HEAL & HEAL Zones
At Kaiser Permanente we believe building healthy communities is integral to our mission: “To provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.” Our Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) program is one of the many ways that we demonstrate this commitment throughout Southern California.
Launched in 2004 as a Kaiser Permanente community health initiative, HEAL is a multi-faceted, integrated strategy whose goal is to achieve long-term sustainable reductions in obesity and related chronic illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease. HEAL addresses behavioral, clinical, environmental, and cultural factors that contribute to obesity through community-based partnerships, grant-making, and education.
Kaiser Permanente seeks to collaboratively create environments in Southern California where the healthy choice is also the easy choice. Through programs that integrate physical activity as part of daily life and provide access to fresh, nutritious, and affordable food, eventually, the healthy choice becomes the norm. This better way for healthy living prevents illness before it begins and reduces costs for care and coverage over the long term.
HEAL addresses today’s health challenges
More than half of all adults and one in every three children in California are overweight or obese. Many have limited access to fresh, nutritious foods or safe places to play and exercise. The disparities are even greater among low-income and other vulnerable populations. As government and private funds to improve community health decrease, gaps in need increase. This makes Kaiser Permanente’s commitment and work to create healthy communities more vital than ever.
We support HEAL grantees in Southern California communities, including public health departments, community based organizations, advocacy groups, schools, parks departments, and others. To bring about long-term change and increase the capacity of local communities to sustain those changes, funded HEAL initiatives must:
- Have a demonstrated record of initial success
- Have clearly defined, measureable goals
- Be broad-reaching—to affect a wide swath of the community
- Be impactful—strong enough to result in real change
A comprehensive approach to comprehensive change
Often, outreach efforts to improve health focus solely on clinical care. Kaiser Permanente’s Total Health approach and other public health models indicate that there are several additional, intricately linked factors that drive changes in health and healthy behaviors:
- Social and economic factors, including employment, income, and support systems
- Physical environment
- Awareness, education, skills, and tools
- Personal habits, behaviors, and motivation
To advance better health, Kaiser Permanente developed the HEAL program in a comprehensive manner to address many of these public health drivers. We also leverage our assets and resources to provide our community partners with technical assistance, physician and executive involvement, health education, and best practice expertise. And while HEAL’s impact is at the community level, its advocacy partnerships often extend statewide, nationwide, and beyond to positively influence changes for better health.