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Kaiser Permanente and Special Olympics Southern California Announce Renewed Partnership 

Special Olympics Southern California Fall Games at the Fountain Valley Recreation Center & Sports Park, Fountain Valley, CA – Photo by Jason Refuerzo

STAFF REPORT • March 18, 2021

Kaiser Permanente and Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) today announced a renewed three-year partnership in which physicians and medical support staff will provide high-quality health education, medical support, consulting, and when athletes return to competition, sideline care.

With March recognized as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, the Special Olympics movement serves a critically important role as it transforms communities by inspiring people throughout the world to open their minds, as well as accept and include people with intellectual disabilities.

Through its partnership with SOSC, Kaiser Permanente is engaging employees, physicians, members and communities in a deeper understanding and respect for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, as it shares the vision to improve the health of communities across Southern California, where it serves 4.7 million members.

 “People with intellectual disabilities are one of the largest and most medically underserved populations,” said Julie Miller-Phipps, president, Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Hawaii, Health Plan and Hospitals. “This group has been heavily impacted by the pandemic and has faced many challenges that have upended their lives. As such, we want to ensure that they have access to the services, education and resources needed to help them thrive during these trying times. We believe strongly in inclusiveness and want to shatter many of the disadvantages Special Olympics athletes face to help them achieve their dreams.”

 As part of the agreement, Kaiser Permanente will work closely with SOSC to help pave the way for a safe return to in-person activities.

 Dr. Aaron Rubin will remain as SOSC’s Chief Medical Officer. During the pandemic, he advised SOSC athletes on how to protect their health and educated their families on ways to stay safe. As part of the new three-year agreement, Dr. Rubin will oversee approximately 40 Southern California Permanente Medical Group physicians and medical support staff at SOSC competitions, providing ongoing sideline medical care to the athletes, and virtual health initiatives.

“Our physicians look forward to safeguarding these awe-inspiring Special Olympics athletes with the highest standard of medical expertise and sideline care,” Dr. Rubin said. “We are committed to empowering these driven athletes to find new abilities, joy, and fulfillment, along with inspiring people throughout the world to accept and include those with intellectual disabilities. We believe very strongly that through diversity comes strength, and as physicians, we want to help make that happen!”

Special Olympics Southern California President and CEO Calvin Lyons said safeguarding the health and wellness of athletes with intellectual disabilities is one of SOSC’s most important goals, and that the continued partnership with Kaiser Permanente will help fulfill that important objective.

 “Our partnership has helped us transform many lives for the better through health education, health promotion and health services provided by some of the best medical professionals in America,” Lyons said. “We look forward to building on that success and so much more in the coming years, while also promoting our shared vision of diversity and helping to reduce stigma around intellectual disability.”

Dr. Ramin Davidoff, executive medical director of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, said this agreement is another example of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to health equity, diversity and community involvement.  

“We look forward to a continued fruitful relationship in which our doctors can support a very important population segment in our communities who deserve nothing but the best medical care we can provide,” he said. “We view our continued relationship with SOSC as another example of our commitment to creating healthier communities across our region.”

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