Kaiser Permanente Invests $1.8 Million to Launch Community Revitalization Project in West Baltimore

Kaiser Permanente's partnership with Bon Secours is rooted in a shared vision to meet deep socio-economic and health needs.


Kaiser Permanente (No. 2 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) has announced an additional commitment of $1.7 million to launch a neighborhood revitalization project in partnership with Bon Secours that will advance health equity and economic opportunity in West Baltimore.

Building on previous planning grants to Bon Secours Community Works of $140,000, this combined investment of more than $1.8 million cements a long-term partnership between Kaiser Permanente, Bon Secours and several communities in ZIP code 21223.

The key component of this project will be the construction of a community resource center that will serve youth and adults with economic, health and social services, supported by an array of local partners. The partnership between Kaiser Permanente and Bon Secours will, within five years, support the establishment of new businesses, a decline in the ZIP code's unemployment rate, and availability of new mental health services for residents.

"Kaiser Permanente is eager to partner with Bon Secours to work toward making Baltimore City one of the healthiest cities in America. Economic security has a tremendous impact on the health of individuals and communities," said Kim Horn, president of Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States. "This partnership will create comprehensive support for this community, going far beyond what either of us could do alone."

The project is the first of its kind in West Baltimore and will serve as a model for community health and development projects across the region and the country and for "anchor institutions" as agents of community revitalization.

"Bon Secours is excited about the partnership with Kaiser Permanente and is truly grateful for the faith and trust they have placed in us," said Samuel Ross, MD, MS. "We are committed to the long-term partnership that supports revitalization of west Baltimore."

This partnership aligns two national health care delivery systems to rebuild the social, emotional and economic fabric of the most depressed ZIP code in the state of Maryland. Residents of West Baltimore face significant societal barriers to health and well-being, identified in the recent community health needs assessments of both Kaiser Permanente and Bon Secours. Within the 21223 ZIP code, which includes the neighborhoods of Boyd-Booth, Fayette Outreach and Franklin Square, life expectancy is 68.3 years, a full 11 years lower than the statewide average.

As Kaiser Permanente's presence in Baltimore grows, a commitment to addressing core drivers of health — comprehensive health care, supports for mental health and economic opportunity — is a top priority. Recently, Kaiser Permanente launched the Institute for Equitable Leadership, which brings together nonprofit and for-profit leaders serving Baltimore City for coaching and training to strengthen their organizations and develop leadership skills grounded in equity, diversity and inclusion.

Kaiser Permanente is also expanding its 2016 pilot program with local barbershops and beauty shops to offer no-cost preventive health screenings. Last fall, a partnership with a West Baltimore neighborhood to renovate a park in Park Heightscreated a safe place for children to play.

Kaiser Permanente Researchers Develop New Models for Predicting Suicide Risk

Approach may offer value to health systems and clinicians in targeting interventions to prevent suicide

Originally Published by Kaiser Permanente.

Combining data from electronic health records with results from standardized depression questionnaires better predicts suicide risk in the 90 days following either mental health specialty or primary care outpatient visits, reports a team from the Mental Health Research Network, led by Kaiser Permanente research scientists.

The study, "Predicting Suicide Attempts and Suicide Death Following Outpatient Visits Using Electronic Health Records," conducted in five Kaiser Permanente regions (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, California and Washington), the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, and the HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis, was published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Combining a variety of information from the past five years of people's electronic health records and answers to questionnaires, the new models predicted suicide risk more accurately than before, according to the authors. The strongest predictors include prior suicide attempts, mental health and substance use diagnoses, medical diagnoses, psychiatric medications dispensed, inpatient or emergency room care, and scores on a standardized depression questionnaire.

Dr. Simon shares what inspired him to study mental health.

"We demonstrated that we can use electronic health record data in combination with other tools to accurately identify people at high risk for suicide attempt or suicide death," said first author Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH, a Kaiser Permanente psychiatrist in Washington and a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.

In the 90 days following an office visit:

  • Suicide attempts and deaths among patients whose visits were in the highest 1 percent of predicted risk were 200 times more common than among those in the bottom half of predicted risk.
  • Patients with mental health specialty visits who had risk scores in the top 5 percent accounted for 43 percent of suicide attempts and 48 percent of suicide deaths.
  • Patients with primary care visits who had scores in the top 5 percent accounted for 48 percent of suicide attempts and 43 percent of suicide deaths.

This study builds on previous models in other health systems that used fewer potential predictors from patients' records. Using those models, people in the top 5 percent of risk accounted for only a quarter to a third of subsequent suicide attempts and deaths. More traditional suicide risk assessment, which relies on questionnaires or clinical interviews only, is even less accurate.

The new study involved seven large health systems serving a combined population of 8 million people in nine states. The research team examined almost 20 million visits by nearly 3 million people age 13 or older, including about 10.3 million mental health specialty visits and about 9.7 million primary care visits with mental health diagnoses. The researchers deleted information that could help identify individuals.

"It would be fair to say that the health systems in the Mental Health Research Network, which integrate care and coverage, are the best in the country for implementing suicide prevention programs," Dr. Simon said. "But we know we could do better. So several of our health systems, including Kaiser Permanente, are working to integrate prediction models into our existing processes for identifying and addressing suicide risk."

Suicide rates are increasing, with suicide accounting for nearly 45,000 deaths in the United States in 2016; 25 percent more than in 2000, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Other health systems can replicate this approach to risk stratification, according to Dr. Simon. Better prediction of suicide risk can inform decisions by health care providers and health systems. Such decisions include how often to follow up with patients, refer them for intensive treatment, reach out to them after missed or canceled appointments — and whether to help them create a personal safety plan and counsel them about reducing access to means of self-harm.