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Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) welcomes Claydon Hess, MD, MPH to its cancer team. A board certified radiation oncologist, Dr. Hess Claydon practices adult and pediatric radiation oncology with a focus on brain tumors, head and neck tumors and soft tissue sarcomas (cancer that starts in tissues like bone or muscle).

Dr. Hess earned his medical degree from Pennsylvania State University and received a Master of Public Health from Harvard University. He completed an internship at the University of Texas, Austin and a residency in radiation oncology at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Hess also completed a three year clinical and research fellowship in pediatric proton therapy and neuro-oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University. He also served as assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine.

Neuro-oncology refers to a physician that has special training in diagnosing and treating brain tumors and other tumors of the nervous system. Pediatric proton therapy provides an accurate treatment of tumors near or within sensitive organs by limiting radiation exposure to healthy tissue. This is vital to children whose bodies are still growing and developing.



Because of the vision of oncologist Bill Newsom, MD, SNMH’s cancer center opened in 1994 and soon received national accreditation as a comprehensive community cancer center. In 2018 radiation oncologist David Kraus, MD, led the charge for a collaboration with the greater Sacramento area. This resulted in being awarded national accreditation as an Integrated Network Cancer Program (INCP).

SNMH is now part of a cancer treatment network linking three regional cancer centers and their resources together. In addition to SNMH, Mercy General Hospital, and Mercy San Juan Hospital, all Dignity Health facilities are part of the INCP.



A direct result of this accreditation are nurse navigators located at each cancer facility. A nurse navigator helps patients manage through the medical system. Their primary role is to help educate and advocate for patients as they make decisions about their cancer treatment and diagnosis. They also help access support services and resources and work to remove barriers for getting the care they need.

The INCP accreditation also created opportunity for patients to participate in clinical trials set up to test new cancer treatment and research. Molecular testing (a laboratory test that checks for certain genes, proteins, or other molecules in tissue, blood or other body fluid), allows the physician to check for “biomarkers” which are abnormalities in tumor tissue. These can be used to determine the path of the disease and determine the best course of action for treatment.

It has often been said by hospital staff that the cancer center is “a best kept secret treasure.” Dr. Hess is now seeing patients through the radiation oncology department. Dr. David Campbell and Dr. Jamie Hung continue to serve the needs of oncology patients. A wide variety of support programs including a comfort cuisine meal program are available. For more information about local cancer services call 530-274-6600.


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