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.

Celebrating Summer

By | Healthy Communities, Healthy Living | No Comments

Looking to trim down this summer?  Take advantage of the warm weather, skip the gym, and get active outside!

  • Explore your city or town.  Play games at the park, go for a bike ride around town, or do laps at the local pool.
  • Pack your snacks.  Plan ahead for your day and bring along fruit, nuts, and other healthy treats.
  • Bring water.  Avoid the temptation of sugary drinks by staying hydrated from the start.
  • Wear your sunscreen.  And remember to reapply it regularly if you’re outside all day.

If you live in a place that gets really hot, think about hitting the streets early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun isn’t a factor. Or save these ideas for the cooler fall weather that will be here before you know it.

Want to learn more about a healthy weight? Click here.



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

Total Health Questionnaire: Alice Patty

By | Questionnaire | No Comments

Alice Patty is a senior program manager for Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit team. Included in her portfolio is management of the Thriving Schools program in the Mid-Atlantic Region. 

Alice Patty

Alice Patty

Q: What does Total Health mean to you?
A: Support for the body, mind, spirit and community.

Q: What’s your first health-related memory?
A: Breaking my arm on the swing set and having it set at the ER.

Q: Which person, living or dead, is your health hero or role model?
A: Probably my husband. We support each other in healthy eating and active living. Whenever I need a boost of confidence or encouragement he is there for me.

Q: What is your favorite food?
Favorite meal is salmon with asparagus.

Q: What do you value most in your work? What inspires you to continue?
A: The ability to help people. The people I work with are constantly inspiring me to do more and grow as an individual.

Q:  If you could change one thing in health care, what would it be?
A: Access for everyone to prevention services. Dietitians, personal trainers and life coaches as a covered benefit.

Q: Where would you most like to live?
A: Paris.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
A: Working in the field of obesity prevention for over a decade. I have seen a lot of changes in the way we address and prevent obesity. I am proud to have contributed to this field.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
A: Margaret Thatcher, Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth I.

Total Health, Thriving Economies, Community Health: The Connection

By | Guest Blogger, Healthy Communities | No Comments

In cased you haven’t noticed, “total health” is a term we like to use a lot around here. It’s meant to encompass all the aspects of living that impact a person’s mental, physical and social well-being.

We link total health to a lot of seemingly disparate subjects that one might not immediately think of when thinking about health – e.g. transportation technology, zip codes, mindfulness.

So you might suggest we’re really stretching things a bit when we link total health to…the economy. But there is, in fact, a very important connection here.

Community health and an individual’s health and well-being are very intricately connected. Communities that support health and prosperity – communities with safe places to walk and ride your bike; easy access to fresh, locally grown produce; affordable housing and strong schools – these communities create the conditions that support healthy people. They are also the signifiers of a healthy and vibrant local economy.

Thriving local economies help “create conditions in communities that give rise to health,” explains Tyler Norris, vice president for Total Health Partnerships at Kaiser Permanente.

Norris sat down with Michelle Long, executive director of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) to explore the connections between total health, thriving economies and community health. BALLE builds its mission on thriving local economies. Advancing what it calls a “localist agenda,” BALLE seeks to lift up the value of local community in driving a fair and equitable society. From BALLE’s website:

Localism is about building communities that are more healthy and sustainable – backed by local economies that are stronger and more resilient. It means we use regional resources to meet our needs – reconnecting eaters with farmers, investors with entrepreneurs, and business owners with the communities and natural places on which they depend. It recognizes that not one of us can do it alone and that we’re all better off, when we’re all better off.

The dynamic conversation on localism, economies, and health is captured in this recent article and podcast on Kaiser Permanente’s Share website.

Total Health Questionnaire: Erin Meade

By | Questionnaire | No Comments

Erin Meade is the Senior Consultant for Marketing & Events at the Center for Total Health. She has been at the Center since the beginning, and has loved every minute. 

Erin Meade

Erin Meade

Q: In a few words, what does Total Health mean to you?
Total Health means being healthy enough to do the things I want to do, when I want to do them. Not having my health get in the way. Right now, getting back into marathon running shape is number one (if only my hip would cooperate!).

Q: Which person, living or dead, is your health hero or role model?
My mom. She’s always been a runner, and even as the years go by, she keeps getting up and out at least five days a week. She’s also become quite the yogi.

Q: What is your favorite food?
Cheese, mashed potatoes, and ice cream. Not at the same time.

Q: What do you most value in your work? What inspires you to continue?
The best part of working at the Center for Total Health is meeting new people from diverse backgrounds. It’s a constant inspiration to hear about all the amazing things going on to improve clinical, personal, and community health.

Q: If you could change one thing in health care, what would it be?
Everyone would have an electronic record that would travel with them through life, regardless of employer or insurance. No more completing a family history every time you visit a new doctor.

Q: Where do/would you most like to live?
A: On a beach.

Q: Where do/would you most like to travel?
I love traveling. My favorite places so far are Paris, Prague, and Lisbon; next on my to-travel list is Iceland. I also always love going home to Pittsburgh (Here We Go Steelers!).

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
Running two marathons.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
 My two grandfathers, who died before I was born. And probably Dave Eggers, who is my favorite writer.

Is there someone you’d like us to feature in this series? Nominate them! Send us a message here with your suggestion.

Happy 4th!

By | Games and Health | No Comments

This weekend, as you gather with friends and family for cookouts, lawn games, World Cup games, and fireworks, join us in taking a minute to remember what the day is about. In 1776, our founding fathers gathered to declare our independence from England. Fifty years later, two of those men famously died on the same day (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson).

The 4th has seen a lot of other important historic moments: in 1802, West Point opened its doors; in 1817, construction of the Erie Canal began; in 1827, the state of New York abolished slavery; in 1839, Lou Gherig was diagnosed with ALS; in 1997, NASA’s Pathfinder landed on Mars.

This year, let’s take a moment to thank the amazing men and women who serve our country every day in the armed forces, all levels of government, and community organizations.

And, please – don’t forget the sunscreen and to be careful in the heat that will hit some of us (DC-area folks, I’m talking to you!).

Inaugural Build Your Best Life Health Festival

By | Center for Total Health, Community Health Initiatives | No Comments

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

By | Center for Total Health, Health Innovation | No Comments
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

By | Center for Total Health, Health Innovation | No Comments

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 !