Center for Total Health
Today, the Center for Total Health team took the ceremonial first swings of demolition as construction began. Click on the images to see us in action.
There’s no turning back now! Stay tuned for more updates on construction progress in the coming weeks.
Health care is changing at an amazing pace. Here at the Center for Total Health, we’re changing too. The center is closed through September 8, 2015, for its first full-scale renovation since opening in 2011.
We’re re-imaging our space to reflect the future of total health, and to better engage our guests in the journey. Some of you may have participated in the designing of the new exhibits. We’re excited for the new, improved center to open and for all of you to come see it.
As construction moves along this summer, we’ll periodically provide updates here on our blog and give you a sneak peak of things to come. You can get more frequent updates by following the center and our construction hashtag – #CTHNext – on Twitter.
If you haven’t seen our new multimedia wall, the theme of “Total Health Across America” sets the stage of things to come in new exhibits. The new exhibits will be anchored by several personae – a young millennial, a couple expecting their first child, an office worker who spends a little too much time at his desk. Perhaps one (or maybe a few) of these personae will ring a bell with you, or remind you of a friend or family member.
As always, we’ll feature cutting-edge technology and highlight innovations leading the way in improving the health of Americans — whether the initiatives are led by Kaiser Permanente or other industry leaders. Our hope is that you will continue to be inspired and learn from the many events and exhibits hosted at the Center for Total Health. We look forward to seeing you this fall!
Earlier this month, the Center for Total Health team celebrated its fourth birthday. Fittingly, this year the Center’s birthday (April 11) fell on a Saturday, so we each got to celebrate by exercising our own total health.
Four years is a long time, but also not long at all. The number and variety of people the Center has hosted and learned from in that time is absolutely staggering. We’ve had more than 7,500 visitors and hosted more than 600 events and tours. Those guests range from the Surgeon General to five original Rosies; from international health leaders to local students; from White House chefs to authors.
Each one of these guests and events has taught us so much – not just about health, but also about planning, flexibility, and new ways to use our space. With that knowledge, we will shortly begin the first significant renovations to the Center since it opened. On May 25, the doors will close for about three months and construction crews
will descend upon us. We will reopen in September, with new content and improved meeting space, but the same goal: sharing, developing, and accelerating ideas that improve total health around the world.
You can find four years worth of total health photos here. Special thanks to Ted Eytan, MD, for taking so many of them, and inspiring the rest of us to take more, too!
Last week, the Center for Total Health — along with Lu Casa, MSN, CRNP, CTTS — welcomed accelerated students from George Washington University School of Nursing (@). As always, we enjoyed hosting the future leaders of health, and hearing their ideas and questions about health care delivery. You can read more about the visit here.
To see more pictures of their visit, click here.
Our guest blogger today is Tracy Hadden Loh with the Rails to Trails Conservancy.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a national membership-based nonprofit dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people. We serve as the national voice for more than 160,000 members/supporters, 30,000 miles of rail and multi-use trails, and over 8,000 miles of potential trail. When RTC was founded in 1986, there were less than 250 miles of rail-trail in the United States. Today, there are more than 21,000 miles of trails of serving some tens of millions of people each year.
However, that mileage number is about all we’ve measured with any precision. We don’t actually know how many people in the United States use trails each year. We know that these miles of trail are a great way to create healthier places and healthier people – for example, a recent meta-analysis of published research on the cost-effectiveness of population-level interventions to promote physical activity found that a rail-trail was the #1 most effective intervention. On the basis of similar evidence, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize trails as a proven strategy that works to increase physical activity, reduce risk of chronic disease, and improve mental health and wellness. So we know we’re on to something good – but how good? When it comes time to make room for trails in the budget, can we show a dollars-and-cents return on investment?
To that end, RTC has launched the Trail Modeling and Assessment Platform (T-MAP), a three-year research initiative to measure, model, and value trail use in the United States. The first phase of this project involves establishing a national network of trail traffic monitoring stations, so that we can continuously measure trail use across the different climactic zones of the US. We’ll use these data to develop two tools: a trail use demand forecasting model to estimate traffic volumes on existing trails or predict volumes on future trails; and a health impact assessment calculator for estimating health care costs avoided due to physical activity on trails.
Taken literally, RTC’s focus on “health” means that there are times when our mission overlaps with that of hospitals and health care systems. Under the Affordable Care Act, non-profit hospitals are now faced with a requirement to assess the health needs of the community, and based on that assessment draw up an implementation plan. We see that as an opportunity to make the case for trails!
Our partners at the Kaiser Permanante Center for Total Health already get it. Located in the heart of downtown Washington, DC right on the Metropolitan Branch Trail, the CTH is helping us implement T-MAP through the installation and maintenance of their very own trail traffic monitoring station, contributing critical data to the project from a unique trail location that is co-located with an urban sidewalk, and dominated by pedestrians. As they learn about how the trail relates to their facility, we’re learning about the trail and collecting the data necessary to accurately estimate the true magnitude of trail use in the United States, and what it’s worth.
On Monday, February 2nd, our friends at Kaiser Permanante’s Garfield Innovation Center hosted a great event focusing on delicious, healthy food. “A Taste of the Garfield Center” featured local Bay Area caterers to showcase menus that adhere to Kaiser Permanente’s “Healthy Picks” policy, along with a few presentations on healthy meeting and working practices.
I was certainly humbled to be on a panel with Kathy Gerwig, Marilyn Chow, both of Kaiser Permanente, and Kelly Kearney of Pacific Fine Foods (a favorite at the Garfield Center) – three incredible women. I was inspired that 100 Kaiser Permanente employees made time in their busy schedules to attend the event so that they could go back to the office with a better understanding of healthy picks to share with their teams. The audience included administrative assistants, lawyers, nurses, designers; many expressed trepidation about trying to change habits from their relatively junior positions. “After all,” said one assistant, “we aren’t all vice presidents.” Marilyn’s answer – sincere, honest, and inspiring – was simply, “We all lead from where we are.”
The Center for Total Health was one of the earliest adapters of the Healthy Picks guidelines, about a year ahead of schedule. As a team, we love helping our guests explore healthy AND delicious menus (ideally paired with some physical activity) for their meetings and events, and we are lucky to get to work with colleagues from inside and outside of the organization.
Now, I’m going to challenge YOU to make your next meeting healthier! Here are some tips and tools to help you start:
1. Get agreement for the concept of healthy meetings as a concept before introducing it for a specific meeting. Then hold people to it (especially the boss and other leaders).
2. Ease in! You don’t have to do a 180 degree change overnight. Try making healthy substitutions (lowfat yogurt, leaner meats, more fruits and vegetables) to start.
3. Healthy food can be tasty and fun – look for menu items with herbs and spices instead of sauces, and consider interactive options like a build your own salad bar to get people engaged in (and excited about) what they’re eating. Bonus: no one can complain about what’s in their salad!
4. If you’re ordering from a large chain, they are legally required to provide nutrition information on their menus. Use it! If you aren’t sure what is best, try consulting the USDA’s Healthy Plate guidelines or Kaiser Permanante’s own Healthy Picks guidelines. You might also like our Healthy Meetings Essentials toolkit, which has information about menus, activity, sustainability and more!
We’d love to hear more suggestions from you, and let us know if you’re working on making your meetings (or work environment) healthier!
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.
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.
Anyone who has had to choose a health insurance plan knows how confusing the process can be, even with the help of a friendly human resources professional. For the millions of Americans purchasing their coverage through exchanges, the process can be even more daunting.
Many consumers struggle to determine which plan is going to provide the best value – the coverage they need at a price they can afford. Dozens of organizations and publications – from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) to Consumer Reports – rate health care plans each year. Some of these rankings are meant for the average consumer, but many are for industry insiders – laden with clinical terminology and detailed beyond what most people want to know.
On October 28, the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group and the Center for Total Health hosted what we hope to be the first in a series of events examining how we can translate these often technical ratings into something more consumer-friendly and how best we can get those ratings into the hands of the consumers.
Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, FACP, from The National Quality Forum, and Margaret O’Kane, from NCQA, set the tone for the day, reminding us that the patient must be at the center of all the industry does – not just care delivery. We must seek to provide our patients with the information they want in a way that is meaningful and accessible for them, while remembering that health care is a personal experience and much of what matters most cannot be measured. Dr. Burstin reminded us: Not everything that counts can be counted; not everything that can be counted counts.
Kaiser Permanente’s own Bernadette Loftus moderated a panel to understand what counts for consumers. Doris Peter, PhD, of Consumer Reports, emphasized that people can handle data.
“Just look at ESPN,” she reminded the audience, daring them to find a website with more data collected.
Dr. Peter and her co-panelists, Tina Reed of the Washington Business Journal, and consumer Iris Molotsky, agreed that uniform, consumer friendly terminology is a key step to making quality ratings more accessible for consumers. Ms. Molotsky, the president of Dupont Circle Village, a neighborhood association in Washington, DC, emphasized that “even well-educated, well-read, well-traveled” members of her community are confused by the complexities of standard health care language.
This sentiment was echoed by the last panel of the day, featuring the chief health officers of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, as they lead their populations and health departments in the second open enrollment on the exchanges.
There was a “perfect storm” of activity in the nation’s capital last week, and if you weren’t tuned in closely, you might have missed it.
This perfect storm was not another Superstorm Sandy. In fact, one might argue that one of the aims of this perfect storm was to build resilience to any such storms in the future. This perfect storm brought together representatives from 21 different health care organizations and local government officials at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health pledging to make the District of Columbia “the most sustainable city in the United States.
So what makes this newsworthy? The health care sector is certainly no stranger to coming together under the umbrella of sustainability. Over the past 20 years, the sector has been leading its very own “green revolution,” with hospitals and health care systems of all sizes looking hard at their contributions to environmental waste and pollution and what they must do to flip the equation and support more environmentally sustainable health care approaches.
What makes the Sustainable DC effort special is its focus on a single urban community, on bringing together leaders from health care, government and business sectors in a particular place, concentrating their efforts across governance, jobs and the economy, equity and diversity with the goal that, “By 2032, the District will be the healthiest, greenest, most livable city in the nation by using sustainability solutions to address core challenges.” The Sustainable DC plan outlines specific goals, targets and actions to get there. And the plan makes it clear that health care organizations to be at the table to bring the mighty vision to fruition.
Hospitals in America contribute an estimated 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, generate more than 2 million tons of waste each year and draw upon natural resources like water in ways that often counteract efforts to support the health of individuals and communities. Recognizing this paradox, many health care leaders have joined efforts like the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm to green their own health care systems.
Kathy Gerwig, chief environmental stewardship officer for Kaiser Permanente, chronicles this green movement in her recent book, Greening Health Care: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet. In the book, she notes the reasoning behind why health care organizations would move to join forces with each other and government to move the needle on environmental health:
“In the final analysis, most health systems engage with their communities not because they are incented to do so by federal and state tax law, but because they are mission-driven organizations that care deeply about the health of their communities. They know that individuals’ health depends on the health of the communities in which they live, work, learn, and play, and that the health of those communities depends on a healthy environment—health-sustaining air, water, soil, and all natural resources. They strongly believe, on the basis of compelling evidence, that when they invest their dollars and their expertise in promoting healthy social and physical environments, they are benefiting their communities and contributing to the health of everyone.”
That mission-driven energy was palpable on October 23, 2014. The energy in the room was exciting, collegial and activated. There was much talk of the sustainability progress that is already converging in DC – from an extensive array of green roofs and LEED-certified buildings across DC to the build out of the Metropolitan Trail to provide safe, physical activity and active transportation options. And there was a clear conviction expressed by health care leaders who were gathered, as well as the Mayor’s office, that this coming together for a more sustainable DC was just setting the stage for a convergence of efforts that would echo progress even beyond DC limits.
We can only hope that, as DC leads the way in sustainability, so goes the rest of the country.
Kaiser Permanente applauds the Sustainable DC plan, and we are pleased to be among the pledge-signers and the hosts for this momentous step forward. We have pledged our support and look forward to working with fellow health care system leaders to advance the goals outlined in the plan.
Kaiser Permanente physician director for the Center for Total Health, Ted Eytan, along with Keith Montgomery, executive director for the Center, nicely set the stage for the day’s event in their welcome remarks. Ted offered his follow-up reflections in a blog post that summarized the vision for total health that everyone in the room intuitively if not concretely echoed that morning. He writes, the Sustainable DC plan is “not just about the environment, it’s about everything that goes into creating an ‘equitable, prosperous, society.’”
You can watch the full signing ceremony in this video.