Leadership Winner Recognizes Health Depends on Economic Opportunities

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Imagine if a medical building was more than a place for community members to receive high-quality health care services.

What if it also could have a positive impact on the surrounding community’s social and economic well-being — creating job opportunities and promoting local small businesses?

This is what the CULTIVATE strategy in Southern California has not only imagined, but delivered on, making significant changes in communities where Kaiser Permanente is located.

Jodie Lesh, senior vice president, National Delivery System Strategy, Planning and Design, was recently recognized for her passion and leadership around this community health improvement strategy.

Lesh received the 2018 George Halvorson Community Health Leadership Award, a national award created in 2016 that honors an individual’s exemplary contributions to community health.

“The CULTIVATE program in Southern California and Jodie’s leadership role in that movement is an amazing example of what can be accomplished when we leverage all of Kaiser Permanente’s assets,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, senior vice president and chief Community Health officer, Kaiser Permanente. “It’s the way we hire, the way we build, and the way we invest and procure. All of this is key to the way we think about community health.”

One example of this strategy in action was the construction of a state-of-the-art medical office building in the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw neighborhood in West Los Angeles. Lesh and her team collaborated with 2ndCALL, a nonprofit community organization that helps former inmates rebuild their careers and lives. Through 2ndCALL, Kaiser Permanente brought 70 building trade apprenticesto work on the Baldwin Hills site, including electricians and plumbers. This allowed the former inmates not only to become part of the community, but also to help better the community.

“Some organizations will come into a community to build, but don’t realize the opportunity they have to also empower community members,” said Skipp Townsend, executive director of 2nd CALL. “What Jodie has done is strengthen the community where they can feel at home at this Kaiser Permanente facility.”

Lesh said the project became more than just a business initiative, but also enriched her personally, as she got to know a number of people who were being positively impacted by the development of the facility.

“I don’t want my children to just see that work is a place where you go and earn a living and then go live the rest of your life,” Lesh said. “Work is a place where you should use every opportunity to make a positive impact on the people around you.”

Lesh was also responsible for the development of Kaiser Permanente’s Reimagining Ambulatory Design project, which was recognized by Fast Companyas a forward-thinking vision of how and where health care will be delivered in the future; how technology will be employed; and how people will be engaged in their own care. The Health Hub Experience Guide, which presents a vision for the medical office building of the future, was a Fast Company Innovation in Design finalist.

“The feedback we get from our patients is that it’s not just about the technology, but that we’ve listened to them about how they want to be treated and how they feel when they walk in the door,” said Edward Ellison, MD, co-chief executive officer of The Permanente Federation, executive medical director of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, and chief executive officer of The Southeast Permanente Medical Group of Georgia.

“Jodie’s creativity, wisdom and passion to make a difference comes through in so many ways. This is well-deserved recognition for not only what she and her team are doing in Southern California, but nationally for members and our communities.”

Other projects stemming from Lesh’s leadership include forming a partnership with the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. Together, ICIC and Kaiser Permanente collaborated to promote small business growth in economically challenged urban areas of Los Angeles. This program has subsequently been expanded to other KP markets, including Oakland, San Bernardino, Sacramento, Baltimore, and San Diego.

“The thing that I’ve just been so amazed and appreciative of is watching the development of a leader who has mastered her role and figured out how to take it to an extraordinary level,” said Julie Miller-Phipps, president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, Southern California. “Jodie has set the bar for the whole organization.”

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