Healthy communities

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.

The Next Total Health Focus at CTH: Connecting Patients & Social Support for Better Health

Posted by | Care Delivery, Center for Total Health, Community Health Initiatives, Experts, Health Innovation, Healthy Communities, Live Chat, Video | No Comments

Bookmark this post in your browser and return January 23 (3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern, noon to 1 p.m. Pacific) to watch the webcast live.


On January 23, the Center for Total Health will host the next Total Health and Technology Focus, this time looking at tools to support the social needs of patients.

Total health is about the mind, body and spirit. but there are other influences on our health — such as the community a person lives in, the environment that surrounds them and all their relationships that influence healthier behaviors.  Unrecognized needs such as support for housing, food/nutrition or other psycho-social stressors also have an impact on health.  Clinicians often feel unable or unprepared to address these needs.

Our January 23 event will feature Healthify and Health Leads, two organizations with innovative models that help people with unmet social needs connect to available community services.  Join us for a discussion on how clinicians can be part of a health system solution.

About the Organizations
Healthify  is:

  • a dynamic screening tool that identifies and quantifies the social and behavioral needs of your patients
  • a matching algorithm that finds, refers, and texts patients about the best resources for their needs
  • a dashboard to allow staff to search for resources and gain insight into their population

Health Leads works with clinics to connect patients to basic resources, improving health outcomes and patient satisfaction while lowering the cost of care. Health Leads enables doctors and other healthcare providers to “prescribe” basic resources like food and heat just as they do medication. The organization recruits and trains college students to “fill” these prescriptions by working side by side with patients to connect them with the basic resources they need to be healthy.


Please note that Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the products featured in these discussions.


Rebuilding Healthy Communities in the Gulf Coast

Kaiser Permanente employees volunteering in the Gulf Coast restoration project begin prep work for the new garden at Success Preparatory Academy in New Orleans.

Kaiser Permanente employees volunteering in the Gulf Coast restoration project begin prep work for the new garden at Success Preparatory Academy in New Orleans.


It’s National Volunteer Recognition Week, which is very timely as Kaiser Permanente welcomes back the 30 volunteers who were in New Orleans rebuilding healthy communities, which were damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Volunteers spent five days completing six projects, which included repairing the homes of two families and building community gardens.

While many initial hurricane relief efforts have been completed, many Gulf Coast communities still have significant needs as they work towards long-term restoration. There continue to be stories from the community partners about those who have yet to move back into their homes because of severe damage from the storm. This is why Kaiser Permanente returned to the Gulf Coast this year and will continue to go until the work is finished.

For more photos and videos of the Kaiser Permanente team in New Orleans, visit KP’s Community Benefit site.

Microsoft and Public, Private Innovators Meet to Collaborate on Building Healthy Communities

On Thursday, June 21, Microsoft—in collaboration with other government and business leaders, foundations and thought leaders—is facilitating a forum in Washington, D.C., on cross cutting approaches that contribute to building healthy communities.  Topics for discussion during the meeting will include new paradigms for business and the health of the public, as well as health, education and workforce models.  A focus of the day’s conversation will be on sharing and exploring the progress and dissemination of innovative private and public approaches being developed today.

Keynoting the event will be Assistant U.S. Surgeon General, James Galloway.  Among other speakers at the event, Tyler Norris, vice president for Total Health partnerships at Kaiser Permanente, will touch on examples of cutting-edge solutions for building community health.

The event, which begins at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, is by invitation only, but there’ll be live tweeting.  Follow all of the conversation via hash tag #betterhealth.  Microsoft will be posting highlights from the event on Facebook:  And for continued discussion after the event, check out Microsoft in Health’s LinkedIn page.

Community Commons Seeks to Advance the Movement Toward Building Healthy, Sustainable Communities

There’s a movement afoot to build more sustainable, livable, healthy communities. It is a movement that is growing in momentum and collective will, despite what many feel are overwhelming statistics showing the rise of obesity and chronic disease in this country. It is a movement being led by people serving across disciplinary fields and political perspectives—community leaders, health activists, philanthropic organizations, and government agencies—all seeking the goal of thriving, healthy communities.

The healthy, sustainable communities movement is getting a tremendous burst of momentum these days from the internet, and more specifically from the creation of a unique online interactive space where folks can go to network with others, find targeted resources, and see what kinds of health and sustainability initiatives are happening in their community and across the country. One space where this is taking place is called the Community Commons.

The Community Commons went live in October 2011 and has recently launched its 2.0 version that features enhanced resources and functionality. It is gaining wide acclaim and is being heralded as the online space for public health advocates to learn, connect with each other, and share resources. Earlier this month, the Community Commons was the recipient of a first place award at the “Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators App Challenge” announced at the 2012 National Health Promotion Summit in Washington, D.C.

Kaiser Permanente’s Catherine Brozena recently sat down with social entrepreneur Tyler Norris, who has played a fundamental role in shaping the creation of the Community Commons. We asked Tyler to share more about this movement for healthier communities and how the Community Commons is playing a pivotal role in advancing that movement.



Norris will be moderating a special Dialogue4Health web forum tomorrow on HBO’s Weight of the Nation documentary and accompanying public health campaign. Sponsored by the Public Health Institute and Kaiser Permanente, the forum will focus on exploring the key themes of the films and discuss how the assets available to individuals, organizations, and place-based partnerships can help create healthier built, food and beverage, social, and community environments. For more information or to register for the event, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 1, at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT, visit here.

2011 in Review: Raymond Baxter from the Kids & Walking Forum

In today’s flashback on our coverage of 2011 programs, we have a video interview with Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, senior vice president of Community Benefit, Research & Health Policy at Kaiser Permanente.  The conversation was captured at the Kids & Walking Forum held at the Center for Total Health during Every Body Walk! Week. Ray shares thoughtful insight on the challenges people face in achieving good health and what is ultimately going to make it possible to achieve good health across the U.S.

If you enjoyed this video, be sure to check out the series of podcasts Ray recorded on healthy communities.

Transforming a Food Desert into an Oasis

Another aspect of food insecurity, which we continue to examine this week, is the existence of so-called “food deserts,” where people whose income levels do not afford them easy access to healthy, fresh produce live miles away from grocery stores and are left to seek out sustenance by other means.  This often results in their having to rely on poor food choices that negatively impact their health and well-being — or lack of food altogether.

The Village Gardens community in northwest Portland, Ore. started as a simple, community-run garden in the midst of a mixed-income housing project.  It has since sprouted into a fully-integrated community health project that stands as a powerful example of what can be accomplished when neighborhood residents, community-based organizations, non-profits and government organizations come together in support of people’s health and well-being. You can read more about this initiative here, but check out the video below for a view into Village Gardens.

Explore the Center for Total Health Take Video Tour