Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Community Health Initiatives (CHI) take a prevention-driven approach to health, by supporting policy, systems, and environment change strategies in geographically-defined areas. We seek to maximize impact through collaboration and collective influence. These efforts aim to support and encourage healthy behavior by improving the built, social, and cultural environments in which people spend their daily lives (e.g., ensuring nutritious foods in schools,safe active commute options). We work with community-based organizations to design, deliver, and sustain long-term efforts that improve the conditions of neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and other settings.
Evidence underscores the importance of changing community environments as a critical community health strategy. Guided by this evidence, we focus on policy and environmental changes to promote healthy eating and active living, community safety, economic stability, and social and emotional wellness. We know that excellent medical care alone is not sufficient enough to create healthy communities.
Through funding, technical expertise, and community engagement, we invest in population-based approaches that emphasize prevention and evidence-based practices. Our public health interventions, community activism, and environmental and policy work are designed to transform community conditions that influence health.
The following examples demonstrate our areas of work that form the heart of our CHI strategy:
Healthy Eating and Active Living in LiveWell Communities
In 2014, we invested $4.85 million over three years in LiveWell Colorado (LWC) a place-based initiative, in 23 communities throughout Colorado. In 2016, we provided funding to seven (7) LiveWell Colorado communities that were in their fourth/fifth years of project implementation but were unable to continue their work due to lack of funding.
In collaboration with The Colorado Health Foundation we provided funding to allow the seven LiveWell Colorado communities to complete their implementation phase and to work toward achieving long-term sustainability of their community coalition efforts. Our investment of $1.6 million is to support continued efforts to create sustainable HEAL behaviors among the populations of these communities.
Neighborhood Active Living
We approved an investment of up to $1 million over three (3) years to support neighborhood-based organizations to increase access to safe and accessible routes to neighborhood destinations and to increase the number of individuals who walk, bike, or wheelchair roll for transportation. The concept of neighborhood includes both geographic (place-oriented) and social (people-oriented) components. This funding opportunity is expected to achieve the following objectives by the end of the three-year funding period:
Decreasing Food Insecurity
Food insecurity refers to the degree to which food intake is reduced or normal eating patterns disrupted because of lack of money and other resources. The limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods includes involuntarily cutting back on meal or food portions, or not knowing the source of the next meal. There are multiple adverse health outcomes strongly correlated with food insecurity, including obesity and, among children, iron deficiency, lower cognitive indicators, and lower bone density.
To address food insecurity, we made a number of investments in community-based organizations to complement the work in our medical offices to screen members for food insecurity and connect those who screen positive to various food resources (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] enrollment, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children [WIC] services, food pantries).
Three key investments are a significant part of a multi-level strategy to address food insecurity:
Two other investments support reducing food insecurity and broader healthy eating goals:
Behavioral Health and Social/Emotional Well-being
We also achieve our CHI goals through our Arts Integrated Resources (AIR) Programs which are presented free of charge to schools and community organizations. Programs are performed in school and community settings. We created AIR Programs to inspire children, teens and adults to make informed decisions about their health, to build stronger, healthier neighborhoods, and to improve public health by using the arts, creative education, and youth advocacy.
Our AIR Programs focus on topics such as nutrition, physical activity, healthy choices, peer pressure, conflict management, bullying prevention, domestic violence, coping with grief and loss, depression, disease, literacy promotion, and drug, alcohol and substance abuse. AIR promotes greater community health through educational theatre, dynamic youth engagement projects, and hands-on experiential learning for Coloradans of all ages.