Hospital pharmacist puts healing in focus

Jerry Berry’s landscape photography brightens day for patients, visitors
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Editor's Note: This is the latest in an occasional series on Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Sutter Auburn Faith corridors reflect a double exposure of Jerry Berry. As a pharmacist, he dispenses medication and expertise. As a photographer, his colorful landscapes provide a calming and healing environment for patients and visitors. Many people associate pharmacists with a drugstore setting. But for Berry, the clinical side of the profession was the perfect choice. Berry, who has been with Sutter Auburn Faith for 29 years, said the decision was an easy one. “Basically, when we’re in the hospital, it is more of an acute setting,” he said. “… It is more directly acting with physicians and nurses to get the patients on a healing path.” After graduation in 1976, Berry spent four years at a hospital in Fairfield before moving to the foothills. He still vividly recalls an incident that happened not long after his arrival at Sutter Auburn Faith. “The hospital was robbed,” he said. “It was in the early 1980s. A guy came in and decided he wanted the narcotics.” As it happened, Berry walked in on him during the attempted robbery. “They ended up catching the guy,” he said. Luckily that was a one-time event. And in the nearly three decades since then, Berry has watched hospital medicine evolve. “When I started here in 1980, I was hired kind of specially to start an IV program, where the pharmacy makes the IV solutions and antibiotics,” he said. “I also started a unit-dose system.” The hospital still makes some IVs, although a lot are premixed solutions. Dispensing of medication has changed, too. “Now we have vending machine- type (dispensers for drugs),” he explained. “Nurses can pull them out like they would a vending machine for each patient. But they can’t get them until a pharmacist has reviewed the patient’s profile.” A pharmacist needs to be good with people and be skilled at finding information and problem solving. “One of our duties is to see that the right drug gets to the right patient at the right time and we’re constantly working with that ...,” Berry said. “It is more dynamic. We might have one drug ordered in the morning, and if the patient isn’t tolerating it, we can change it in the same day.” Sutter Auburn Faith’s pharmacy includes three full-time staff pharmacists, a half-time pharmacist, a manager and five or six technicians. Berry appreciates the camaraderie. “It’s almost like a family,” he said. “A lot of people have been here a long time. Two or three in the pharmacy have been here longer than I have.” But the pharmacy isn’t the only place Berry’s work is making an impact. A longtime photographer, his scenic views of area sites are on display throughout the hospital. He discovered photography while still a student. “After graduation, I bought a camera as my own personal graduation present,” he said. He’s upgraded his equipment several times since then and photographed many foothill sites as well as locales throughout the West and in Alaska and Ireland. In addition to the 20-plus works on display at Auburn Faith, some of his photos are at Sutter Davis and he’ll be represented at a juried show in Half Moon Bay April 10. “That show had 1,800 entries from 23 countries and they accepted 45 pictures,” he said. “Two are mine.” One of Berry’s photographs won a merit award at the California State Fair and one was featured on a flier for a gallery show in Fort Collins, Colo., in December. Some of his photographs can be viewed online at Nurse Karen Shook, at Sutter Auburn Faith since 1989, has seen the positive response to Berry’s work. “Our patients as well as our nurses love to look at them,” she said of the photos. “I had one patient going around to the rooms trying to identify where they were taken. In a hospital room with one small window, having a picture can really mean a lot. I think when (patients) know (the photo was taken) in the area and recognize it and connect it to good feelings, it makes it feel like home and it makes it a better healing atmosphere.” Mindy Danovaro, executive director of the Sutter Auburn Faith Foundation, said the hospital’s Art Can Heal program has been an effective healing tool and has received recognition from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations surveyors, who perform inspections nationwide. “Art is a big part of the healing process for our patients and visitors,” Danovaro said. The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at or comment at