Total Health Includes CPR Training

Today, the Center for Total Health team renewed our CPR certification. Most people will never have to preform CPR, but it’s an important skill to have. According the American Heart Association, 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed. Add to that the fact that about 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home, and you can see why we should all be trained – the life you have to save may well be that of a loved one.

CTH team, recertified

CTH team, recertified

Doubt that CPR can save a life, or that your loved ones will ever need it? Check out this story about a triathlete whose life was saved by CPR during a road race.

If you aren’t CPR certified, or you don’t feel confident that you would know what to do in an emergency, you can find a course here.

How Food Affects Your Mood: What You Need to Know

Many of us resolved on January 1 to make some changes to our eating in an effort to improve our physical health.  But are we familiar with what effect those changes may have on our moods?

The latest episode of Total Health Radio explores this — how what we eat can affect our brain chemistry and therefore our emotions.  Learn tips for increasing dopamine and serotonin and how to stave off crashing after too many refined carbohydrates.  It’s a great listen — check it out.

International Efforts to Improve Quality and Efficiency in Health Care

Murray Ross, PhD, vice president, Kaiser Permanente's Institute for Health Policy

Murray Ross, PhD, vice president, Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Policy

Health systems across the world share a common responsibility to improve care. Rising health care costs and a growing drive for better outcomes create a need to spend health care funds efficiently and in accordance with each country’s priorities.

A response to this urgent demand requires, first, an understanding of which technologies and interventions—drugs, devices, diagnostics, and health care services—increase the quality and value of health care and, second, knowledge of policy levers that could encourage health care systems to adopt such technologies.

Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) and Health Technology Assessment (HTA) are important tools used in different ways by countries to achieve these goals.

With support from the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy and the National Institute for Health Care Management, AcademyHealth researchers have produced a new report, “Improving Quality and Efficiency in Health Care through Comparative Effectiveness Analyses: An International Perspective,” that explores these issues. The report describes how the United States and other high-income countries assess effectiveness of new drugs, devices, procedures, diagnostics, and health care services and coverage decisions based on these assessments. The report also provides an overview of HTA activities in Europe, Canada, and Australia and examines the new public investments in CER in the United States.

The report calls for further engagement by international researchers and stakeholders to promote mutual learning.  You can read the report here.

Total Health Questionnaire: Lu Casa, MSN, CRNP, CTTS

Lu Casa, MSN, CRNP, CTTS, is a Nurse Practitioner at Kaiser Permanente’s Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Q: In a few words, what does Total Health mean to you?Lu Casa
A: Having a lifestyle which fulfills you physically and emotionally.

Q: What’s your first health-related memory?
Standing in line in the gym in my Chicago elementary school with about 50 other kids waiting to get vaccinated circa 1971.

Q: Which person, living or dead, is your health hero or role model?
My first nursing instructor who helped open a whole new world to me — the world of nursing. She scared me and empowered me to be more and do more.

Q: What do you value most in your work? What inspires you to continue?
Helping Kaiser Permanente members attain a healthier state of being. Seeing members make sustainable change in their behavior to stay healthier.

Q: If you could change one thing in health care, what would it be?
Make it available to all people without barriers.

Q: Where would you most like to live?
New England

Q: Where do/would you most like to travel?

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
My family – my wonderful wife and daughter.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
A: My Mom – I miss her everyday; Madonna; and Pope Francis.

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Total Health Questionnaire: Murray Ross

Murray Ross, PhD, is vice president of Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Policy.

Q: In a few words, what does Total Health mean to you?Murray Ross, PhD
A: Total health to me highlights the interdependency of our internal health systems. Not just physical health, but life satisfaction, emotional wellbeing, purpose, and resilience.

Q: What is your first health-related memory?
Riding my first bike at full speed into the back of a parked car.

Q: What is your favorite food?
Spaghetti Bolognese with grilled vegetables.

Q: What do you value most in your work? What inspires you to continue?
A: I like being surrounded by smart, creative, engaged people trying to make the world a better place.

Q: If you could change one thing in health care, what would it be?
A: Doing what matters to people, not what matters to providers.

Q: Where would you most like to live?
Maui uplands.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
A: Running my first marathon at age 50.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
A: Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Joan Baez.

‘Tis the Season — for the Blues (unfortunately)

We’ve all heard (and maybe even experienced) how the holidays can be a difficult time. Family tensions — or lack of family to spend this time of year with — can cause many people to experience the blues or even a more serious, clinical diagnosis of depression.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depressed moods, this episode of Total Health Radio may help. In it, our physician expert identifies the different types of depression, as well as clues to help identify when it’s serious — and how to support someone you care about who may be struggling.

What You Should Know About the Flu — A Chat with the CDC’s Angela Campbell, MD

Flu season is here. And to help us prepare for what the season may bring, we were lucky enough to get a few minutes with Dr. Angela Campbell, a medical officer in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Influenza Division.

To welcome Dr. Campbell to the blog, we started out with one of our favorite questions.

Angela Campbell, MD

Angela Campbell, MD

Q: In a few words, what does Total Health mean to you?

A: Total health means caring for myself physically, intellectually, and spiritually, and working to sustain and improve the health of others.

Q: How does influenza vaccination factor into that view?

A: To me, influenza vaccination is an important component of caring for my own physical health – it is something I choose for myself every year. I am also passionate about encouraging flu vaccination for those whom I love, for my patients, and for the U.S. public at large. Flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu. Because every flu season is different, it’s important to do what you can every year to protect yourself and those around you – and the first and most important line of defense against the flu is getting a yearly flu vaccination. Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick from flu and, by protecting yourself from flu by getting vaccinated; you’re also protecting the people around you who may be more vulnerable to complications from flu illness.

Q: What is NIVW?

A: NIVW stands for National Influenza Vaccination Week, which was December 7-13 this year. CDC established NIVW in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination throughout the holiday season and beyond. Flu vaccination coverage estimates from past seasons have shown that flu vaccination typically drops near the end of November, so this is a time to stress the important reminder that as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to get your flu vaccine.

Q: Really? Is it worth getting your flu vaccine in December or even after the New Year?

A: Yes! Flu activity most commonly peaks between December and February, but can continue as late as May, so it’s not too late to protect yourself as long as flu activity is ongoing. In fact, even unvaccinated people who have already gotten sick with flu this season can still benefit from getting vaccinated since the flu vaccine protects against three or four different flu viruses (depending on which flu vaccine you receive) that are expected to circulate each season.

 Q: Can flu be more serious for some people than others?

A: Yes. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older; however, vaccination is especially important for protecting those at high risk for serious flu complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease, and people age 65 years and older. Pneumonia and bronchitis are examples of flu-related complications that can result in a hospital stay or sometimes even death. The flu can also make chronic health problems worse for those who have them. And since babies younger than 6 months are too young to get their own flu vaccine, parents, caregivers and others in the household should be vaccinated to help protect them. By getting vaccinated, you will be less likely to get the flu and, therefore, less likely to spread the flu to others in these vulnerable groups.

Q: Should children receive one or two doses of the flu vaccine? We’ve heard different things.

A: Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time, as well as some who have been vaccinated previously, will need two doses. Your child’s doctor, nurse, or other health care professional can tell you if two doses are recommended for your child. If your child has not already received their first dose of vaccine, get your child vaccinated now. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine. If two doses are needed, begin the process as early as possible. The doses should be given at least 28 days apart and it usually takes about 2 weeks after the second dose is given for protection to begin.

Q: If you don’t have time to get to the doctor, will insurance work at other vaccination locations?

A: Since September 2010, new health insurance plans are required to cover recommended vaccines without co-pays or deductibles when provided by an in-network health care provider. For more information on the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit Many private health insurance plans also cover the cost of vaccines, but you should check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor. Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers. They also are offered by many employers, and are even available in some schools. Another useful tool is the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find the nearest location where you can get vaccinated.

How to Be a Present Parent

Last week, we reminded folks about the ways mindfulness can help us manage stress during the holidays.  Today, we share another Total Health Radio episode that focuses on managing stress — specifically the kind parents deal with on a daily basis. 

Each of us wants to be more present for our kids — and during this time of year, that can feel nearly impossible.  But as this show reveals, there are things you can do — steps and simple techniques — that may help.  It’s definitely worth a listen.

Total Health Questionnaire: Elisa Mendel

Elisa_Mendel editedElisa Mendel is Kaiser Permanente’s vice president of Healthworks & Product Innovation.

Q: In a few words, what does Total Health mean to you?
A: Mind, body, spirit.

Q: What’s your first health-related memory?
A: My dad is a radiologist. The smell of the x-ray department is an early familiar positive memory.

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Peanut butter.

Q: If you could change one thing in health care, what would it be?
A: More value and emphasis on emotional health.

Q: In your opinion, what is the most underrated way to improve health for individuals?
A: Daily movement and laughter.

Q: Where do/would you most like to travel?
A: Anywhere I’ve never been.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
A: My mom (she died when I was young), Gandhi, and Jimmy Stewart.

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