At Kaiser Permanente, we recognize that we can help accelerate the important work of public health by leveraging the unique assets of our organization. With decades of experience as an integrated health care system delivering affordable, high-quality care to millions of members, we’ve acquired a wealth of experience that we can share to support the health of our communities.
Many of our Kaiser Permanente physicians work regularly to ensure that health impacts are considered when public policy decisions about transportation, land use and education are being made. We also share health educational materials, research findings, media resources and other information with communities to support their initiatives.
We know the importance of setting a good example for others by creating change within our own organization to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our workforce. Below are just a few examples of how we are “walking the talk” to support change happening both inside and outside our organization.
Healthy and Sustainable Food Sourcing
Kaiser Permanente recognizes that locally grown, sustainably farmed food choices are good for people’s health and good for the environment. We also know how important it is to set a good example for health in the workplace and in communities in which we operate.
Our patients not only get the best medical care, they also get fresh, healthy food that helps them get better faster. Kaiser Permanente serves nearly 600 tons of fresh, locally sourced fruits and vegetables annually in our patient meals. Many patient menus also offer cage-free, Certified Humane Raised and Handledâ eggs and beef and chicken raised without antibiotics or added hormones.
Our Healthy Picks program aims to encourage more nutritious food choices by offering them in our inpatient food services, cafeterias, vending machines, coffee carts and catered meals. We also support menu labeling that offers calorie and nutrition information in our hospital cafeterias. Research shows that patrons chose healthier options when menus are labeled with those details.
In 2012, as testament to our commitment to healthy eating, Kaiser Permanente signed a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America to further improve food offerings in all its hospitals.
Support for Farmers Markets
Additionally, we were the first health care system in the United States to offer farmers markets at its hospitals and medical facilities. These markets provide members and surrounding communities with easy access to healthy, locally grown food. Our farmers markets have gained national attention for being a model of good health.
Our Farmers Market Resource Guide contains helpful information about implementing a farmers market in your area. You’ll find descriptions of farmers market programs implemented within Kaiser Permanente, lessons learned and information on permitting and liability issues.
A 2010 survey of our farmers market patrons conducted by the Center for Community Health and Evaluation found that found that 74 percent of shoppers at the markets said they eat more fruits and vegetables as a result of shopping at the markets. Among shoppers who are also Kaiser Permanente members, 33 percent indicated they sometimes schedule their medical appointments on market days. These responses indicate that Kaiser Permanente is helping communities make positive behavior changes by creating access to healthy food choices.
Learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s support for sustainable food sourcing and find a Kaiser Permanente farmers market near you.
Walking and Walkability
Walking is the gateway to increased physical activity, to safer and more livable places and to society that is healthier in every dimension. In 2011, Kaiser Permanente made a bold commitment to create and amplify a national conversation about walking. This commitment became the springboard for Every Body Walk! a campaign designed to increase levels of physical activity among Americans and greater awareness of the need for more walkable communities.
Every Body Walk! complements the important work we are doing along with our community partners to promote safe walking and other forms of “active transportation” through changes in the built environment and other community-based prevention efforts. It also helped us develop internal programs and physical activity guidelines that engage our employees in moving more during the day and in being champions of walking and physical activity in the workplace.
Kaiser Permanente is a firm believer in the importance of breastfeeding for the health of mothers and newborns. Research shows that children who are breastfed are less likely to be obese later in life, and women who breastfeed have reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
In 2011, Kaiser Permanente signed a breastfeeding commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America to support breastfeeding in our hospitals by participating in breastfeeding friendly programs, implementing a system-wide performance improvement program to achieve the highest possible rates of exclusive breastfeeding and developing a breastfeeding practices guide. That guide – our breastfeeding “toolkit” – was launched in 2013.
Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Workforce efforts provide a variety of motivational techniques and interactive tools to encourage employees at all levels to practice healthy habits at work and at home. The program reinforces Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to support healthy behavioral and lifestyle changes for its employees and their families.
Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions partnered to launch the Healthy Workforce program in 2010. It was developed as an extension of the comprehensive health care services that we offer to more than 180,000 employees and their families.
These services are delivered through Kaiser Permanente’s unique integrated system—with a strong focus on preventive services and healthy lifestyle resources. Our commitment to creating a culture of health is further extended to employer groups through workforce health tools available on Kaiser Permanente’s Better Way website.
The National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit association of large U.S. employers, has repeatedly honored Kaiser Permanente for its ongoing commitment and dedication to promoting a healthy work environment and encouraging its workers and their families to maintain healthy lifestyles.