Poster celebrates 100 years of occupational health

posted on July 30, 2014
APHA_Poster

“Protecting workers for a century 1914-2014″

The Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, and the progressive role of that branch of medicine will be highlighted at APHA’s annual conference in New Orleans November 15-19.

Among the media being generated to explore and learn from that history is a full-color poster. “Protecting Workers for a Century,” designed by Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources archivist Lincoln Cushing, features 12 images covering a range of occupations and dates.

Six illustrations and six photographs offer visual evidence that work can be dangerous and that workplace safety is a constant battle. Two of the images are by Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership photographer Robert Gumpert.

The poster image will also be featured as the first-ever color cover of the peer-reviewed independent journal New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy.

Donations for the poster benefit APHA’s James P. Keogh Scholarship Fund. Contact Katherine Kirkland <kkirkland@aoec.org> for information about how to get a copy.

For more on Kaiser Permanente’s long commitment to the field of occupational health and safety, see our earlier Heritage article here.

Happy birthday, OHS!

Image credits, upper left to lower right; all are cropped from original format.
Lewis Hine, “Breaker boys working in Ewen Breaker of Pennsylvania Coal Company,” 1911; Lincoln Cushing, “Mujeres embarazadas! Pregnant women!” 1979; Earl Dotter, Cable Inspectors on Verrazano Narrows Bridge, NY, 2000; Luther D. Bradley, “$acred Motherhood,” 1907; Earl Dotter, Brooklyn hospital laundry workers with needles found in linens, 1997; Richard V. Correll, “An injury to all,” 1980; Robert Gumpert, fiberglass insulation manufacturing, Willows, Calif., 2003; Marilyn Anderson, “100 years of solidarity,” 1989; Lewis Hine, “Bibb Mill No. 1, Macon, Georgia,” 1909; Simon Ng, Our Times magazine (Canada), 1985; Robert Gumpert, garment presser, NY, 1983; Domingo Ulloa, “Short-handled hoe,” 1969.

Short link to this article : http://bit.ly/1prejdp 

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Kaiser shipyards pioneered use of wonder drug penicillin

posted on July 23, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

During World War II, Permanente Health Plan physician Morris Collen experimented with the treatment of pneumonia as he managed a large number of cases in the Kaiser Richmond shipyards. Many of the workers were in poor health to begin with, and the round-the-clock ship production in all sorts of weather exacerbated the situation. Dr. Collen reflected on that challenging period:[i]

When we first started there was no treatment for lobar pneumonia, pneumococcal type, except horse serum, and the people almost always got sick with serum sickness. It was a terrible treatment, but was all we had. Then… came sulfanilamide, and then sulfathiazole and sulfadiazine, and a series of sulfa drugs, and we began to treat pneumonias with them. That’s where we began, I would say, our first clinical research, evaluating different treatments for pneumonia.

Among those experimental treatments was a new drug, penicillin.

Vial of new "wonder drug" penicillin, published in Richmond Shipyard newsletter Fore 'n' Aft, 5/19/1944; copy courtesy Richmond Museul of History

Vial of new “wonder drug” penicillin, published in Richmond Shipyard newsletter Fore ‘n’ Aft, 5/19/1944

But this was wartime, and supplies were limited. Ninety percent went to servicemen fighting overseas, and only the remainder was allocated for distribution in the United States. Collen:

We had so many pneumonias and we had reported already in a journal that we were treating large series of pneumonias. So we got the first dose of penicillin in California, and treated a young man with a very severe lobar pneumonia, type 7. They all died from that, and this poor fellow was going to die. So we gave him this one shot of 15,000 units, and to this day I keep saying it was a miracle. He recovered.

The Richmond shipyard newsletter Fore ‘n’ Aft proudly announced the availability of this “wonder drug” in its May 19, 1944, issue:

Early this year a young shipyard worker developed a growth of pneumonia germs on his heart valves. At the Permanente Foundation Hospital he was given all the standard modern treatments that are regularly dispensed there to members of the shipyards’ Health Plan. Even with sulfa drugs he showed no improvement. The rare new drug, penicillin, was finally used. He recovered quickly.

Later a 15-year-old boy developed a blood clot on his brain, following a case of severe sinusitis. Death results in nearly 100 per cent of such cases. This time penicillin was used. The hospital record reads, “Patient completely recovered. Discharged from hospital.”

Until few months ago, the Army and Navy took the whole production of penicillin. When military stockpiles had been built, the National Research Council began to release penicillin for civilian needs. It is still difficult to obtain. Only three hospitals in this area are allowed a supply. They are the three hospitals in the area which treat the largest number of patients. The Permanente Foundation is one of the institutions which is allowed to buy it.

The use of penicillin is made possible here by the financial support of the members of the Health Plan. Science’s new wonder-cure is now at the service of shipyard employees.

While the war raged on two fronts, Collen published the seminal article on his civilian treatment experiences. His summary showed remarkable results:[ii] “A series of 646 consecutive patients with pneumococcic pneumonia were treated with combined sulfadiazine and penicillin therapy with a resulting mortality rate of 1.1 percent.”

A subsequent Fore ‘n’ Aft article on the benefits of medical research boasted: “By using the facilities provided for doctors under prepaid, group medical practice – to wit, the Health Plan -they evolved a complex treatment involving a combination of sulfa drugs and penicillin that is making medical history. Payoff: Human lives.”[iii]

Dr. Collen’s wartime use of penicillin not only saved lives, it provided sound medical evidence for future treatment methods.

 

 Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/1kcifjc 

Also see: “The History of WWII Medicine

[i]“Morris Collen, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Oral History Project II, Year 1 Theme: Evidence-Based Medicine,” conducted by Martin Meeker in 2005, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2007.

[ii] Morris F. Collen, M.D. and Alvin L. Sellers, M.D. “Penicillin Therapy of Pneumococcic Pneumonia – A Preliminary Report.” Permanente Foundation Medical Bulletin, April 1945.

[iii] “Research is Good Doctoring,” Fore ‘n’ Aft 10/19/1045.

 

 

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Goodbye and Happy Trails, Bret Maverick

posted on July 22, 2014

by Bryan Culp

Henry J. Kaiser and James Garner, 1959

Henry J. Kaiser and James Garner, 1959

Actor James Garner’s passing last weekend at age 86 brought new attention to his incredible body of work spanning half a century in Hollywood; his death also brings to mind Henry J. Kaiser’s bold foray into television.

In 1957, Kaiser bankrolled Garner’s star vehicle “Maverick,” a hugely popular television program. The largely unknown Garner played the amiable gambler Bret Maverick, a role that made him famous.

“Maverick” aired on Sunday evening prime time from 1957 to 1962 on the ABC network under the lone sponsorship of Kaiser Aluminum. The show, broadcast during the “Kaiser Aluminum Hour,” was an overnight sensation and the number-one-rated show in America for several seasons.

Henry J. Kaiser could not have been more pleased. He had taken a big gamble on “Maverick”. The single sponsorship network contract ran $7 million, a big commitment of advertising dollars for Kaiser Aluminum in 1957.

Kaiser polled his managers on the idea of underwriting a Sunday night TV western. There were 31 votes against and one in favor, Kaiser himself.

But Kaiser followed his own lights, as readers of these pages know. He was the first industrialist to champion employer-sponsored health care. He expanded roles for women in the workforce, and opened societal fissures for the pursuit of civil and equal rights.

Throughout his career, Garner moved smoothly from TV to movies and back again. He appeared in more than 50 films, including “The Children’s Hour” (1961) with Audrey Hepburn and “The Americanization of Emily” (1964) with Julie Andrews.

Garner also will be remembered as the bedeviled ex-con turned detective, Jim Rockford, in the long running series, “The Rockford Files,” in the 1970s. For more on his career see the remembrance in The New York Times.

It is not surprising then that Kaiser quickly took to Garner’s easy-going onscreen personality. The two men enjoyed each other’s company and Garner visited Kaiser at home in Lake Tahoe and in Hawaii.

So when you think fondly of the acting genius of James Garner – from his romantic scenes with Audrey Hepburn to his car chases in “Rockford Files” – recall that Henry J. Kaiser financed his first big break.

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1982 – KP Oakland and Richmond hospitals celebrated 40 years

posted on July 16, 2014
Oakland vid shot

Still from short video made for Oakland and Richmond KP hospitals’ 40th anniversary in 1982 Click on image to view

Anniversaries offer an opportunity to reflect on the past and anticipate the future. It is at such times that history helps an organization take a deep breath and focus again on its purpose and direction.

In 1982, two of the original Permanente Foundation hospitals – Oakland and Richmond – embarked on a campaign to celebrate “Caring and growing since 1942.” In addition to a special issue of the employee magazine KP Reporter, the hospitals produced a short video that swept from the World War II Kaiser shipyard health plan to the hugely expanded Oakland medical center, and beyond.

The video includes footage of wartime President Franklin D. Roosevelt chatting with Henry J. Kaiser at a ship launching, and founding physician Sidney R. Garfield, M.D., describing the goals of this remarkable health plan.

Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/1rs7AAt 

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