National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention

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On June 20, the Center for Total Health welcomed the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), the nation’s public-private partnership championing suicide prevention as a national priority, for their biannual executive committee meeting.  They covered an array of topics around suicide prevention including:

  • aligning the national response to suicide to achieve the national goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025
  • transforming community-based suicide prevention
  • changing the national conversations about suicide and suicide prevention to ones that promote hope, recovery, and resiliency
  • identifying opportunities for the public and private sectors to come together to prevent suicide and advance suicide prevention efforts

Executive committee member and director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Anne Schuchat, said the CDC is working towards enhancing existing morbidity and mortality tracking systems to improve data collection around the issue of suicide. Kaiser Permanente has been a member of the Action Alliance EXCOM since 2015 and is active in the Action Alliance’s initiative to Transform Health Systems to Reduce Suicide and implementation of the Action Alliance’s Zero Suicide initiative.

The Action Alliance – established in 2010 – aims to champion suicide prevention as a national priority, catalyze efforts of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, and cultivate resources to sustain progress. The Action Alliance’s Executive Committee, representing senior leaders from diverse private and public sector groups, is the driving force of the Action Alliance by providing strategic direction to advance this important work.  Learn more about the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health supports organizations that are working towards preventing suicide in communities.  All events– annual banquet, quarterly meeting, training, interviews, etc—follow the Healthy Meeting Tools.  The Center for Total Health Staff thrive to create an environment that is both fun and informative.  Most of all, we take great pride in supporting your event and our high guest satisfaction scores prove it. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, please send us an event request located on our website.  We look forward to you joining us!

It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine

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Have you had the flu yet this season?  More importantly, have you received the flu vaccine?  If not, you might want to.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February sees a surprisingly high number of flu occurrences.  So while many people think flu season has long passed, the truth is the vaccine may yet keep you healthy.

This episode of Total Health Radio, produced with the CDC, shares more information on  the topic and addresses misunderstandings and excuses about the vaccine that keep so many folks from getting their flu shots.  Check it out, and spread the word to the people you care about.


What You Should Know About the Flu — A Chat with the CDC’s Angela Campbell, MD

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Flu season is here. And to help us prepare for what the season may bring, we were lucky enough to get a few minutes with Dr. Angela Campbell, a medical officer in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Influenza Division.

To welcome Dr. Campbell to the blog, we started out with one of our favorite questions.

Angela Campbell, MD

Angela Campbell, MD

Q: In a few words, what does Total Health mean to you?

A: Total health means caring for myself physically, intellectually, and spiritually, and working to sustain and improve the health of others.

Q: How does influenza vaccination factor into that view?

A: To me, influenza vaccination is an important component of caring for my own physical health – it is something I choose for myself every year. I am also passionate about encouraging flu vaccination for those whom I love, for my patients, and for the U.S. public at large. Flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu. Because every flu season is different, it’s important to do what you can every year to protect yourself and those around you – and the first and most important line of defense against the flu is getting a yearly flu vaccination. Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick from flu and, by protecting yourself from flu by getting vaccinated; you’re also protecting the people around you who may be more vulnerable to complications from flu illness.

Q: What is NIVW?

A: NIVW stands for National Influenza Vaccination Week, which was December 7-13 this year. CDC established NIVW in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination throughout the holiday season and beyond. Flu vaccination coverage estimates from past seasons have shown that flu vaccination typically drops near the end of November, so this is a time to stress the important reminder that as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to get your flu vaccine.

Q: Really? Is it worth getting your flu vaccine in December or even after the New Year?

A: Yes! Flu activity most commonly peaks between December and February, but can continue as late as May, so it’s not too late to protect yourself as long as flu activity is ongoing. In fact, even unvaccinated people who have already gotten sick with flu this season can still benefit from getting vaccinated since the flu vaccine protects against three or four different flu viruses (depending on which flu vaccine you receive) that are expected to circulate each season.

 Q: Can flu be more serious for some people than others?

A: Yes. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older; however, vaccination is especially important for protecting those at high risk for serious flu complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease, and people age 65 years and older. Pneumonia and bronchitis are examples of flu-related complications that can result in a hospital stay or sometimes even death. The flu can also make chronic health problems worse for those who have them. And since babies younger than 6 months are too young to get their own flu vaccine, parents, caregivers and others in the household should be vaccinated to help protect them. By getting vaccinated, you will be less likely to get the flu and, therefore, less likely to spread the flu to others in these vulnerable groups.

Q: Should children receive one or two doses of the flu vaccine? We’ve heard different things.

A: Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time, as well as some who have been vaccinated previously, will need two doses. Your child’s doctor, nurse, or other health care professional can tell you if two doses are recommended for your child. If your child has not already received their first dose of vaccine, get your child vaccinated now. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine. If two doses are needed, begin the process as early as possible. The doses should be given at least 28 days apart and it usually takes about 2 weeks after the second dose is given for protection to begin.

Q: If you don’t have time to get to the doctor, will insurance work at other vaccination locations?

A: Since September 2010, new health insurance plans are required to cover recommended vaccines without co-pays or deductibles when provided by an in-network health care provider. For more information on the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit Many private health insurance plans also cover the cost of vaccines, but you should check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor. Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers. They also are offered by many employers, and are even available in some schools. Another useful tool is the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find the nearest location where you can get vaccinated.

Physical Activity Saves Lives

By | Health, Healthy Living, Obesity Prevention & Treatment, Research | No Comments

We are hearing about it everywhere, and now there’s even more data to back it up. Two recent studies show physical activity reduces pulmonary disease and heart failure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an entire plan — The National Physical Activity Plan — dedicated to making it possible for Americans to be physically active and to live and work in places that support that activity.

For info on how much physical activity is right for you and your family, check out the CDC guidelines — they have them for children and adolescents, adults, and older adults.

Mark Your Calendar — and Be Sure to Stretch – for the 2013 Walking Summit

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If there is any question about whether the walking movement in the United States has legs, it will be answered with a resounding yes in October at the 2013 Walking Summit in Washington, D.C.

The health benefits of walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week – including decreasing symptoms of diabetes and depression, increasing bone density and helping lower your risk of cancer – have been shared enthusiastically since the launch of the Every Body Walk! public awareness campaign in 2011.

The 2013 Walking Summit takes that awareness one step further.  Community and organization leaders from across the nation – including Safe Routes to School, WalkBoston, America Walks, and Rails to Trails – as well as academics from the CDC, University of Pennsylvania and Tufts University are coming together to share what works best to invigorate programs, practices and policies in individual communities.

You can register for the Walking Summit, scheduled to run October 1-3 in Washington, D.C., at this site.  An extra bonus:  The discounted early bird registration has been extended to August 19.  Scholarships are also available.

More info on walking and its many benefits can be found on the Every Body Walk! site.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By | Blog & Bloggers, Care Delivery, Patient's Voice, Video | No Comments

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the CDC, 210,203 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,589 women died from the disease, in 2008 (the latest year for which statistics are available). With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.

Breast cancer screening can often lead to earlier detection and treatment of the disease. Most health insurance companies pay for the cost of breast screening tests.  For those people worried about the cost, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) offers free or low-cost mammograms and education about breast cancer.  You can find out if you qualify here.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing a story of a breast cancer survivor.  Kathleen Tebb, a 39-year-old mother of two children, was diagnosed and had a mastectomy followed by aggressive treatment, including radiation.  With the help of physical therapy, Kathleen was eventually able to resume one of her passions—rock climbing.  Read more about Kathleen’s story here, and check out an interview with her below.


For more stories from breast cancer survivors, check out the latest posts on Kaiser Permanente’s Care Stories Blog.

HHS Announces 2012 Hypertension Control Champions

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One year ago, the Department of Health and Human Services, with several key partners, launched the Million Hearts™ national public-private initiative.  Million Hearts aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over five years through behavioral changes and clinical interventions.  One of the most significant contributing factors to cardiovascular disease is hypertension, or high blood pressure.  According to the CDC, nearly one in three American adults (67 million) has high blood pressure, and more than half (36 million) don’t have it under control. Additionally, high blood pressure contributes to nearly 1,000 deaths per day and accounts for nearly $131 billion in direct health care costs a year.

Today, the U.S. DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recognized two health care providers in the United States as 2012 Hypertension Control ChampionsEllsworth (Wis.) Medical Clinic and Kaiser Permanente’s Colorado region.  The designation signifies these two health care providers have had remarkable success controlling hypertension across their patient populations, supported by verifiable data documenting the improvement.  Watch a video of the announcement here.

Since 2008, Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s focus on managing hypertension has resulted in an improvement from an initial member control rate of 61 percent to its current control rate of 82.6 percent.  The average hypertension control rate nationally is around 50 percent.

According to their press release, Kaiser Permanente’s hypertension control strategy has five central components:

  1. Registries: Through data housed within the Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect® electronic medical record, registries are created to identify members with hypertension.
  2. Actionable lists: Kaiser Permanente staff then draft lists to help identify which members did not have their blood pressure under control.
  3. Patient outreach: To reach those newly identified members, Kaiser Permanente nurses and other care team representatives work collaboratively to contact members and encourage them to come into local medical offices for blood pressure checks at least once a year.
  4. Managing blood pressure in the office: Kaiser Permanente primary care teams and clinical pharmacy staff develop long-term medication management programs for members with hypertension.
  5. Eliminating barriers: Members with hypertension are able to receive free blood pressure checks on a walk-in or appointment basis.

In September 2011, shortly after Million Hearts officially launched, Janet Wright, MD, executive director of Million Hearts, joined several other leaders in the heart health space at the Center for Total Health in Washington, D.C., for a summit to address hypertension.  You can see our coverage of that event at these links.

Weight of the Nation: Premieres Tonight (Plus a Few Minutes with Preston Maring, MD)

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It’s finally here:  Tonight, The Weight of the Nation premieres on HBO.  Parts one and two air tonight, with parts three and four debuting tomorrow night. HBO has made the broadcast of The Weight of the Nation available for free to cable broadcasters. Check your local listings to see if it is carried in your area. The films also will be available at, where they will be online at 8 pm ET.  They’ll be on HBO’s YouTube channel, as well.

The documentary series on America’s obesity crisis is produced in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente.

See the trailer for The Weight of the Nation below.   And after that, check out our recent conversation with Preston Maring, MD – the founder of Kaiser Permanente’s farmers markets.  We caught up with Dr. Maring, who is featured in part four of the HBO series, after the screening of the documentary in Washington, D.C.

A Few Minutes with IOM’s Harvey Fineberg at DC Screening of Weight of the Nation

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Last week, 600 people attended the Washington, D.C., screening of The Weight of the Nation, HBO’s documentary on America’s obesity crisis produced in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente. After opening remarks from the producers and partners, the crowd viewed part one in the series, called Consequences. The first part of the four-part series presents an alarming overview of our nation’s weight crisis, where one-third of adults and 17 percent of children and adolescents in the United States are obese.

Being overweight or obese carries increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, cancer, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Overall quality of life can be negatively affected as well.

While on hand to live tweet the event, the Center for Total Health blog had a brief conversation with Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine. Harvey spoke about the unique partnership that brought about this documentary, as well as his hope that people who view this series (premiering May 14-15 on HBO) will take what they learn, request screening kits and discussion guides, and get engaged where they live and work to make changes and reverse this epidemic.

Visit here for more information about the documentary. For resources on how to bring healthy changes to your family, community and workplace, visit the Kaiser Permanente Weight of the Nation site. Read more coverage of Weight of the Nation screenings and outreach here.

HBO Documentary Weight of the Nation Previews in Colorado

By | Experts, Food, Healthy Living, Obesity Prevention & Treatment, Photos, Video | No Comments

Launching one of the nation’s largest public health campaigns on obesity to date, HBO has joined with the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kaiser Permanente and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to produce a series of documentaries called The Weight of the Nation.  The series – whose TEDMED trailer screening earlier this month set Twitter abuzz – examines the obesity epidemic from every angle: agriculture, economics, evolutionary biology, food marketing, racial and socioeconomic disparities, physical inactivity, American food culture and the power of industry.

On Monday, April 16, HBO and Kaiser Permanente Colorado hosted a screening of part four of the series, “Challenges,” on the University of Denver campus. The screening is the first of more than 20 that Kaiser Permanente will host nationwide.

While Colorado is one of the fittest states for adults, it is facing one of the fastest growing childhood obesity rates in the country.  For that reason, the event began with a health expo focused on healthy eating and active living, and the screening was followed by a town-hall panel discussion with local experts and Q&A with the audience.   Below is a brief highlight reel of the evening’s activities.

The town hall discussion was also available to folks at home through Livestreaming. Watch the full presentation at  You can also read more and see photos from the event here.

The Weight of the Nation series debuts on May 14, exclusively on HBO. Further information on the series, the soon-to-be-published book of the same name by St. Martin’s Press, and the nationwide community-based outreach campaign can be found at