year contract. Signed in August, the agreement brings both NorthBay Medical Center and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital back into the network, and retains NorthBay physicians and specialists, according to both parties.

The immediate impact was that the health plan members who had been seeing NorthBay physicians and specialists could again be served in NorthBay hospitals. In recent times, patients were being diverted from NorthBay to other hospitals or surgery facilities, according to NorthBay Healthcare and Anthem. The new contract covers those with PPO, EPO POS and PPO/EPO plans. Those with an Anthem Blue Cross Medicare Supplement plan options A-N were not impacted by any of the negotiations.

Staff Writer Cheryl Sarfaty covers tourism, hospitality, health care and education. Reach her at cheryl.sarfaty@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4259.

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