Stretch@KP Assists in Helping Fill a Dire Need
Mika Yoshino’s Story
Mika Yoshino, Director, KP’s Service Strategy & Member Experience, wasn’t always a bone marrow donation champion. But the seed was planted when she learned about Bay, her niece’s preschool classmate, who was diagnosed with leukemia and struggling to find a bone marrow donor match. Mika learned there is a national shortage of bone marrow donors, especially for certain populations. Of the 13 million registered donors, 67% were Caucasian, 7% African American, 7% Asian, 10% Latino, and 4% for all mixed races. When thinking about Bay, who is of mixed race Asian and German descent, an idea began to take shape: Could she tap KP’s large and diverse workforce for bone marrow donations?
In 2015, Mika started a donor registration program called ‘Will You Marrow Me’ after being selected to present her idea at the MSSA Innovates conference (an annual event celebrating innovative ideas that can help make KP a better place to work and to receive care). Mika says, “I knew that many KP employees would want to be a part of this work and help make a difference in the lives of those in need.” Her goal at that time was to have 100 KP employees registered by the end of the year.
I knew that many KP employees would want to be a part of this work.
Spending nights and weekends researching the scale of the problem, making connections, and developing a compelling story, Mika soon launched ‘Will You Marrow Me’. As she began spreading the word, leaders in KP started asking what they could do to help. Her initiative gained traction and a couple years later she got connected to Stretch@KP, who also wanted to support her project. Utilizing Stretch@KP not only provided resources to drive her work forward, but also helped her make more connections throughout KP.
Mika posted three projects to the Stretch@KP platform requesting assistance in marketing communications efforts, project management of donor drives and development of a SharePoint page. “The community members who applied were really diverse in their roles, areas, and departments. I also got different people over time that helped keep the program running,” says Mika. A participant on the project said it helped him be more engaged at work because he was working on something he was passionate about and helping others. He also tracked the number of registrations that could be attributed to ‘Will You Marrow Me’ and it has already exceeded 1,000 registered potential donors. As well as at least one match from the program that went through the donation process and saved a life.
The many Stretch@KP participants who supported ‘Will You Marrow Me’ were just fantastic and I was impressed with the stellar quality of their work.
“I continue to be reminded of why I love to work at Kaiser Permanente,” says Mika. “No matter which region or function I work with, it has been easy for me to find partners who help share my story in the hope of inspiring others to register and get the word out. In addition, the many Stretch@KP participants who supported ‘Will You Marrow Me’ were just fantastic and I was impressed with the stellar quality of their work. Together, we continue to help our members and the communities we serve.”
To learn more about the National Bone Marrow Registry, visit kp.org/bethematch