Healthy communities

Photo of the Week: Carla Sandy, MD

As part of National Health IT Week,  Carla Sandy, MD, Chief of OB/Gyn for Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group of Kaiser Permanente, discussed integrated, technologically coordinated care to support nationally recognized birth outcomes yesterday in Washington, DC. 

Dr. Sandy speaks at Congressional briefing.

Dr. Sandy speaks at Congressional briefing.

Dr. Sandy brought her son Calvin along, who found a fan in DC Mayor Vincent Gray.

Mayor Gray meets Calvin

Mayor Gray meets Calvin.


Don’t Let the Heat Keep You on the Couch

For those of us who live in the swamp also known as Washington, DC, hot and humid summer days are nothing out of the ordinary (it’s a special thing when “feels like 90″ is a relief after days of “feels like 105!”). Even for veterans of the heat, it can be a convenient excuse to take a day — or two, or three — away from activity.

With seemingly unusual weather patterns hitting the United States this summer, it seems like a good time to share some hot weather exercise tips:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Not just before you exercise, but during and after, and just in general. Water is  your friend.
  • Exercise early in the morning, or later in the evening (personally, I think the morning is WAY more comfortable and has the benefit of fewer people and cars out).
  • Hit the gym and work out inside, in the glory of air conditioning.
  • Cut back a little (run a shorter route, or bike slower, or take more breaks).
  • Dress for the temperature in wicking materials (with built-in SPF, if you have them) and light colors.
  • Think about location, and opt for a walk, run, or bike on a route with more trees and less sun. Save your track workout for a cooler day (or before sun-up, if it’s a safe area).
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen (this won’t keep you cool, of course, but you should still do it!).
  • Consider hitting the local pool for some laps. Built-in heat relief!
  • Love the sweat. Embrace it as a sign of your hard work, rather than dreading it. Believe it or not, this helps. A lot.

If the heat wave is short, maybe you can take a day or two off, but don’t let the heat keep you on the couch for too long!

Check out these specific tips for runners and bikers, and learn more about heat-related illnesses to keep yourself safe here.



salad bar

Healthy Picks for Happy Meetings

We’ve all been to meetings with food that runs counter to our best efforts. You know the drill – you wake up, maybe go for a run or hit the gym, eat a healthy breakfast and get ready for your day. You head to a great meeting, full of interesting conversation and great colleagues, only to sit down and be immediately faced with the sugared-up carb du jour and not a lean protein in site. Follow this up a few hours later with heavy lunch, and you’re ready for a nap by 2 p.m.

All smiles at the DIY Salad Bar

All smiles at the DIY Salad Bar

Kaiser Permanante has long offered guidance to employees with our “Healthy Picks” Guidelines – nutrition information and guidance to help employees select healthy meals for meetings and events. On May 1, 2014, the guidance became a policy, meaning that it’s the law of the land. Led by several executives, including Kathy Gerwig, vice president of employee safety, health, & wellness, Kaiser Permanente has made it company policy to have healthy meals provided at company events. The transition is not always easy, but it is catching on as people see that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring.

The Center for Total Health committed to these guidelines more than a year ago. Working with an exclusive caterer, we have succeeded in removing sugary beverages and most desserts from the Center, while bringing in more lean protein and tasty fruits and veggies. One of the most popular innovations we’ve seen is our DIY salad bar, which lets guests build their own salad. It gets rave reviews every time.

If you’re interested in bringing healthier food to your meetings and events, please check out our guidelines. For more healthy meeting suggestions, check out the full guide from our HealthWorks team.


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
• 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.


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.

Healthy Buildings: Reducing Use of Harmful Chemicals

Yesterday at the Center for Total Health, the U.S. Green Building Council  welcomed Arlene Blum, Ph.D., author, mountaineer, and founder of the Green Science Policy Institute, for a discussion of “Six Classes” – chemicals of concern, the science and policy of flame retardant chemicals, and the national health impacts of California’s changing flammability standards.

Arlene Blum, Ph.D.

Arlene Blum, Ph.D.

Rather than addressing the tens of thousands of chemicals on the market one at a time, the project educates decision makers in manufacturing, retail and government —  as well as consumers — about the “Six Classes” that contain many of the harmful chemicals in consumer products and building materials. The class approach can prevent regrettable substitutions, where a toxic chemical is removed and replaced by a chemical cousin with similar harmful properties.

Learn more at



African American History Month: A Prescription for Healthy Living

David Satcher, MD

David Satcher, MD

David Satcher, MD, has had a storied career that includes time as U.S. Surgeon General under two presidents, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and president of Morehouse Medical School in Atlanta.

While serving as surgeon general from 1998 to 2002, Satcher adopted what he called “Prescription for Healthy Living” that provides a great blueprint for all of us:

  • 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week
  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Avoidance of toxins – drugs and alcohol
  • Responsible sexual behavior
  • Daily participation in relaxing and stress-reducing activities

Today, Satcher heads the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse.  He is working to “develop a diverse group of public health leaders, foster and support leadership strategies, and influence policies and practices toward the reduction and ultimate elimination of disparities in health with the focus on neglected diseases and under-served populations, while giving priority to health promotion and disease prevention.”

Read more about Satcher’s work as a public health hero here.

Total Health Inspiration: Sochi 2014

sochi-2014-logoAt the Center for Total Health, we spend a fair amount of time discussing what total health is, exactly. We all enjoy hearing new definitions from our guests, which are inevitably interesting and different from what we’ve heard before. One thread that appears often is that these definitions tend to be positive and aspirational.

On Friday, people around the world will gather to watch the Opening Ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Few things are as inspirational and aspirational as the Olympics, and I, for one, cannot imagine a better picture of health. Of course these athletes are in top physical health, most having trained since childhood to earn a spot on their country’s team. But more than that, this is a group of people who are, right in front of us, achieving a life dream. Imagine the mental, spiritual, and emotional charge that comes with that. Most of these people won’t win gold, or a medal at all, but they have made it to the best of the best in their sport. They have earned this spot. And they get to compete.

Sounds like total health to me.

You can find the full schedule of Sochi events here, and meet Team USA hereThe Atlantic has a fantastic piece on how Olympians stay motivated — with advice we can all apply in our daily lives — that you can read here.  And for some amazing inspiration, check out individual athlete stories here.

Total Health & Tech Focus: It’s a Wrap!

Thanks to all who joined us today for our Total Health and Technology Focus. The final video will be up soon. In the meantime, here are a few photos from today’s filming.

Dr. Tesoriero gets mic'ed in advance of filming.

Dr. Tesoriero gets mic’ed in advance of filming.

Panel conversation

Panel conversation

Manik & Karen, ready for their close ups!

Manik & Karen, ready for their close ups!

The CTH team preps with our broadcast team.

The CTH team preps with our broadcast team.

Dr. Tesoriero and Erin rehearse before the show.

Dr. Tesoriero and Erin Meade rehearse before the show.

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