Henry J. Kaiser Jr. on Fathers and Family

posted on June 16, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Henry J. Kaiser, Jr, circa 1948

Henry J. Kaiser, Jr., (1917-1961) was Henry J. Kaiser’s younger son. On December 17, 1942, he spoke at a huge gathering of Kaiser Industries leaders under the theme “Together We Build.”

His comments resonate through the years on this Father’s Day 2017:

There has never been a time in my life when I could not turn to my father when I was in trouble and ask for counsel, no matter what he was doing. He had time enough, strength enough, to give me new strength, and new perspective. Dad, Edgar, and I have always talked things over. It is never one of us who fixes a problem, it is all of us.

And what is true of our personal family is true of every Kaiser enterprise. And we are the family, those of us here tonight, dependent on each other’s counsel.

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2sHcbrP

 

Kabat-Kaiser: Improving Quality of Life Through Rehabilitation

posted on June 14, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Kabat Kaiser Santa Monica, 1952, publicity photo with film and television actor Howard Keel.

Polio and multiple sclerosis. These disabling diseases of the nervous system posed daunting medical challenges as the Permanente Health Plan emerged from World War II and the nation looked toward an improved quality of life. Until a polio vaccine was developed in the mid-1950s, it was considered one of the most feared diseases in the United States, and MS is the most widespread disabling neurological condition affecting young adults in the world.

California’s first polio epidemic broke out in 1934-1935, with a second following in 1948. And, on a very personal note, Henry J. Kaiser’s youngest son Henry Junior (1917-1961) contracted MS in 1944.

Margaret “Maggie” Knott, PT, and Herman Kabat, MD, Washington, DC, 1947.

Henry J. Kaiser was determined to find the best therapy available, and through a 1946 Readers Digest article learned of Herman Kabat, MD, and his successful treatments. Kaiser sent Dr. Sidney Garfield, the founding physician of his successful World War II shipyard health plan, to assess the situation. Impressed with Dr. Kabat’s work, Dr. Garfield joined him to treat the younger Henry with considerable success. The rehabilitation program was deemed worthy of greater institutional support, and the Kabat-Kaiser Institute was born in Washington, D.C. (where Dr. Kabat practiced) in 1946. It was dedicated to “the restoration of the physically handicapped and to rehabilitate them to their optimum capacity, socially, economically, and physically.”

Eventually there would be two centers in California, providing the largest non-governmental civilian rehabilitation program in the United States for patients with neurological disorders. The Washington facility was followed by one in Vallejo (August, 1947) and a second in Santa Monica shortly thereafter. The Washington facility was closed soon after 1950 when Dr. Kabat moved to Vallejo to direct the program.

Kabat-Kaiser Santa Monica (large middle building)

The Santa Monica facility started out as the Edgewater Beach Hotel around 1925. In 1944 it was called the Ambassador Hotel and taken over by Army Air Corps as a Redistribution Station to rotate men out of combat. After the war, it became a private club, but not for long. The Permanente Foundation bought the building in October 1948 and opened it the next month as the Kabat-Kaiser Institute. A hospital ward was added January 1949.

A news account from 1952 described the setting:

First impression on entering the Santa Monica institute is that of stepping into a luxurious beach resort. A large swimming pool, beautifully furnished lounge, and inviting glassed-in beach-front patio are located on the ground floor. Shorts, pedal pushers, swim suits, and jeans are the principal attire. Second impression hits one like an avalanche. Every person in sight is either in a wheel chair, walking with crutches or body braces; or being pushed along on a gurney. Everyone appears happy and busy, going to or from a water therapy room, a physiotherapy section or exercise room.

“Many Will Rise and Walk” article by Paul du Kruif about Dr. Kabat, Readers Digest, February 1946.

Many volunteer welfare and social organizations contribute to the entertainment and special needs of the patients. Recreation includes nightly programs of moving pictures, “wheel-chair” square dances, bingo, water volley ball or variety shows.

Given the center’s proximity to Hollywood, it was often the site of cameo appearances by movie stars. But that relationship took a deeper step when the actress Ida Lupino directed (and co-wrote, and co-produced) a film there. Never Fear (1949, also titled The Young Lovers), a story about a beautiful young dancer with a promising career who contracted polio and struggled to recover, had personal meaning for Lupino, who had contracted polio herself in 1934. Lupino made the film to combat the public fear of polio during the 1948-49 epidemic, and captured the power of the center’s program using actual patients and, yes, a wheelchair dance.

Maggie Knott with patient, Kabat-Kaiser Institute, 1951.

The centers were busy; in 1950 the D.C. center was treating almost 200 patients, Vallejo saw over 400, and Santa Monica served almost 600. The staff at Santa Monica included over 60 therapists, psychologists and consulting physicians. Margaret “Maggie” Knott was the exceptional lead physical therapist who became world famous, along with Herman Kabat, for developing, practicing and teaching the technique of “proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.” PNF is a form of flexibility therapy that involves stretching and contracting targeted muscle groups.

Joel Bryan (1937-2005) was the Founder and Director of Disabled Students’ Services at UC Riverside and UC Davis. He was also a patient at Kabat-Kaiser Santa Monica from 1951 to 1954, and recalled his treatment in a 2000 interview:

Three months after I arrived there I could get up in a wheelchair for the first time. My spine was fused later, which straightened out my very significant scoliosis. I was 5’4″ when I got polio, and by the time I was sixteen or seventeen I was 6’2″ or 6’3″ – stretched out. There’s a lot of growing that occurs, and my back just wouldn’t support it. Those things got straightened out. I wound up with the use of my fingers on my right hand and the bicep on my left arm.

Station wagon for transporting patients to recreational activities donated to Kabat-Kaiser Institute in Santa Monica by the Federation of Women’s Telephone Workers of Southern California, 1952. Standing left is Raymond T. McHugh, K-K administrator, next to Mary V. Marsteller, president of the FWTWSC.

In 1955, Dr. Kabat left the organization. The Kaiser Foundation Hospitals assumed complete control and renamed the two facilities the California Rehabilitation Centers. In 1962 the name was changed to Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center to avoid confusion with state institutions with a similar name.

Santa Monica’s rehabilitation portion closed in 1962, the convalescent facility remained open until patients could be reassigned, and the site was demolished in 1964. The Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center and Hospital in Vallejo continues to this day.

 

To come: The story of Kabat Kaiser Vallejo.

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2t2tSPU

 

 

Edmund (Ted) Van Brunt, Former Kaiser Permanente Research Director and Pioneer of Electronic Health Records, Dies at age 91

posted on June 9, 2017

“Dr. Edmund Van Brunt, resident in Medicine at our Geary St . Hospital (center) answers questions of Jack Katzow, intern, and Mrs. Emily McEvoy, RN, about modern resuscitation equipment which all professional staff are instructed how to use in emergencies involving cardiac arrest.” Reporter, May 1961.

 

Excerpted from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research obituary by Janet Byron

 

 

Edmund (Ted) Van Brunt, MD, former director of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and a pioneer in the use of electronic health records in medical science, died at his home in Berkeley on May 19, 2017.  A native of Oakland and longtime Berkeley resident, Dr. Van Brunt’s medical career with Kaiser Permanente spanned 36 years, from his appointment as staff physician in the Department of Internal Medicine in Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco medical center in 1964, to his retirement as director of the Division of Research in 1991.

“Dr. Van Brunt’s devotion to research helped build our Division into a nationally respected group,” said Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, current director of the Division of Research. “He was revered for his steadiness and breadth of vision.”

“Dr. Van Brunt demonstrates proper utilization of cardiac treatment equipment.” Planning for Health newsletter Summer 1967.

In 1966, Dr. Morris Collen appointed Dr. Van Brunt as project chief of the Medical Data System in Oakland and San Francisco, a computer-based patient medical record system with a database designed to support both patient care and health care delivery research. The Medical Data System project developed a multifacility, computer-based system to support the medical data requirements of one million health plan members, 1,000 physicians, and numerous professional and paramedical support staff. The system consisted of two IBM mainframe computers, and medical data from Kaiser Permanente’s multiphasic physical exam was recorded on punch cards for processing.

 

Short link: http://k-p.li/2snbzaB

 

Reaching for the Sky: How Kaiser Steel Helped Reshape San Francisco

posted on May 31, 2017

Topping out of Transamerica Pyramid, featuring Kaiser Steel, 3/28/1972.

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Forty five years after the Transamerica Pyramid redefined the San Francisco skyline, the city is witnessing a new exclamation mark – the Salesforce Tower. The upstart’s roof is 970 feet above the ground, and a top spike sprouts another 100 feet. It’s easily the tallest building in San Francisco and the second-tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

Until now, the Transamerica Pyramid was San Francisco’s distinctive giant. And it was built with Kaiser Steel.

News accounts featured the Pyramid’s “topping out” (or “topping off”) on March 28, 1972. It was 863 feet tall, and would have been taller at an even 1,000 feet but for a taxpayer’s lawsuit and other community opposition. And its unusual shape, intended to reduce its upper mass and improve views, was denounced by S.F. Chronicle architecture critic Alan Temko, who sniffed it “…would be out of place, even in Los Angeles, or in Las Vegas, where it belongs. It certainly doesn’t belong in San Francisco.”

Wrong.

Last year the S.F. Chronicle’s architecture and urban design critic John King praised its glories – “… an unforgettable . . . high-rise in an unforgettable setting… [which] stands serenely above the clutter of overhead wires and sidewalk fuss.”

The accompanying AP wirephoto of the “topping out” ceremony clearly shows the final steel beam being hoisted by crane – both emblazoned with KAISER STEEL.

Transamerica Pyramid construction, 5/3/1971.

Of all the businesses built by Henry J. Kaiser, historian Mark S. Foster called Kaiser Steel the “linchpin” of the powerful Kaiser industrial empire. That global reach used to include aluminum, cement, electronics, and automobile manufacturing, but all that’s left now is the Kaiser Permanente health care program. The 1980s were not kind to the American steel industry. Kaiser’s massive Fontana steel mill, built to make plate steel for cargo ships during World War II, was shut down in 1983 and sold off in 1984. Within a few years the company was all but gone.

Jesse Lee Beeson, Sr., who passed away this year, was the longtime foreman of Kaiser Steel’s “raising gang.” That team worked on giant construction projects all over the world, and placed the steel and assembled the precast concrete outer surface on the Pyramid. Mr. Beeson always considered this to be his greatest accomplishment.

Another detail in the news story was mention that the last beam sprouted “… a 4-foot redwood sapling.” It’s barely visible in the photo, but “… according to local [ironworker] custom, [a sapling] must accompany the last unit of a skyscraper’s skeleton. The sapling will be taken down and later planted in a half-acre plaza at the foot of the building.” That redwood joined 79 other siblings brought from a tree farm in the nearby Santa Cruz mountains. The Cultural Landscape Foundation praises this urban oasis.

Rather than a “curious local custom,” topping out is a widespread early Scandinavian construction practice, and was also followed in a recent Salesforce Tower event, hosted by Salesforce CEO (and health care philanthropist) Marc Benioff.

Reaching for the sky, the Henry J. Kaiser way. Welcome to San Francisco, Mr. Benioff.

 

Did you know that Kaiser Steel built the transbay tubes for Bay Area Rapid Transit in the late 1960s?
More Kaiser Steel stories to come.

 

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2rcOFBC

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