Sign In

COVID-19 Announcements

Leadership Updates

Update for September 7, 2021  NEW!

Update for August 16, 2021

Update for August 2, 2021  

Update for July 26, 2021

Update for July 19, 2021 

Update for June 28, 2021

Update for June 7, 2021 

Update for May 17, 2021  

Update for May 3, 2021  

Update for April 19, 2021  

Update for April 5, 2021  

Update for March 22, 2021 

Update for March 15, 2021

Update for March 8, 2021

Update for March 1, 2021 

Update for February 22, 2021 

Update for February 8, 2021 

Update for February 1, 2021 

Update for January 25, 2021 

Update for January 18, 2021 

Update for January 11, 2021 

Update for January 4, 2021 

Update for December 28, 2020  

Update for December 21, 2020  

Update for December 14, 2020  

Update for December 7, 2020 

Update for November 30, 2020  

Update for November 23, 2020 

Update for November 16, 2020 

Update for November 9, 2020 

Update for November 2, 2020 

Update for October 26, 2020 

Update for October 19, 2020 

Update for October 12, 2020 

Update for October 5, 2020  

Update for September 28, 2020  

Update for September 21, 2020 

Update for September 14, 2020

Update for September 8, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - August 31, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - August 24, 2020 

General updates for August 17, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - August 17, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - August 10, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - August 3, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - July 27, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - July 20, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - July 6, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - June 29, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - June 22, 2020 

Update: Meetings, Travel, and Remote Work

COVID-19 update for DOR - June 15, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - June 8, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - June 1, 2020 

Guidance on Building Use Starting June 1st 

COVID-19 update for DOR - May 26, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - May 18, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - May 11, 2020 

COVID-19 update for DOR - May 4, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - April 27, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - April 20, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - April 13, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - April 6, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - March 30, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - March 26, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - March 23, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - March 19, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - March 16, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - March 12, 2020

COVID-19 update for DOR - March 10, 2020


Update for September 7, 2021

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Yesterday, September 6th, we celebrated Labor Day, a national holiday recognizing working men and women. It also marks the unofficial end of the summer season. Hopefully everyone was able to enjoy the beautiful weather. We want to thank you for your continued commitment and hard work at a time when devastation and loss have affected so many lives locally and globally.

In recent weeks, we’ve witnessed disastrous events in Lake Tahoe, Louisiana and the Northeast, and Afghanistan, as well as the current surge in COVID-19. These events have been stressful for many of us and people cope in a variety of ways. Please remember to explore the employee wellness resources available through KP and the Rise&Renew – Our Journey to Recovery webpage found in HR Connect to help support yourself and others.

As we move into the fall season, we are optimistic and hopeful for brighter days ahead—especially now that we are leveling off with a downward trend in cases and hospitalizations. Today, September 7, was the original return to workplace date for Kaiser Permanente, which has been postponed until further notice. As we await news from our regional leaders about our planned return to work date, we anticipate we’ll have appropriate lead time to enable all of us to prepare. In the meantime, DOR’s Management Team, Return to Workplace workgroup, and Tracy and I have begun planning what we need to do to prepare for our return to workplace date, including our use of space, our building protocols, our technology support, and our arrangements for hybrid or remote workers.

Here are updates for September:

  • Our building Please note that face coverings must be worn while in our building. We continue to be at approximately 25-30% occupancy for September. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and remember to bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Based on recent KP regional guidance, due to the current COVID-19 surge, all meetings for work, whether they are on campus or offsite, should be held virtually or deferred at this time.
  • Return to workplace planning – We continue to work with DOR’s Management Team and our Return to Workplace workgroup on these plans. Thank you to everyone that responded to our request for updates to the DOR questionnaire due August 23. The information is being reviewed to help us plan our space management for both the fall and for early 2022.
  • Mental health resources for employees –If you find it useful, please don’t hesitate to explore the resources available through KP. The Rise&Renew – Our Journey to Recovery webpage found in HR Connect has many resources to help support yourself and others.
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans or if you would like to schedule a vaccination appointment, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR Returning to the Workplace webpage for updates, guidance, and links to KP news related to Return to Workplace planning.

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for August 16, 2021

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

On August 5th, the California Department of Public Health issued a new order requiring all health care workers to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 unless the worker qualifies for a medical or religious exemption. Subsequently, Kaiser Permanente announced plans to support this initiative. Recently, there have been several regional communication emails. In some cases, individuals have not received the email communications. Understandably, this has caused confusion, which can lead to frustration and unnecessary anxiety. We’ll continue to keep watch and when there are regional or organization-wide emails that are critical for you to read, we’ll re-send them to all on this mail list to make sure you receive them. 

Here’s a summary of key points. Please note that situation is fluid and this information may change:

  • Kaiser Permanente has been recognized as a leader for our disease prevention and care innovation, and for keeping our communities healthy. This includes work with life-saving vaccines to protect the health of our employees, members, and the communities we serve.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine remains the best form of protection against the virus. If you are not vaccinated, please consider scheduling an appointment.
  • By Monday, August 23rd, all employees (including those who may not regularly work out of a KP office or building, or who are currently working remotely) are required to submit proof of full Covid-19 vaccination or complete a declination form. Below under the bullet - How to submit verification are the links for vaccine verification and declination. Note that if you do not submit a response, then you will be considered unvaccinated.
  • Starting Tuesday, August 24th until September 30th, all unvaccinated employees will be required to be tested weekly for COVID-19. Details on weekly testing will be forth coming.
  • All employees and physicians will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by September 30th.
  • Whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, please continue to follow all infection control measures such as masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, and not coming to work when sick.

As we’ve mentioned in recent weeks, the return to workplace date for Kaiser Permanente will be postponed from Sept. 7 until further notice. We anticipate more news from our regional leaders about our planned return to work date, and we anticipate there will be appropriate lead time to enable all of us to prepare. During the next few months, DOR’s Management Team, Return to Workplace workgroup, and Tracy and I will use the time to make plans for after our return to workplace date, including our use of space, our building protocols, our technology support, and our arrangements for hybrid or remote workers.

Here are updates for August:

  • Our building Please note that face coverings must be worn while in our building. We continue to be at approximately 25-30% occupancy for August. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and remember to bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. Based on recent KP regional guidance, due to the current COVID-19 surge, all meetings for work, whether they are on campus or offsite, should be held virtually or deferred at this time.
  • Return to workplace planning – We continue to work with DOR’s Management Team and our Return to Workplace workgroup on these plans. On August 5 and 6, research scientists and infrastructure directors (and your delegates), should have received an email invitation to make updates to the initial questionnaire on what days your employees will be working onsite after the return-to-workplace date. Please respond by COB August 23. This will help us plan our space management for both the fall and for early 2022.
  • Mental health resources for employees – The pandemic has been stressful for many of us, and people cope in a variety of ways. If you find it useful, please don’t hesitate to explore the resources available through KP. The Rise&Renew – Our Journey to Recovery webpage found in HR Connect has many resources to help support yourself and others.
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans or if you would like to schedule a vaccination appointment, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR Returning to the Workplace webpage for updates, guidance, and links to KP news related to Return to Workplace planning.
  • How to submit vaccine verification (due August 23rd)

To submit your proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or complete a declination form, please select one of the 3 options below:

Contractors and consultants managed through CTMP should submit verification or declination to their employer. Instructions for volunteers and interns are forth coming.

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for August 2, 2021

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

It's hard to believe we're almost midway through summer. In a strange way, the pandemic has muted the seasons for many of us. Last week brought sobering news from the CDC based on infections that occurred on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, after July 4th festivities. Based on hundreds of cases that were diagnosed after those events, the CDC found that vaccinated persons can not only be infected, but also can have significant viral load and can transmit infections to others. Vaccination remains the best form of protection against the virus, but this new information isn't what we'd hoped.

As we mentioned last Monday, we anticipate the return to workplace date for our Kaiser Permanente will be postponed from Sept. 7, possibly until late fall or after. We had been looking forward to a return toward normal in our schools and workplaces this fall, but this is being postponed. So our usual rhythm of seasons feels like it's been overtaken by a new frame of mind: Are we in a COVID-19 surge? How long will the current surge last? When will the pandemic end?

Epidemiologic models that forecast the incidence of COVID-19 infections and the census of hospitalized patients are being regularly updated for Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Thank you to our Systems Research Initiative team (led by Vinnie Liu and Gabriel Escobar) and Strategic Programming Group (led by Jamila Gul) for contributing to this important work. These forecasts suggest we're entering a rapid surge that will continue through at least mid- to late August and possibly well past this. Outside our system, an online model from the Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation projects that in California, the surge of infections will peak in September but that the incidence will continue to be relatively high throughout the fall.

We anticipate more news from our regional leaders about our planned return to work date this week or soon after. During the next few months, DOR's Management Team, Return to Workplace workgroup, and we will use the time effectively to make plans for after our return to workplace date, including our use of space, our building protocols, our technology support, and our arrangements for hybrid or remote workers.

Here are updates for early August:

  • Our building Please note that face coverings must be worn while in our building. We continue to be at approximately 25-30% occupancy for August. Please remember to only come into our building if you've received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and remember to bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. Based on recent KP regional guidance, due to the current COVID-19 surge, all meetings for work, whether they are on campus or offsite, should be held virtually or deferred at this time.
  • Return to workplace planning – Tom and I continue to work with DOR's Management Team and our Return to Workplace workgroup on these plans. For research scientists and infrastructure directors (and your delegates), please anticipate that you'll receive an invitation next week to make updates to the initial questionnaire on what days your employees will be working onsite after the return-to-workplace date. You'll have two weeks to make updates and return it. This will help us plan our space management for both the fall and for early 2022.
  • Mental health resources for employees – The pandemic has been stressful for many of us, and people cope in a variety of ways. If you find it useful, please don't hesitate to explore the resources available through KP. The Rise&Renew – Our Journey to Recovery webpage found in HR Connect has many resources to help support yourself and others.
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans or if you would like to schedule a vaccination appointment, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR Returning to the Workplace webpage for updates, guidance, and links to KP news related to Return to Workplace planning.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for July 26, 2021

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

This is an interim update on return to workplace planning. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a national increase in COVID-19. Here in Northern California, we’re also at the start of another surge. In this situation, the safety of our workforce is the top priority for both TPMG and KFH.

There are currently active discussions regarding extending Temporary Remote Work and delaying the return to our regional administrative offices, including DOR. The initial target date was September 7, but it looks likely this date will be postponed to later in the fall.

We expect to have more specific information regarding the timing late this week or possibly next week. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

Thank you for all you’ve been managing during this time, and for your flexibility with these processes.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for July 19, 2021

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a rise in the COVID-19 positive case rate both locally and statewide, attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant. While this is unfortunate news, it is not completely surprising. While the U.S. has made significant progress with COVID-19 vaccination, there remain areas that are still struggling due to vaccine hesitancy. Combined with the reopening of the state, this has allowed the virus, especially the Delta variant, to drive increases in positive cases.  

Last week, the New York Times had an article (June 15) clarifying some misconceptions about the Delta variant. The article made the following key points:

  • Delta variant is more contagious than earlier versions of the virus. This has attributed to a rise in the number of positive cases, especially among the unvaccinated.
  • Based on current science, the variant does not appear to be more severe (causing worse symptoms).
  • Vaccination is not 100% effective but is still the best means of defense against COVID-19.

So, what does this mean for KP, DOR, and our plans for returning to work?

Currently, we are still planning to sunset the TRW program at the end of August and return to work in early September. Given the current uptick in COVID-19 incidence, these plans are under active discussion by regional leaders, and we’ll keep you apprised as we learn more. Meanwhile, we continue to develop plans for returning to the workplace for DOR and will share updates as these evolve.

We recognize that many people may be feeling some anxiety as we prepare for returning to work. We’ll make every effort to address your questions and concerns. Thank you all for your continued hard work and patience.

Here are some updates we would like to share:

  • RTW workgroup – Last week, Dr. Lieu and I had our first meeting with the RTW workgroup, which includes Sunita Miles, Jingrong Yang, and Jenna Ritchie. It has been helpful to hear from the workgroup members about questions and concerns that they or their peers might have about returning to work. Our DOR Management Team (all scientific associate directors plus infrastructure directors) will remain involved throughout the RTW planning process.
  • Our building Please note that face coverings must be worn while accessing the building. We continue to be at approximately 25% occupancy for July. The building access survey request for August was sent out last week. In addition, please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and remember to bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • Guidance on meetings and gatherings – As of July 16, 2021, the new guidance for planning in-person events, including meetings, classes, group therapy, and large gatherings issued on June 28, 2021, is suspended. All KP-sponsored events, whether they are on campus or offsite, should be held virtually or deferred at this time. The updated guidelines for in-person meetings and gatherings in all clinical and non-clinical spaces is in response to an increase in cases, hospitalization, and transmission rates of COVID-19 throughout Northern California Kaiser Permanente. The increase is driven by new infections, primarily in the unvaccinated population, and an upsurge of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.
  • Mental health resources for employees – Our mental health has been impacted since early 2020, throughout the pandemic, and as we transition to returning to work. Everyone has managed their mental health differently. The Rise&Renew – Our Journey to Recovery webpage found in HR Connect has many resources to help support yourself and others. Thank you to Sunita Miles (RTW workgroup member) for finding this resource.
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans or if you would like to schedule a vaccination appointment, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR Returning to the Workplace webpage for updates, guidance, and links to KP news related to Return to Workplace planning.

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE, and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for June 28, 2021

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

As we make progress towards normalcy and prepare for return to the workplace (RTW), we've made the decision to use our DOR Leadership Updates like this one to communicate news related to RTW planning. The email updates will be sent on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month.

Less than two weeks ago, June 15th, marked the official reopening of the state of California. Of course, the definition of reopening may vary depending on your local county guidelines. Regardless of what reopening might mean to you, it is a sign that we are returning to a sense of normalcy, after more than a year of pandemic restrictions. As we head into summer and move towards September 7th, currently the anticipated return to workplace date, we are busy making plans and preparations for KP and DOR's workforce to return. Our equivalent of an official 'reopening.'

Thank you to everyone that helped to collect and that helped to collect and submit our recent workplace assessment last week. The information will be helpful for DOR to finalize plans and to coordinate with regional leadership.

Here are some updates we would like to share:

  • Our building – We'll be at approximately 25% occupancy for July. Please remember to only come into our building if you've received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • Returning to the workplace webpage – We have added some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to our InsideDOR page to share some answers to questions that we have received in recent weeks. Please check the FAQs periodically for new or updated information.
  • RTW workgroup – In an effort to make sure that we are capturing all the questions and concerns from the DOR community surrounding returning to the workplace, Dr. Lieu and I are in the process of forming a workgroup comprised of representatives from the project coordinators and programmer analysts groups, research associate/assistant workgroup, and others. We hope to finalize the workgroup members this week and will begin to meet regularly throughout the next several weeks to further develop RTW plans. Our DOR Management Team (all scientific associate directors plus infrastructure directors) will remain involved throughout the RTW planning process.
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans or if you would like to schedule a vaccination appointment, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR Returning to the workplace webpage for updates, guidance, and links to KP news related to Return to Workplace planning.

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE, and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for June 7, 2021 - Progress

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

In clinic last week, I (Tracy) saw a 13-year-old for a well adolescent check-up. His dad asked me a question that’s new this year: The boy had had his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine two weeks ago, and was due for his second dose next week. Was it okay for him to get his routine vaccines that day? (The answer is yes – updated CDC guidance says that COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be administered without regard to timing.)

It still feels incredible that not only do we have COVID-19 vaccines that are effective for adults, they also work in adolescents and are being now tested in children. This is in no small part due to the very impressive work of Nicky Klein and our Vaccine Study Center. Last week’s New England Journal of Medicine featured an article that reported on the pivotal trial in which the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had an observed vaccine efficacy of 100% in 12-to-15-year-olds (which recently led to its emergency use authorization by the FDA). Nicky was second author, a great honor among the dozens of collaborators in this large multinational clinical trial group and a reflection of the VSC’s importance in the trial.

We’re encouraged by this progress, but also sober as the virus continues to cause illness and death in other countries around the world. England seems to be on the brink of experiencing another surge. We’ll be proceeding with caution.

This month we celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month. And we look forward to marking Juneteenth on June 19, the anniversary of the day in 1865 that a Union general arrived in Texas (two months after the Confederates surrendered) to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom. These special events are welcome reminders of the importance of our continuing to work on equity, inclusion, and diversity in our workplace and beyond.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Our building – We’re continuing work with DOR’s Management Team and with other regional leaders to make plans for returning to our workplace Sept. 7. We’re at approximately 25% occupancy for June and will support similar or higher occupancy levels for the next few months. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance, and bring your face mask for use in common spaces until further notice. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan and our helpful new Returning to the workplace webpage where we will post updates, guidance and policies, and other relevant information.
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program continues to enroll outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center opened recruitment in the trial of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 2 to 12 years. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team.
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for May 17, 2021 - Public health

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Yesterday afternoon my (Tracy’s) family tuned into the UC Berkeley Public Health virtual commencement ceremony, as our daughter just finished her bachelor’s degree in psychology and public health. The speakers included public health school Dean Michael Lu, Anthony Fauci (who sent inspiring recorded remarks), Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and many Cal public health faculty. A recurring theme was that the current public health crisis has made this an interesting time to be in public health.

A recent poll sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that public confidence in our nation’s medical system has increased compared with before the pandemic. In addition, most people favor increasing federal spending to improve our public health system. However, confidence in key groups, including the CDC, FDA, and local health departments, is lower than confidence in nurses, doctors, and other health care workers. There’s still a lot to do.

You’re not alone if you were surprised by the new CDC guidance last week that vaccinated persons can safely forgo wearing masks both indoors and outdoors under most circumstances. Most epidemiologists also were caught off-guard by the unexpected, though welcome, announcement. Our approach at DOR (face masks in common use areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and hallways, but no masks required at individual workspaces) remains the same for now, until we hear further guidance from state, local, and regional KP authorities.

We do very much look forward to the day when we can interact freely without worrying about masks and distancing. Thank you for all you’ve done and are continuing to do to make progress toward this desired future state.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Our building – We’ve been working with DOR’s Management Team and with other regional leaders to make plans for returning to our workplace Sept. 7. We’re at approximately 25% occupancy for May and will likely support similar or higher occupancy levels for the next few months. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and bring your face mask for use in common spaces until further notice. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system . Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program continues to enroll outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center will soon be opening a trial of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 2 to 12 years. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team. 
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website . Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for May 3, 2021 - Steps

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Much has happened since we last wrote you two weeks ago. The conviction of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, felt like at least a step in the right direction and provided a sense of relief to many. But it also elicited painful memories and occurred amid a series of police incidents that have resulted in the deaths of Black and Latinx persons, including Daunte Wright near Minneapolis, Mario Gonzalez in Alameda, and at least six shootings in the 24 hours after the verdict. In the latest in a string of anti-Asian attacks, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce president Carl Chan was assaulted Thursday afternoon in Chinatown.

These events reinforce our resolve to keep working on equity and inclusion here at DOR. We’re very encouraged to be working on plans with a terrific group of people on our Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force, chaired by Rahel Negusse and coordinated by Alexandra Lea. We continue to welcome your comments and suggestions as we go.

The pandemic has brought us mixed news. The CDC loosened its guidance on wearing masks outdoors, and in our state, many children have been returning to in-person classes and shops and restaurants are expanding business. In contrast, Washington state has entered its fourth COVID surge. Worldwide, India is experiencing disaster, breaking daily records for new COVID cases and facing shortages of crucial medical supplies. We offer our concern and empathy for members of our community with family or friends affected by this tragic situation.

In the next few months, provided COVID-19 levels remain in check, we’ll be continuing to make plans for returning to our workplace Sept. 7. We hope we can keep taking steps in the desired direction, and we also recognize that probably, not everything will go according to plan. We thank you for being with us and hope you’ll give us feedback on what’s working and what’s not as we take steps into our new normal.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Our building – We’re working with DOR’s Management Team and with regional TPMG and KFH colleagues on guidelines regarding the future of remote work and on plans for space utilization for DOR. We’ll be at approximately 25% occupancy for May and will likely support similar or higher occupancy levels for the next few months. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program continues to enroll outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center will soon be opening a trial of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 2 to 12 years. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team. 
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website . Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for April 19, 2021 - Fatigue

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

If you’re feeling fatigue this spring, you’re not alone. The stresses of the pandemic and the social issues upsetting our nation are demanding extra energy from all of us. For some, they’re causing a sense of physical exhaustion as well as mental distractedness. NPR health correspondent Rhitu Chatterjee did a piece with useful perspectives on this phenomenon last week.

I can’t help but feel discouraged over the recent shootings of Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb and Adam Toledo in Chicago, amid the trial for George Floyd’s death a year ago. The recent mass shootings have been disheartening as well. These events are but a few of those that are causing distress in our community, reflecting the pain that people of color experience on a too-frequent basis. For all our colleagues at DOR, I hope your closest associates offer you moral support through these times. Please also remember that you can obtain advice and support through Kaiser Permanente’s Employee Assistance Program.

Our work together is a source of ongoing encouragement for us. In addition to the wonderful research our teams accomplish every day, we also have been developing our Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force. Over the next two years, we’ll be asking this task force to focus on selecting training, developing a pipeline building program, and guiding a climate assessment for DOR. Our EID Task Force chair Rahel Negusse and coordinator Alexandra Lea and we have been hard at work laying ground for the incoming task force members. We look forward to sharing an announcement about this group’s new members soon.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Our building – You probably saw Tom’s email on April 8 that our organization is initiating plans for a return to our regional offices starting Sept. 7. Over the next few months, we’ll be working with DOR’s Management Team and with regional TPMG and KFH colleagues on guidelines regarding the future of remote work and on plans for space utilization for DOR. We’ll continue to keep you informed at each step as we develop these plans.

Meanwhile, we’ll be at approximately 25% occupancy for April and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for the next few months. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.

  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program continues to enroll outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center will soon be opening a trial of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 2 to 12 years. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team. 
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for April 5, 2021 - Variants

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Are we in a race between COVID vaccine rollout and viral variants?

A story I heard last week suggests we are. During virtual morning huddle before clinic, I was chatting with another physician, who said their unvaccinated young adult son had contracted COVID after socializing with two friends. The notable aspect of the story was that both of the son's two friends had been vaccinated, yet all three of them developed symptoms and tested positive for COVID. We could only surmise that the infections must have been due to viral variants.

It's a time full of mixed signals, with CDC declaring that fully vaccinated people can travel safely within the country, while CDC director Rochelle Walensky expresses her personal feeling of impending doom as COVID case rates creep up, signaling another surge. On our regional COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team, we are actively discussing how to get involved in viral genomic surveillance to help identify when variants are circulating in our Northern California population. 

At DOR and throughout Kaiser Permanente, I feel like we're being patient and smart about our planning. We're making excellent progress with our research despite all the ongoing logistical hurdles, and it's due to your talent, ingenuity, and hard work. Thank you for all your contributions and persistence as we work through what we all hope will be the last phases of the pandemic.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Our building – We'll be at approximately 25% occupancy for April and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for the next few months. Please remember to only come into our building if you've received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program has halted enrollment in the trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients due to low rates of eligibility and interest by patients. The program continues to enroll outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center is planning for a trial of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 2 to 12 years. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team. 
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for March 22, 2021 - Multicultural

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

It’s conventional wisdom among pediatricians that children who are learning two or more languages may acquire their first few words more slowly, but then generally catch up. When I advise parents about this, I reassure them that their child’s growing brain is simply working to absorb more information as it learns more than one language at once. They easily catch up, and the downstream gift is that they have bilingual or multilingual skills the rest of their lives.

I’ve been thinking this week about what it means to live in a multicultural society, especially after the shootings of eight people, including six Asian women, in Atlanta last week. The anti-Asian sentiment we’ve seen in the past few months (let alone under the former president) has been upsetting, and it can be awkward for Asians to talk about. As ethnic studies professor Jennifer Ho explained in an interview with NPR reporter Ayesha Roscoe last week, many Asians don’t wish to detract from the vital discourse that goes on about racism against Blacks and others in our society. If you’re feeling distressed by recent events, please remember that you can reach out to colleagues at DOR and to Kaiser Permanente’s Employee Assistance Program.

One feature I like best about the Bay Area is our diversity, a sharp contrast to other places I’ve lived, including Philadelphia and Boston. The multiculturalism does mean we sometimes invest more time, but we have a richer community because of it. Both Tom and I are working closely with Rahel Negusse and Alexandra Lea, the leaders of our DOR Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force. We’re in the process of interviewing candidates for the task force, and we very much look forward to making progress with this important work.

Starting this week, we plan to send our Monday emails to DOR on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month, instead of weekly. We’re letting up a little since the pandemic is improving, or at least stable. Please know that we’ll continue to work steadily, along with DOR’s Management Team, on ways to support and communicate with you.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Our building – We’ll be at approximately 25% occupancy for March and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for the next few months. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program is enrolling patients in a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients at several medical centers. The program also is enrolling outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center is planning for a trial of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 2 to 12 years. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team. 
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for March 15, 2021 - Hope Prevails

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Almost one year ago today, the first regional stay-at-home orders were issued for the Bay Area and state of California. At the time, little did we know of the magnitude and number of challenges we would face as a community and nation. On March 11th last year, the World Health Organization declared COVID as a pandemic and shortly thereafter on March 23rd, Alameda County confirmed its first COVID death.

Today, we are beginning to see the signs of recovery. As COVID positive cases continue to decrease, several counties in the Bay Area are slowly moving to a less restrictive tier as part of the state's COVID reopening plan. Also, several school districts are opening and students are beginning to slowly return to the classroom. Last week, the President offered additional hope and hinted towards a possibility of some 'normalcy' later this summer. This is all welcome news.

The events of the past year remind us that during times of uncertainty, hope prevails. Thank you all for your continued hard work and resiliency. Hopefully, better days are in our future.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Kaiser Permanente Vaccinations – East Bay has recently expanded its COVID vaccination center to the Oakland Marriott Convention Center. The new location will initially serve about 1,000 vaccine appointments per day with plans to eventually increase to serve 2,500 appointments per day. The Convention Center provides garage parking and access to public transit. Vaccine appointments for eligible members and employees can be scheduled at this new location by going to kpdoc.org.
  • Our building – We'll be at approximately 25% occupancy for March and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for the next few months. Please remember to only come into our building if you've received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – In our Clinical Trials Program, patients are being enrolled in a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients going on at several medical centers. The program also is enrolling outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center is in discussion about vaccine trials being planned for children. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team. 
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for March 8, 2021 - Empathy

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

How do you express empathy via a video interaction? This question has been on the minds of many doctors over the past year. I've been working on a study of how TPMG adult primary care providers, medical assistants, and others have learned skills for video care since the pandemic began. While most everyone is still learning how to optimize interpersonal connections via video, here are a couple of approaches we've heard: Comment on the items you notice in a person's background, like flowers, a picture, or pets. And remember that the video camera frame is higher than your hands usually sit, so if you gesture, raise your hands higher so they appear on camera.

As a matter of survival, we've all learned many new skills over the past year. We trust that these skills will continue to be useful going forward, whether or not we have another surge, and whether or not we're working again in person this fall. We very much appreciate your resilience and willingness to pick up new approaches, and we're grateful to have you as colleagues.

Today is International Women's Day, and it's Women's History Month. The theme is women's suffrage – do you know what year women won the right to vote in this country? (a) 1876, (b) 1920, or (c) 1937. See below for answer.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Our building – We'll be at approximately 25% occupancy for March and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for the next few months. Please remember to only come into our building if you've received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in, and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the Online Service Desk Ticket system. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – In our Clinical Trials Program, the first patient was enrolled in a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients going on at several medical centers. The program also is enrolling outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center is in discussion about vaccine trials being planned for children. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team. 
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Answer: (b) 1920, via the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for March 1, 2021 - Hybrids

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Naomi Osaka's recent victory in the Australian Open tennis tournament was bittersweet for those of us who would like to see Serena Williams reach a world-record 24th Grand Slam singles title. At 23, Osaka is one of the most exciting young players in women's tennis. She's also a great example of a sturdy hybrid in a few ways. While she's lived in the United States since age 3, she's Haitian and Japanese. She also has combined activism for Black Lives Matter with success on the court.

When we think about our post-pandemic future, it's likely that we'll also continue to be hybrids in terms of combining our virtual skills for work and personal communications with in-person interactions. At a meeting of the KP regional research directors that followed the KP National Research Council meeting last week, several of my peers said they've heard their research groups will need to fit into a smaller space footprint when their buildings eventually do re-open, compared with before the pandemic.

You may be wondering what we at DOR will experience, if and when KP gives the signal that employees are invited to work in our downtown Oakland regional buildings again. That could be this fall, but it could be later depending on the pandemic. We're actively seeking information about the plan and expect we will hear during the coming months. We're confident that when we do have more information, our Management Team and our Space Planning Leadership Team will be able to formulate appropriate options, invite input from DOR managers and employees at all levels, and create a plan.

We appreciate all the adaptations you've made in this pandemic so far, and we feel assured that together we can handle the changes we'll experience in the future.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Our building – We'll be at approximately 25% occupancy for March and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for the next few months. Please remember to only come into our building if you've received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in, and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – In our Clinical Trials Program, several medical centers are now recruiting patients in a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients. The CTP also is enrolling outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center completed enrollment in a lot-to-lot comparison trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Oakland and is in discussion about vaccine trials being planned for children. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team.
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for February 22, 2021 - Progress

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

With Kaiser Permanente’s national announcement last week that our Temporary Remote Work arrangements are being extended through at least the end of August, you might be wondering whether we’re making progress against COVID-19. There are actually encouraging signs, enough that surgeon and writer Martin Makary of Johns Hopkins (who likes to challenge conventional wisdom) has predicted we’ll reach herd immunity by April.

For a more balanced perspective on the pandemic, I recommend last week’s New Yorker interview with Atul Gawande, a surgeon and writer from Harvard. Gawande discusses the dynamics between the new viral variant, vaccines, and social distancing practices. He predicts we’ll have COVID hospitalizations and deaths down to flu-like numbers by the end of summer.

Meanwhile, I was encouraged to hear Anthony Fauci of the NIH recommend that teachers should receive priority for vaccination. We all look forward to our schools moving back to consistent in-person schedules. Thank you for hanging in here and making progress with all our research while our health care and public health systems continue to make progress against the pandemic.

Here are our updates for the week:

  • Our building – We’re at approximately 25% occupancy this month and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in, and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program is working on initiating the trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients planned at eight medical centers. The program also is enrolling outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the oral medication rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center last week started a lot-to-lot comparison trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Oakland and is in discussion about vaccine trials being planned for children. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website supported by the DARE team. 
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for February 8, 2021 - Paused

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Last week in pediatric clinic I saw a 17-year-old boy for a sports physical. His football team is in training, and they’re hoping to be able to play games against other teams sometime this spring. He said the pandemic has been really hard, and he doesn’t know what he’ll do after he graduates this June.

It got me thinking about how difficult the pandemic has been for teens and young adults. A legion of middle school, high school and college students who would have been doing extracurricular activities and hanging out with friends over the past year have instead had their lives paused, limited to online classes and being mostly stuck at home with their parents. I’m hoping the restrictions on their activities will abate over the course of the next year. In some schools there are small steps in the right direction. UC Berkeley announced last month that it will hold classes primarily in-person in the fall (sadly, too late for my daughter, who’s graduating in May).

I draw inspiration from these young people who are so courageous under the weight of the pandemic, just pushing forward and finding ways to live and make what progress they can. And I appreciate all of you – your ongoing work and purpose inspires me as well.

Not much new this week. Here are our updates:

  • Our building – We’re at approximately 25% occupancy this month and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in, and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program is still working on initiating the trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients planned at eight medical centers. Our CTP also is succeeding in enrolling outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the blood thinner rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center is planning a lot-to-lot comparison trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Oakland and is in discussion about vaccine trials being planned for children. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit this KP website. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for February 1, 2021 - Adaptation

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

It’s unfortunate for us that coronaviruses mutate quickly. New viral variants first identified in England and South Africa are more contagious, and/or possibly resistant to some vaccines. They have already been identified as circulating in the United States.
What does this mean for our hope that the mass vaccination campaigns now underway will end the pandemic? While no one knows for sure, there’s reasonably reassuring evidence that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines create neutralizing antibodies against the current new variants. Still, it’s not possible to predict what types of mutations the SARS-COV2 (COVID-19) virus will come up with going forward to elude the defenses generated by vaccination or past infection.

Luckily, the modern technology used to make mRNA vaccines is highly adaptable as well. It’s possible that current vaccines will need to be adjusted to fight new variants of the virus, but the companies involved say this can be done in a matter of several weeks. Going forward, COVID vaccination could start to look something like influenza vaccation campaigns, with a new vaccine each year or when the need to counteract a new viral variant arises.   

Meanwhile, California state still has limited and unpredictable vaccine supply. Kaiser Permanente is receiving only a fraction of the vaccine required to meet the demand. Our organization is currently focusing on offering appointments to persons aged 75 and older, as well as health care workers and patients in long-term care. For the latest updates on vaccine distribution plans, please visit the KP website.

Today we honor the start of Black History Month, and also National Freedom Day, the anniversary of the approval of the 13th amendment to the Constitution that abolished slavery in 1865. The theme of Black History Month this year is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.” One of my (Tracy’s) self-educational goals for the month is to learn more about Ella Baker, a civil rights organizer who promoted grassroots organizing in the 20th century alongside men who are better known.

Thank you for hanging in here and for all your effective adaptations so we can continue working together effectively amid the pandemic. We miss seeing you! We are setting our sights on this fall, or even early 2022, for steps back toward normal life. 

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – We’re at approximately 25% occupancy this month and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in, and bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program is still working on initiating the trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients planned at eight medical centers. Our CTP also is succeeding in enrolling outpatients with COVID at high risk for blood clotting in a large pragmatic trial of the blood thinner rivaroxaban. Our Vaccine Study Center is planning a lot-to-lot comparison trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Oakland and is in discussion about vaccine trials being planned for children. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, KP leadership’s top priority remains the health and safety of our physicians, employees, members and the communities we serve.  Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for January 25, 2021 - Candor

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

It was a pleasure to see that Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health relayed that he’s been encouraged painting by the White House to “let the science speak.” His candor will serve us well in our ongoing struggle with the pandemic this year.

It’s astonishing to realize that science and public health have been under constant assault over the past four years. This painting by an internationally recognized artist, the son of one of our research scientists, was exhibited in Stockholm and expresses that plight. (Can you name the artist and his parent? See below for the answer.)

Closer to home, the murals commissioned for our exterior at DOR have shaped up beautifully and were featured in a story in MyKP this month. Within that story, you can click on the images and save them to use, for example as custom backgrounds for your virtual meetings. The murals are being donated and will soon be moved to Liberation Park In East Oakland.

mural We’re very fortunate to have such wonderful artists in our network, sharing ideas and inspiration for us. We appreciate you for the many adaptations you’ve traversed over the past year to make our work together possible. We’re looking forward to being able to interact more in person when the pandemic ends.  

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – We’re at approximately 25% occupancy this month and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance and remember to complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in (temperature checks have been discontinued). Please bring your face mask for use in common spaces. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website . Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information.
  • COVID research – This week our Clinical Trials Program anticipates starting the trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients planned at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is planning a lot-to-lot comparison trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Oakland and is in discussion about vaccine trials being planned for children. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, KP leadership’s top priority remains the health and safety of our physicians, employees, members and the communities we serve. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Answer: The artist is Henry Gunderson, son of senior research scientist Erica Gunderson.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for January 18, 2021 - Celebration

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

While amid an ongoing surge during the pandemic, it is important for us to take a moment to appreciate and celebrate this historic week. Today, we celebrate and honor the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King dedicated his life to fight for racial justice and equality and dreamed of a society that was color-blind. Today’s holiday is also a day of service (‘day on, not a day off’) and many of you may be participating in virtual volunteer projects to give back to the communities we serve. Thank you for your service.

On Wednesday, we have another cause for celebration – the inauguration of our 46th president, Joseph R. Biden. This comes just weeks after we witnessed the attack on the U.S. Capitol from protestors. Equally important will be the swearing in of Kamala Harris as the first female vice president and woman of color. So, we have much to celebrate this week and hope that 2021 will bring us more cause for celebration in the weeks and months ahead.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – We’ll be at approximately 25% occupancy in January and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Last Friday we opened our building use survey for February requests. Please submit February requests by COB Thursday, January 21. Please remember to only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance and remember to complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to coming in (temperature checks have been discontinued). For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces.
  • COVID vaccination – Consistent with new guidance from the State of California issued last Wednesday, KP is now offering COVID-19 vaccination to members 65 and older. Guidance for DOR employees has been updated as well. Please talk with your manager, research scientist or infrastructure director for more information.
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program is near starting the trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients planned at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center has closed enrollment in the Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for adolescents and is planning a lot-to-lot comparison trial of this vaccine in Oakland. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, KP Leadership’s top priority remains the health and safety of our physicians, employees, members and the communities we serve. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best Regards,

Tom Dang, MBA, MSE, and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for January 11, 2021 - Assaulted

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

It would be an understatement to say that last week marked a low point for our democracy. The attack on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob has left many of us feeling psychologically assaulted even as we condemn these appalling attacks. We’re glad that order has been restored and plans are in place for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to be sworn into office on Jan. 20. We realize, though, that our nation will continue to be tested. For an insider’s look at the chaos in DC, you might consider listening to this NPR piece by Sam Sanders and his colleagues. And remember that we at DOR and KP will be here for you no matter what ensues.

raine-bennett On a more encouraging note, over the weekend our regional planners relayed to us the exciting news that designated managers within DOR now have the opportunity to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments for all of our employees. The current supply of vaccines in Northern California allows us to offer this access for the next two weeks.

We strongly encourage every person at DOR to accept this invitation. Dr. Tina Raine-Bennett, DOR senior research scientist and an obstetrician-gynecologist, and I (Tracy) as a pediatrician have both been vaccinated (see photos), along with our other physicians, clinical trials nurses and other patient-facing employees. It’s great to feel protected against COVID. Tom Dang and I will be holding an informational meeting with our management team, research scientists, and project managers this morning. You should be hearing from your manager or your research scientist by tomorrow with more specifics about how they can book you an appointment if you’d like one.    

Related to this, last week our Vaccine Study Center director Nicky Klein gave a fabulous seminar for us on lieu COVID vaccine development, testing, and safety. If you’d like to listen to this informative talk, you can access the recording here. We’ll also post the link to our DOR COVID website for future reference.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – We’ll be at approximately 25% occupancy in January and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance and remember to complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to accessing a KP facility. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website . Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to sign in. Consistent with KP regional guidance, we have discontinued the requirement for temperature checks at the front desk.
  • COVID vaccination – We hope you will accept the invitation described above for a vaccine appointment. See the above for more context. If you’re vaccinated and you’re interested in posting on social media, please see the KP guidelines for this, posted at this link, which we’ve included on our DOR COVID website. For more information about the vaccine and our plan in KPNC, please see the fact sheets on our DOR COVID website .
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program received final approval to start the trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients that’s being planned at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is currently enrolling 12- to 15-year-olds in a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website .

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for January 4, 2021 - Transform

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

cupcakesFor New Year’s Eve, our college-aged daughter and I (Tracy) attempted a baking project. It started with a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi for semolina-lemon syrup cupcakes. I’ve made them before and they were lovely. Since my husband and daughter are vegan, we tried adapting the recipe with an egg substitute – with disastrous results (see photo). The next day I deconstructed the sunken cakes and popped them in the toaster oven, where they firmed up and caramelized. The failed cupcakes have been transformed into a crunchy, tasty topping for coconut ice cream.

Our unexpected baking disaster felt like a metaphor for 2020. I’m really glad to be leaving last year behind! At the same time, we’ve all learned many new skills. Not only will 2021 be a better year, we’ll be able to use the experience born of the pandemic to transform and update many of our approaches.

Most of all, I appreciate your resilience and sense of purpose amid all we’ve been doing together. I look forward to starting a new era this year with all of you.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – We’ll be at approximately 25% occupancy in January and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance and remember to complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to accessing a KP facility. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to sign in. As of today, consistent with KP regional guidance, we will be discontinuing the requirement for temperature checks at the front desk.
  • COVID vaccination – We strongly encourage every person at DOR to be vaccinated against COVID when you’re invited. If you’re interested in learning more about COVID vaccine development, testing, and safety monitoring, please join us today from 12:30-1:30 for a DOR seminar on COVID vaccine by our own Nicky Klein, an international expert in vaccine studies and the site PI of the Pfizer vaccine trial here in KPNC. The seminar will be recorded.

Throughout KPNC, vaccination is currently taking place for health care workers who have close contact with patients. In late December we sent a survey to investigators and project coordinators to identify DOR employees who have close contact with patients as part of their research responsibilities. We are now working to arrange vaccine appointments for those who are actively or will imminently be in close contact with patients. 

The process of vaccine rollout is being carefully managed. Tom Dang and Victor Chen have been working closely with the East Bay and other medical centers to ensure that our clinical trials and other employees who have close contact with patients are invited to be vaccinated when it’s their turn. We’re awaiting instructions from our regional contacts about the plan for our other employees.

We’ll offer regular updates via this email and will be proactive in staying abreast of developments in the regional plan. The exact timing will depend on the distribution and availability of vaccines, so please stay tuned. For more information about the vaccine and our plan in KPNC, please see the fact sheets on our DOR COVID website.

  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program is planning for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients, aiming to start in January at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is including 12- to 15-year-olds and 16- and 17-year-olds in a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for December 28, 2020 - Kindness

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

The advent of the new year makes us think of the Scots-language poem Auld Lang Syne, which most of us know as a folk tune. The lyrics “we’ll take a cup of kindness yet” refer to the tradition of raising a glass in remembrance of good will, friendship, and noble deeds.

As we close out 2020, we want to thank you for your kindness and good deeds during the most tumultuous year the world has experienced in most of our lifetimes. We at DOR have been extremely fortunate to have continued purpose in our work, and steady support from our organizational and external sponsors amid the pandemic. As DOR’s leaders, we hear each week from our Management Team how hard you’ve been working and how many adaptations you’ve made to be able to make progress amid the restrictions we’re following to reduce risk and support public health.

We greatly appreciate your persistence and valor, and we’re proud to have you as colleagues. We hope you’re enjoying some down time with family, or in activities you find rewarding. May our collective efforts be rewarded with a better year in 2021!         

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – We’ll be at approximately 25% occupancy in January and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance and remember to complete the COVID-19 symptom self-check prior to accessing a KP facility. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID vaccination – We strongly encourage every DOR employee to be vaccinated against COVID at the earliest opportunity. If you’re interested in learning more, please join us on January 4 from 12:30-1:30 for a DOR seminar on COVID vaccine by our own Nicky Klein, an international expert in vaccine studies and the site PI of the Pfizer vaccine trial here in KPNC. The seminar will be recorded.

Last week we met with our investigators, project coordinators (PCs), and infrastructure directors to discuss this vaccine and describe the next steps in the process of making COVID vaccine available to KPNC employees including those at DOR. The process has four risk tiers defined by occupational exposure to COVID. Throughout KPNC, vaccination is currently taking place for the first group (health care workers with close contact with patients infected or under investigation for COVID) and is just starting for the second group (health care workers with close contact with patients .

The process of vaccine rollout is being carefully managed. Tom Dang and Victor Chen have been working closely with the East Bay and other medical centers to ensure that our clinical trials and other employees in the first group are on the correct lists.

Last week Cathy Chou sent a survey to investigators and PCs to identify DOR employees who have close contact with patients as part of their daily work or research project responsibilities. Thank you to all who returned information. We are just at the start of making vaccine appointments for DOR employees in this group and are coordinating our appointment booking with the East Bay leadership. We will work first with those who are actively or will be imminently in close contact with patients. We picture sending another survey when it’s time to identify our employees in the third and fourth groups.

We’ll offer regular updates via this email and will make sure every DOR employee is invited to be vaccinated when it’s his or her turn. The exact timing will depend on the distribution and availability of vaccines, so please stay tuned. For more information about the vaccine and our plan in KPNC, please see the fact sheets on our DOR COVID website.

  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program is planning for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients, aiming to start in January at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is now including 12- to 15-year-olds and 16- and 17-year-olds in a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for December 21, 2020 - Ambitious

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Laura MyersLast week we began to take part in one of the most ambitious public health efforts in history. Kaiser Permanente Northern California, like health care systems throughout the country, started the process of offering vaccination to health care workers. A few of our physicians and clinical trial nurses at DOR are among the first groups being offered vaccine, including research scientist Laura Myers (at right), an intensive care physician who led one of our earliest publications on COVID, a JAMA research letter in June.

We’re excited to be participating in this effort! Later today we’ll be meeting with our investigators, infrastructure directors, and project coordinators to relay specifics about the next steps for DOR grab and go lunchesemployees in this process. We’ve included some key questions and answers below.

On another upbeat note, we give thanks to our DOR Community Forum colleagues for a lovely series of holiday events, including livestream concert, sip and paint activity, DOR holiday recipe book, and delicious grab and go lunch. The photos of the holiday lunch event include (top) Nicole Varnado, Debbie Jacobs, and Rebecca Kucera distributing bags in our parking lot; and (bottom) a meal after plating, clearly of interest to Tali Sedgwick’s dog!

We greatly appreciate all you’ve been doing to contribute to research amid the multiple plated mealpandemic surges and social and political stresses of this year. We admire your fortitude, and we’re extremely proud and thankful to have you as colleagues.

FAQs about COVID vaccination for DOR employees

  1. What principles are being used to guide KPNC’s distribution of vaccine?
    • Safety – We will only administer vaccines that meet our physicians’ standards for safety and effectiveness.
    • Equity – We will administer vaccines equitably, to maximize access to all populations as identified and prioritized by federal guidelines.
    • Importance – We will promote the importance of vaccines in slowing the spread of COVID-19, while emphasizing that vaccines alone will not stop the spread of the virus.
  1. What groups are being offered vaccine first?
    • The general approach being used focuses on the level of exposure to potentially infected patients.
      • The first group to receive vaccine includes health care workers who have close contact with patients infected or under investigation for COVID, or who are working in a COVID+ unit.
      • As more vaccine becomes available, the second group will include health care workers who are regularly in close contact with patients who may be infectious due to widespread surge.
      • The third group will be health care workers without in-person patient contact, but who work in-person at a KP worksite, or who are providing direct patient care via video or telephone only.
      • The fourth group is all remaining employees who work only remotely and do not provide direct patient care.
  1. Will I be required to be vaccinated?
    • No, unless our state or your county mandates the vaccine for health care workers. However, we strongly encourage all DOR employees to be vaccinated.
  2. How will DOR make sure I’m offered vaccination if I want it?
    • For most DOR employees, we’ll be gathering information and forming our lists via surveys that go to their investigator or infrastructure director over the next few weeks. For our Clinical Trials Program, we’re working closely with Alan Go and Victor Chen who are leading most of the arrangements for medical center-based CTP employees.
  3. When will I be offered vaccination?
    • The timing will depend on how quickly vaccine supplies become more plentiful. It’s hard to make predictions since the nationwide distribution process is complex. Vaccination has started to be offered to the first group. We don’t yet know when the second, third, and fourth groups will be called, but we want to be ready in advance.
  4. What else do I need to know?
    • For more information about the vaccine and our plan in KPNC, please see the COVID vaccination FAQs on our DOR COVID website.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – Currently, we are at approximately 25% occupancy for December and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. Our building use survey for January was due last Friday and we’ll follow up with results and arrangements soon. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is planning for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients, aiming to start in January at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is now including 12- to 15-year-olds and 16- and 17-year-olds in a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for December 14, 2020 - Hope on the horizon

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

It was encouraging to hear the recent news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the request for emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is planned to be shipped and distributed sometime this week. In addition, Moderna will also be meeting with the FDA in the coming days to review their request for EUA approval for their vaccine. All this news comes at a time when we are experiencing a record-setting surge in hospitalizations across the US. This could mean that we have two effective vaccines available before the end of the year. So, there is hope on the horizon.

While the vaccines show promise and will help to slow the spread of COVID-19, many Americans are uncertain whether to accept vaccination. When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, Kaiser Permanente will be guided by three important principles: safety, equity, and importance. Understandably, people have many questions. To help answer these questions, KP has developed an initial FAQ (attached). Over the next several months as the vaccine is widely distributed, it is important for us to remember to continue to follow the public health guidance such as wearing face coverings and physical distancing, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – Currently, we are at approximately 25% occupancy for December and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. The Building use survey for January will be open today, December 14, so please remember to submit your request. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is planning for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients, aiming to start this month at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is now enrolling 12- to 15-year-olds in a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California
https://divisionofresearch.kaiserpermanente.org/


Update for December 7, 2020 - Guidance

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

It was discouraging to hear the recent news that Bay Area counties are imposing shelter-in-place restrictions again due to the current surge in COVID-19 cases. First, to us this seems like an appropriate and reasonable step. The rise in hospitalizations will continue for weeks beyond when we can stem the uptick in infections we’re now seeing. So we’re again needing to ramp up precautions to flatten the curve another time, and avoid running out of hospital capacity.

Still, people are weary of the pandemic and frustrated with the fact that the guidelines don’t always seem to make sense. One San Francisco mother asked why outdoor playgrounds have to be closed, while retail stores can remain open.

At DOR, we’re holding steady and will continue to follow the relatively conservative approach we now have in place. We appreciate all of our employees who have arranged to work remotely. We also understand that some people need to come in from time to time to fulfill work responsibilities effectively. 

We’re fortunate to have an experienced Management Team of 11 leaders that includes all of our scientific associate directors and infrastructure directors. Our Management Team huddles every Monday morning to confer about the latest news and make plans. We’re in close touch with regional medical group leaders as well as East Bay leaders. We frequently review the guidelines and protocols of our medical centers and other regional departments, as well as other Kaiser Permanente regional research groups.

One ray of hope is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been muted for many months, is now starting to take more decisive actions in issuing guidance and communications. We hope to see more of this going forward.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – We’ll be at less than 25% occupancy in December and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. All staff coming to the building should have an Emergency Identification (red) sticker on their KP ID badge. If you do not have one, please ask for a sticker at the front desk.  For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. We are allowing limited in-person meetings at 2000 Broadway, but due to the current surge, we discourage having those meetings during this period of shelter-in-place, unless absolutely necessary. Please review the latest Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is planning for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatients, aiming to start this month at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is now enrolling 12- to 15-year-olds as well as 16- and 17-year-olds in a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for November 30, 2020 - Legacy

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Bernard Tyson, the late chief executive officer of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, passed away unexpectedly a year ago this month. Although our world has changed dramatically since then, it’s worth pausing to remember his legacy.

Tyson had been with Kaiser Permanente for more than three decades and rose from working in the medical records department to becoming KFH’s first African-American CEO. He championed our investment in the electronic health record at a time when its benefits weren’t universally understood. He was a strong believer in growth, adding Group Health Cooperative (now KP Washington) to our organization in 2017.

He also was passionate about social causes and community health. He initiated investments to address homelessness, food insecurity, and gun violence. He called attention to racial issues. Knowing that cardiovascular disease disproportionately affects African-American persons, Tyson was a vocal supporter of the CARDIA study, giving the keynote talk for its 30th anniversary event in 2016. He also was a leading advocate of improving the affordability of health care in order to expand access for all.

In his honor, the Kaiser Permanente medical school in Pasadena was renamed the Bernard J. Tyson Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine. The school is one of the most progressive and exciting places to be in medical training in the country, and many of our research scientists at DOR have stepped up to be part of its faculty. It’s a terrific way to honor this strong, dedicated leader and the principles he brought to our mission.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – We’ll be at approximately 25% occupancy In November and December and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website . We are allowing limited in-person meetings at 2000 Broadway. Please review the updated Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is planning for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatient use at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is enrolling 16- and 17-year-olds (and plans to start enrolling 12- to 15-year-olds) in a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website .
  • Next steps and communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for November 23, 2020 - Light

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Last week’s news that a second vaccine by Moderna is 95% effective against COVID-19 is highly encouraging. The Moderna vaccine has the advantage of being stable in conventional refrigerators or ordinary freezers. This contrasts with the Pfizer vaccine (also 95% effective), which must be stored at -70○C. This could make it difficult to distribute in remote settings or countries without special “cold chain” infrastructure.

You might be experiencing some cognitive dissonance between this surprisingly good news and the fact that we’re amid a global surge of COVID infections. In fact, last Thursday we received official word from Kaiser Permanente national leaders that the Temporary Remote Work program will be extended through at least March 31, 2021.

This may lead you to wonder when we’ll get to the light at the end of this tunnel. All pandemics in recent history, even those without an effective vaccine available, have subsided within two or three years due to herd immunity acquired through natural infection or vaccination. The existence of effective vaccines will help us reach herd immunity faster. Still, there are many steps between today and the day we reach herd immunity. Vaccine manufacturing needs to ramp up, vaccine doses need to be allocated, distributed, and delivered, and not everyone is eager to be vaccinated. A Gallup poll in October, before the recent news about effective vaccines, found that 58% of Americans would accept vaccination. We’ll venture a guess that we’ll be firmly on the road to a new normal sometime in fall 2021 or early 2022.

We’re very grateful for all you’ve been doing to stay productive in our work as well as taking care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’re extremely fortunate to have important work in both our traditional research and COVID research. And we’re tremendously appreciative of you, our talented, principled, dedicated colleagues. In this week for giving thanks, we can’t think of a better gift than getting to work with you here at DOR. 
mural 1

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Our building – We’ll be at approximately 25% occupancy In November and December and will likely maintain similar occupancy levels for early 2021. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. We are allowing limited in-person meetings at 2000 Broadway.  Please review the updated Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.

mural 2
The artists creating our murals, Rachel Wolfe and Josh Mays, have been making progress! Check out the new photos here.

  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is planning for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatient use at eight medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is enrolling 16- and 17-year-olds (and plans to start enrolling 12- to 15-year-olds) in a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine recently found effective in adults – you may have seen some of the cascade of media coverage over the past week. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, KP Leadership’s top priority remains the health and safety of our physicians, employees, members and the communities we serve. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for November 16, 2020 - Being vigilant

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

After a week of anxiety waiting for election results, this past week saw consecutive record-setting days of COVID positive cases with hospitalizations trending upwards both locally and nationally. We’re early in the pandemic’s third surge across the country. ArtistWe got word last week that NCAL will likely soon instruct us to continue temporary remote work through at least March 31, 2021.

It has been nearly eight months since California first enacted stay-at-home orders. We are all experiencing ‘COVID-19 fatigue.’ Combined with children returning to school, the impending holidays, and the colder weather, we have been — and will be — tested in the weeks ahead. The virus is unrelenting and tireless and requires all of us to continue to be vigilant in supporting and participating in public health recommendations. We greatly respect and appreciate all you’re doing to adjust and contribute.

On the theme of vigilance, the artists and their teams painting the murals on our building continue their artistry despite their work being delayed due to demonstrations and the weather. Here are some pictures of their progress. Enjoy!

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building access – Our building will be at approximately 25% occupancy In November. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. We are allowing limited in-person meetings at 2000 Broadway. Please review the updated Artist Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is making progress planning for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatient use at eight medical centers, with plans to start during the next two weeks. Our Vaccine Study Center is enrolling 16- and 17-year-olds in a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine recently found effective in adults. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, KP Leadership’s top priority remains the health and safety of our physicians, employees, members and the communities we serve. We are planning a DOR Town hall for the early December, so please look for an announcement in the next few weeks. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for November 9, 2020 - Renewal

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

After a week of memorable anxiety, many people are feeling a sense of relief that the results of the presidential election became clear this weekend. Along with this comes ongoing concern about the deep divisions this hotly contested election has highlighted, mostly along partisan lines. We’re very much hoping for renewal and increasing unity in our country in the coming years. We’ll be here for you, no matter what your Artist political preferences may be. 

This morning brought another major piece of news: The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being evaluated in a large-scale Phase 3 clinical trial was found 90% efficacious . Our Vaccine Study Center, led by Nicky Klein, is among the groups that participated in this successful trial. The VSC has also started enrolling patients in an adolescent trial of this vaccine.

On the theme of renewal, the artists and their teams have started painting the beautiful murals planned for our Murals building. Tom was able to snap a couple of sneak peek photos for us. The woman painting is artist Rachel Wolfe. KP media relations have arranged for her and the other artist, Josh Mays, to be available to meet members of the media outside our building later this morning. We’re looking forward to seeing the progress on this uplifting art during the next few weeks!

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building access – Our building will be at approximately 25% occupancy In November. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. We are allowing limited in-person meetings at 2000 Broadway.  Please review the updated Guidance on Building Use Plan for more information. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is making progress planning for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatient use at eight medical centers, with plans to start during the next two weeks. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – COVID incidence has started to increase in Northern California, mirroring the surges we’re experiencing across the country. We picture temporary remote work being our primary mode through at least December and possibly longer, depending on the course of the pandemic. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for November 2, 2020 - Waiting

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

If you’re feeling transfixed by the upcoming election, you’re probably not alone. We encourage you to vote, if you haven’t already. We hope the nation won’t have to wait long for the outcome. Please remember that we’re here for you, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your colleagues, your manager, or our KP Employee Assistance Program for support.

As proof that good things come to those who wait, our Southern California friends were happy last week to see the Los Angeles Dodgers take their first World Series title in 32 years. The celebration was complicated a bit by the 3rd baseman receiving news of a positive COVID test amid the game. It’s emblematic of the choices and adaptations we face and will likely continue to face for the next year or more, as described by public health expert Michael Osterholm in this talk last week shared with us by our KP Diablo Service Area colleagues (go to 35:02 in the recording to hear his current assessment and predictions).

Thank you for hanging in here. We’re making substantial progress on all of our research in the face of this tumultuous year, and it’s all thanks to your tremendous resilience and fortitude.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building access – Our building will be at approximately 25% occupancy In November. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is laying ground for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatient use at eight medical centers, with a plan to start by mid-November. Our Vaccine Study Center is planning for a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine with adolescents. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – COVID incidence remains low in Northern California relative to the rest of the country, although a fall surge may be inevitable even with good behavior throughout our communities. We picture temporary remote work being our primary mode through at least December and possibly longer, depending on the course of the pandemic. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for October 26, 2020 - Stress

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

A recent survey conducted for the American Psychological Association found that 68% of Americans consider the upcoming presidential election a significant source of stress in their lives, up from 52% in a similar poll 4 years ago. Election-related stress can have real health consequences. A study of Kaiser Permanente Southern California patients co-authored by Steve Sidney, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month, found that heart attacks and strokes were transiently higher in the two days after the 2016 election compared with the same two days of the prior week.

With this in mind, we encourage you to take extra time for self-care these next two weeks. We hope you’ll find time for conversations with family and friends, getting outdoors, or other activities that promote serenity. Our organization’s Employee Assistance Program provides access to self-care apps and many other resources. We know it’s a difficult period for all, and we really admire and appreciate all you’re doing to take care of yourself, your team at work, and your loved ones.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building access – Our building will be at <25% occupancy throughout October. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. This week, research scientists and infrastructure directors will receive replies to any new requests they made on our building access survey for November.
  • COVID follow-up – People have asked about the welfare of our DOR colleague who recently tested positive for COVID and about our cleaning procedures following an event such as this. Our colleague is doing well. We arranged for deep cleaning of their work area soon after we learned of the issue. Prompt notification and extra cleaning will remain our standard procedure in such cases going forward. 
  • COVID research – Our Clinical Trials Program is laying ground for a trial of intravenous remdesivir for outpatient use at eight medical centers, with a plan to start by mid-November. Our Vaccine Study Center is planning for a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine with adolescents. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – COVID incidence remains low in Northern California relative to the rest of the country, which is experiencing a fall surge. We picture temporary remote work being our primary mode through at least December. Plans after this will depend on the course of the pandemic. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for October 19, 2020 - Leading Through a Crisis

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Last week our country (which accounts for less than 5% of the world’s population) recorded more than 8 million Covid-19 cases, approximately 20% of the world cases. 

Despite boasting one of the world’s best biomedical and healthcare infrastructures, the United States has struggled to manage and adequately respond to the largest public health crisis of our time.  Other countries with far fewer resources have been more successful.  Why?  One key factor has been leadership. 

History tells us that at times of crises, the people will look towards their leaders for guidance to help them weather times of difficulty.  Unfortunately, these past months, our leaders have been consistently inconsistent.  The federal government has largely left it to the states to lead and manage the crisis and has let politics influence responses. 

Over the next few weeks, we will wait and watch to see if Americans are satisfied with the job that our leaders have demonstrated during this year’s crises.  As always, thank you to each of you for continued patience and commitment during these unprecedented times.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – Our building will be at <25% occupancy throughout October. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. Last Friday, October 16th, Cathy Chou sent another monthly survey to research scientists and infrastructure directors to invite requests for access in November.
  • Flu shots – KP is now offering drive-up and walk-up flu vaccine clinics.  To find a flu vaccine clinic location, please go to the KP – NCAL Cold and Flu Prevention website.  Also, Employee Health Services will continue to offer flu shots in October, please go to InsideDOR for the latest schedule.
  • COVID Research – is continuing to make plans for a trial of intravenous Remdesivir for outpatient use at several medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is planning for a Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine with adolescents. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – The COVID surge continues to subside in Northern California. We picture temporary remote work being our primary mode through at least December. Plans after this will depend on the course of the pandemic. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best Regards,

Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Regional Managing Director
Kaiser Permanente
Division of Research

2000 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612

Update for October 12, 2020 - Steadiness

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

If you’ve been wishing for more predictability and respect for science in federal planning processes lately, you’re probably not alone. We’re really hoping that our nation’s steady leaders in public health and medicine, like Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, will be given the support to be able to better guide the nation’s pandemic response in the near future. For a pointed summary of the missteps in national leadership of this crisis, see this editorial in last week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Amid all of this, tennis champion Rafael Nadal won his 20th grand slam title at the French Open yesterday, tying Roger Federer’s record for the most in a career. As the New York Times noted, he’s been a model of equanimity and perspective. His observations can be even more poignant in English, which he didn’t speak when he joined the tour 20 years ago. Nadal, who’s from Spain, said after a first-round win, “The feeling is more sad than usual. Maybe that’s what it needs to feel like. It needs to be sad. Many people in the world are suffering.” We’ll keep hoping for more national and global role models with this kind of steadiness and breadth of perspective.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – Our building will be at <25% occupancy throughout October. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. Later this week, Cathy Chou will be sending a monthly survey to research scientists and infrastructure directors to invite requests for access in November.  If your project team would like building access on specific days in November, please submit request via this survey rather than an ad hoc request.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is continuing to make plans for a trial of intravenous Remdesivir for outpatient use at several medical centers and is in planning stages for other COVID-19 treatment trials. Our Vaccine Study Center is planning for a trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine with adolescents. Nicky Klein and the VSC were awarded a major new task order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Safety Datalink Project, to lead active surveillance of the safety of all new COVID vaccines for the nation once they’re licensed and in clinical use. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Murals – The painters we expected a few weeks ago to create murals on the plywood that wraps our building have been temporarily delayed, as the art design undergoes final approvals.
  • Next steps and communication – COVID hospitalizations have continued to fall throughout KPNC, in contrast with surges in other states. We picture temporary remote work being our primary mode through at least December. Plans after this will depend on the course of the pandemic. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for October 5, 2020 - Watchful waiting

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

With the rest of the nation, we’ve been closely watching the news about the President’s health. He seems to be receiving treatment for a severe case of COVID-19. One of his medications, remdesivir, was studied here by our KP Northern California Clinical Trials Program as part of a national trial. Now the president is in a phase of illness that physicians often call “watchful waiting” – after you’ve started reasonable interventions, you just have to monitor carefully and see what happens next.

One commentator whose take on the President’s situation as well as the pandemic we find useful is Carlos del Rio of Emory University, a professor of global health and epidemiology whose research has focused on infectious diseases and human immunodeficiency virus. He’s an executive associate dean at Emory and also foreign secretary of the National Academy of Medicine. In an interview with National Public Radio yesterday, del Rio gave a well-reasoned and balanced interpretation of the situation. In a world full of commentators and confusion, it’s helpful when the media look to well-qualified scientists and physicians like him.

We’ll be participating in the watchful waiting and hoping for a less tumultuous week this week. Thank you for all you’re doing to hang in there and make progress on our shared work during these times.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – Our building will be at <25% occupancy throughout October. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. In mid-October, Cathy Chou will be sending another monthly survey to research scientists and infrastructure directors to invite requests for access in November.
  • COVID ResearchOur Clinical Trials Program is continuing to make plans for a trial of intravenous Remdesivir for outpatient use at several medical centers and is in planning stages for other COVID-19 treatment trials. The Phase 3 clinical trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is completing enrollment of adults and is planning for a next phase with adolescents. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – The COVID surge continues to subside in Northern California, although calls to the KPNC call center for cough, cold and influenza-like symptoms increased last week, suggesting a possible post-Labor Day increase. We picture temporary remote work being our primary mode through at least December. Plans after this will depend on the course of the pandemic. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for September 28, 2020 - Aspirations

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

We commemorate the life of Breonna Taylor, the young woman shot in her own bed in Louisville, Kentucky, in March during a police raid gone awry. It’s very upsetting to think we live in a society that doesn’t more effectively prevent such tragedies. While she’ll unavoidably be remembered as a victim, Taylor was a person with aspirations. She had completed training as an emergency medical technician and hoped to become a nurse. A note in her 2011 scrapbook conveyed by a New York Times reporter read:

          

“Graduating this year on time is so important to me, because I’ll be the first of my family to accomplish this. My mother wasn’t able to finish high school on time and get her diploma. So I know how much my getting mine means to her…

I want to be the one who finally breaks the cycle of my family’s educational history. I want to be the one to finally make a difference.”

Her words are an important example to us, to set our sights higher than the current situation. We’ve been developing next steps for equity, inclusion, and diversity work at DOR. We look forward to telling you more at our Town Hall tomorrow. And thank you for all you’ve been doing to keep making progress with our work during this pandemic. Your efforts really do make a difference.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – Thank you for replying to our most recent monthly survey to plan building access. Based on the responses, we’re able to give people who requested it access and still keep our building at <25% occupancy throughout October. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is continuing to make plans for a trial of intravenous Remdesivir for outpatient use at several medical centers and is in planning stages for other COVID-19 treatment trials. The Phase 3 clinical trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is completing enrollment of adults and is planning for a next phase with adolescents. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Next steps and communication – Fortunately, the COVID surge continues to subside in Northern California, although a fall surge is starting in Europe. We picture temporary remote work being our primary mode through at least December. Plans after this will depend on the course of the pandemic. Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for September 21, 2020 - Honor

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

We join the nation in honoring Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and mourning her loss last Friday. Before being tapped to join the court in 1993, she directed the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1970s. In that role she was an extraordinarily articulate and effective architect of strategy to create laws to protect women’s rights. Her moral clarity and toughness, combined with her collegiality toward peers with differing perspectives, made her a model for many of us from younger generations.

This week we also honor our research administrators and other employees in DOR Administration on National Research Administrators’ Day, September 25. DOR has an extremely capable team of 10 research administrators, led by our Associate Director for Research Administration Virginia Cantrell. You can think of these administrators as being like a special operations unit. They develop highly specialized expertise to work closely with our research scientists to successfully submit hundreds of grant applications each year. Their work requires high precision, excellent insight and communication skills, and the ability to think clearly and rapidly under the pressure of deadlines for multi-million dollar grant applications.

In addition to our research administrators, DOR Administration guides and supports many of our crucial core functions, including finance, human resources, facility operations, IRB support services, research communications, library and information management, and data support services. Our administration includes 60 employees all told! We’re biased, of course, but we think DOR has the best administration among all the KP research groups. We’re extremely grateful to all of our employees for their exceptional work this year amid the pandemic. Please join us in sending a special message of appreciation to those you know in administration this week.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – Our building will remain at <25% occupancy throughout September. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. Our monthly survey to invite requests for standing changes in building access was sent by Cathy Chou to all research scientists and infrastructure directors last week and is due tomorrow, September 22.
  • Flu shots – KP is now offering drive-up and walk-up flu vaccine clinics.  To find a flu vaccine clinic location, please go to the KP – NCAL Cold and Flu Prevention website. Flu vaccine clinics for employees are offered at both 1950 Franklin and 1800 Harrison for the remainder of September—see our insideDOR home page for the schedule.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is continuing to make plans for a trial of intravenous Remdesivir for outpatient use at several medical centers. The Phase 3 clinical trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is wrapping up in Santa Clara and continuing in Sacramento for another 2 weeks. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Planning next steps –We continue to meet with DOR’s Management Team weekly to share news and make plans. We look forward to seeing you at our next Town Hall meeting on September 29.  
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for September 14, 2020 - United We Stand

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

This past week we observed the 19th anniversary of September 11th.  We remembered and honored the memory of over 3,000 lives lost as a result of terrorist attacks.  It was a time when our nation witnessed acts of selflessness by first responders and saw bipartisan cooperation.  Our nation stood in solidarity with the goal of keeping Americans safe.  “United we stand” became our national mantra.

Nineteen years later, America is a very different place.  Our nation is in chaos, with partisan politics generating disagreement on how to manage a pandemic that has killed over 194,000 and infected over 6.5 Americans million, while damaging the economy and causing many Americans to work remotely and children to learn in virtual classrooms.  There is civil unrest across our country as Black Americans continue to be killed by police. 

So, looking back on September 11, we are reminded that our nation is capable of unity to get through turbulent times. 

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Flu shots – This week KP will be offering drive-up and walk-up flu vaccine clinics beginning September 14th.  To find a flu vaccine clinic location, please go to the KP – NCAL Cold and Flu Prevention website. Flu vaccine clinics offered by Employee Health at both 1950 Franklin and 1800 Harrison are still available to staff for the remainder of September.  Please see the attached flyer for details.  Again, due to concerns about 2 highly contagious viruses circulating this year, KP is strongly encouraging staff to get a flu shot.
  • Building Access – Our building will remain at <25% occupancy throughout September. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. We’ll continue to send a survey to all research scientists and infrastructure directors once a month for the remainder of 2020 to invite requests for standing changes in building access.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is continuing to make plans for a trial of intravenous Remdesivir for outpatient use at several medical centers. The Phase 3 clinical trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine completed enrollment in Santa Clara and will continue in Sacramento for another 1-2 weeks. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Planning next steps –We continue to meet with DOR’s Management Team weekly to share news and make plans. We’ll look forward to seeing you at our next Town Hall meeting on September 29.  
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Have a great week.  Be well and stay safe.

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update for September 8, 2020

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Welcome to September. We hope you had a chance to relax over the holiday weekend! Our fall looks like it’ll be busy as always, just with different workflows this year.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – Our building will remain at <25% occupancy throughout September. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. We’ll continue to send a survey to all research scientists and infrastructure directors once a month for the remainder of 2020 to invite requests for standing changes in building access.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is continuing to make plans for a trial of intravenous Remdesivir for outpatient use at several medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is enrolling patients in the Phase 3 clinical trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Santa Clara and Sacramento, with national enrollment of a total of 30,000 patients projected to finish in mid-September. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Planning next steps – We find it amazing that we have continued to accomplish so much as a research department despite almost 6 months of pandemic restrictions and changes. It’s a testament to your initiative and adaptability, and we are so grateful to be working with colleagues like you! We continue to meet with DOR’s Management Team weekly to share news and make plans, and we’ll continue to send you this weekly update for the foreseeable future. We’ll look forward to seeing you at our next Town Hall meeting on September 29.  
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Have a great short week!

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE, and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California

 


COVID-19 update for DOR - August 31, 2020 – Safety

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Welcome to September. We hope you had a chance to relax over the holiday weekend! Our fall looks like it’ll be busy as always, just with different workflows this year.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – Our building will remain at <25% occupancy throughout September. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. We’ll continue to send a survey to all research scientists and infrastructure directors once a month for the remainder of 2020 to invite requests for standing changes in building access.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is continuing to make plans for a trial of intravenous Remdesivir for outpatient use at several medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center is enrolling patients in the Phase 3 clinical trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Santa Clara and Sacramento, with national enrollment of a total of 30,000 patients projected to finish in mid-September. For the complete list of our COVID-related studies and publications, please see our COVID research website.
  • Planning next steps – We find it amazing that we have continued to accomplish so much as a research department despite almost 6 months of pandemic restrictions and changes. It’s a testament to your initiative and adaptability, and we are so grateful to be working with colleagues like you! We continue to meet with DOR’s Management Team weekly to share news and make plans, and we’ll continue to send you this weekly update for the foreseeable future. We’ll look forward to seeing you at our next Town Hall meeting on September 29.  
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Have a great short week!

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE, and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - August 31, 2020 – Safety

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Last week’s tragic shootings of Jacob Blake and several protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, have made us think about safety. The events of recent months have made us increasingly aware that Black Americans are less safe than others in a distressing number of ways that stem from structural racism. The turbulence and conflict in our national environment are stressful for all of us.

At DOR, we’ve now completed series of listening meetings on equity, inclusion, and diversity with six of our largest groups. We want to thank all who participated or sent us comments via the related surveys or via email. We learned a great deal and heard a wide variety of ideas and perspectives, which we’ll write to you about soon. We’ve also met with other regional and East Bay leaders to gather ideas on the next steps we at DOR can take to foster equity, inclusion, and diversity. We’re discussing the plan with our Management Team and will let you know about next steps in September.

We’re also worrying about safety from natural disasters, with our state and others endangered by escalating risks of wildfires and hurricanes in recent years. And we’ve all been spending large portions of our energy trying to stay safe from COVID-19.

One encouraging observation amid all this turbulence is that our medical group and DOR are leaders in keeping people safe from disease. Last Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued controversial new guidelines, stating that close contacts of persons with COVID-19 do not necessarily need to be tested. The Permanente Medical Group promptly decided that it would not follow these recommendations and would keep testing such close contacts. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and many other authorities also adopted this stance.

The national news is also abuzz with the possibility that the Food & Drug Administration may be pressured to approve new vaccines for COVID-19 prematurely, before clear evidence of their safety and efficacy has been established. While we obviously don’t have direct control of this matter, we’re proud that our Vaccine Study Center, led by Nicky Klein, is one of the world’s premier groups in vaccine clinical trials and vaccine safety research. As one of the key sites in the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink project, we’ll be at the forefront of monitoring the safety of new vaccines introduced for widespread use against COVID-19.  

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – Thank you to all who participated in our most recent monthly survey to plan building access. Research scientists and infrastructure directors will be receiving email replies today about their teams’ requests. We anticipate these monthly surveys will be our pattern through at least December this year. 

Our building will remain at <25% occupancy throughout September. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website . If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.

  • Planning next steps – We appreciate the many small feats of heroism by all of you and recognize that many of our employees are still adjusting work around home and school plans. Thank you for your sustained commitment to our work together. We’re continuing to meet with DOR’s Management Team weekly to discuss recent developments and make plans for all at DOR. 
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - August 24, 2020 – Mix

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

The past week brought a strange mix of sadness and renewal. Wildfires in Northern California have become almost a predictable annual event, yet they’re anything but routine. The start of fire season means bad air quality for many of us, evacuations and power outages, and danger and destruction in our own or neighboring communities. We hope you’re able to stay safe indoors. If you need to be outdoors, you might consider picking up a smoke mask, being made available at KP medical centers at our ambassador stations (see attached). We’ve also heard that smoke masks may become available at regional offices, are pursuing more information, and will keep you posted. If you need support, please don’t hesitate to contact your manager or our regional Employee Assistance Program.

At the same time, many school-age children started online classes last week and our local universities are beginning their fall semesters as well. The start of a new academic year always gives us a surge of hope for the future, and this holds true even during this time of pandemic. In Southern California, the new KP School of Medicine in Pasadena has launched successfully, with its first class of students already in their second month this week.

Eat Learn PlayOn a light note, you might enjoy seeing this screenshot of the virtual press conference held recently for the launch of a new partnership between Kaiser Permanente and the Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation, run by Steph and Ayesha Curry. You can see the Currys here with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan CEO Greg Adams and Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf. The woman with the beautiful blue Kaiser Permanente logo background is Chyresse Hill, a regional communications team member. And that virtual background was created by none other than Jon Weiner, our associate director for research communications! If you’d like a copy of the background to use in your own presentations, feel free to contact Jon via email.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access –Our building is at <25% occupancy throughout August. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.

Research scientists and infrastructure directors received a survey last week to invite requests for building access in September. We anticipate this approach to managing building access will be our pattern through at least December this year.

  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program has been hard at work with the launch of support for more medical centers to offer COVID convalescent plasma, which was just approved for emergency use this weekend. Our Vaccine Study Center last week launched the Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine in Sacramento, adding a second site to Santa Clara which launched the previous week. Our COVID-related studies and publications are listed on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.
  • Planning next steps – We appreciate all you’re doing to make remote work your primary mode through at least the end of the year. We’re continuing to meet with DOR’s Management Team twice a week to monitor the situation and make plans, and we’ll keep you posted.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


General updates for - August 17, 2020

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Here are our general updates for this week:

  • Building Access –Our building is at <25% occupancy throughout August. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.

Research scientists and infrastructure directors will be receiving a survey today to invite requests for building access in September. We anticipate this approach to managing building access will be our pattern through at least December this year.

  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program has been hard at work with the launch of support for more medical centers to participate in the COVID convalescent plasma expanded access program. The newest sites in the North Valley enrolled several patients last week. The program reached a milestone by successfully enrolling the first patients via eConsent! This is a big advance because patients use iPads rather than paper, enabling decontamination and seamless documentation. Our Vaccine Study Center last week launched the Phase 3 trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine in Santa Clara, to a shower of media coverage, and plans to launch it in Sacramento this week. Our COVID-related studies and publications are listed on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.
  • Planning next steps – As summer turns to fall, we thank you for the adaptations many of us are making to make remote work your primary mode through at least the end of the year. We’re continuing to meet with DOR’s Management Team twice a week to monitor the course of events, make adjustments, and plan strategy. We’ll keep following the course of the pandemic and will keep you posted.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best Regards,

Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Regional Managing Director
Kaiser Permanente
Division of Research


COVID-19 update for DOR - August 17, 2020 – Listening

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

We know that many of our colleagues at DOR have continued to feel stress from the upsetting events of the last few months, including the heartbreaking killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others before them. We recognize the hurt and anger these events have caused. These tragedies bring home to all of us the longstanding inequities and discrimination that Black Americans and communities continue to experience in all sectors of our society.

We’re committed to making progress on equity, inclusion, and diversity at DOR. Our efforts —­ several of which are already underway — will address our own workplace, as well as our health care system and our community. It should go without saying that we have zero tolerance for discrimination in our workplace, yet this is easier said than done. Moving our culture to better equity and inclusivity will take strategic and sustained effort. Some questions you may be asking are:

  • What will leaders at DOR do to reach a deeper and broader understanding of the issues affecting minority colleagues in our workplace?
  • How will we ensure that our recruitment, promotion, and retention processes are equitable and supportive of diversity?
  • How can all employees, including managers, gain better skills to recognize bias, offer allyship, and act inclusively?
  • What kind of structure to support equity, inclusion, and diversity can we develop within DOR, to ensure sustained progress?

These are just a few of the many important questions we’ve been thinking about over the last several weeks. While we don’t have all the answers, we’ve opted to start by listening. Throughout this month, we’re continuing to meet with groups of DOR employees to listen to ideas and perspectives on equity, inclusion, and diversity. We’re also contacting leaders of other groups within and beyond Kaiser Permanente, seeking to learn from their experience. We have much more to discover.

We encourage you to set aside an hour each month to pursue new insights and skills in equity, diversity, and inclusion. For many of us, acknowledging our own privilege and recognizing bias is an important first step. If you’re fortunate enough to not be experiencing racism, please take five minutes to read the two below posts (shared by UCSF executive vice chancellor Dan Lowenstein). Consider taking an Implicit Association Test and doing the 30-minute course on Unconscious Bias, available to all of us on KPLearn. If you’ve already done this, try one of the other courses in the Diversity section on KPLearn – the ILEaD course is a good use of an hour-and-a-half. 

1. Facebook post by Shola Richards (click here to link to the full post)

2. From a widespread social media post:
I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice:
I can go birding (#ChristianCooper)
I can go jogging (#AhmaudArbery)
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothamJean and #AtatianaJefferson)
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride)
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark)
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards)
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis)
I can sell CDs (#AltonSterling)
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown)
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice)
I can go to church (#Charleston9)
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin)
I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell)
I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant)
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland)
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile)
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones)
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerenceCrutcher)
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott)
I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover)
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese)
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans)
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo)
I can run (#WalterScott)
I can breathe (#EricGarner)
I can live (#FreddieGray)
I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)

We’ll continue to work on the questions we’ve posed above. We welcome your input and participation as our plans evolve.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - August 10, 2020 – Swimming

Dear DOR Colleagues (all),

You likely heard about the explosion last week in Beirut, Lebanon that killed more than 150 people and has left 300,000 people displaced. This disaster came atop Lebanon’s struggling economy, food shortages, and recent surge in COVID cases, with hospitals already at capacity. Lebanon has been through centuries of war and conflict, and is often referred to as a phoenix because it constantly rises from the ashes. Our empathy and admiration go out to Beirut’s people and the many others affected by this tragedy as they start the arduous process of restoration.

Here in Northern California, DOR’s sponsoring executive Irene Chen has likened our work during the pandemic to swimming. By June we’d gone back to trying to make progress with our “usual” activities, when a COVID surge hit us and we were temporarily submerged. Fortunately, in California and other states, there are signs that the current surge is easing. Unfortunately, this is coming at the cost of ongoing restrictions, economic uncertainty and schools not re-opening in person. We affirm our gratitude and respect for all of DOR’s employees for your continuing work to adapt, including our employees who are parents making adjustments for the coming semester.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access –We anticipate our building remaining at <25% occupancy throughout August, based on the building access requests submitted for all our employees by their research scientists and infrastructure directors. Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is expanding services for COVID convalescent plasma, from 6 medical centers to 13. Through a major effort, the CTP completed arrangements last week to provide access at 3 new medical centers in the Sacramento area. Our Vaccine Study Center is participating in a large multi-site effectiveness trial of the Pfizer COVID vaccine, opening this month for adults in Santa Clara and Sacramento. Our COVID-related studies and publications are listed on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.
  • Planning next steps – We’re asking most people at DOR to make remote work their primary mode through at least the end of the year. Thank you for all the adaptations you’re making to keep yourself and fellow employees safe. We’ll keep following the course of the pandemic and will keep you posted
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - August 3, 2020 – Beginnings

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

You might be surprised to hear that we’ve added many new employees since the start of the pandemic. DOR’s New Employee Orientation has been converted to all-virtual and included 28 employees – a record high – last month. Compliments to Wanda Harmon and our HR team, Anna Christmas, Ashley Gonzalez, Raquel Guyadeen-Maloof, and Ayanna Jones, on continuing to organize this helpful orientation and successfully converting it to a video meeting format.

Another new group of DOR employees was added last month by our Analyst Training Program. These 9 new analysts New Analysts are pictured here in one of their first video meetings. Analysts who’ve participated in this program this year and in the past have come from places as far away as Yale and as close as UC Berkeley and Cal State East Bay.  They’ve joined a wide range of investigators and teams in all of our 6 scientific sections. Our hope is that they’ll acquire excellent skills and stay long-term with us at DOR. Kudos to Jingrong Yang and Charlie Quesenberry, along with Suzanne Furuya and our IT and HR groups for doing a wonderful job recruiting these promising analysts and getting them onboarded. And thank you to the many senior programmer/analysts and others who are contributing training for these employees via this highly successful program that builds a broad foundation for our ongoing research.

Welcoming new employees beginning their careers, or at least this phase of their careers, at DOR makes us encouraged about the future. Hopefully, all or most of these employees will still be with us when the pandemic ends. We give tremendous credit to our experienced employees for doing the hard work of keeping our research and infrastructure operations running, and adapting in ways that make it possible for us to continue growing and welcoming newcomers. Thank you for all you’re doing to keep building our future together!

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access –We were able to approve all requests for building access in August and anticipate our building remaining at <25% occupancy. Thank you to all our research scientists, infrastructure directors, and managers who contributed for returning the building access and remote work surveys from the last few weeks.

Please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website . If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.

  • COVID Research – Our Clinical Trials Program has received approval for a major expansion of services for COVID convalescent plasma, from 6 medical centers to 13, and has started this important effort. Our Vaccine Study Center will be participating in a large multi-site effectiveness trial of the Pfizer COVID vaccine, expected to open this month for adults in Santa Clara and hopefully one additional site. Our COVID-related studies and publications are listed on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.
  • Planning next steps – We’re asking most people at DOR to make remote work their primary mode through at least the end of the year. Thank you for all the adaptations you’re making to keep yourself and fellow employees safe. If we’re able to, we’d still like to allow teams at DOR to work on-site on the same day once or twice a week this fall. We’ll keep following the course of the pandemic and will keep you posted.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

 

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - July 27, 2020 – Temporary

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

At my house (Tracy’s), we have too many peaches right now. Every week over the summer, I buy too much fruit at the Berkeley Bowl, knowing that the glorious taste of stone fruit and melon is fleeting. When my husband asked if we could stock up before the season’s end, I reminded him that unfortunately perishable fruit doesn’t work that way -- unless you have the time and skills to can it, dry it, or make jam.

While it’s bittersweet that summer fruit is temporary, conversely, I take hope from the fact that most pandemics are temporary as well. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 lasted two years, and the Asian flu (1957-58) and H1N1 swine flu (2009-10) pandemics were similar. If we’re fortunate, this pandemic may end more quickly than those due to the treatments and vaccines being now developed at record pace around the world.

It was encouraging to hear in last week’s DOR Town Hall from Alan Go about COVID treatment trials and from Nicky Klein about vaccine trials we have in start-up. Last week the U.S. government announced that it plans to purchase 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is soon going into a Phase 3 trial where our Vaccine Study Center will lead at least one site in Santa Clara and possibly others.

Of course, even if and when effective vaccines have been developed, key issues will remain. Ramping up manufacturing capability and deciding how to equitably distribute the initially limited supply will be challenging. The National Academy of Medicine last week formed a committee to address equitable distribution of COVID vaccines, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is in the action as well. Art Reingold of UC Berkeley, Saad Omer of Yale, and Grace Lee of Stanford, known to many of us, are on these committees. I’m hoping their expert guidance can help steer us to a good national process for allocating the COVID vaccines of the future.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – For this month, please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. We anticipate our building being at <25% occupancy throughout July and August. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.

We’ve also sent all research scientists and infrastructure directors a Remote Work Assessment Survey that covers all DOR employees working at 2000 Broadway. This survey is important so we can relay DOR’s preferences for current and future building use to KPNC executives for facilities planning purposes. For research scientists and infrastructure directors, please look for the email you received from Cathy Chou last week and do your best to return this survey by tomorrow (Tuesday, July 28). Your response will help us request enough space for all employees who wish or need to work on-site in the long-term future after the pandemic. 

  • Equity, inclusion, and diversity – We’ll be continuing our “ideas and listening” meetings with a wide range of groups throughout DOR in August. We look forward to hearing suggestions and advice from our programmer/analyst (including Strategic Programming), research associates and assistants, administration, IT, and clinical trials groups.
  • Planning next steps – We anticipate aiming for a “new normal” this fall, with most people making remote work their primary mode through the end of the year. KP administrative offices are technically closed until September and potentially until 2021.  We’d still like to enable teams at DOR to work on-site on the same day once or twice a week this fall if they wish to, but we’ll need to follow the course of the pandemic and be flexible in our planning.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - July 20, 2020 – Patience

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

As we enter week 19, we’re constantly reminded that the pandemic isn’t anywhere near over.  The media report distressing news locally and nationally every day.  We continue to see rising incidence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in several states including our own.  Also distressing is the news on racial/ethnic inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, which highlight the broader disparities in our society. 

With all the news and events surrounding us, it’s important for us to pause and recognize that this is a tumultuous time for us and our country.  At times like these, it is important to practice the art of patience: the skill of waiting for desired results. It’s simple in theory, but much harder to practice and master.  We live in a society that has grown accustomed to instant results.  In a digital world, most of us are used to getting what we need with a few clicks and this has contributed to our inability to be patient.  Taking the time to allow things to occur provides us the opportunity to think it through and to develop strategies to better cope with challenges ahead.  Patience is key to moving through daily life in a mindful and productive way and to maintaining good mental and physical health.  Please remember the KP resources available to us such as the MindfulHub.  There you can find a myriad of helpful tips, and tools and attend virtual mindful sessions.

With this in mind, we’d like to acknowledge the exceptional efforts that you’re making to practice patience during these uncertain and unsettling times.  There is no doubt that together, if we practice patience, we can get through this tumultuous period.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – For this month, please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. We anticipate our building being at <25% occupancy throughout July and August. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. We sent another survey last Friday, July 17th for August building use requests and to take the initial steps in determining preferences for the rest of the year.
  • Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is continuing to meet increasing demand to use COVID-19 convalescent plasma, which they’re supporting via an expanded access protocol at 6 medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center has been working on arrangements for a vaccine trial that should begin soon. Our COVID-related studies and publications are listed on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.
  • Equity, inclusion, and diversity – As we mentioned last week, we’re still early on our path in this work. We’re continuing our “ideas and listening” meetings so we can engage a wide range of DOR employees in dialogue. Last week we met with our project coordinators group, and we’re in the process of planning meetings with our programmer/analyst, research associates and assistants, infrastructure, and clinical trials groups. Again, we want to make sure that we hear from everyone as we gather ideas.
  • Planning next steps – We anticipate aiming for a “new normal” this fall, with most people making remote work their primary mode through the end of the year. KPNC interim regional president Tom Hanenburg said in the video Town Hall released on Thursday that administrative offices won’t be open until after September and potentially not until 2021.  Thus, while we’d still like to enable teams at DOR to work on-site on the same day once or twice a week this fall if they wish to, we’ll need to be very cautious about allowing our building occupancy to increase.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news. We’re planning a Town Hall meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, July 21, from 12:30-1:30 so we hope you’ll join us for more updates then.

Best regards,
Tom Dang, MBA, MSE and Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Managing Director and Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - July 13, 2020 – Listening

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

The last few weeks have brought distressing news about the rising incidence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations throughout our country. Equally distressing are the racial/ethnic disparities we’re seeing in the toll of this pandemic. These disparities are being consistently reported in multiple studies from the U.S. and other countries, the largest a study of 17 million people in England last week in Nature. The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black and Latino people underscores the inequities we see throughout health and in our broader society.

It’s in this context that we affirm DOR’s commitment to strengthening our efforts to creating an inclusive culture and working to address health disparities. In these efforts we will align with the equity, inclusion, and diversity structures sponsored by other Kaiser Permanente leaders, including KFH/P CEO Greg Adams, TPMG executive director and CEO Rich Isaacs, and interim regional KFH president Tom Hanenburg. Two helpful frameworks they’ve offered are to view our work as addressing the workplace, health care delivery, and the community, and to view our efforts as following a 4-stage maturity model.

We’re still early on our path in this work. This is why we’re planning to spend the next several weeks listening. We’d like to hear ideas from a broad range of people at DOR. We picture our work on new or expanded activities toward equity as having 3 stages: (1) idea gathering; (2) idea selection and development; and (3) implementation. These stages may overlap, with some activities being able to move forward simply and others requiring more time to develop.

Listening takes time. You might be asking when you’ll see more specifics and actions. We want to consider our options thoughtfully and hear the input of a broad range of people as we make choices about what to initiate next. We’ll need to be selective and highly strategic about our work. You can expect regular updates through this email (equity, inclusion, and diversity will become a regular feature, as below) and more specific plans in September.

Our goals are to make our work in equity integrated and sustainable, so that it becomes second nature, a key part of the innovation and value we contribute to Kaiser Permanente and society. We thank you for the contributions you already make, and those you’ll make going forward, in this important work.

Here are our updates for this week:

Building Access – For this month, please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. We anticipate our building being at <25% occupancy throughout July. For ad hoc requests, please request access 24 hours in advance using the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. We’ll send another survey next week for August and the fall.

Research – Our Clinical Trials Program is continuing to meet increasing demand to use COVID-19 convalescent plasma, which they’re supporting via an expanded access protocol at 6 medical centers. Our Vaccine Study Center has been working on arrangements for a vaccine trial that should begin soon. Our COVID-related studies and publications are listed on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.

Equity, inclusion, and diversity – We’re looking forward to meeting with the project coordinators for an idea and listening session tomorrow. We’re making plans to meet with the programmer/analyst, research associates and assistants, infrastructure, and clinical trials groups in the next several weeks, and to invite ideas from all at DOR. See our note above for additional context.

Planning next steps – We anticipate aiming for a “new normal” this fall, with most people making remote work their primary mode through the end of the year. If circumstances permit, we hope to enable members of each team to work in the building on the same day once or twice a week if they wish, starting in August or September.

Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news. We’re planning a Town Hall meeting next Tuesday, July 21, from 12:30-1:30 – please look out for an invitation soon.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California
https://divisionofresearch.kaiserpermanente.org/


COVID-19 update for DOR - July 6, 2020 – Perspective

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

As COVID incidence accelerates throughout the country, it would be easy to lose perspective on what we’ve accomplished during the first four months of the pandemic. We in Northern California actually succeeded in flattening the curve through social distancing, including shifts in clinical practice and research to video interactions and reducing in-person interactions with patients to only the most necessary. Unfortunately, this initial success couldn’t last amid the lifting of shelter-in-place orders, even where the loosening of restrictions was gradual. Our East Bay medical centers hit new highs last week in confirmed cases and in the hospital census of COVID patients. Although hospital capacity remains robust, it is not clear when the current upswing will peak.

You may remember our East Bay physicians-in-chief, Judy Park and Rita Ng, from talks they’ve given at DOR in the past few years. They and the East Bay interim medical group administrator, Goran Kalas, send regular email updates to chiefs, managers, and physicians. Last week they wrote, in part, “We always knew that sheltering-in-place would not magically bring about a cure. It was simply meant to buy time – precious time that we have not squandered. We have been working around the clock to be ready and prepared. And even in spite of all this, we have some really tough days ahead.”

Likewise, all of us at DOR have been making many adaptations, large and small, to navigate the pandemic and mitigate risk while still moving forward with our work. It hasn’t been easy, and this situation will continue to test our creativity and flexibility as it evolves. Despite the challenges, we’re doing an excellent job carrying on with our research. Our work is vital to transforming health, not only for COVID and its effects on health care delivery, but also for enhancing health and health care for a diversity of people and conditions. We’re so grateful to have colleagues like you, and we know we’ll come out of this stronger together.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – For this month, please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. We anticipate our building being at <25% occupancy throughout July, so please make sure you request access 24 hours in advance. We’ll send another survey in a few weeks, for August and the fall. For ad hoc requests, please see the instructions on our DOR COVID website. If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in.
  • Research – Our Clinical Trials Program has seen increasing demand to use COVID-19 convalescent plasma, which they’re supporting via an expanded access protocol at 6 medical centers. Our regional COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team has received 233 ideas and inquiries to date. Our COVID-related studies and publications are listed on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.
  • Work on equity and inclusion – We picture DOR’s work in this area as having three phases: (1) idea gathering; (2) idea selection and development; and (3) implementation. We’ll be inviting all DOR employees to participate in the idea gathering phase, which we picture lasting a few months. We’ve assembled the start of an idea list based on what we’ve heard from our research scientists and infrastructure directors so far. Currently, we’re arranging to invite ideas via surveys and meetings with the project coordinator, programmer/analyst, research associates and assistant groups (you’ll hear from your group leader(s) in the near future). We’ll soon be inviting infrastructure (administration, IT, and Strategic Programming Group), clinical trials, and all other employees to contribute ideas via surveys and meetings with us as well.
  • Planning next steps – We anticipate aiming for a “new normal” this fall, with most people making remote work their primary mode through the end of the year. If circumstances permit, we hope to enable members of each team to work in the building on the same day once or twice a week if they wish, starting in August or September.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news. We’re planning our next Town Hall meeting for late July, with the date to be announced soon.

Like the clinical leaders throughout our system, our management team at DOR (scientific associate directors and infrastructure directors) has remained continuously busy during this period making plans for supporting us all in our work. We owe them, and you, great appreciation for all you’ve been doing to continue our top-quality research and to assist our clinical colleagues in protecting patients. It’s our honor to work with you all.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - June 29, 2020 – Respite

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

As we start our 16th week of pandemic restrictions, it’s hard to not be a bit discouraged by the news that disease incidence is increasing in many states, including California. Our Oakland medical center has been managing an increase in COVID hospitalizations, though has been able to handle it well so far.

We’d like to acknowledge how hard people at DOR have been working to adapt. The efforts our scientists and staff have made to keep moving forward with our research and infrastructure processes amid working from home and many, many changes in workflow have been inspiring. We’re very fortunate that our research remains needed — even more so during the pandemic — and that Kaiser Permanente is a robust parent organization. Still, we all at KP need to take actions to prepare for the increasing financial stresses that all health care systems are facing and will continue to deal with in the next few years. In other health care systems including Stanford and Sutter, we’ve seen furloughs or mandates to use vacation time.

With the above in mind, we’d like to strongly encourage each of you to use all of the paid time off (PTO) you earn in 2020, before the end of 2020. In other words, please do your best to end 2020 with no more PTO than you had at the start of the year.

Why is this important?

First, we’ve all been facing unusual stressors. It’s really important to give ourselves a break and enjoy a psychological change of scenery from our workday email and Teams meetings. While many people’s original summer travel plans have had to be modified, there are still plenty of ways to get out of our usual environments and routines.  

Second, taking our PTO is one way we can help keep KP financially sound. The accrued PTO of each employee is a debt the organization owes us and allowing it to increase causes this debt to increase. When we use our PTO, it reduces KP’s financial liability.

This week, Tom (and Melissa Nelson, who assists Tom) will be emailing every manager within DOR a report on his or her employees and the amount of PTO each one had at the start of 2020. Thank you to our DOR Finance team, Cathy Chou and Dennis Reed for excellent work creating these reports. We’ll be asking managers to talk with each employee and encourage them to use all the PTO they earn this year. In exceptional cases, personal circumstances may make this difficult, so please take this as strong encouragement rather than a mandate. Still, if you’d like to know how you can help KP while helping yourself, this is an important action to take.

Related to PTO, here’s a note on personal travel. We recognize that different people have different levels of tolerance for personal risk, and some may choose to travel by plane or other means. We encourage every DOR employee to take responsibility for minimizing risk to their co-workers. If you travel or participate in group events, please be aware of the level of risk involved. When planning travel, you can visit the CDC website, which has current data on COVID and information on US and international travel. Each of us can make a difference to ensure a safe workplace. If you return from travel and work onsite at 2000 Broadway, please revisit the DOR Building Use Plan to refresh your memory about procedures we’re asking staff to follow.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – For this month, please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. Research scientists and infrastructure directors will receive replies to requests for July building access from Cathy Chou today. We anticipate our building being at <25% occupancy throughout July. We’ll send another survey in a few weeks, for August. For ad hoc requests, please see the instructions on our DOR COVID website.

If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. We’ve implemented many other changes to align with local, KP, and CDC guidelines on social distancing and workplace safety.

  • New employee hotline for COVID-19 – KP has created a new employee hotline for questions about COVID testing and exposures and we’ve added this information to our DOR COVID website. (The link is in the 2nd box on the right, under KP COVID-19 Resources. You’ll need to be connected to our network to access it.) This resource supplements and does not replace our existing resources and protocol. If you test positive for COVID-19 or think you’ve been exposed in our workplace, please report this promptly to your manager, who will work with us to take appropriate next steps.
  • Research – Our COVID-related studies and publications are listed on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.
  • Work on equity and disparities – We had a productive meeting with many of our research scientists and infrastructure directors last week. They offered many perspectives and contributed a wide range of ideas. One observation they made was that others at DOR would like to participate in this conversation and work. We’re still in the idea-gathering phase and picture inviting other groups at DOR to meet with us in the near future.
  • Planning next steps – We anticipate aiming for a “new normal” this fall, with most people making remote work their primary mode through the end of the year. If circumstances permit, we hope to enable members of each team to work in the building on the same day once or twice a week starting in August or September.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

We’re still in a rough patch with this pandemic. Thank you for all you’re doing and for your energy and persistence. We’re confident that together we’ll make progress and contribute important new knowledge to enhance health and equity in this era of both cataclysmic change and unprecedented opportunity.

Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - June 22, 2020 – Difficulties

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Last week I was reading an update from a periodic communication session that the East Bay physicians-in-chief and elected representatives to the TPMG board offer for physicians in Oakland and Richmond. One of the slides said, “2020 has been a tough year.”

2020 Tough This struck me as an almost-amusing understatement, but also a realistic acknowledgment of our global situation, amid the pandemic, economic stress, and unrest over inequities. It made me think of the writer Malcolm Gladwell’s discussion of “desirable difficulties,” described in his book David and Goliath and drawing from the work of cognitive psychologists Robert and Elizabeth Bjork. In the context of learning theory, performance sometimes improves if the task is more difficult. The theory is that ultimately, some difficulties can result in better learning and desirable outcomes. But it depends on how the people faced with the difficulties react.

While it’s hard to call the big stressors we currently face “desirable,” we do think that we at DOR have the characteristics to face them well and eventually emerge stronger. We have robust relationships within and among our teams, and strong ties with a healthy parent organization. We’re displaying excellent ability to work together to adapt to our difficult circumstances so far. The world is learning from our experiences -- see this recent NEJM Catalyst paper on our system’s capabilities to suppress COVID , by Steve Parodi, Vinnie Liu, and others. The world needs the research we’re doing, both on COVID and on other topics. So we want to both acknowledge how tough our year has been, and also encourage all at DOR to continue the outstanding work we’re doing amid the difficulties. 

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – For the summer, please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. We anticipate our building being at <25% occupancy through August 31. For ad hoc requests, please see the instructions on our DOR COVID website . Last week, Tom sent all research scientists and infrastructure directors another survey to invite requests for building access for employees in July. Please remember to submit the survey by COB Tuesday, June 23rd.

If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. We’ve implemented many other changes to align with local, KP, and CDC guidelines on social distancing and workplace safety.

  • Parking – We’ve received inquiries about parking at 2000 Broadway from both assigned parkers and staff who would like to temporarily drive and park to work.  Please see our DOR COVID website for updates
  • Research – Our research on COVID covers a wide range of types of studies, including clinical trials of treatments and vaccines, population-based and clinical epidemiology, and outcomes research. A list of COVID-related studies and publications is on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.
  • Planning next steps – We anticipate aiming for a “new normal” this fall, with most people making remote work their primary mode through the end of the year. If circumstances permit, we hope to enable members of each team to work in the building on the same day once or twice a week starting in September. We’ll continue to monitor the local environment and KP regional guidance and give you updates as our plan develops.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Long before modern psychologists and writers coined the term “desirable difficulties,” the philosopher Nietzsche had a similar take on the matter, writing “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” As we settle in for a long haul with the pandemic, we’ll picture ourselves coming out on the stronger side of that equation. We appreciate all you’re doing to adjust, persist, and stay connected!  

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Update: Meetings, Travel, and Remote Work

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

DOR’s Management Team (scientific associate directors and infrastructure directors) has continued to meet 2-3 times a week, and we’ve been making plans for adjusting pandemic-related restrictions. Below is our updated guidance on large meetings, working remotely, and travel:

1. Non-essential in-person events and large gatherings (>10 people)

  • Should be cancelled, postponed, or converted to virtual. This policy does not have an end date.

2. Working remotely

  • We plan to continue our current pattern of restricted building access and approximately 25% occupancy through August 31
  • Employees should expect that remote work will be our primary mode through at least Dec 31
  • If our local COVID-19 situation and KP permit it, we hope to grant each team access to our building for 1-2 days a week starting in September.

3. Travel – Current restrictions do not have an end date. It’s unlikely that current restrictions will be lifted before the end of 2020. For the purpose of this DOR guidance,

  • Local travel is defined as travel within the catchment area of Kaiser Permanente Northern California medical centers.
  • Long-distance travel is defined as travel requiring a flight and/or an overnight stay.
  • This guidance applies whether the travel is sponsored by KP or by an external sponsor.
    • Essential travel is defined as travel that is required – and cannot be postponed or converted to virtual – to support patient care or to preserve the viability of a research activity.
  • Essential travel that is local is allowable with the approval of the employee’s supervisor. For example, a drive to Sacramento to pick up research biospecimens is allowable.
  • Essential travel that requires long-distance travel must be approved by the DOR director.
    • Non-essential travel – All non-essential travel is restricted.
    • Travel to attend academic conferences or to participate on committees or task forces is considered non-essential. Many DOR investigators have tentative plans to participate in such events in 2021. If and when restrictions based on health and safety have been modified, travel to such events is likely to be permissible by exception, with approval from the relevant associate director and the DOR director.
    • Travel by trainees and staff is defined as non-essential unless it is necessary to meet a core DOR business function and cannot be postponed or converted to virtual.

Thank you for all you’re continuing to do to adjust your work processes and stay connected with colleagues during this time. Please feel free to contact your Management Team member, or either of us, with comments or questions.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - June 15, 2020: Oscillation

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

The news that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing in some states reminds us that managing the pandemic will be a delicate business. As depicted in this infectious disease modeling study by Kissler et al in Science, disease prevalence and incidence is likely to A close up of a logo  Description automatically generated oscillate. The pandemic’s evolution will depend on multiple variables, including viral factors, host factors such as the duration of immunity after infection, and environmental factors including social behavior. The interactions are complex, and there’s as yet incomplete information on many of the determinants, though we’re learning more every day. A simpler and more interactive version of these concepts is in this web-based simulation by a French epidemiologist and a graphic artist.

We’ll eventually emerge from the pandemic based on herd immunity, treatment, vaccination, or some combination of these. In the phase we’re now in, called suppression, authorities are starting to let up on social distancing and other restrictions. This will unavoidably allow the virus to spread somewhat. We’ll need to use testing, contact tracing, and other types of surveillance to identify outbreaks and suppress them, keeping the spread of disease under control. For us here in KP Northern California, lab testing capacity has continued to increase and is currently at >6,000 tests per day.

It’s likely that we’ll see ups and downs in both the restrictions we’re living with today and in disease incidence over the next 12-24 months. We’ll want these oscillations to be gentle, which is why we’re proceeding conservatively at DOR. We’ll continue working together to protect our hospital capacity, and to give our clinical trials researchers around the world adequate time to identify effective treatments and vaccines. 

We’ll also continue to educate ourselves and one another about what we can do to support equity, inclusion, and diversity. We’re planning a meeting with interested research scientists and infrastructure directors to discuss what constructive actions DOR can take. Here’s a useful curated resource list from our KP National Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity program (with thanks to KP School of Medicine Dean Mark Schuster for pointing it out).

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – For June, please only come into our building if you’ve received approval in advance. We’ve given approval for a handful of people to work on-site and anticipate our building being at <25% occupancy throughout the month. For ad hoc requests, please see the instructions in Tom’s email from Friday May 29th or on our DOR COVID website. We’ll be sending another survey this week to invite requests for building access in July.
  • Safety — If you’re coming into our building, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. We’ve implemented many other changes to align with local, KP, and CDC guidelines on social distancing and workplace safety.
  • Research – Our Clinical Trials Program, led by Alan Go and Victor Chen, continues to work very hard to support access to new therapies for patients with COVID-19, including a Phase II trial of selinexor and the Expanded Access Program for convalescent plasma in selected medical centers. Vinnie Liu and Gabriel Escobar and team are leading syndromic surveillance using computerized diagnosis data as part of our suppression strategy. Nicky Klein’s group is busy planning for a vaccine trial and also is working with the CDC on epidemiologic surveillance. Many other DOR investigators are also leading COVID-19 research. A list of studies and publications is on our COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.

Our research scientists and project coordinators who have studies that require in-person contact with participants have been invited to a meeting planned for today at 3:00 on this topic. Steve Sidney will be moderating and David Matesanz, Donna Abrams, Steve and I will be presenting.

  • Planning next steps – At DOR, we anticipate aiming for a “new normal” this fall. It’s likely we’ll ask people to continue working mostly remotely, and if circumstances allow it, we hope to enable members of each team to work in the building on the same day once or twice a week. We’ll continue to monitor the local environment and KP regional guidance and give you updates as our plan develops.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Thank you for weathering these bumpy times with us. As spring turns to summer, we see life moving ahead, with students finishing school and starting summer activities (even if it’s “home day camp” run by their parents), and apricots appearing in our markets. We hope you’ll take some time to relax and recharge in the next few weeks.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - June 8, 2020: Imbalance

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

If you're like us, you may be wondering, "What's next?" The events across our nation over the last week calling attention to systematic inequities have brought many of us into a teachable moment. As we think about what constructive actions we can take, we can join in conversations on these topics and educate ourselves and one another.

We're all invited to two meetings on this topic this week:

  • A KP East Bay Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Dialogue Circle on Thursday from 12:30-1:30 (virtual Town Hall) (see attached – RSVP required)
  • A dialogue hosted by the KP African American Professional Association on Friday from 1:00-2:00 (see the email Tom will send this morning)

Some of us have asked how KP performs regarding equity in health care delivery and outcomes. Alyce Adams, our associate director for health care delivery and policy, pointed us to the KP Equitable Care Health Outcomes project and its detailed reports, which show quality measures broken down by race/ethnicity. The upshot is that we do have some disparities in care, although studies including this New England Journal paper suggest that they're narrower within KP than in other settings. In addition, for a high-level overview of KP's activities, see the National Equity, Inclusion and Diversity website.

We'll be conferring with DOR's scientific and managerial leaders over the next few weeks to discuss further steps we can take to make a sustained contribution to enhancing equity and diversity in our own setting and in health more broadly. Meanwhile, please don't hesitate to email either of us with ideas, suggestions, or questions.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – For June, please only come into our building if you've received approval in advance. We've given approval for a handful of people to work on-site and anticipate our building being at <25% occupancy throughout the month. For ad hoc requests, please see the instructions in Tom's email from Friday May 29th or on our DOR COVID website. We'll be sending another survey next week to invite requests for building access in July.
  • Safety — Last week we started daily temperature checking for all persons entering our building. If you come in, please bring your face mask for use in common spaces, and visit the front desk to have your temperature taken and sign in. We've implemented many other changes to align with local, KP, and CDC guidelines on social distancing and workplace safety.
  • Research – Our clinical trials team enrolled our first patients into a Phase II trial of selinexor, an oral medication that could inhibit viral replication within infected cells. They're also supporting the use of convalescent plasma in six medical centers. To see a list of our COVID studies and publications, please visit the COVID research website hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.

    Thank you to all our research scientists and project coordinators who completed the survey on studies that require in-person contact with participants. We're amid analyzing the results (thanks to Maria Massolo) and will be conferring with David Matesanz and Betty Suh-Burgmann of the IRB this week. We look forward to discussing high-level plans at the meeting planned next Monday on this topic, including our Research Clinic (thanks to Steve Sidney).

  • Planning next steps – Last Tuesday we received a leadership email from KPNC interim regional president Tom Hanenburg that said, "Most staff who have been working remotely will continue to do so until at least July 31 when we are ready to begin a phased approach to bringing you back … We are building on the success of temporary remote work assignments by identifying staff that can continue to work remotely based on their roles in the organization." Meanwhile, the incidence of cases in Alameda County has been increasing slightly, although hospital capacity remains robust.

    What should we anticipate in August and beyond? At DOR, we anticipate aiming for a "new normal" this fall. It's likely we'll ask people to continue working mostly remotely, and if circumstances allow it, we hope to enable members of each team to work in the building on the same day once or twice a week. We'll continue to monitor the local environment and KP regional guidance and give you updates as our plan develops.

  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

As we start our 13th week of shelter in place, we take heart from the fact that successful researchers are both great at innovating and extremely persistent. We admire and appreciate all you're doing – simply holding it together amid the stress is a small victory – and hope you take some extra time to look after yourself and those around you this week.   

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - June 1, 2020: Imbalance

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

The events of the last week have worsened the sense of imbalance many of us have been feeling since the pandemic began. The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have left people around the country with a sense of horror and outrage. It’s hard to know what to do, or even what to say, in the face of such senseless dehumanization and loss of life. The news of these events and the protests that have followed have come to a head amid a week when the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 100,000 and the president announced that our country will terminate its membership in the World Health Organization. Closer to home, on Thursday Alameda County reported the highest number of cases since the pandemic began.

Racial/ethnic disparities sometimes feel hard-wired into the American system, appearing pervasively in all of life’s sectors, including health. Currently, there’s growing evidence that COVID-19 hospitalizations are higher among blacks, and COVID-19 incidence seems to be higher among both black and Latino groups.

At DOR we’re fortunate to work with a very diverse patient population, which gives us the chance to focus some of our efforts to understand and reduce disparities. For example, Steve Sidney, along with colleagues Jamal Rana, Marc Jaffe, Joe Young, Alan Go, and others, has led many studies to advance our understanding of racial/ethnic disparities in hypertension control and cardiovascular outcomes. Mai Nguyen-Huynh and Steve recently completed a large NIH-sponsored pragmatic trial for African-American patients with hypertension, using medications and lifestyle management. Alyce Adams is nationally known as an expert on disparities in health.

In the current situation, we can act at an individual level by recognizing that many people in our community are feeling the stress of recent events and looking for constructive ways to make change. We encourage you to offer moral support to colleagues, and if you’re seeking support, access the Kaiser Permanente Employee Assistance Program or pursue other sources of mental health care. You can also take advantage of KP’s Emotional Wellness Tools, including Calm Premium, accessed via an app, and offering myStrength, a personalized program of self-help resources.

We also can act at a group level by continuing to initiate research on racial/ethnic disparities and the social factors that drive or exacerbate it. With the sponsorship of TPMG executives, we’re already involved in studies of racial/ethnic disparities in COVID. While we almost certainly won’t have simple solutions, through our work we can help move society closer, step-by-step, to understanding and eliminating disparities in health.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – For the month of June, please only come into our building to work if you’ve received approval in advance. Those who do need to work on-site are being allowed in, and this will result in our building being at <25% occupancy throughout the month. For ad hoc requests to work on-site or access our building to pick up items, please see the instructions in Tom’s email from Friday or on our DOR COVID website.

To keep up with what’s going on in downtown Oakland, we encourage you to subscribe to KP Alert, if you haven’t already. There were a number of messages this weekend, and signing up could be useful now and going forward.

Alameda County’s COVID-19 case rate has not decreased in recent weeks, and we anticipate that Kaiser Permanente will issue guidance to avoid formally re-opening office buildings like ours until at least August 1. We’ll be sending another survey this month to invite requests for building access in July.

  • Safety — To help keep employees safe, we’re taking similar steps as other KP regional offices, including requiring face masks in common areas, extra cleaning, signage to guide social distancing, and building access tracing. We’re also reviewing the new guidelines that CDC published on office building safety in COVID; we’ve already adopted most of what’s recommended.

Today we’re starting daily temperature checking for all persons entering our building.  Please follow the instructions on signs at our entrance doors. Thank you very much to Shelby Anguiano and all our facilities and operations team members for all they’ve been doing to prepare and manage our building.

  • Research – The clinical trials of remdesivir we’ve been part of formally closed last Friday, because the trials reached their enrollment target and the drug has been approved for emergency use by the FDA. Our clinical trials team continues to be busy supporting requests to arrange convalescent plasma for patients at six of our medical centers. Many other studies are in start-up. For a high-level summary of work in progress on COVID, please visit the website of our regional COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team, hosted by the Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program.
  • Planning next steps – Earlier, we’d been hoping to ease up on restrictions on building access in the fall. However, the incidence of COVID-19 cases in Alameda County and the guidance we expect from Kaiser Permanente program office may lead us to maintain our current approach to building access for the next several months. We’ll most likely have to take a wait-and-see approach and continue planning month by month for now.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

The difficult news of this week is a reminder that the goal of keeping a tidy balance in our day-to-day lives is sometimes too far a reach in these stressful times. The important choices we make are about the actions, both small and large, that we’ll take to make progress on the global and social challenges we’re facing today. Thank you for all you’re doing to move forward with our shared activities in research, and to take care of yourself and those around you.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


Guidance on Building Use Starting June 1st

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

As we close out the month of May and head into week 12 with the stay in place order, the DOR Management Team and I have been busy planning the gradual re-opening of the building at 2000 Broadway. About two weeks ago, a building use/access survey was sent out to research scientists and infrastructure directors to solicit requests to access the building for the month of June. We received responses from 22 research scientists and 6 infrastructure directors/managers requesting building use for 80 employees. When reviewed, the results showed that the number of employees per floor will be below our 25% occupancy limit allowing us to maintain social distancing practices in the building. Responses were sent to the individuals that submitted a survey.  Based on the June building use requests, we have projections of the number of employees working onsite each day and we will carefully monitor building use/access to make sure we remain within our occupancy thresholds. 

Starting June 1st, please note the following guidance for accessing the building:

  • All individuals entering the 2000 Broadway building will notice signs posted at entrances instructing them to check-in at the front desk, where temperatures checks will be performed and logged during work hours.  These logs will be reconciled with the badge access reports each day.
  • We will continue to restrict outside visitors for the foreseeable future.
  • We will follow CDC guidance adopted by KP on social distancing practices when working in the building.  We have modified public spaces where necessary. 
  • Environmental services has increased the frequency of cleaning especially the public high traffic areas such as the lobby, bathrooms, elevators and break rooms.
  • Please make sure you use your own workspace.  If you are sharing a workspace, please make sure you clean it using disinfectant when you are done. 
  • Disinfectant and cleaning supplies will be available.
  • Please observe and follow the instructions posted on signs throughout the building.

If you need to access 2000 Broadway in June but did not complete a survey:

  • For ad-hoc Work Onsite requests, please send an email (with your name, NUID, building use date, and reason for request) to DORFacilityOps@kp.org with subject line= Work Onsite at least 24 hours in advance.  All requests will be reviewed to ensure that occupancy thresholds are not exceeded.  An approval notification is needed before entering the building.  Again, please make sure to check-in at the front desk (see above).
  • For ad-hoc Building Access (i.e., accessing the building for <30 minutes) requests, please send an email (with your name, NUID, building access date) to DORFacilityOps@kp.org with subject line=Building Access at least 24 hours in advance.  An approval notification is needed before entering the building. 

In order to ensure that the guidance aligns with state and local policies and/or KP National and Regional policies, this guidance may change over time. 

By implementing these guidance, we hope to maintain a safe workplace for the DOR colleagues who are working onsite.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or FOPS staff.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Best Regards,

Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Regional Managing Director
Kaiser Permanente
Division of Research


COVID-19 update for DOR - May 26, 2020 – Observation

In her award-winning book Lab Girl, geobiologist Hope Jahren instructs the reader to focus on a leaf, then ask a question about it. She says, “Guess what? You are now a scientist.” It’s a reminder that science is simply observation followed by questions. When Matt Solomon and his fellow cardiologists noticed a drop in hospitalizations for heart attacks after shelter-in-place began, they initiated one of the fastest research projects we’ve seen to date.

Matt is one of the 9 physicians in the TPMG Physician Researcher Program, directed by Doug Corley and hosted here at DOR. This program and many of our newer activities in delivery science and predictive analytics have been able to build on our powerful foundation of skilled research teams created by our senior researchers. Many have been at DOR doing epidemiology and health services research here for decades. Matt worked with his primary mentor Alan Go, as well as Steve Sidney, Thomas Leong, Cathy Lee, and Sue-Hee Sung of DOR, and TPMG cardiologists Ed McNulty, Jamal Rana, and Drew Ambrosy (also of DOR), to produce a study that found the incidence of acute myocardial infarction decreased by almost half during some weeks after the pandemic was identified. It was published in the New England Journal last week, attracting attention from National Public Radio (at the 5:55 min mark), the New York Times, and many others. Matt, Alan, and their team are already thinking about what questions to ask next.

social distancing at the clinicIn truth, the unaccustomed quiet in our clinical settings has been disconcerting for many of us in clinical practice. Fortunately, elective surgery is being re-started, and outreach to encourage patients to seek preventive services such as cancer screening is beginning gradually as well. In pediatrics, where I work each Friday, our outpatient clinics have been abnormally empty (see photo). Even as we anticipate inviting families in for well-child visits that were earlier postponed, we’ve adopted “new normal” schedules that recognize the additional time and precautions needed for in-person interactions during the pandemic. With California now allowing some counties to begin gradually re-opening services, we can hope we’ll eventually reach a new normal in our daily lives as well.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – Thank you to all the research scientists, infrastructure directors and managers who replied to our survey to request access for their employees in June. We also appreciate the effort of all who’ve arranged to continue working remotely for the coming month. We recognize this isn’t easy for most people, and it helps everyone. 

Based on your responses, we’re planning to have each floor of our building at no higher than 25% occupancy on any given day in June. Special thanks go to Cathy Chou for very capably analyzing the results and formulating the plan for us. We discussed the plan with the DOR Management Team today, and tomorrow we’ll be contacting each research scientist, director, and manager to give you the instructions for your employees’ building access in June.

For June, if you need to access our building to work on a day where you’re not already approved, please send an email to DORFacilityOps@kp.org, preferably 24 hours in advance. Your request will be reviewed by facilities manager Shelby Anguiano and managing director Tom Dang. If you need to come in briefly to simply pick up items, please follow the instructions to give appropriate notification on our DOR COVID website.

  • Safety -- To help keep employees safe, we’re taking similar steps as other KP regional offices, including requiring face masks in common areas, extra cleaning, signage to guide social distancing, and building access tracing. We’ve received infrared thermometers and plan to start daily temperature checking for all persons entering our building June 1st.  Please look out for signage with instructions at entrance doors.
  • Research – For a high-level summary of work in progress on COVID, please visit the website of our regional COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team, which has received more than 200 ideas and inquiries so far.
  • Planning next steps – As we’ve mentioned in meetings and via this email update, Kaiser Permanente is requiring higher-order approvals for opening new job postings. This is to help protect the job security of our existing employees. While our business model in research relies primarily on grants and contracts, we still operate within the larger organization. We and DOR associate director for HR Wanda Harmon will continue working to secure the needed approvals to open job postings so we can recruit personnel who are vital to our work. 
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Even with our state mostly sheltering in place, the Memorial Day holiday provided many of us a welcome break from our new normal routines. We hope we’ll all be able to find more time for contemplation and for asking new questions as we move forward together.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - May 18, 2020 – Sustainability

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

DOR alumna Julia Marcus had a thoughtful piece this week in the Atlantic advocating for all of us to choose sustainable approaches to social distancing as we deal with the pandemic. She draws on her research background in HIV prevention, including the fact that abstinence-only education has been found ineffective. Julia recommends against “pandemic shaming” – invective directed against those perceived as violating social-distancing rules. Instead, she calls for recognizing that people are going to take risks, so it’s best to offer strategies to reduce potential harms. This will be a more sustainable approach to life amid the pandemic.

Julia worked with Mike Silverberg as a postdoctoral research fellow here from 2013-17 before decamping to the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard as an assistant professor. For those of us who know her, it’s been fun to see her in the news stories on MSNBC and National Public Radio.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access – As we mentioned in our Town Hall meeting last Tuesday, we’re asking all employees who are able to work remotely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. This will help support physical distancing for employees who do need to work on-site.

Last Wednesday, Tom emailed a Building Access Survey to all research scientists and infrastructure directors. The research scientist or infrastructure director needs to complete this survey to require building access for each employee who needs to work in our building between June 1 and 30. We’re aiming to have each floor of our building at no higher than 25% occupancy on any given day. This translates to approximately 20-25 employees per floor.

Please note that building access approvals made in previous rounds will no longer be valid starting June 1. This is because our needs and guidelines are still changing month by month. If an employee needs building access in June, their research scientist or infrastructure director needs to request access for them via the current survey, even if they were approved earlier.

The survey is due by tomorrow. Our Management Team will reply to each respondent on Wednesday, May 27 regarding approvals and instructions.

If you need to come in briefly to simply pick up items, please follow the instructions to give appropriate notification on our DOR COVID website.

  • Safety -- To help keep employees safe, we’re taking similar steps as other KP regional offices, including requiring face masks in common areas, extra cleaning, signage to guide social distancing, and building access tracing. We’ve received infrared thermometers and plan to start daily temperature checking for all persons entering our building this month.
  • IT – We’d like to acknowledge our IT user support team members, who continue to work very hard helping people as we improve our technology and methods for working remotely. As Richard Navarro mentioned during our Town Hall meeting, there’s been an increase in IT security attacks worldwide recently and some of it focuses on groups doing COVID research.

Please remember that you need to connect your laptop to the KP network at least once a week so it can receive the needed security patches to keep your work safe. Failing to do this will initially result in a reminder from DOR IT, and could eventually result in your losing access to the KP network.

  • Research – Clinical trials of remdesivir, an intravenous drug, are closing May 29, as the studies have reached their target sample size and the FDA has approved it for emergency use. Our Clinical Trials Program (CTP) has a trial of selinexor, an oral medication, open in Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento. Convalescent plasma is being made available via an expanded access program now open at 5 medical centers, thanks to the dedication of the CTP team.

A shout-out to our grant administrators, who’ve been very busy lately with proposals for both COVID and non-COVID research. For a high-level summary of work in progress on COVID, please visit the website of our regional COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team, which has received 198 ideas and inquiries so far.

  • Planning next steps – As we mentioned during our Town Hall meeting last week, Kaiser Permanente is requiring higher-order approvals for opening new job postings. This is to help protect the job security of our existing employees. While our business model in research relies primarily on grants and contracts, we still operate within the larger organization. We and DOR associate director for HR Wanda Harmon will continue working to secure the needed approvals for DOR research scientists and other managers to open job postings so we can recruit personnel who are vital to our work. 
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

There are more people out in downtown Oakland and other neighborhoods these days. We hope that you’re getting a chance to take walks, runs, or bike rides in your local environment as well. We all can count on exercise, enough sleep, and good food as part of our toolbox for sustainable healthy living during the pandemic and beyond.  

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - May 11, 2020 – Video

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

If you’re anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship these days with video as a mode of real-time communication. While it’s far less satisfying than in-person interaction, it’s much richer than audio-only. Video has been a lifeline for physicians and patients working to maintain connectedness in this pandemic. Delivering care via video whenever possible is a major strategic initiative for Kaiser Permanente for not only this period but for the long-term future.

Video interactions can consume a surprising amount of energy. This recent New York Times article, circulated by one of my fellow pediatricians, helps explain “video fatigue.” In some situations, photos or sound alone are better than video. For example, it’s well-known to physicians that for viewing skin rashes, the quality of resolution is better via photos than video. In interpersonal conversations, voice-only calls might help increase the listener’s sensitivity to what’s actually being said.

Mostly, I feel fortunate to live and work in settings where video is readily available. How else would I get to see my work colleagues every day, or to continue doing group exercise classes in this time of physical distancing? The pandemic has launched many of us on a steep learning curve in many aspects of life, and video is just one of them. I hope we’ll all keep working to refine our skills in communicating through video and other newer modalities and that in the long term, we’ll be able to use them as helpful adjuncts to in-person interaction.

Here are our updates for this week:

Building Access – Mandated temporary remote work continues. This month we have approximately 20 research staff members who are being allowed building access due to specific project or other needs that can’t be met through off-site work. If you need to come in, please follow the instructions to seek permission and/or give appropriate notification on our DOR COVID website.

To help keep employees safe, we’re taking similar steps as other KP regional offices, including requiring face masks in common areas, extra cleaning, signage to guide social distancing, and building access tracing. We plan to start daily temperature checking for all persons entering our building this month.

Research – Our Scientific Leadership Council and its Data Sharing Subcommittee met last week to discuss how to best coordinate when proposed COVID projects may have overlap. This applies especially to multi-site studies that involve data sharing. There’s a great deal of work in progress or being proposed on COVID – NIH, CDC, FDA, and PCORI have issued many short-turnaround funding opportunities. For a high-level summary of work in progress on COVID, please visit the website of our COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team, which has received 175 inquiries so far.

Planning Next Steps – We’ll be talking with our investigators today and with all at DOR tomorrow (at our Town Hall meeting) about our plan for June. We’ll be asking all employees who are able to work remotely to continue doing so. This will help support physical distancing for employees who do need to work on-site. We’re picturing allowing up to 25% occupancy on each floor on any given day in June.

For employees who can’t work effectively without spending some time in the building in June, their research scientist or infrastructure director will be asked to complete a Building Access Request survey. This survey will be distributed this Weds, 5/13 and due back next Tues, 5/19. Our Management Team will review these requests to determine who can be approved to work in the building in June and will reply to research scientists and infrastructure directors by Weds, 5/27.

Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news. Our next Town Hall is tomorrow from 12:30-1:30.

Thank you for all you’ve been doing to work through the many changes and new skills required by the pandemic. We look forward to seeing you at our Town Hall tomorrow, and to continuing with our shared mission to transform health through research.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - May 4, 2020 – Syncopation

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

If you’ve listened to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, you might have noticed that they sometimes involve syncopation -- a variety of different rhythms played together. Right now it feels like our research, clinical, and external worlds are moving in a syncopated way, with some processes moving much more rapidly and others much more slowly than usual.

Coronavirus is forcing medical research to speed up Our research related to COVID has been proceeding very quickly. This speed is consistent with national trends described in an April 21 New York Times report. In the past 8 weeks, our colleagues have accomplished a great deal. The:

  • Systems Research Initiative team (led by Gabriel Escobar and Vinnie Liu) has been conducting predictive and operational analytics that are informing decisions about medical center planning day by day
  • Clinical Trials Program (Alan Go and Victor Chen) has worked with regional infectious disease research leader Jacek Skarbinski to get several trials and arrangements for expanded access to COVID therapies for hospitalized patients up and running in record time
  • Vaccine Study Center (Nicky Klein) has initiated CDC-sponsored surveillance research
  • Delivery Science and Applied Research (DARE) program (Doug Corley) took on a new study last week and received IRB approval within a day
  • and, in parallel, many investigators are seeking funding supplements and writing proposals to get new studies started.

Our research not related to COVID has been affected in variable ways. Some studies have been able to continue on track amid the restrictions. Others, especially those that involve interacting with patients in person, have been stalled. For example, the CARDIA Project, which has conducted in-person exams with a cohort of now-elderly patients in our research clinic and other sites for more than 30 years, has made a nationwide decision to postpone the exam cycle it had planned for this summer until at least January. We want to acknowledge how discouraging the uncertainty created by the pandemic can be for our research teams, especially those that have had to pause on interacting with patients. We’ll do all we can to continue acquiring relevant information, confer with other leaders, and encourage decisions about how to proceed in a way that recognizes our needs to make progress with research as well as our patients’ safety and welfare.

Syncopated music can be interesting and beautiful. It also requires some skillful coordination by the musicians. Our research portfolio is wonderful in its variety, and it likewise requires a great deal of coordination and planning. We appreciate all you’re doing to stay connected with us and integrated with one another even as the pandemic exerts different effects on the rhythms of different teams at DOR.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Building Access and Management – Our mandated temporary remote work continues. In May we have approximately 20 research staff members who will be allowed building access due to specific project or other needs that can’t be met through off-site work. If you need to come in, please follow the instructions to seek permission and/or give appropriate notification on our DOR COVID website.

To help keep employees safe, we’re taking similar steps as other KP regional offices, including requiring face masks in common areas, extra cleaning, signage to guide social distancing, and building access tracing. Daily temperature checking for all persons entering our building hasn’t yet begun, but is being planned to start this month.

  • Research – At our monthly Scientific Leadership Council today, we’ll be discussing developments and how to best support and advise our researchers on both COVID and non-COVID projects. For a high-level summary of work in progress on COVID, please visit the website of our COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team, organized by the Delivery Science and Applied Research program.
  • Planning Next Steps – We’re following state, local, and KP guidance, including the Bay Area counties’ shelter-in-place order, now extended through May 30. When we have the go-ahead from authorities, DOR’s return-to-work plan will be a phased process where the first phase starts with our building at far less than our pre-COVID occupancy on any given day. If we’re able to allow more employees to come in during June, we’re picturing allowing up to 25% occupancy on each floor on any given day that month. We’ll be surveying our investigators and infrastructure directors in mid-May about employees for whom their team needs building access in June. More on this next week.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news. Our next Town Hall is May 12 from 12:30-1:30. 

We greatly appreciate all you’ve been doing to work remotely and constructively amid the challenges of the past two months. By way of perspective, Bach wrote the Brandenburg Concertos in the early 1700s, right at the start of the Age of Enlightenment. We believe that we at DOR, like Bach, can become increasingly expert at syncopation as we move forward in our work. That will make us better positioned than ever to help illuminate the way forward in our pandemic and post-pandemic world.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - April 27, 2020 – Essential

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

You might wonder how essential our work is. After all, we don’t sell groceries or gas, dispense prescription medications, or maintain the drinking water supply. The news carries daily stories of the heroism of health care workers and others. Here’s a photo from an April 23 Washington Post story about 43 factory workers who staged a 28-day “live-in” at the Braskem plant in Pennsylvania, where they created tens of millions of pounds of raw materials for face masks and surgical gowns to protect front-line health care workers. Braskem

Our research is essential in a different way. While daily life wouldn’t stop immediately without our work, our skills in research are crucial to finding ways to mitigate, suppress, treat and prevent COVID-19. Our research outside COVID remains critical to understanding disease and transforming health. Our first studies to help the world understand the pandemic’s effects are being submitted and published. Our new research scientist and pulmonary/intensive care physician Laura Myers, along with Steve Parodi, Gabriel Escobar, and Vinnie Liu, authored our first empirical study on COVID in a research letter in JAMA. For the inside story on this, see our new communications team member Sue Rochman’s first Q&A for DOR with Laura and Vinnie.

Here are our updates for this week:

  • Supporting Our Employees – On Friday we sent DOR investigators and managers an email extending our guidance to continue paying employees for their usual hours and from their usual funding sources from May 10 – June 19. Our employees are our most valuable assets, and we’ll keep working on ways to support people through this turbulent period.
  • Building Access – Our mandate for temporary remote work continues, and very few employees are being allowed in. If you do need to come in, please follow the instructions to seek permission and/or give appropriate notification on our DOR COVID website. Please bring a face mask to wear when not at your own workspace.
  • COVID Research – It was a week of firsts for us, in addition to the study in JAMA above. Our Strategic Programming Group, led by Jamila Gul and thanks to Mei Lee, Sri Chimmula and Bruce Folck, unveiled new COVID test variables in our Virtual Data Warehouse. These will be a cornerstone of many studies we’re doing and planning. Our Clinical Trials Program this week is opening a new Phase II trial of selinexor, a selective inhibitor of nuclear export to treat hospitalized patients, and continues to work very hard on trials of remdesivir and expanded access for remdesivir and convalescent plasma. For a high-level summary of work in progress, please visit the website of our COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team, organized by the Delivery Science and Applied Research program.
  • temperature Planning Next Steps – We’ll be following state, local, and KP guidance on when employees can start returning to workplaces. Our state’s shelter-in-place order doesn’t have an expiration date, and Bay Area authorities are signaling that the May 3 date for the county mandates is likely to be extended. When we do have the go-ahead from authorities, DOR’s return-to-work plan will likely be a phased process where the first phase starts with our building at far less than our pre-COVID occupancy on any given day. Our Management Team will be in touch with our investigators and managers in the near future about what the process will look like. When we start the first phase of return-to-work at 2000 Broadway, we’ll be taking similar steps as other KP regional offices, including temperature checking, requiring face masks in common areas, extra cleaning, social distancing guidelines, and building access tracing. Here’s a photo from the lobby of 1950 Franklin so you can start to picture what we’ll also be doing at DOR.   
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news. I look forward to seeing you virtually at our next Town Hall, May 12 from 12:30-1:30. 

One of my mentors at Penn used to say that medical school rotations (which are usually 4-6 weeks long) and Philadelphia winters prove that you can survive any adversity for 6 weeks. It gets harder after that. We’re going into week 7 of shelter-in-place, and if you’re feeling restless, you’re probably not alone! Thank you for all you’re doing to make progress with work and to take care of yourself and others. Our contributions are essential, and we’ll all persevere together.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - April 20, 2020 – Experience

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

You might wonder how we got lucky here in Northern California. Why were our local leaders smarter and more decisive about imposing social distancing than others around the country in the early phases of this pandemic? This article in The Atlantic observes that one factor may be the personal life experiences of San Francisco mayor London Breed. Another factor is likely the city’s senior public health officials’ knowledge of the history of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic four decades ago. On a related note, check out this 4-minute video of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus’ first virtual performance, which was shared by our East Bay medical center leaders. It’s dedicated to the courageous health care workers who are risking their own well-being to help patients at this difficult time.

Here are some updates for this week:

  • Supporting Our Employees – DOR’s Management Team surveyed our researchers last week about their teams’ status in case current restrictions extend into May or June. The results were encouraging. Our scientific associate directors will be talking with the investigators whose teams could be affected to make appropriate plans. NIH has signaled it will offer flexibility to researchers and we will work with the sponsors of our KP research projects on this as well.
  • Building Access – Our mandate for temporary remote work continues, and very few employees are being allowed in. If you do need to come in, please follow the instructions to seek permission and/or give appropriate notification on our DOR COVID website.
  • Planning Research on COVID – Our Clinical Trials Program team continues to work very hard on opening access to remdesivir at multiple medical centers and is settling arrangements to make convalescent plasma available at an initial site in San Jose. Our COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team (CCRCT) continues to receive ideas and to help connect physicians, researchers, and others with common interests. For FAQs about the CCRCT and a high-level summary of work in progress, please visit the team’s website.
  • Planning Next Steps – We support Governor Gavin Newsom’s measured approach to considering when social distancing restrictions can be eased. For us at DOR, we anticipate the process of letting more employees return to work in our building will be a gradual one. In our “new normal,” we’ll be taking a number of steps to reduce risk and help keep our employees safe, while still providing a robust structure for our research. DOR’s Management Team discussed options this morning and will continue meeting frequently over the next few weeks to form details of the plan, in consonance with KP organizational guidelines.
  • Communication – Please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

As we begin the sixth week of shelter-in-place, we hope you’re not going stir-crazy! We admire your initiative and persistence in making progress with our work despite the challenges. Our work in research is important, now more so than ever. We are so grateful to have you as colleagues in this challenging period in history.   

Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - April 13, 2020 – Transformations

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

Our associate executive directors Steve Parodi and Irene Chen gave an update for the TPMG Board of Directors on Friday. They highlighted the amazing work our medical group accomplished in just the last 3 weeks to prepare for COVID (see slide at right). Very impressive transformations are going on, including a dramatic shift in the outpatient setting from in-person visits to > 80% telemedicine (phone and video) visits. Since COVID erupted, every outpatient practice in the country has been TPMG numbers trying to increase their use of telemedicine, and here in KP Northern California we’ve already done it, thanks to our technology group’s sophistication and our willingness to innovate. At the slide’s bottom right, Steve and Irene also mentioned the work of our new COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team having vetted 80+ research topics so far. In parallel news, our regional laboratory is currently executing a major expansion. Our lab is currently able to do 1,000 COVID tests per day and aims to ramp up to 10,000 tests per day by mid-May.

The next several weeks will be a period of watchful waiting, as we hope for continued evidence that our social distancing in Northern California has succeeded in flattening the curve. Living with social distancing is hard, and it’s lucky that we in research know how to sit tight and persist when needed.

Here are some updates for this week:

  • Supporting Our Employees – DOR’s Management Team recently issued guidance to managers to continue paying all employees for their usual hours and from their usual funding sources through May 9. We’re currently surveying our researchers about their teams’ status in case current restrictions extend into May or June. NIH and other major sponsors have signaled they will offer flexibility to researchers. We’re seeking to understand the scope of potential needs at DOR so we can develop our best possible options.
  • Building Access – Our mandate for temporary remote work continues, and very few employees are being allowed to come in. We anticipate this will continue through at least early May.
  • Planning Research on COVID – Our Clinical Trials Program team, led by Alan Go and Victor Chen, continues to work very hard on opening access to Phase 3 trials of remdesivir at multiple medical centers and to initiate additional trials in our region. Our COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team, co-chaired by Gabriel Escobar, Nicky Klein, and Jacek Skarbinski, has received 100 ideas and inquiries to date. The co-chairs met with the DOR Scientific Leadership Council last week to relay information and discuss how to best coordinate efforts. So far, DOR researchers have submitted 11 requests for director’s approval of proposals destined for NIH, foundation, and industry funders.
  • Planning Next Steps – Our Management Team will continue to focus on the question, “How can we best keep our employees safe when public health authorities signal restrictions can be loosened? We’ve already established daily building access tracing and have developed guidance in case of a COVID exposure. We anticipate the process of our employees returning to work in our building will be a gradual one, and that we’ll consider additional ways to minimize risk while still allowing progress on our research. 
  • Communication – You’ll continue to hear from us via email about once a week this month. As always, please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.

Thank you for all you’re doing with social distancing and temporary remote work. It’s difficult, but really seems to be making a difference. We’re all gaining new skills in working together virtually, but we also miss seeing you in person. We’re hanging in there with you, preparing for the next phase in this unprecedented time. 

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - April 6, 2020 – Calm

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

oakland_clinic Our East Bay clinical setting has a sense of being totally focused on preparations for the predicted surge in COVID-19 needs, and also of the calm before the storm. We’ve been receiving encouraging messages from Rich Isaacs and other leaders that social distancing seems to be flattening the pandemic curve here in Northern California. We’re all doing our part – here’s a social distancing birthday party in the Oakland pediatrics clinic (photo thanks to Dr. Susie Goddard).

KPNC internal models are now projecting the peak of COVID activity in Northern California for early May – a gentler and slower increase than in New York. This is a very welcome prospect. It does mean that we’ll likely remain under at least some restrictions beyond May 3, so we’re actively planning for that time.

Updates for this week:

  • Supporting Our Employees – Last week DOR’s Management Team decided to extend our guidance to DOR managers to continue paying all employees for their usual hours and from their usual funding sources through May 9. We view keeping our professional community stable as a top priority during this period. Fortunately, NIH is signaling that it will offer flexibility and support to projects nationwide, though it’s too early to know all the specifics. In case current restrictions extend into May or June, we’re seeking to understand the scope of potential needs at DOR so we can develop options. We’ll be surveying our researchers about their teams’ plans soon.  
  • Communication Plans – We’ll be holding a DOR Town Hall tomorrow, April 7, from 12:30-1:30. We’ll continue to send emails at least once a week during April. Remember that we’re all invited to dial in to the East Bay Town Hall meetings, which are Mon - Fri from 5:30-6:00. As always, please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.
  • Building Access Policy – Thank you for all you’re doing to work remotely -- we know it’s not simple. We see that people are becoming skilled at using Teams for virtual meetings, which is great. Very few employees are being allowed to come into the building at present. If you need to come in to do work that’s time-sensitive, please discuss this with your manager, who will seek approval from their associate director or infrastructure director. If you need to come in for a few minutes just to pick up items, please email DORFacilityOps@kp.org in advance.
  • Planning Research on COVID – Many DOR research scientists are already helping lead studies that will help fight COVID. Our Clinical Trials Program, led by Alan Go and Victor Chen, is working on expanding access to Phase 3 trials of remdesivir at multiple medical centers; Oakland and San Francisco are already enrolling patients. Vinnie Liu and Gabriel Escobar are leading predictive analytics for regional operations. Our regional COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordinating Team, co-chaired by Gabriel Escobar, Nicky Klein, and Jacek Skarbinski, has been meeting frequently to evaluate ideas and connect our own physicians and researchers as well as outside requestors with one another as appropriate. Many of our investigators are currently initiating research proposals on COVID.
  • Planning Our Next Steps – Our Management Team is proactively planning for how to support our research teams through this period. We’re developing protocols for the future when more people can work in our building. We’ve established building use monitoring every day via badge reader reports, thanks to DOR administration, IT, and regional security. Guidance in case a DOR employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 is on our DOR COVID website. We continue to discuss additional approaches for helping keep our employees safe and healthy going forward.

We admire and appreciate all you’re doing to carry on with our research and support others around us. We hope you’re not going stir crazy and are figuring out some new routines! We’re confident that we at DOR have the resilience to adjust to the changes ahead this year.

Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - March 30, 2020

Dear DOR colleagues (all),

We support the president’s decision to extend national shelter-in-place orders through April 30. Although none of us likes to be living with so many restrictions, this is the right decision for public health and our country at this point. Here are some updates:

  • KP Regional and East Bay News – Our clinical colleagues are intensely focused on preparing for a predicted surge of patients into our hospitals. The proactive organization and teamwork they’re showing is remarkable. All of us at DOR are invited to the phone-only Town Hall meetings for the East Bay medical centers. These are clinical in nature and are every day Mon – Fri from 5:30-6:00 at 800-935-1518; Steve Sidney tells me he finds them valuable. The connection information and also links to the recordings are on our DOR COVID webpage.

waiting room
Various models exist to predict when the pandemic will peak in different states. One model from the Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation at the University of Washington suggests that California’s peak will be in late April.

In the outpatient setting, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in in-person doctor’s office visits and an increase in telephone and video visits, which Mary Reed’s work has shown that patients value. This photo shows the waiting area for adult and family medicine in our medical offices in Campbell during a workday last week.

One important bright spot is that our Clinical Trials Program has now succeeded in getting our patients access to Phase 3 trials of remdesivir, a medication from Gilead that’s shown promise against COVID-19. The trials are now open in the East Bay and San Francisco, and other medical centers will soon be participating as well. Congratulations to Alan Go, Victor Chen, Phenius Lathon and their team for collaborating with our leaders in infectious disease, pharmacy and our KPNC IRB to reach this important milestone.

  • Communication Plans – You can expect 1-2 emails from us each week with updates throughout April. We anticipate a regional Town Hall on April 1. We’re also planning a DOR Town Hall on April 7 from 12:30-1:30 – please look out for these invitations soon. As always, please visit our DOR COVID website for updates, policies, and links to KP news.
  • Building Access Policy – Thank you for all you’re doing to work remotely and not come into our building. Due to the shelter-in-place orders, we are mandating temporary remote work, and very few employees are being allowed to come in. If you need to come in just to pick up an item(s), please email DORFacilityOps@kp.org in advance. If you need to come in to do work that is time-sensitive and cannot be accomplished outside the building, please discuss this with your manager. Your manager will need to request approval from their Management Team member (associate or infrastructure director) before you’re allowed in. DOR Administration will be sending detailed instructions today.
  • Planning for the Future – As we’re settling into a remote work routine for April, it’s important for all of us to remain vigilant in ensuring research compliance and privacy are maintained even while we’re working at home. Please remember to not take Personal Health Information out of our building. At some future point, possibly in May or later, we’ll be able to loosen restrictions and start letting more people back in our building. Even then, we’ll continue to be vigilant. We’ve developed guidance in case a DOR employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 and may have unintentionally exposed others in our workplace. This is on our DOR COVID website and we’ll continue to refine and update it as we go.

We understand that this has been a disruptive and challenging time for many of our study teams. Our Management Team is actively monitoring NIH and other sponsor news and is developing guidance for our research scientists and managers on paying employees in late April and beyond.

Thank you for all you’ve been doing to adjust and carry on with our important work during this crisis. Our world is changing and our resilience will see us through to the next phase together.

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID exposure guidance - March 26, 2020

Employees who have symptoms should notify their manager promptly, stay home, and seek clinical advice by contacting the KP Appointment and Advice Center at 866-454-8855. 
If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, the manager should contact their supervisor and their Management Team member (list below) and coordinate a plan to notify other employees of their possible exposure, while maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

If there is concern that an employee has been exposed to COVID-19 due to unprotected potential significant exposure to a person with confirmed COVID or a patient-under-investigation for COVID either at work or outside of the KP workplace, the employee’s manager should refer the employee to their physician. The physician should be asked to make an assessment regarding whether they need to be excluded from the workplace or whether other precautions would permit them to continue working.

Employees with additional specific questions should visit the KP coronavirus site for patients and/or call the KP Appointment and Advice Center at 866-454-8855. 

DOR Management Team members

Alyce Adams

Victor Chen

Tom Dang

Assiamira Ferrara

Alan Go

Jamila Gul

Laurel Habel

Tracy Lieu

Richard Navarro

Charles Quesenberry

Constance Weisner

 

COVID-19 update for DOR - March 26, 2020

Yesterday’s news that our local schools will stay closed until May 1 was discouraging, though not surprising. On the bright side, it’s possible that social distancing is working. In California, deaths have been increasing at a lower rate than in New York or Washington, which didn’t adopt shelter-in-place mandates as proactively as our state (see figure). We at DOR are doing our part: our building has been nearly empty this week, as it should be.

covid infection graph

 

We’d like to acknowledge the exceptional efforts you’re making to adapt to this challenging situation. Every team at DOR has adopted new ways of working together virtually. Our research teams have paused patient enrollment activities for virtually all studies that involve in-person interactions, except for clinical trials crucial for patients’ health. Many teams are creatively adopting telephone and online alternatives to working with participants. Our IT group has completed the first phase of providing laptops and mini-desktops to all who need them, and is proactively planning for our future needs. Our administration is making many adjustments to continue supporting managers and employees with the many new issues that have come up. Our employees with young children are heroically trying to work with them underfoot.

This week brought the news that Kaiser Permanente has canceled plans for the Thrive building at 21st and Telegraph. This means that we at DOR and other regional departments will be staying in our current buildings for at least the next few years. I was happy to hear this because we’re currently coping with a great deal of change. In addition, our major incentive for moving – that we’ll soon outgrow our current building – seems potentially addressable with creative approaches going forward.

Many people have asked what they can do to help in the battle against COVID. One simple way would be to donate unused masks or any other unused personal protective equipment you may have at home to our Oakland Medical Center (see attached). Our clinical colleagues are in great need of these supplies.

The unique contribution we at DOR can make against COVID is through research. In recent weeks, our TPMG physicians as well as DOR researchers have generated many COVID research ideas. We’ve also been inundated with inquiries from government agencies and universities seeking our collaboration. We’ve had to quickly devise an approach to evaluating these ideas and figuring out which ones to address first.

With Irene Chen’s endorsement, we’ve formed a regional COVID Clinical Research Coordinating Group that will develop a TPMG agenda for COVID research, appraise and prioritize ideas, and facilitate communication and collaboration among TPMG physicians, researchers, and external groups. The co-chairs of this group are Gabriel Escobar, Nicky Klein, and Jacek Skarbinski (infectious disease specialist in Oakland and DOR adjunct investigator). Other members are Doug Corley, Alan Go, Vinnie Liu, Mike Silverberg, and me. This group will work in concert with our DOR Scientific Leadership Council. This is a terrific group with representation from predictive analytics, clinical trials, and delivery science – our strongest areas in clinically oriented research. I look forward to working with them to help support and guide all of our researchers in developing high-impact studies to fight COVID.

Finally, thank you for all you’ve been doing to stay out of our building. During the shelter-in-place order, no one should be coming in unless absolutely necessary and unless they’ve sought and received approval from their manager and the appropriate DOR Management Team member (scientific associate director or infrastructure group director). Our Management Team has been busy, and is proactively planning for a future point in time when restrictions are loosened and we gradually start to allow some types of employees to return to work in our building. We’ll write to you with more detail on this as our plans firm up and the local and regional situation unfolds. Please keep using our DOR COVID website to keep up with the latest guidance and for useful news and reference information.

Answer to the question in Monday’s Update on COVID-19: The pantry in the photo belongs to Assia Ferrara. It provides evidence to support the observation that she’s especially fond of orecchiette!

Best regards,
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - March 23, 2020

A week ago, we wrote you to ask that all employees who were able to work remotely avoid coming to the office unless absolutely necessary. Since then, our state’s governor has issued a shelter-in-place order with no specified end date.

The changes in our lives feel both surreal and all too real. For those of us with young children, it may mean trying to work with them underfoot – and I very much empathize, even though our own kids are now in their 20s. For those with no one else at home, and even for those of us with others at home, it means the social interactions we had in person at work have been suddenly curtailed.

Here are a few ways we plan to help you keep in touch during this period:

• Our Project Coordinator Advisory Group will be sending us Tips for Working Virtually each Tuesday. Thank you to Alexandra Anderson, Cecilia Doan, and Christina Grijalva, who’ve volunteered to lead this effort. Our wonderful PC Advisory Group is chaired by Janise Roh and also includes Kristin Goddard, Julia McDonald, and Nicole Varnado.

• Our DOR Community Forum, led by Steve Sidney and Nicole Varnado, will continue to organize activities that support connectedness and wellness for all of us. The Forum enriches our department through the efforts of many involved, including Debbie Jacobs, Cathy Chou, Laura Amsden, Are Gjellan, Rebecca Kucera, Liam O’Suilleabhain, Melissa Williams, Melissa Nelson, Raquel Guyadeen-Maloof, Noelle Liao, Hilda Cerros, Cimone Parker, Sam Savitz, and Lisa Powell. They’re already exploring new ways to keep building our community virtually and are open to your ideas. pantry

• We’ll be emailing you with DOR Leadership Updates like this one at least every few days in the coming weeks. For insightful commentary and news on what’s going on with the pandemic within KPNC as well as nationally, check out this JAMA video interview with TPMG Associate Executive Director Steve Parodi with JAMA editor Howard Bauchner. Thank you to Steve Sidney for pointing us to it.

On a related note, we’re working with the DOR Management Team to formulate guidance for employees whose roles make it absolutely necessary to come into the office. For now, please do not come in unless it’s unavoidable. We’ll be back in touch with more guidance soon.

The question of the day at our Management Team COVID huddle this morning was “Have you stocked your pantry for COVID?” See if you can guess whose pantry is pictured here! We’ll give you the answer when we next write.

Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - March 19, 2020

Thank you to the many of you who participated in yesterday’s Town Hall meeting. It was reassuring to see how many of you were able to join us virtually via WebEx. I’d like to acknowledge our Town Hall “producer” Georgina Berrios, who tested several ways of setting this up. (I’m sorry we couldn’t find a reliable enough dial-in option for those without computers. We’ll keep trying for next time.) We’re all learning a great deal about technology these days!

The Town Hall slides are on our DOR COVID website (click for the link).

Many of our teams are working especially hard to adjust their processes and support others. Today I’d like to especially acknowledge our IT team members who’ve been working especially hard to deploy laptops and other equipment to our employees who need it. Christine Moreno, who manages our IT user support team and reports to Richard Navarro, led this effort and obtained all the necessary equipment. I’m very grateful for the expertise and dedication of our IT team members, who’ve been working with her, including Mark Fuentes, David Kramlich, Sinh Lo, Alex Lat and John Shaffer. It seems like a small miracle that we’re nearly done setting up everyone who needs remote access.

For those who like the “flattening the curve” visual, our Associate Director for Health Care Delivery and Policy Alyce Adams shared the below pic sent by her collaborator Connie Trinacty from KP Hawaii.

I really appreciate your flexibility and resilience as we adapt our work processes to the current state of affairs. Our DOR Management Team (scientific associate directors and infrastructure directors) continues to meet daily or every other day to monitor the situation and make recommendations. We’ll be back with updates soon.

curve


Best regards,

Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH
Director, Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


DOR Town Hall slides (March 18)


COVID-19 update for DOR - March 16, 2020

Our world is changing in order to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. We at DOR will be changing as well. DOR’s Management Team and I have been conferring over the weekend and I’ve been in touch with other leaders within KP to obtain guidance and share information.

Below are our updated recommendations for DOR managers and employees. Please also see our DOR COVID website for helpful items and ongoing updates.

  1. Work protocols -- Managers should continue making arrangements to enable employees whose roles permit it to work remotely. All employees who are able to work remotely should avoid coming to the office where possible. This applies from today until April 1, 2020. We’ll send updated recommendations before April 1. KP Northern California has just issued the attached FAQs on Temporary Remote Work -- please read this helpful guidance.
  1. Remote access to IT -- See Richard Navarro’s email from 3/15/20 at 1:26 pm. Employees who need a laptop, desktop, or KP-issued phone to work remotely and have their manager’s approval should complete the survey indicated in his email by Tuesday at 10 am. We may have equipment shortages, so we will be reviewing the list centrally Tuesday afternoon in order to prioritize.

Please see the Tips for Remote Access on our DOR COVID website. You may be able to work remotely without KP-issued equipment, at least temporarily, if you can use Outlook, Office 365 applications and OneDrive and don’t need direct access to DOR network drives. Employees who need remote access should request it in KP Identity Manager, and their manager needs to approve once notified via email. Turnaround Is currently taking about 24 hours and may vary depending on the volume of requests.   

  1. Attendance tracking – The DOR Management Team is discussing how to best keep track of who’s in our building which days. We’ll send more guidance on this soon.
  1. In case of an exposure -- Employees who experience symptoms (cough, fever, or shortness of breath) should notify their managers immediately, seek medical advice (usually from the KP Appointment and Advice Call Center or via a telephone visit), and stay home to avoid exposing others. Managers who are notified about a COVID-positive or symptomatic employee should contact their scientific associate director or infrastructure group director.
  1. HR advice on time off, school and day care closures, and pay policies -- Our website has helpful documents about these topics. If you have questions, please review these first. Our HR team is glad to assist, but is also very busy at present. We’re aware that the existing documents don’t address all key questions. We’ll gather the most common questions, figure out the answers, and send a FAQ to assist you in the near future. 

This period of social distancing, including using virtual interactions wherever possible in our workplace, could last for several weeks or several months. As context, KPNC outpatient clinics are currently shifting to increase services via telephone and video visits where possible, in order to protect patients from having to visit in person. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully and share updates frequently. Please feel free to contact your supervisor or email either of us with questions.

Thank you for hanging in there. We’ll all make it through this together.

Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - March 12, 2020

Dear DOR employees (all),

The DOR Management Team and I met this morning to make plans in light of the increased COVID-19 concerns throughout the country. This team consists of our scientific associate directors and our infrastructure directors (Administration, IT, Strategic Programming, and Clinical Trials).

We are actively monitoring the situation and working with others within TPMG and KFH to determine the best ways to protect our employees and research participants, while continuing to support our work. My boss Irene Chen, the TPMG associate executive director for quality and research, gives me frequent updates, and I get news from the KP East Bay leadership as a member of the East Bay chiefs’ group. As a pediatrician, I also get daily updates from my clinical chief. We are in well the loop about current regional, local, and national developments. 

Our country is now shifting from a strategy of containment (find and try to isolate cases) to one of mitigation (slow down the spread of the virus). The new school closures and social distancing measures we’re seeing are mitigation measures. It may be inevitable that many of us will be exposed to, or contract, the virus during the foreseeable future. However, the concern is that if COVID-19 spreads too rapidly, the number of cases can overwhelm our hospitals and health care system. We need to implement approaches to reduce our risk, as expediently as possible, and slow the spread of the virus down.

Here are our updated recommendations:

  • Working from home -- Managers should enable employees whose role makes it possible for them to work from home to do this. Employees at high risk as defined by CDC guidelines should be encouraged to work from home where possible.
  • Remote access to IT systems -- Our IT director Richard Navarro and his team have been proactively making plans to help more of our employees obtain remote access where needed. Please see Richard’s email from yesterday (March 11) at 10:15 am for tips on working remotely. You can access Outlook Mail and Office 365 applications without having a KP-issued laptop. Our IT team is managing a limited number of available laptops and we face delays in receiving more, so I’ll appreciate your understanding as we work on this. For employees who need to request equipment in order to work from home, we plan to formulate and send a DOR-wide survey to identify you on Monday.
  • Potential exposures -- If you’re concerned that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, notify your manager before returning to work. Your manager will ask you to seek medical advice. Managers should report and confer with their supervisors regarding any cases of potential exposures so that we can monitor and respond appropriately if these situations occur.
  • Additional measures -- For DOR, we’re taking several active measures to prepare for the probability that disease incidence increases in our local area and leads to more disruption in work processes. These include:
    • Developing a webpage to hold news and announcements (anticipated in 1-2 days)
    • Establishing firmer business continuity plans in IT and administration
    • Reviewing our organization’s HR policies and workflows
    • Converting group meetings to virtual where possible, and canceling events that could increase risk

Thank you for your continuing contributions to our work and our organization in this time of rapid changes. We’ll continue to share updates every day or two. If you have questions, please talk with your supervisor or send either of us an email.

Best regards,

Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California


COVID-19 update for DOR - March 10, 2020

Dear DOR employees (all),

You may have heard that the Grand Princess cruise ship docked in Oakland yesterday. Our clinical leaders in the East Bay have been closely following the status of the situation. Our Oakland and San Leandro medical centers don’t expect to receive a high number of passengers from the ship, since other Bay Area hospitals are also preparing to receive them. Kaiser Permanente is working closely with public health authorities to manage the process.

Our medical center staff are prepared to provide any needed care for these and other COVID-exposed patients. As context, nearly all KP regions are already treating patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

Here at DOR, we’re seeing that many research conferences planned for this spring are being canceled, including the SAS Global Forum normally held in late March. I met yesterday with our scientific and infrastructure leaders and we developed this updated guidance for our employees:

  • Travel for work: For the next 30 days, please cancel any plans to travel beyond Northern California for work. This is due to the increasing incidence of COVID-19 and our perception that it’s very uncommon for any single research meeting to be business-critical. If you feel your case warrants an exception, please email me for review and determination.

In addition, we recommend you reconsider participating in large in-person meetings, even within Northern California.

  • Personal travel: Please follow the precautions in the CDC guidelines.
  • Potential exposure cases: If you’re concerned that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 outside the workplace, notify your manager before returning to work. Your manager will ask you to seek medical advice, with the first line being our regional Appointments and Advice Call Center.

Other useful information is available on the KP national program office’s Employee Resource Page.

I appreciate your continuing contributions to our research, even as we all face the global uncertainty introduced by this new virus. We’ll continue to share regular updates with you. In the meantime, if you have questions, please talk with your manager or send either of us an email.

Best regards,

Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, and Tom Dang, MBA, MSE
Director and Managing Director
Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California