Kaiser Permanente Program Offers Blueprint for Effective Community-Based Health Programs


Community-based programs that bring no-cost health services to gathering spaces in historically underserved communities may offer an effective model for other health systems to replicate in addressing health disparities, according to a recent paper published in The Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. The program’s success offers a framework to help address hesitancy to vaccinations with the COVID-19 vaccine in communities.

The review paper, which was published online in May, highlight’s Kaiser Permanente’s Good Health & Great Hair program, which launched in 2016. The program was developed with a goal of reducing health disparities in a traditionally undeserved West Baltimore community by bringing health care and social services to residents in trusted community spaces – specifically barber shops and hair salons. Since its start, the program has provided more than 8,000 clinical and social services to 1,823 Baltimore residents –86% of whom were Black and 56% were male.

Based on the evaluation of the program, the report notes that the Good Health & Great Hair program could inform the design of similar community health programs.

“Kaiser Permanente is committed to improving the health of the communities we serve, including addressing health disparities,” said Celeste James, executive director of Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “This published paper demonstrates that the Good Health & Great Hair model works. We hope that other healthcare organizations, social services and government organizations can apply what Kaiser Permanente has learned to help close gaps in health and wellbeing.”

The Good Health & Great Hair program involved close collaboration with partner shops in West Baltimore to provide health care or other social support services, such as free career support, mental health assistance or financial counseling. Program partners also received training to help educate customers about various health topics and encourage them to take advantage of the free health and wellness services provided. Critical to the program’s success was the Mobile Health Team, which provided an array of no-cost primary care services and screenings such as blood pressure screenings, flu shots, HIV testing and cholesterol screenings.

“Too often, an individual’s ZIP code determines more about their health than their genetic code. The Good Health & Great Hair Program proves that through long-term, sustainable community partnerships, we can improve the health of those who are often left out by the traditional healthcare system,” said Dr. Michael Horberg, associate medical director research, medical education, community benefit and Medicaid at Kaiser Permanente. “Health care organizations have a responsibility to expand access to the health services and resources that our communities need to thrive.”

The Good Health & Great Hair program relies heavily on trusted community voices, and the bond that barbers and stylists often hold with their clients, particularly in the Black community. This trust has helped community members access health care and issues including mental health support following traumatic events, blood pressure screenings and diabetes management.

In 2021, as communities of color grapple with hesitancy around the COVID-19 vaccine, Kaiser Permanente is utilizing the Good Health & Great Hair model to partner with existing barber shop and salon partners to create an education campaign to help build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine and increase vaccination rates in communities of color. The launch of this new element of the program will come in summer 2021.

To learn more about Good Health & Great Hair, visit: https://communityhealth-midatlantic.kaiserpermanente.org/.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/

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