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Sixty Kaiser Permanente Volunteers Help Rebuild Gulf Coast

Culture of Volunteerism Allows Organization to Continue Post-Katrina

Commitment to the Region for Third Consecutive Year

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of an ongoing commitment to help rebuild the communities devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita three years ago, Kaiser Permanente is organizing a group of 60 employee and physician volunteers representing every Kaiser Permanente region, on two seven-day service projects focused on assisting people in the New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss. areas. In cooperation with Points of Light & Hands On Network, Kaiser Permanente physicians and employees will work on various recovery projects including home rehabilitation, community resource restoration and environmental restoration. The two weeks of service in the Gulf Coast area represent the longest corporate commitment that Points of Light & Hands On Network has coordinated since Hurricane Katrina hit the region in August 2005.

Kaiser Permanente employees nationwide have been encouraged to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday honoring Dr. King's legacy by spending the day providing service to their communities. These 60 employees have chosen to take the commitment to service even further. The first group of 30 volunteers will kick-off service in New Orleans on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 21 and continue through January 26, and a second group of 30 volunteers will serve in the Mississippi Gulf Coast from a home base in Biloxi, Miss., January 27 through February 2.

"For more than 60 years, Kaiser Permanente has had a rich history of volunteerism that is at the heart of our mission to improve the lives of our members and the communities we serve," said Raymond J. Baxter, Ph.D., senior vice president of Community Benefit at Kaiser Permanente. "As part of that mission, we continue to honor the pledge we made in 2005 to help with the long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita."

"We have never had a corporation demonstrate Kaiser Permanente's continued commitment to serving the Gulf Coast," said Jennifer Highsmith, corporate partnerships manager at Points of Light & Hands On Network. "By staying for a week in our volunteer housing and becoming immersed in the local community, Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians become involved on a deeper level, making a unique impact on the region. And because most of the volunteers have never met each other, it's a great team building exercise as well."

Of the almost 700 Kaiser Permanente physicians and employees who applied to volunteer on the Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts, 60 were selected from a pool of the most highly qualified applicants. Volunteers representing all facets of the Kaiser Permanente employee base are willingly using their vacation time to help people in need.

Kaiser Permanente employee volunteer Curshanda Woods has a heartbreaking connection to the disaster.

"I lost a member of my family because of Hurricane Katrina and several other family members may be permanently displaced," said Woods, a community relations specialist for Kaiser Permanente's Northern California office. "For Kaiser Permanente to provide me the opportunity to help my family's community makes me truly proud to work for this organization."

Vonnie Jones, a Kaiser Permanente medical assistant based in Washington D.C. is participating in the program as a group leader this year.

"There is nothing like it," Jones said. "I worked beside doctors, managers and IT professionals building houses, picking up trash and truly working together -- our commonality was that we all wanted to help."

Kaiser Permanente has made a long-term commitment to assisting with disaster relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region. The company pledged $2 million to immediate relief efforts in 2005 and $1 million for long-term recovery in addition to significant volunteer support.

Kaiser Permanente was recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the 2006 CDC Foundation Hero Award for leadership and understanding of the important role that governmental public health teams play in disaster response situations, and for acting quickly to bolster the efforts of public health workers serving storm victims and evacuees.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is America's leading integrated health plan. Founded in 1945, it is a not-for-profit; group practice prepayment program headquartered in Oakland, Calif. Kaiser Permanente serves the health care needs of more than 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Today it encompasses the not-for-profit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries, and the for-profit Permanente Medical Groups. Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente includes approximately 156,000 technical, administrative and clerical employees and caregivers, and more than 13,000 physicians representing all specialties. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit the KP News Center at:

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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