A commitment to total health and a spirit of community are values that define Kaiser Permanente. The Oakland-based health care consortium provides affordable physician-led health care to more than 312,000 members in Marin and Sonoma counties. While treating illness and ailments is its primary mission, keeping people healthy is equally important. “We believe that total health is more than freedom from physical affliction. It’s about mind, body and spirit,” says Judy Coffey, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president and area manager for Marin and Sonoma.
Kaiser began providing services in San Rafael in 1958 and opened in Santa Rosa in 1980, and its membership model includes health plans, hospitals and medical groups working together to integrate prevention, wellness, management of chronic conditions and specialty care. In addition to a hospital in each county, it has medical offices in eight locations from Mill Valley to Santa Rosa, and comprehensive care allows patients to get all the services they need in one place. “You can see your doctor, have a consult with a specialist, get an X-ray and pick up a prescription in a single visit,” says Coffey. In addition, HealthConnect, an electronic medical records system, mobile apps and video visits allow patients to use technology to manage their health care.
Kaiser’s dedication to its members came to the forefront in October 2017, when wildfires were menacingly close to its Santa Rosa Medical Center, and the staff had to evacuate 122 patients. Although employees were free to leave to look after their homes and families, not a single person did. “They all stayed to help our patients to safety,” Coffey recalls. Some patients were transferred to the San Rafael Medical Center, and others went to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, and staff members continued caring for them. “Our doctors were calling their patients daily to make sure they had their medication, and we made arrangements for chemotherapy patients to be seen in other KP facilities so they could continue their treatment,” she says. Following the fires, Kaiser’s California Community Benefit Program pitched in to help with the recovery, contributing more than $520,000 to local nonprofits to repair damaged child-care centers and community clinics, provide mental health services and assist undocumented residents. “Improving the health of our communities is not only part of our mission, it’s also the right thing to do,” explains Coffey. Physicians and staff volunteer in their communities, and more than 100 serve on local boards and commissions.
Among Kaiser’s goals for the future are improving health care and making communities better. Coffey observes that Kaiser serves close to 12 million members in the United States, but millions more lack access to health care because it’s unaffordable. “This is unacceptable. We want to change this,” she says. “Our model unites 222,000 expert and compassionate professionals and makes Kaiser Permanente uniquely qualified to bring about change and improve health for all.”
She takes pride in Kaiser’s skilled, caring and compassionate people, who show up every day to care for members. She finds them an inspiration and is pleased that others do, too. “Everyone at the San Rafael and Santa Rosa medical centers believes that our patients and members come first. Being recognized by your readers is exciting and rewarding for all of us at Kaiser Permanente,” she says. “It’s an honor for our entire organization.”
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