This Week in Total Health: Sweating the Details

By | Center for Total Health | No Comments

Another busy week has drawn to a close at the Center for Total Health.

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Brendan O’Grady, WELL AP, explains initial readings to Kathy Gerwig, vice president of Employee Safety, Health and Wellness, and environmental stewardship officer and Carol Corr, AIA, LEED GA, EDAC, Design Program Manager, National Planning and Design, National Facilities Services

On Monday and Tuesday, the center welcomed Delos (@DelosLiving)for the first step of our WELL Building Standard Certification.  Ted Eytan (@tedeytan) wrote an in-depth summary of the experience.

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Kathy Porter

Our team was thrilled to meet Kathy Porter, who is the face of the original Alexandra persona used by our design teams, and Cathryn Burby from the American Cancer Society this week.

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Cathryn Burby, Senior Director, Community Engagement at the American Cancer Society

August brings heat and humidity to our nation’s capital, making it a notoriously quiet month across the city. Our team is taking advantage of this time to get our ducks in a row for a busy fall. If you’d like to come the Center for Total Health for a tour or event, please let us know!

Mayor, What Will You Do To Improve My Health?

By | Center for Total Health, Healthy Communities | No Comments

On July 19,  Smart Growth America (@SmartGrowthUSA) hosted its annual Local Leaders Council (@SGALocalLeaders),meeting at the Center for Total Health.  Attendees included influential leaders from various communities around the nation including mayors, city council members, county officials, city managers and agency heads. The event allowed these influential leaders to incorporate total health into their community and the content at the center provided a perfect backdrop.

Geoffrey Anderson, president of Smart Growth America, started off the event with a warm welcome. Parris Glendening, former governor of Maryland, and Rick Danner, mayor of Greer, South Carolina, both spoke about the excellent solutions Smart Growth America has developed.  The keynote speaker, Amy Liu (@amy_liuw), the vice president and director of Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, touched on growth and planning during her talk, titled  “Economic Development for All”.  Through her work in urban and social planning in challenged economic communities in Philadelphia, she has learned numerous solutions to improving residents overall quality of life by improving the economy in a neighborhood.  As Amy Liu stated, “Better jobs, access to grocery stores and community programs for youth will improve the health of disadvantaged residents.”  It was a pleasure hearing Amy Liu’s solutions and ideas for creating healthier neighborhoods, mainly in metropolitan areas such as Washington, DC, and its surroundings.

Throughout the day, Smart Growth America rotated through different breakout sessions and seminars for guests to discuss and brainstorm solutions.  One such seminar was Creative Placemaking Strategies, giving community leaders tools for success. Another was Revitalization without Displacement, which encouraged leaders to  brainstorm strategies to improve the economy in their community.  Guests also networked with one another over a catered lunch and were invited on a 20 minute guided walking tour with Ted Eytan, MD, (@tedeytan). The event ended with a closing plenary discussion by Peg Moertl, the senior vice president of Community Development Banking of PNC Bank, Sarah Goldfarb, director of Policy and Research of Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, Ken Bowers, planning director in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Dean Gordon, director of Business Growth in Birmingham, Alabama.

Once again, the center is glad Smart Growth America held this inspirational annual event at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health.  If you would like to host an event at our center, please visit our website.

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Bike to Work (or Lunch) Day 2016

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Across the country, bike commuting grew 62% from 2000 to 2014. Washington, DC is among the top ten cities for bike commuters with over 13,000 in 2014 (an increase of 124% from 2005) according to the League of American Bicyclists. As the annual Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day (both of which fall right in the middle of Bike Month) is upon us, the Center for Total Health team hit the streets for a mid-day bike break.

Bike commuting isn’t for everyone – some people may not have access to a bike, may not feel comfortable riding on city streets, or may simply work too far from home. However, for those who are able and interested, DC’s Capital Bikeshare provides an affordable opportunity to access bikes. Since arriving in DC in 2008 (as SmartBike DC), Capital Bikeshare has become increasingly popular. In the past six years, Capital Bikeshare has grown from 114 to 378 stations, with a total of 12.8 million trips as of April 2016. This system has undoubtedly contributed to the increase of bike commuting in Washington, DC and across the region.

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In honor of Bike to Work Day, our team took a mid-day break to Bike to Lunch together. If biking isn’t for you, consider commuting on foot to celebrate active transportation and build exercise into your day. And please, don’t forget a helmet if you’re getting on a bike today. After all, bike helmets are the new seatbelt.

 

This Week in Total Health: The End of an Era

By | Center for Total Health | No Comments

As another busy week comes to a close at the Center for Total Health, our team would like to first take a moment to thank Yen Greene (@YenGreene), who has been with us for almost five years, for all of her hard work and dedication. She’s a remarkable person and colleague, and though she isn’t going far, she will be missed. Our loss is Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atantic’s gain.

On Thursday, the Center for Health Design hosted Health Design Insights, an evening for health care architects and designers. The featured speakers were Jeff Shub, MD, of GapingVoid (@gapingvoid); Patrick Schultz, AIA, EDAC, LEED, AP, of HKS Architects (@HKSArchitects); and Barbara Huelat, FASID, AAID, EDAC, of Huelat Davis (@HuelatDavis). As always, it’s inspiring to witness a group of people dedicating their incredible talents and intelligence to the health of others.

Center for Health Design - Health Design Insights

Center for Health Design – Health Design Insights

As those who have been to the center might know, we installed a pedestrian counter outside along the Metropolitan Branch Trail to track pedestrian traffic as part of a network of counters across Washington, DC. (Learn more about that project here.) This week, the counter got a new battery (thank you, Tracy Hadden Loh!).

New battery for the EcoCounter pedestrian counter

New battery for the EcoCounter pedestrian counter

Find all of this week’s pictures here. And, for posterity, some of our favorite pictures of Yen over the years. Thanks for all the laughs, Yen!

 

This Week in Total Health: Innovation and Transportation Rule the Week

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After being closed to the public for a few weeks for maintenance work, the Center for Total Health was delighted to host several tours this week.

The Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting brought tens of thousands of transportation experts to Washington. We got to spend time with two experts who are innovating public spaces and transportation in very exciting ways – Sam Piper (Boston-based Senior Planner at Alta Planning + Design, @altaplanning) and Leah Shahum (San Francisco-based Director of the Vision Zero Network, @visionzeronet).

CTH Team with Sam Piper, Alta Planning & Design

CTH Team with Sam Piper, Alta Planning & Design

 

CTH Team with Leah Shahum, Vision Zero Network, and Celeste James, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit

CTH Team with Leah Shahum, Vision Zero Network, and Celeste James, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit

We also had the opportunity to spend time with the Veterans Administration’s Innovation Specialists (@VAInnovation), who were in town from all over the US for a series of meetings and site visits. Of course, they chose to take their photograph with Dominique, the CTH’s resident veteran.

VA Innovation Specialists

VA Innovation Specialists with Dominique

To see photographs from all the great visitors we had this week, check out this album.

Diabetes

Make Today a Little Sweeter

By | Food, Healthy Communities | No Comments

November is American Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, while 86 million have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. While there are some risk factors for diabetes that you can’t change, knowing your risks lets you decide what’s best for your health. This fall, take time to make and celebrate healthy changes. Some ideas:

Play detective: Find out what you don’t know about your family history, especially when it comes to chronic conditions.

Stay in check: Low blood sugar levels can cause sudden mood swings in some people, so don’t go too long between eating meals.

Indulge smart: When you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, be mindful of your choices. A serving of berries is almost always better than a pastry or chocolate.

Form more information, visit kp.org/diabetes.

Wednesday is National Running Day

By | Healthy Living, Walking | No Comments

running day blank logoThis Wednesday, June 3rd, is National Running Day, a day for running enthusiasts (nuts?) like me to celebrate our love of the sport and for those who want to start to get out there. The thing I love most about the running community is its acceptance of everyone, whether you run a 5 or 15 minute mile, go out once a week or twice a day, started 20 years ago or 20 days ago. So, if you’re a runner, get out there this Wednesday and celebrate your love of this sport with the community. If you’re not a runner, but think you might want to be, this is the day!

You can find official running day information and groups on Facebook and Twitter. If there’s not one in your city, try a local running club or make your own with some friends. See what your fellow runners are up to by following #RunningDay on the usual .social media platforms.

I’ll be out there for an early morning run with a new running club, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages but somehow always avoid. Here’s to new adventures, whatever they may be!

 

 

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Celebrate Change This Spring

By | Breastfeeding, Health, Healthy Living | No Comments

Maybe it’s because it’s (finally) gotten warm enough along the East Coast for us to leave our parkas at home, maybe it’s the time of year, but I feel like every third woman I see right now is pregnant. Pregnancy brings great joy, excitement, and questions. When you’re eating, drinking, and sleeping for two (or more!), it’s the perfect time to commit to healthy changes. Find information about how to be your healthiest self – before, during, or after pregnancy – on Kaiser Permanente’s website.

As it heats up, many of us reach for iced tea. Try making it a healthy option by picking unsweetened. Jazz it up yourself with this recipe for homemade peach iced tea.

Peach Iced Tea

Ingredients
1 tablespoon dried mint leaves
4 cups water
2 cups pureed peaches, chilled
Fresh mint (garnish)

Directions
Steep mint leaves in hot water for 3 minutes.
Pour peaches in a sieve to remove chunks.
Once the mint tea is cool, mix with strained peach puree. Serve cold, garnished with fresh mint.

 

 

A Prescription for Activity

By | Healthy Living, Walking | No Comments

This week, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) convened a meeting to address key issues related to establishing a physical activity prescription at every visit as a medical standard of care. Kaiser Permanante’s own Robert Sallis, MD, was in attendance and helped lead a walking break to visit the Supreme Court. You can find a full set of images from the roundtable here.

Dr. Bob Sallis leads a walking meeting to the Supreme Court.

Dr. Sallis leads a walking meeting to the Supreme Court.

There is overwhelming evidence on the health burden of a sedentary lifestyle, and regular exercise has been proven to prevent and treat a wide range of diseases.  For this reason, every health care provider should be assessing the physical activity habits of their patients and recommending they engage in 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise (like a brisk walk), which is consistent with the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines.  While it has become a standard of care to ask patients at every visit about smoking and to assess their weight and BMI, exercise is often not routinely assessed.

For this reason, on April 27 and April 28, a roundtable was convened by the American College of Sports Medicine and Kaiser Permanente: A “Call to Action on Making Physical Activity Assessment and Prescription a Medical Standard of Care”.  This was held at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington, DC, and it was chaired by Robert Sallis, MD, a Kaiser Permanante family physician and chair of the Exercise is Medicine Global Health initiative.  The meeting was attended by individuals representing a range of major medical organizations with a goal of developing a consensus around including physical activity assessment and prescription at each patient visit.  One of the outcomes of the roundtable will be a white paper that outlines a plan to make this happen in the near future.   

What Exactly IS the Trail Modeling & Assessment Platform, and Why Do We Care?

By | Center for Total Health, Community Health Initiatives, Environmental Stewardship, Guest Blogger, Walking | No Comments

Our guest blogger today is Tracy Hadden Loh with the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Tracy Hadden Loh (right) and colleague with the pedestrian counter outside the CTH.

Tracy Hadden Loh (right) and colleague with the pedestrian counter outside the CTH. The counter was installed on one of the coldest days of this winter (high of 10 degrees!).

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.

 

Data from the CTH Pedestrian Counter

Data from the CTH Pedestrian Counter | February 15, 2015