Kaiser Permanente's volunteers perform free health screenings

By Vanessa Mizell
Monday, February 7, 2011

More than 300 Kaiser Permanente employees and volunteers recently took their blood pressure monitors and other medical equipment to the streets of the Washington area in their annual day of service, offering free health services to 13,500 low-income and underinsured people.

The health care organization set up 14 roving clinics at various locations , including a hospice and D.C. Central Kitchen, to which it handed a $150,000 check. The donation was made to help the kitchen open its new commissary facility to process local produce for the community.

Inside of a new mobile health vehicle parked outside of the Salvation Army's Hyattsville site, Kaiser Permanente employees administered blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol and glucose screenings to 70 of the men who live there.

The vehicle, which launched last October, includes a full-size exam room and a laboratory area.

"When we first began to think about how to expand Kaiser, the traditional way would be bricks and mortar," said Marilyn Kawamura, president of Kaiser Permanente's mid-Atlantic region. "We started asking ourselves, shouldn't we come to people?'"

The van has traveled as far north as White Marsh, Md., and as south as Fredericksburg, completing a total of 40 business and community service events since its launch.

Kaiser Permanente has also given a $70,000 grant to an organization that provides health screenings and other wellness care to the residents of that Salvation Army.

"We are helping people who would normally not have access to health care," said Manish Jain. He said more than half of the patients he examined in the van had high blood pressure. "This can really save lives."

Patients are then referred to a doctor to continue their health regimen.

"Many of the men haven't seen a doctor in the last seven or eight years," said Bettye Muwwakkil, program director of Healthy Men, a health organization that works with the residents at the Salvation Army. "This is a great way for them to get seen."

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