Center for Total Health

A Perfect Storm Brings Health Care, Government and Business Together for a More Sustainable DC

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.

The Sustainable DC pledge awaits formal signatures from health care representatives signifying their commitment.

The Sustainable DC pledge awaits formal signatures from health care representatives signifying their commitment.

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.

Representatives from DC area health care organizations gather with Mayor Vincent Gray at the Center for Total Health after the signing of the Sustainable DC pledge.

Representatives from DC area health care organizations gather with Mayor Vincent Gray at the Center for Total Health after the signing of the Sustainable DC pledge.

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.’”

Photo of the Day: Human Resources in Action

The Center for Total Health team was excited to host our colleagues from the area Human Resources Department for their quarterly meeting yesterday. They were truly models of health, with a meeting that included skits, walking breaks, and healthy meals. We asked them all to strike a favorite pose or stretch, and here’s what we got.

Action!

When asked what their passion in health is, we heard great responses ranging from service to innovation to happiness. Here’s to this great group for working hard to keep the Kaiser Permanante team healthy and happy!

More on Community Access to Healthy Foods with Elevation DC

On Tuesday, June 24, an panel came together for a discussion about food in our neighborhoods – where it comes from, what barriers keep healthy foods from some communities, and solutions that are working. Kaiser Permanente and Elevation DC hosted the discussion right here at the Center for Total Health.

Food writer Mary Beth Albright moderated a lively conversation among Laine Cidlowski, an urban sustainability planner for the D.C. Office of Planning; JuJu Harris, culinary educator with the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture; and Ted Eytan, MD, physician director at the Center for Total Health. Panelists shared different perspectives about D.C.’s food system and considered the economics of good health.

This discussion was a prime opportunity to consider the consequences as well as the opportunities related to food in neighborhoods. According to Cidlowski, communities of high poverty that are more than a 10-minute walk or one bus transfer away from a full-service grocery store are considered food deserts. D.C. liquor stores and fast food restaurants dominate some of the most vulnerable communities where grocery stores have gone out of business or have never existed. This condition leaves residents wanting – and to a large extent, vulnerable to chronic illness and low quality of life.

Organizations such as Arcadia farms, with its mobile market, are filling the gap by bringing fresh produce to people where they live and teaching residents about food selection and meal preparation. Harris, Arcadia’s culinary educator and SNAP outreach coordinator, hosts cooking demonstrations at the markets to help engage customers about what to do with the produce once they get home. She shared that even a 10-minute walk can sometimes be too much for people living in poverty.

Community gardens, gardening plots and urban farms are also part of the solution, however Cidlowski shared that with so much demand, there are now wait lists – some as long as three years – to use some green spaces. But with revitalization efforts in the city, much consideration is being given to food access in the District.

Eytan offered the physician perspective. He highlighted the connection between food and health and why this issue is integral to Kaiser Permanente’s total health mission. “We want to provide health care, not just sick care,” said Eytan, who encourages patients to make time for physical activity and healthy meal preparation, but acknowledges that healthy choices are difficult to make in many neighborhoods.

Enjoy more food for thought—read Elevation DC’s full story.

Secretary Hunt with NHS and Kaiser Permanante delegations

NHS and Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, Visit the CTH

Representatives from the National Health Service of England, along with British Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, paid a visit to the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health on June 2. This marks the second visit to Kaiser Permanente for the Secretary.

This time, he spent a half-day contemplating many issues in health care which we all acknowledge are global in nature. Representatives from Kaiser Permanente shared the health care organization’s deep knowledge and experience regarding topics such as management of complex patients with chronic disease, leveraging technology to augment care, and physician management.  The exchange was interactive and lively.

Taking part in the discussion from Kaiser Permanente were Kim Horn, president of the Mid-Atlantic States region; Bernadette Loftus, MD, associate executive director of The Permanente Medical Group; Philip Fasano, executive vice president and chief information officer; Murray Ross, vice president and director of the Institute for Health Policy;  Ted Eytan, MD, physician director for the Center for Total Health;  and Walter Suarez, MD, executive director of health IT policy and strategy.

Phil Fasano, CTO of Kaiser Permanante, leads discussion.

Philip Fasano, executive vice president and CIO of Kaiser Permanente, leads discussion.

We all agreed that we work for the patients and our decisions should be guided by that core belief. For our British colleagues, the afternoon session triggered new ways of thinking about and approaching the challenges faced “back home.”

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care globally. Sessions like this one and other international learning forums are coordinated by Kaiser Permanente International (KPI).

The Team

Inaugural Build Your Best Life Health Festival

On Saturday, May 31, the Center for Total Health hosted the first-ever Build  Your Best Life Total Health Festival in partnership with Capital Pride, Whitman Walker Health and several other organizations. We were excited to welcome more than 150 guests from the community to receive health screenings and information, enjoy a healthy snack, and even do a little dancing!
pride dance
It was a great day of learning, talking, and listening to better understand and navigate LGBT health in the national capital region, complete with workshops and presentations on topics from dating to retirement. Festival participants included many great partners:

• Kaiser Permanente
• Whitman-Walker Health
• AARP DC
• SMYAL
• Casa Ruby
• Mixology – Matchmaking with a Twist
• Rainbow Families DC
• SAGE Metro DC
• Freestyle Fitness
• Mary’s House for Older Adults
• Gay Love Project

A huge thanks to all who stopped by and our amazing partner organizations! Happy Pride!

ILN Day 2: Innovation Safaris

Capital Bikeshare -- Innovating active transportation.

Capital Bikeshare — Innovating active transportation.

This morning, ILN in-person attendees got the chance to visit DC-area companies embodying innovation in their everyday work. Safari destinations included:

  • Capital Bikeshare – Technology to change the way we move, for health
  • NPR Headquarters – Disrupting broadcasting, building for health
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  (CFPB) – Financial health and behavior change at the 
  • National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center  (NICOE)
  • ONC Blue Button – Empoweirng patients with their electronic health record information  (SafariBlueButton)
  • OPOWER – leveraging the latest behavior change science to transform energy consumption  
  • Uniformed Services University (USU) Simulation Center (USUSIM)
  • MedStar Health’s Simulation Training & Education Lab (SiTEL)
  • The Bridge to ER One at MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Walter Reed Dedication

Walter Reed Dedication

 
ILN Attendees with the Surgeon General

ILN Attendees with the Surgeon General

Attendees hurried back to the Center for Total Health for remarks from Rear Admiral (RADM) Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., Acting Surgeon General of the United States, who reminded us that we haven’t failed until we stop trying.

The afternoon included more great speakers and a walking break to the Supreme Court. Tonight, we’re looking forward to a healthy dinner at 1776 with health startups on the cutting edge of technology and innovation.

 

Innovation Learning Network, In Person: Day 1

Yesterday, the Center for Total Health was excited to kick off the Spring Innovation Learning Network (ILN) In Person meeting after months of planning. In partnership with Kaiser Permanente, the Military Health System, MedStar Health and other organizations, the ILN convenes health care innovators from around the world to share ideas, problems, solutions, and inspiration.

Newly Titled Innovation Divas  Ted Eytan, MD, Chris McCarthy, Keith Montgomery, Tim Rawson

Newly Titled Innovation Divas
Ted Eytan, MD, Chris McCarthy, Keith Montgomery, Tim Rawson

The three-day conference has the theme of complex system change, and kicked off with tours of the Center for Total Health. Speakers included our own Keith Montgomery, executive director for the Center for Total Health, author Paul Plsek, and MedStar’sEd Tori. Themes included being willing to take risks (and possibly fail before you succeed) and moving to a focus on simple rules built by the users (rather than dictated by the top).

Ed Tori, MedStar

Ed Tori, MedStar

So much more to learn on days 2 & 3! Follow along on twitter via #ILN14 !

PRSA Health Academy Workshop Comes to CTH

PRSA1Yesterday afternoon, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) hosted a pre-conference workshop at the Center for Total Heath. PRSA is hosting its anual Health Academy this week in Washington. We are delighted that some of the attendees spent their afternoon with us.

Speakers and panelists included representatives of the National Health Council, the Parent Project for Muscular Dystrophy, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

You can learn more about PRSA Health Academy here.

let it snow!

Today is Our Birthday!

Today marks the third birthday for the Center for Total Health, which is hard to believe! We spend a lot of time looking forward to the many great things that lie ahead, but we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the first three years and thank those who have made them so memorable.

We’ve had thousands of visitors from more than 20 countries with interests ranging from maternal & child health to end-of-life care, walking to diversity, urban planning to farming. We have played with Playworks, brought healhy meals to our events, and spread the benefits of walking meetings.

healthy lunch

healthy lunch

To see photos from our first three years, visit our Flickr group. If you have photos you’d like to share with us, please feel free to add them to that group (now or anytime down the road).

Special thanks to our amazing, supportive colleagues within and outside Kaiser Permanente, including those who conceived of, designed and built the Center before any of the current team was here.

Here’s to another great year of hard work and lots of fun!

Our first Playworks ever! (2012)

Our first Playworks ever! (2012)

On a more personal note, my first day as a Kaiser Permanente employee was also three years ago today. I’ve had a great time meeting so many people working in so many ways to make health more achievable for all of us.  I’m three in Kaiser Permanente years now, too!

Photos of the Week: Students at the CTH

Today, the Center for Total Health welcomed two groups of students (or, as we like to call them, future health leaders): The first group was from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, and second group included student volunteers for Health Leads. It was great to spend the day with young people so interested in, and passionate about, health!

University of Maryland MBA students

University of Maryland MBA students

Health Leads volunteers discuss possible uses for telemedicine with Executive Director Keith Montgomery.

Health Leads volunteers discuss possible uses for telemedicine with Executive Director Keith Montgomery.

 

Health Leads Student Volunteers

Health Leads Student Volunteers

Explore the Center for Total Health Take Video Tour