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UC Berkeley Launches Kaiser Permanente Community Health Scholars Program
Date:5/12/2009

New $5 Million Effort Aimed at Building Public Health Workforce

BERKELEY, Calif. and OAKLAND, Calif., May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The University of California, Berkeley, announced today the Kaiser Permanente Community Health Scholars Program, an ambitious initiative designed to meet the increasing need for highly educated public health workers.

Funded by a $5 million grant from a fund established in 2004 by Kaiser Permanente at the East Bay Community Foundation, the program - to be based in UC Berkeley's School of Public Health - is expected to expand California's public health workforce, with an emphasis on recruiting students from underserved communities and placing them in health departments and other organizations that serve vulnerable populations.

"Kaiser Permanente's generous gift through the East Bay Community Foundation sends a positive signal to the larger Bay Area philanthropic community about the importance of greater investment in public health," said Stephen Shortell, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. "We must increase our capacity to protect and enhance the health of all Californians, particularly those living in our most vulnerable communities."

In a declining economy, this grant increases enrollment, focuses on diversity, and supports graduates going into public health departments and underserved areas to meet society's health needs. Specifically, the funds will be used to provide scholarships that will help recruit top students from underserved populations to the School of Public Health and provide additional teaching support to UC Berkeley faculty.

"After graduating from UC Berkeley, these public health professionals will play an important role in protecting our population's health, and making our environment healthier for everyone," said Raymond J. Baxter, Ph.D, senior vice president for Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy at Kaiser Permanente. "Investing in the training of these future leaders is a critical step toward addressing the growing health challenges in California and the nation."

The recent H1N1 (swine) influenza outbreak, for which there was an increased demand for public health resources, illustrated the need to increase the ranks of professionals in public health throughout California and around the world.

Dr. Barbara Staggers, an alumna of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and director of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital Oakland, said the support for public health professionals will reap rewards in the long run, not just in local communities, but also globally in paving the way for better responses to future challenges such as pandemics.

"Supporting students who will go on to serve these communities, locally and globally, is absolutely critical," Staggers said. "The need for a strong public health infrastructure could not be more obvious than in the recent global response to the influenza outbreak."

The first class of 20 Kaiser Permanente Community Health Scholars will be enrolling this fall at the university.

About the University of California, Berkeley and the School of Public Health

The University of California was chartered in 1868 and its flagship campus -- envisioned as a "City of Learning" -- was established in Berkeley, on San Francisco Bay. Today the world's premier public research university and a wellspring of innovation, UC Berkeley occupies a 1,232-acre campus with a sylvan 178-acre central core. From this home its academic community makes key contributions to the economic and social well being of the Bay Area, California, and the nation. For more information, go to newscenter.berkeley.edu.

The first U.S. school of public health west of the Mississippi, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health was founded in 1943. Rooted in a campus tradition of preeminent scholarship and bold research, the School of Public Health is committed to producing diverse leaders who will make the world a healthier place. The School's nearly 12,000 graduates can be found working throughout the world, both in the public and private sectors. For more information, go to sph.berkeley.edu.

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, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal 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. In 2008, Kaiser Permanente proudly directed approximately $1.17 billion to support community benefit programs and services through research, community-based health partnerships, and direct health coverage for low-income families and collaboration with community clinics, health departments and public hospitals. For more information, go to www.kp.org/newscenter. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter


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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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