Doctors in meeting using computer

Kaiser Permanente is committed to building partnerships with the institutions that play a critical role in delivering health care for the uninsured and underserved, often referred to as the health care “safety net.”

Through grants, training and technical assistance, we’re working with safety-net hospitals and health centers to help these institutions reach those who are low-income, uninsured or under-resourced in our communities, and move the needle in eliminating health disparities. We do this by investing in quality improvement and other support efforts that aim to transform care and improve health access for those most in need.

Partnering with safety-net providers lets us collaboratively hone our strategies to improve care for patients who face barriers in accessing quality health care. Together, we are developing innovative ways to engage hard-to-reach populations, provide care to non-English speaking patients and proactively connect patients to social and financial support systems.

Additionally, our Kaiser Permanente clinicians donate hundreds of clinical hours, providing medical care, consultation and technical assistance to communities served by the safety net. Our partnerships help fill gaps in coverage and access, create high-impact programs and inform public policy.

Improving Heart Health

People with diabetes, heart disease or hypertension are 2 to 4 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke — and about 65 percent of those individuals will die of these events. Research has shown that people of color are far more likely to be impacted by diabetes, heart attacks and strokes, which only furthers health disparities in our communities.

Since 2002, Kaiser Permanente has been using a simple combination of medication and lifestyle changes shown to reduce heart attacks and strokes suffered by more than 60 percent among our members. Today, we promote this life-saving program among community health organizations that are part of the safety net. We do this by sharing the expertise of our physicians and by providing grants that enable community health centers who are implementing this hypertension control program to reach unprecedented levels of clinical performance.

Support for Health Professions

The need for innovative safety-net leaders trained in health system transformation and performance improvement has never been greater. At Kaiser Permanente, we provide investments in leadership development and education to prepare the next generation of safety-net health care professionals:

IHI Safety Net Endowment: The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, an independent not-for-profit organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a leading innovator in health and health care improvement worldwide. In support of the health care safety net, Kaiser Permanente has granted scholarships to safety-net leaders for trainings and learning opportunities, made possible by the IHI Safety Net endowment established by Kaiser Permanente in 2004.

Satcher Health Policy Leadership Fellowship Program: For nearly a decade, Kaiser Permanente has partnered with Morehouse School of Medicine to support participation in The Satcher Health Leadership Institute. The 10-month multidisciplinary training program is designed to provide physicians and postdoctoral professionals with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to prepare them for leadership roles promoting and implementing policies and practices to reduce disparities and advance health equity.

Kaiser Permanente Improvement and Advisor Leadership Program: Each year 10 to 20 safety-net leaders receive a full scholarship to work alongside Kaiser Permanente clinicians and staff in developing and implementing performance-improvement projects throughout their organization. Participant projects have resulted in lives saved, harm avoided, improved care experience, more efficient processes, and cost savings.

Workforce Development and Health Care Career Scholarships: We are building a pipeline of talented and diverse health care professionals through programs that introduce underrepresented grade school and high school students to careers in health care. And our health care career scholarships provide financial assistance to empower community members to pursue careers in health care.  (See also Economic Opportunity)

Trauma-Informed Primary Care

Extremely distressing or life-threatening events that happen to a person can result in deep psychological trauma that dramatically impacts a person’s health, their relationships, and their social and emotional development. These events may stem from abuse, violence in their community, personal tragedy, or chronic stress. Trauma not only affects individuals but also families and communities.

Trauma-informed care is a framework for understanding and responding to the impacts of trauma on individuals. In primary care settings, this often involves doctors, nurses and other caregivers recognizing the effects of trauma and taking care to create an environment of physical, psychological and emotional safety for trauma survivors.

Kaiser Permanente was one of the first health care organizations to recognize the link between trauma and health through the Adverse Childhood Experiences study we conducted along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study illuminated the connection between childhood trauma, stress, and maltreatment with health and well-being later in life.

Today, we work closely with community clinics through trainings, technical assistance and peer-to-peer learning — particularly through our partnership with the National Council on Behavioral Health — to expand the use of trauma-informed approaches in primary care settings.

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