A Tribute to Kaiser Permanente's Nurses

"Our nurses promote a culture of open communication, teamwork, and lifelong learning, essential elements of a great health care ecosystem," writes Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

(Kaiser Permanente is No. 2 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list)

Bernard J. Tyson

Recently, I spent an evening in one of our hospitals.

On this particular evening I happened to find myself learning how a woman from a tiny, remote town in Nepal became a Kaiser Permanente nurse. She knew that nursing was her calling from a very early age because she saw the need for basic health care in her country. Attending nursing school meant hiking for days from her home and making the return hike during school breaks. Then, after arriving in America, she had to start again from scratch: school, training and a new job market to navigate.

I was in awe of her. To be cared for by a nurse who cares this much about helping people touched me deeply. And I know she isn't alone. In my role I get to hear countless stories of how our more than 54,000 nurses at Kaiser Permanente touch the lives of so many patients and their families.

This nurse's professional path was, as with so many of her colleagues, so much more than a career. It was truly a responding to a calling she felt. I want to encourage others to answer this call. If we are to realize a health care system that creates an even better patient experience and improves outcomes, we will need these kinds of nurses.

The role of the nurse has never been more important in keeping us healthy and treating us when we're sick. These are the care providers on the front lines of our most pressing medical issues: diabetes, obesity, heart disease and how we care for our elderly. They welcome babies into the world (more than 100,000 babies are delivered every year at Kaiser Permanente hospitals) and are there with our loved ones to ensure dignified endings.

Our nurses promote a culture of open communication, teamwork, and lifelong learning, essential elements of a great health care ecosystem. And they play a key role in our ability to innovate, evaluating and translating our research into improved practices, processes, and ultimately outcomes. Perhaps most importantly they consistently deliver exceptional, compassionate care to patients. The common trait I observe again and again is our nurses' ability to demonstrate a warmth and competency that create a sense of security when you're feeling vulnerable.

They do all this and more because their work is more than a career for them - it's their calling. And they continue to answer the call each and every day. They are devoted to a higher purpose, a noble desire to care for the vulnerable and the sick, to tend to those in need, and to help restore them to health. They and their families have made so many sacrifices to be there for us – to help heal mind, body and spirit.

So as we celebrate National Nurses Week, I salute and recognize the nurses of Kaiser Permanente. Thank you for answering the call and for bringing us health and healing.

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.

Nurse Posts on Facebook Stephon Clark Deserved to Die, Fired by Kaiser Permanente

The company said Faith Linthicum's comments "do not in any way reflect Kaiser Permanente's views or actions."


Kaiser Permanente (No. 2 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) has dismissed a nurse at its Roseville Medical Center in California for her Facebook comments about Stephon Clark, an unarmed Black man killed March 18 by police in his grandparents' backyard in Sacramento.

Faith Linthicum of Sacramento, a nurse in labor and delivery, said on Facebook that Clark, 22, "deserved" to get shot by police:

"Yeah but he was running from the police jumping over fences and breaking in peoples houses... why run? He deserved it for being stupid."

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EY, Kaiser Permanente, Novartis, PwC and Sodexo have been inducted into DiversityInc's Top 50 Hall of Fame. The companies inducted into the Hall of Fame have demonstrated exceptional human capital management accomplishments and superior corporate values and culture.

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