“Thrive” — an excellent reminder that we and all those around us deserve the chance to flourish and prosper. It speaks to the values Bernard Tyson lived, not just as a health care professional, but as someone who cared about leaving the world a better place.
And he did.
Which is why so many of us were shocked and saddened by the news of his death last weekend. As chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, he played on the largest health care stages in the country — a leader known for his vision and his compassion, and a tremendous capacity for making a difference.
Tyson worked at Kaiser Permanente for more than 30 years, and under his leadership the organization grew to 12.3 million members and 218,000 employees, but his legacy endures in so many other ways.
There are the 41 affordable apartments in Oakland that Kaiser Permanente purchased to help shelter people experiencing homelessness — a passion of Tyson’s, who tirelessly advocated for providers to address challenges like health equity and the social factors that affect people’s health.
There’s his dedication to destigmatizing behavioral health, putting it on equal footing with physical health, and shifting his organization toward integrating mental health with primary care.
And there’s his undeniable impact on health care delivery — illustrated in the way he guided his own organization, with a focus on high-quality care, delivered as affordably as possible, so it can be accessible to as many people as possible.
Tyson was a pioneer in recognizing that health care, in the truest sense of the words, is more than treating a physical ailment. With that understanding, he took on issues like racial justice, food insecurity, and workforce diversity.
We are fortunate to have learned from and been inspired by the example he set.
Personally, and in my role representing California’s hospitals, we extend our most sincere sympathies to Bernard’s wife and children, and to everyone in the Kaiser Permanente family, for the loss of a beloved partner, father, and leader.
Perhaps there is no more fitting tribute than Tyson’s own explanation of the motto he championed:
“Thrive is all about answering the question of who we are…we’re an organization that understands that every day people wake up to live the dream of America…and Thrive says, ‘That’s what you should be doing, and we want to help you achieve that with good health’.”