What Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson learned as a patient in his own hospital

When Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, knew something didn't feel right, he called his cardiologist immediately and went straight to the emergency room. There, he experienced firsthand what happens in a Kaiser ER.

"In that moment where your health is on the line, it doesn't matter what position you hold or what resources you have or don't have. The important things that matter are being able to continue living your life and overcoming all of your fears when your body isn't acting normally. It was scary and I was scared," Mr. Tyson, who heads the 38-hospital nonprofit system and health plan with more than 11.3 members, wrote in a LinkedIn post about his experience receiving care from the health system he leads.

Mr. Tyson explained that since having heart surgery 11 years ago, he has worked hard to improve his health. Now, finding himself back in the ER, Mr. Tyson put himself in the hands of Kaiser's physicians and nurses. After X-rays, an ultrasound and other tests, the team of clinicians identified the issue and stabilized him.

"My prognosis depended on the ability of my physicians to guide me — both mentally and physically — through an explanation of what was happening in my body and the options that were available to me," wrote Mr. Tyson.

The next week Mr. Tyson would require another heart procedure. There, "I experienced firsthand the medical excellence we deliver." He said the interventional cardiologist he met with was "incredible."

"The way he described what he was going to do and how he would do it made me feel like I was meeting with an artist — and perhaps this is the highest level of art and science one can do because it sustains life," he wrote. "The procedure went exceptionally well. They were able to go into my heart, fix the problem and return me to health in a matter of days. I have fully recovered to enjoy life with my family and to lead this incredible organization."

Mr. Tyson's post is his personal tribute to physicians, whose "dedication, expertise and professionalism" restored his health and works to support that of the 11.7 million members of Kaiser Permanente who seek care from Permanente Medical Group's 22,600 physicians.

"Physicians work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. They work early, late, and on weekends and holidays. In addition to advocating prevention through diet and exercise, they manage complex and critical care with their knowledge, capabilities and world-class leadership for our patients and for the medical profession," Mr. Tyson wrote. "I love my job, but I am not a physician. That's why I want to say thank you to our physicians."

Mr. Tyson wrote that while he's always admired and respected Kaiser's physicians, he walked out of the hospital with even more gratitude for what they do. "Thank you for giving me more years, new memories and beautiful moments to come. I salute you," he wrote.

Read the post in Mr. Tyson's own words here.

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