Archive for the ‘Latest Blog posts’ Category

Screening for Better Health: Medical Care as a Right

posted on March 1, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

[Part one of two]

Permanente's First and Largest Coastwise Group", Planning for Health, 1951-Fall

“This local 10 longshoreman is having an electrocardiograph taken to detect any heart irregularity. This is one of the many tests in the recent program conducted for the ILWU by Permanente.” Planning for Health, Fall, 1951.

For many years a hallmark of Kaiser Permanente’s preventive health care program was a battery of tests, designed to alert doctors to trends and red flags in a patient’s health. And it started with service to industrial workers.

Lester Breslow, MD, published a seminal article in the March 1950 American Journal of Public Health titled “Multiphasic Screening Examinations: An Extension of the Mass Screening Technique.” Dr. Breslow, who worked for the California State Department of Public Health in Berkeley, challenged the limitations of periodic health examinations, and proposed the value of an integrated battery of preliminary examinations – a “multiphasic examination.” The advantages included one combined medical record, cost savings, and improved diagnoses. One passage in Dr. Breslow’s article stood out:

“This survey can be conducted in a time not much greater than would be required for screening for a single disease. Where such screening procedures are carried out among industrial populations the time element is especially important.”

At that time, the Permanente Health Plan was expanding to the public after having only served Henry J. Kaiser’s World War II employees, and much of that growth was from unions.  Dr. Breslow had been a college classmate of Kaiser Permanente’s Dr. Morris Collen, and the AJPH article offered a solution to the challenges of bringing in large numbers of industrial members with physically demanding jobs and poor health care.

"Are you ship shape?" brochure about ILWU member health testing; 1951; supplied scan, source of original unknown

“Are you ship shape?” brochure about ILWU member health testing; 1951

Since the main medical competitors, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, did not provide health checkups unless one had a medical complaint, the Permanente facilities saw a surge in well-patient testing that began to drain the system. Searching for solutions, Dr. Collen spoke with Dr. Breslow, who suggested setting up a multiphasic screening for a large new member organization – the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Although the screening was coordinated under Permanente’s leadership, it included the cooperation of the United States Public Health Service, the California State Department of Health, the San Francisco Public Health Department, the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the San Francisco Tuberculosis Association.

The screening was seen as a groundbreaking step public health. The ILWU Dispatcher article May 11, 1951 proclaimed:

The longshoremen’s program represents pioneer work in preventive medicine—the science of keeping people healthy. Multiple health tests for such a large group are a new procedure, in use only since 1948 and scientifically proved to be effective in detecting disease while there is still time for treatment.

Dr. Collen proceeded try his first group test at the ILWU’s Local 10 hall at pier 18 in San Francisco, and screened several thousand longshoremen. An article in The Dispatcher from August 17, 1951, was titled “ILWU Waterfront Health Tests ‘Complete Success’; 4,002 Go Through” boasted:

Follow-up tests and treatment are now being given to members whose test results showed any signs of disease by a special team of Permanente doctors assigned to the ILWU under the ILWU·PMA [Pacific Maritime Association] Welfare Plan.

At a dinner for all the people who worked on the project, Permanente Health Plan, Director Dr. E. Richard Weinerman said the health test program was a “complete success . . . The fact that this program was the first to be organized by a union, the first to provide so comprehensive an array of tests and the first to assure complete medical follow-up through the health plan made it an outstanding contribution to the field of preventive medicine.”

kp-reporter-may-1961-a

Longshore worker signing up for Multiphasic exam, 1961

Dr. Weinerman also noted the role of what we now call “culturally competent care.” In a Dispatcher article July 6, 1951, he said “In order to condition [our physicians] to do the best possible analysis, the union is taking them on a tour of the waterfront to observe working conditions. Then they will be able, to understand clearly how longshoremen work, and they can interpret symptoms more accurately.”

Dr. Collen later recalled the next steps of expanding the screening to all Permanente members in his oral history:

We started our multiphasic program in the Oakland clinic [on November 29, 1951]… After the clinics closed at five-thirty, we used the existing office space in the surgery clinic. We developed a whole series of arrows and put colored tapes on the floors so that patients would go in through the various rooms and have their height, weight, blood pressure, and other physiological measures taken, and then fill out a history form. Then they would be directed to the laboratory for blood and urine tests, to the x-ray department for a chest x-ray, and to the electrocardiography department for an electrocardiogram. In that way, we didn’t require any extra equipment or any extra facility space. We developed a team of personnel that would work in the evenings from about five-thirty to eight, and we examined some twenty-five to thirty patients every evening that way at a very low cost.

In 1952, the Kaiser Permanente clinic at 515 Market Street in San Francisco also opened a Multiphasic Health Test facility in a space that had formerly been used as an orthopedic clinic.

story-march-10-1961-b

Longshore worker taking Multiphasic exam, 1961

The process consisted of about 15 procedures and only required the presence of a single physician, assisted by paramedics. Dr. Collen went on to explain the beautiful medical logic of the testing:

. . . Health is the only condition in life when you find people are medically similar. That is, healthy people have a relatively normal distribution of their tests and measurements so that you can develop routine repetitive procedures to do these tests. The health checkup, the evaluation of a normal well person, is the most routine, repetitive procedure in medicine.

As soon as one has a variation from normal, which is the basic definition of being ill or sick, then one becomes unique. Every diabetic is different; every hypertensive is different, and a diabetic with hypertension is even more complicated. So it is difficult to develop routine rules for sick people. But for normal people, and by definition 95 percent of healthy people are within normal limits, you can develop routine repetitive procedures. And that is the secret of the efficiency and economy of a programmed, systematized, multiphasic checkup.

An article in the Permanente newsletter Planning for Health touted the Multiphasic:

A broad stride in the practice of Permanente’s fundamental principle of preventive medicine was accomplished with the recent inauguration of the Multiphasic Health Check-up program at the Oakland and San Francisco medical centers. A new type of general medical examination, Multiphasic Check-up, is based on the premise that early diagnosis and adequate treatment can materially reduce the ill effects from significant diseases.

By the mid-1950s, 30 to 40 percent of all new members were choosing the multiphasic on their first visit.

However, in the early 1960s changes in technology would transform the examination. And the future was . . . computers.

Part 2: The Automated Multiphasic Examination

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2mtLDb6

Special thanks to ILWU archivist Robin Walker for her help with this article.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Kaiser Dishwasher

posted on February 23, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Henry Kaiser with dishwasher and model

Henry J. Kaiser with dishwasher and model, circa 1946

World War II was not yet over, and Henry J. Kaiser was already anticipating the need for postwar housing – and houses need appliances. Henry J. Kaiser was one of the prominent American industrialists of the early 20th century who built everything from dams to ships to airplanes. Did his range extend to humble home appliances? Yes, it did.

The news broke on October 16, 1946:

“First Kaiser Cars Go on Display Here,” Berkeley Daily Gazette:

In the appliance line Kaiser Motors soon will distribute a machineless [motorless] dish-washer, now in production at Bristol, Pa. The dish-washer, which operates entirely by water pressure, is being produced in two models – a “chassis” type that will cost about $176 and can be made a permanent fixture of the home, and a “cabinet” dish-washer that can be moved from house to house. The “cabinet” dish-washer will sell for approximately $101.

The Kaiser-Frazer dealers have been offered franchises on the appliance and farm equipment lines in order to have something to sell the year round until new cars become plentiful.

Raymond Wilson’s dish washing machine patent, 1943

As with most of his accomplishments, Henry J. Kaiser didn’t invent the dishwasher – he looked at what was needed, found out who knew how to make it, and did it better.

The origins of the Kaiser dishwasher begin with Raymond W. Wilson, an inventor in Glendale, Calif. In 1943 Wilson was granted a patent for a dishwashing machine whose primary feature was that it was entirely operated by water pressure – no electricity was needed. “As easy to install as a new sink – your plumber will gladly make three simple connections.” The washer used standard municipal water pressure and hot water from a residential hot water heater (assumed to be 140 degrees F.) A basket would raise for loading and lower for washing with spray jets at the bottom.

Wilson began producing these machines under the “Q.E.D.” brand name in 1939 and applied for his patent in 1940. The patent rights were later purchased by Mr. W. J. Schworer of Alhambra, Calif., and the product name changed to “Steril-Dry.”

Unfortunately for the new dishwasher, soon the United States was deeply involved in World War II, and manufacturing capacity for consumer products was marshaled for the war effort. But by September 1944, Kaiser had started partnering with real estate developer Fritz B. Burns to build modern housing projects, and Burns wanted to include the Steril-Dry in new homes. So, in November they installed and tested one of the dishwashers in their Latham Square Building offices in Oakland.

qed-dishwasher-med

Q.E.D. item in Popular Science, November 1944

Although Schworer had begun negotiations with the Crane Company, the Kaiser Company managed to beat them out and buy the rights on November 10, 1944.

Arrangements were made to assemble and purchase six Steril-Dry machines from Schworer for installation at test locations including the Kaiser Steel mill in Fontana, Calif.; the Kaiser Cement plant in Permanente, Calif. (south of San Francisco near Cupertino); and the Fleetwings aircraft plant in Bristol, Penn. One was also set up at the residence of Eugene Trefethen, Jr. (1910-1986), a longtime Kaiser Industries employee who later rose to become president and vice chairman of Kaiser Industries.

And another one was installed at the Kaiser Richmond shipyard number 3 cafeteria, where it ran for more than 300 hours and washed 129,106 dishes. A report on that test included these findings:

The dishes are washed satisfactorily when the water is at the proper temperature (150-170 degrees F.), and they dry immediately. The same results occur when washing glassware. There has been absolutely no breaking or chipping of the dishes or glasses. If the water gets below 150 degrees the dishes are not washed as satisfactorily. The dishes and glassware come out clean with the exception of those that have lipstick on them. Other types of grease are easily removed, however.

sterildry-med

Steril-Dry brochure cover, circa 1945; uses same photo as Q.E.D. item above.

The pressure of the water does not seem quite sufficient. It is about 60 to 65 pounds. The only objection to the pressure is not from the dishwashing angle, but from trouble with the hydraulic lift.

Results were very satisfactory considering that the operators were untrained, unskilled people. They had no difficulty in operating the machine. It only takes a few minutes of instruction to the most unskilled person for her to understand the operation of the machine.

Another model kitchen and laboratory were set up to further test the machines. An extensive list of proposed modifications was drawn up, including everything from design (locating knobs in the front, making the top flat and square to serve as a working surface) to technical (jet redesign to minimize clogging, automatic soap dispenser).

By early 1946, the Kaiser Fleetwings Division of Kaiser Cargo in Bristol began manufacturing four models of the long-awaited Kaiser dishwasher.

Kaiser dishwasher ad, Better Homes and Gardens, 1948-02 [Web grab]

Kaiser dishwasher ad, Better Homes and Gardens, 1948

Research by dishwasher historian (yes, you read that correctly) Mike Haller of Peoria, Ill., describes what happened next in the “automaticdishwasher forum“:

Two major flaws existed: (1) Distribution was turned over to the Kaiser-Frazer Sales Corporation (the car division of the Kaiser conglomerate). The Kaiser-Frazer division was ill prepared to market and demonstrate the dishwasher. (2) Lack of adequate field testing did not pick up on the fact that not all water sources were able to deliver the required minimum water pressure [or temperature] for adequate operation.

Mainly because of customer dissatisfaction and the high cost of the dishwashers – upwards of $200 plus freight and taxes, — the sales started to decline…in early 1948, Sears Roebuck & Company was searching for an automobile that could be sold as a house-branded item. As part of the deal, the Dishwasher line became part of the package, along with factory floor space. However, Sears needed the floor space for other contract work, so the Kaiser Dishwasher line had to go.

In 1948 Fleetwings was renamed Kaiser Metal Products, where they continued to manufacture a range of consumer products. But Kaiser’s short venture into the world of dishwashers went down the drain.

 

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

 

Tags: , ,

Experiments in radial hospital design – Denver’s Saint Joseph and Kaiser Permanente’s Panorama City

posted on February 17, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Hospital, California
Built 1962, decommissioned 2008, demolished 2016
Designed by Clarence Mayhew with partner Hal “H.L.” Thiederman, Dr. Sidney R. Garfield as medical consultant.

Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver, Colorado
Built 1964, demolished 2016
Designed by Robert Irwin.

 

st-jo-towers-med

Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver, circa 1970

When I was touring Denver’s Kaiser Permanente facilities in late 2016, my host pointed out a hospital that was being demolished. It was the venerable Saint Joseph Hospital, and what I noticed immediately was that it had two paired cylindrical (or “radial”) towers, just like our former Panorama City hospital, a design universally described as “binoculars.” But taller.

Even though the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan has been operating in Colorado since 1969, and has built numerous state-of-the-art medical office buildings, it has always contracted with local facilities for hospital space. Saint Joseph is one of them.

Although there’s no firm evidence that the Saint Joseph design was influenced by Panorama City, it’s surely not a coincidence. The workflow logic was identical, and the main differences were the stairwell, lobby placement, and lack of an external balcony. It looked more like an overhead view of the Starship Enterprise than a pair of binoculars.

st-jo-blueprint-med

Blueprint, Saint Joseph Hospital, July 27, 1961

“Building started at Saint Joseph,” Rocky Mountain News, Oct. 26, 1961:

Groundbreaking rites were held Wednesday for the new $8,771,560 addition to Saint Joseph Hospital. The new building, to replace most of the north hall of the hospital, will consist of a pair of 11-story circular towers. Each will a have nurses’ stations at the center, and no station will be more than 20 feet from any room.

The new circular towers will be the heart of the 88-year-old hospital. Saint Joseph will be the nation’s largest example of the new hospital design, according to Robert Irwin, architect. The circular concept means patients’ rooms and wards will radiate from the nurses’ stations in the center.

Fourth floor plan of tower, Kaiser Foundation Hospital at Panorama City. 1961 [circa]. [TPMG P1283]

Fourth floor plan of tower, Kaiser Foundation Hospital at Panorama City, circa 1961

Kaiser Permanente’s original Panorama City Medical Center was featured as The Modern Hospital’s “modern hospital of the month” in November 1962. In the seven-page article “Good Nursing is Core of Panorama Plan,” Sidney Garfield, MD, explained the “circles of service” design concept:

It saves steps for the nurses [in this case, patients are within 20 feet of the nursing station]; it reduces the number of special duty nurses; it keeps the nurses to a central area outside the patients’ door, and it is particularly useful for keeping patients under observation at night with a reduced nursing staff.

1964-new-old-towers146

Old and new Saint Joseph hospitals, circa 1964

Saint Joseph Hospital Communications Manager Colleen Magorian added these details:

The Saint Joseph Hospital “twin towers” were dedicated in 1964, so they were just more than 50 years old when our new hospital opened. The towers were part of an ever-expanding hospital that had been on the same site since 1898 and were inspired, in part, by the towers of the preexisting structure.

Predecessors to this design were a never-built Kaiser Permanente geodesic-dome-based facility from 1957, followed by the “Atomedic Hospital,” which originated in the early 1960s. But these facilities were never meant to be more than one or two stories tall.

Hospital architecture scholars Stephen Verderber and David J. Fine have noted that there are a few other examples of multistory “radial” layouts in the United States, all built in 1964-1965. These include the Lorain Community Hospital (Lorain, Ohio), the Scott & White Memorial Hospital (Temple, Texas), and the Central Kansas Medical Center (Great Bend, Kansas). The Prentice Women’s Hospital and Maternity Center in Chicago, which opened in 1975, was a unique version of this style with four radial towers. It was vacated in 2011 and was the subject of intense preservation efforts to avoid demolition. It was eventually torn down in 2014.

Prentice was designed by Bertrand Goldberg, who drew on learnings from anthropology and the field of “proxemics” (“the study of our use of space and how various differences in that use can make us feel more relaxed or anxious.”) It was praised for its innovative design and engineering prowess. However, many of the design weaknesses of the wedge-shaped rooms were noted as well. Architect and critic Jain Malkin pointed out that the most heavily trafficked side of the room was the narrowest, and in the case of Prentice, that the rounded exterior wall reflected and amplified sounds in a space that’s supposed to be quiet.

Of all of these architects, it was Dr. Garfield and his Panorama City vision that pioneered this bold experiment in improved workflow and patient care. And, as I saw in Denver that cold October morning, the circles of history closed in on the “circles of service.”

 

Special thanks to Stephen Verderber, and Colleen Magorian and Tiffany Anderson of Saint Joseph Hospital, for their help with this article.

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2lVI21V

 

Tags: , , , ,

Mystery hospital device – the TravelLav

posted on February 9, 2017

 

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Travel-Lav compact lavatory, in hospital room setting, 1966 [circa]. [Scan from film negative #62594]

Travel-Lav compact lavatory, in Kaiser Permanente hospital room setting, circa 1960.

Hospitals are highly technical facilities always in search of safe and effective ways of providing health care. Usually the bright shiny objects get the news splash – a brand new X-ray machine, a sleek MRI – but for every big-ticket item, there are dozens far more mundane.

When members come to Kaiser Permanente – whether in Washington, D.C. or California – they expect to experience a brand promise of “Total Health.” The National Facilities Services department is responsible for the physical component of this task, evaluating every aspect of a building – even including the humble toilet.

Project Principal Linda Raker explains NFS’s design goals:

The emphasis is on providing an environment that helps create a warmer, hospitality experience, by contrast to the institutional environments of the past. We are especially mindful of creating what we call a ‘moment of pause’ in these rooms, where our members can achieve a measure of privacy away from the chaos of medical environments. The other objectives – improved lighting, individual mirrors, use of optimistic colors, etc. – are all designed to support this more positive member journey.

“Institutional environment of the past” is a kind reference to some earlier concepts that certainly weren’t focused on a private “moment of pause.”

Travel-Lav compact lavatory, in hospital room setting, 1966 [circa]. [Scan from film negative #62594]

Travel-Lav compact lavatory

While reviewing a set of large format film negatives in our archive, I ran across two photos that showed an unusual device installed in a patient room. On closer inspection it was two versions of a device, one designed to fit in a corner, and one for an open wall. Zooming in on the name plate revealed that these were products of the “TravelLav” (or Travel-Lav) company.

Extensive searching through newspaper archives and online sources revealed very little about these devices.

We know that they were the brainchild of a Philadelphia inventor:

Patent #2,725,575 approved December 6, 1955
“FOLDING WATER CLOSET” by Angelo Colonna, Philadelphia, PA.

The present invention relates to certain new and useful improvements in flush-type water closets which are expressly adapted to be used in wash rooms and similar quarters of limited size on railway cars, airplanes, boats, submarines and similar conveyances and has more particular reference to a hinge mounted toilet bowl or hopper of a so-called folding construction, that is, a structural adaptation wherein the bowl, when it is not in use, is swung up and into a storage and protective compartment provided therefor in a wall cabinet.

US2953103.pdf

Detail of folding toilet in railway car patent illustration, 1960

The Travel-Lav later shows up in a railway car patent:

Patent #2,953,103 approved September 20, 1960

“COMBINATION COACH AND SLEEPING CAR” by George W. Bohannon, Oak Park, and Walter Scowcroft, Palos Heights, Ill., assignors to The Pullman Company, a corporation of Illinois.

The washbowl and water closet or toilet are preferably a combined unit sold under the trademark “Travel-Lav” manufactured by Angelo Colonna of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both the washbowl (72) and the water closet or toilet (76) fold down to a substantially horizontal position when they are to be used.

 

So, we at least know something about these folding water closet contraptions. These two photos imply that at one point, most likely around 1960, Kaiser Permanente installed or considered installing them in some patient rooms. But there’s no evidence that they lasted. It’s easy to imagine that the lack of privacy was a substantial deterrent to their acceptance, and that a device intended for cramped quarters – such as a submarine, or a bunker – would make less sense in a hospital.

 

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2kT4j2y

 

 

Tags: ,

Ellamae Simmons – Trailblazing African-American Physician

posted on February 3, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer


overcome-coverOvercome: My Life in Pursuit of a Dream

Ellamae Simmons, MD, with editorial collaboration by Rosemarie Robotham
Mill City Press, Minneapolis, 2016
Available via Google Books | Amazon

 

The arc of social justice relies on courageous individuals and Ellamae Simmons, MD, was one such individual. She was the first African-American woman to specialize in asthma, allergy, and immunology in the United States. She worked at Kaiser Permanente for 25 years, and to this day plays a central role in how Kaiser Permanente embraces diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Simmons’ new biography at the age of 97 is a valuable contribution to that history.  The book details her life and career, including graduating from Hampton (Virginia) nursing school in 1940, serving in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II, medical school at Meharry Medical College (Nashville) in 1954, and her Kaiser Permanente career.

Dr. Simmons’ chapter titled “The Interview” is about her coming to work at Kaiser Permanente during the summer of 1965. Dr. Simmons had been training in chest medicine at National Jewish Hospital in Denver, at which Irving Itkin, MD, was her supervisor and mentor:

When I told Dr. Itkin of my plan to move west at the end of my residency, he was full of advice. “If you’re going to California,” he told me, “there are only two places you should consider. One is the Scripps clinic in La Jolla in Southern California, and the other is Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. Now,” he continued, warming to the subject of my future training as an allergist, “Scripps is just another National Jewish. They write the same papers and conduct the same research. You’d basically be doing the same thing you did here.

At Kaiser, on the other hand, you’d round out your experience in a well-established outpatient allergy center, where asthmatics are well maintained on an established anti-allergenic regimen. And I recommend Ben Feingold, the chief of asthma-allergy at Kaiser. He’s a good allergist, does fine research. Of course, he’s difficult…. but I recommend you go there and learn everything he has to teach you about asthmatics whose condition is well controlled, who are ambulatory, who go to school or to work. After that you’ll be well set up to take care of anybody in this field.”

Ellamae Simmons school graduation Hampton nursing school, 1940, from Overcome book

Ellamae Simmons graduation Hampton nursing school, 1940, from Overcome

Dr. Simmons’ job interview with Ben Feingold, MD, has become legend in Kaiser Permanente history:

Dr. Ben Feingold sat back in his large bronze-studded black leather chair, scrutinizing me. He questioned me about my previous residencies, always calling me “Miss,” never “Doctor.” He asked me about my asthma-allergy fellowship, and more superficially about my chest medicine residency.

After about 30 minutes, he tented his fingers on his desk and said, “Well, I have my doubts about hiring anyone whom I have not trained, but please go out and see my secretary. We’ll have to continue this another day, as I have another meeting.” He told me to make an appointment with his secretary for the following Tuesday, which was five days away. I could ill afford the expense of additional nights at my hotel, plus meals, but I did not say this. Instead I made the appointment and spent the next few days exploring downtown San Francisco and biding my time.

I returned the following Tuesday for the continuation of our interview and entered Dr. Feingold’s office as scheduled. Again the department chief sat back in his chair and viewed me intently. He asked a few questions about specific allergic reactions and how they might be treated at the institution of my residency. I answered easily and in meticulous clinical detail. At last he said,

“Well, I see you know your stuff, but I’m afraid I cannot hire you, as I’ve never hired anyone whom I have not trained.”…

“Dr. Feingold,” I said, my voice steady, my gaze direct, “I’ve never applied for a job for which I was not fully qualified. In fact, I’ve usually been overqualified. So tell me, is the real reason you’ve decided not to hire me the fact that I’m black?”

She asked Dr. Feingold if there were any other black physicians at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco hospital; it took him a while, but he finally remembered Granville Coggs, MD, a radiologist who’d joined the staff just a few months before. Dr. Simmons met with Dr. Coggs, and they shared experiences of racial discrimination pursuing their respective professions. She then returned to Dr. Feingold’s office, resigned to not getting the position.

Dr. Feingold didn’t respond at first. He just stared at me in that fixed way I was already becoming used to. I realized he was wrestling with a decision.

Finally, he spoke. “Stop by my secretary on your way out and sign your contract,” he said. “I’ll take you after all.”

Dr. Ella Mae Simmons, first black female physician in Northern CA

Dr. Ellamae Simmons, circa 1980

 

Among Dr. Simmons’ battles was that of housing discrimination. Even in the relatively progressive San Francisco Bay Area of the late 1960s, covenants and real estate practices perpetuated racially segregated neighborhoods.

This discrimination also was experienced by another early Kaiser Permanente physician, Eugene Hickman, MD. His unpublished memoir includes a chapter titled “House Hunting While Black”:

My major problem in Oakland was with housing…I would phone all numbers regarding places within a radius that would afford reasonable access to the hospital where I was going to work. I was up front with my racial identity, after which I would summarize my credentials, etc. The response was always the same: “I am very sure you would be a very desirable member of our community, but we promised our neighbors we would not rent or sell to Negroes.”

After several frustrating months, someone informed me of a place in Berkeley where I could go and apply for one of the homes that had been condemned to make way for the Grove-Shafter Freeway [California Highway 24]. We obtained an old house on 53rd St, near Children’s Hospital. I was then able to move our family here. Then we began the search for a permanent residence. My wife would go out with an agent during the day while I was working; the children were not yet in school. Some idiots frequently mistook my wife for a southern European. One agent…suggested that if I wanted to see the house, I should come around after dark.

And if that wasn’t discouraging enough, Dr. Hickman experienced discrimination about his choice of a job from an unexpected source. The Sinkler-Miller Medical Association in Oakland (named in honor of two outstanding black physicians) accepted him for membership, but insisted on characterizing him “as some sort of traitor to the black physician community” because of his affiliation with Kaiser Permanente.

 

Dr. Simmons’ personal story is a tribute to persistence and vision overcoming adversity. Although we have come a long way in building social justice, there is always more to do – and pioneers such as Dr. Simmons inspire and guide us.

 

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2l4yt05

 

Tags: ,

Japanese-American Doctors Overcame Internment Setbacks

posted on January 27, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Poster announcing Executive Order 9066 - 1942

Poster announcing implementation of Executive Order 9066 (detail), May 15, 1942

Ten weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This law, enacted February 19, 1942, authorized the incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent and resident aliens from Japan. This measure only affected the American West; the U.S. military was given broad powers to ban any citizen from a fifty- to sixty-mile-wide coastal area stretching from Washington state to California and extending inland into southern Arizona. The order also authorized transporting identified citizens to military-run “internment” camps in California, Arizona, Washington state, and Oregon.

This controversial action was undertaken in the name of national security and affected almost 120,000 men, women, and children. The Order was suspended at the end of 1944 and internees were released, but many had lost their homes, savings, and businesses. Subsequent efforts by community and legal groups in the 1970s resulted in rescinding the Order and offering compensation to those affected, and legislation was passed to try to ensure that such a broad disruption of civil liberties would not happen again.

The impact of the war, and of the suspension of basic human rights, personally affected two of Kaiser Permanente’s first Japanese American physicians. Once hired, they remained here their entire professional careers.

 

Dr. Isamu "Sam" Nieda

Dr. Isamu Nieda, circa 1955

Isamu Nieda, MD (1918-1999)
Hired as a radiologist at Kaiser Permanente in 1954, retired 1987

Isamu “Sam” Nieda was born in Ashland, Calif. (a small community in the central East Bay of San Francisco) in 1918 to Japanese-born parents. He was an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, and then went to medical school at U.C. San Francisco. Partway through his studies he heard the news of Executive Order 9066.

According to Dr. Nieda’s late sister, the family held a meeting with Sam and determined together that he would leave the evacuation area to continue his studies. Family lore stated that he had to sell his microscope to pay for the journey, and that the rest of his family chipped in as well. He then departed for Salt Lake City, where he worked briefly as an orderly, before continuing to Temple University in Philadelphia. The American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) helped Sam through the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council. This program worked with colleges and universities in the Midwest and Eastern States to admit qualified students from the camps, and placed four thousand students before war’s end.

Dr. Isamu "Sam" Nieda

Dr. Isamu Nieda, circa 1975

Dr. Nieda completed medical school in 1944 at Temple University, and after World War II he served as a Venereal Disease Control Officer in Japan, working for the Public Health and Welfare department of the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the American occupation (1945–1952).

Dr. Nieda returned to the U.S. and worked as a radiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco Medical Center for 33 years.

Dr. Nieda always identified as a U.C. student, so it was meaningful to the family when in 2009 UCSF granted honorary degrees to all Japanese American students from the Medical, Dental, and Pharmacological schools who had to stop their studies due to internment. (Sam had passed away ten years prior.)

 

Planning for Health newsletter 1962-Fall

Dr. Ikuya Kurita, Planning for Health, 1962

Ikuya T. Kurita, MD (1922-2005)
Hired in respiratory medicine at Kaiser Permanente in 1957, retired in 1999.

Ikuya “Eek” Kurita, MD, was born in San Francisco in 1922 to Japanese-born parents. He attended U.C. Berkeley for two years until 1942, when he and his parents were relocated to an internment camp in Topaz, Utah. Internees could leave Topaz if they had a job or were admitted to school, so Kurita was able to complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah. He then served in the army from 1944 to 1947 and returned to the University of Utah where he graduated from medical school in 1950.

Dr. Kurita worked at Kaiser Permanente hospitals for 42 years, first in Oakland where he began as Chief of Emergency from 1957.

KP Reporter, 1975-06-13

Dr. Ikuya Kurita, KP Reporter, 1975

He was appointed chief of the Department of Emergency Services at the Oakland hospital in 1965, and in 1975 ran the new rehabilitation and educational clinic for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). An article in the KP Reporter described that program:

According to lkuya Kurita. MD., Emergency Department Chief at Oakland, and physician consultant for the Respiratory Care Clinic, the purpose of the program is to bridge the gap between acute hospital care and home management, with primary emphasis on reaching and helping patients before their condition erodes to the point of warranting hospital admission. “The clinic helps to fill the gap between acute care and what is often fragmented care,” says Dr. Kurita, who is a specialist in pulmonary diseases.

Dr. Kurita began working at the Martinez Medical Center in 1977 and retired from there in 1999.

 

Special thanks to the family of Isamu Nieda, retired Permanente physician Michael Gothelf, Dr. Ken Berniker of the TPMG Retired Physicians’ Association, scholar Elaine Elinson, and video producer Robert M. Horsting for their help with this article.

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

 

Tags: , ,

Looking Back: Laura Robertson, 97, Recalls Roots in Kaiser Shipyards

posted on January 18, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

"Rube" (Ruby) Bingham, worker at NW Kaiser shipyard, Portland, 1943-Fall (photo courtesy daughter Laura Robertson)

“Rube” (Ruby) Bingham, worker at Kaiser shipyard, Portland; Fall, 1943. (photo gift of daughter Laura Robertson)

Laura Robertson, 97, chuckles when her doctor in Kaiser Permanente’s Colorado Region stumbles on the tiny size of her pharmacy order. She takes so few medications that the doctor assumes something’s off – but Laura assures her she’s just in very good health.

Laura’s not just healthy, she’s been connected to the big Kaiser picture almost all her life. I had the chance to sit down with her last October, and she’s got quite a story to tell about roots in the Kaiser shipyards and experiences as Kaiser Permanente member.

 

Early Years: Portland before the War

I am the oldest survivor of my family. I have outlived all my original friends, including people I’ve worked with. There are too many people that live in the past, and I have no desire to do that. Day-to-day is much more interesting.

These younger people think you’re lying, that you’ve got a great imagination.

Map of three NW Kaiser shipyards, 1943; by Marguerite Gillespie, from Record Breakers publication, Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation

Map of Portland-area Kaiser shipyards and Northern Permanente Hospital, 1943; by Marguerite Gillespie, from Record Breakers, Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation.

I had to dig pretty deep for some of this stuff.

Portland. I went there with my mother, Rube (pronounced “Ruby”) Bingham, in 1938. I worked in a restaurant, and was a member of the Cooks and Bartenders Union. I made $20 a week.

I then left the restaurant business and went to a business school a half day and worked for the school a half day to pay for tuition. I worked nights and weekends in a restaurant. During the war years I worked for Industrial Claims, an insurance company that handled insurance for “high risk” industries.

I worked on the 13th floor of what I think was the Board of Trades building, right down on the waterfront.  You know the river splits the town in two – I lived on the West side, close enough that I could walk to work, or I could walk down to the corner and take the streetcar. When I got to work and took the elevator I could look down onto the decks of the foreign ships that were coming in and loading and unloading. And, of course, it took me a while to understand that they came in on the tides, and had to wait to go out on the tides. And when they went out, it was fresh water, and the decks were practically at the water level. But once they passed the bar, the sea water was more buoyant. There were all sorts of countries coming and going – German, Russian, Scandinavian.

I was married in 1941. My wedding ring was from a jewelry store in Portland. It cost $30, and we bought it on an installment plan of $5 a week. The girls in my office were envious because I actually had a diamond. It was just a chip!

 

Working in the Shipyards

My mother worked in the Kaiser shipyards. Here’s a photo of her in 1943, in her work clothes. She installed sheet metal ducting after it was insulated.

Migration chart map, Fortune magazine 1945-02. Infographics

Migration chart map, Fortune magazine, February, 1945. Design by Walt Disney studios.

I remember the change in Portland during the war years. Kaiser was advertising for help all over, and they were coming in from all areas. Before the war, Portland was a pretty typical city. The Chinese worked in restaurants and laundries, the Filipinos were in the food industry, the Japanese were vegetable farmers. I had never heard a foreign language until I went to Portland.

[Editor’s note: wartime workforce labor migration dramatically affected many West coast cities, including Portland. The largely white, urban, population experienced struggles with an influx of mostly poor rural people and immigrants of color. Before World War II, Black Americans made up only 1 percent of Oregon’s population; most of them lived in Portland. By war’s end, the black population had grown from 2,000 to 20,000. In a 1974 interview, Kaiser Permanente founding physician Dr. Sidney Garfield remarked on the impact of this wartime immigration: “Portland people were rather unhappy with the influx of workmen into their area because Portland was sort of a staid, stuffy community…”]

I grew up in a town of 300 in Iowa, right next to Missouri, and I finished high school in 1936. We were very close to the Mason-Dixon Line. Just 25 or 30 miles south of us the schools were segregated; where we were, what few blacks were there went to school with the whites. We didn’t experience some of the extremes that people did in the south.

But in wartime Portland, if they weren’t speaking a foreign language they might have well have, if you were trying to understand what they were trying to tell you. They all had their own lingo. That, too, created quite an interesting atmosphere. Everybody trying to understand all these different people, and they were having trouble trying to understand us.

Aerial photo, Vanport City, 1942 [circa]; [C-10 - Oregonship albums Box 4 - M-343]

Aerial photo, Vanport City, circa 1943

I remember Vanport. I had friends who lived there. It was in a vegetable garden, in a flood plain, and it did eventually flood – but I’d moved to Denver by then.

[Editor’s note: Henry J. Kaiser built Vanport – Oregon’s second-largest city – to handle the enormous need for temporary wartime housing, including most of the immigrant black labor force. It was the largest public housing project in the nation and included facilities such as schools, movie theaters, and the first publicly funded daycare center built in the United States. On May 28, 1948, a dike failed during unseasonably high flooding on the Columbia River, resulting in at least 15 deaths and the total destruction of the city.]

 

Denver: Becoming a Kaiser Permanente Member

I came to Denver in October, 1947. Denver was that much behind the coast, on lots of things. Denver was a completely different region and atmosphere.

I took a loss in wages. Because of my union connections, I got a job with the Joint Council of Teamster locals. I started working for Local 17, the freight dock workers, where I worked for seven years before being fired when a new manager came in.

Postcard of Bess Kaiser Hospital, Oregon, printed 1959. Given by Rube Bingham to daughter Laura Robertson, with message on back. Floors 3-5 are numbered by hand. Gift of Laura Robertson.

Postcard of Bess Kaiser Hospital, Oregon, printed 1959. Given by Rube Bingham to daughter Laura Robertson, with message on back (below). Floors 3-5 are numbered by hand.

I got a job working for the Atomic Energy Commission in Grand Junction, so I moved there with my husband. The paperwork to get a clearance was incredible. It took me weeks to prepare it. An official came out to my house to talk about my application – which was very unusual – and he said that after contacting all of my references they didn’t get one negative comment. I got the job. I was on the procurement desk for the expiration division. That meant a worker brought the yellowcake samples to my desk and I took them to the lab. I contacted the warehouses to check on availability of equipment needed. If none was available I completed a nine-carbon form that I presented to the proper authority for his signature so that the equipment could be ordered.

Postcard of Bess Kaiser Hospital, Oregon, printed 1959. Given by Rube Bingham to daughter Laura Robertson, with satirical message on back "My summer home."

Postcard of Bess Kaiser Hospital, Oregon; satirical message on back “My summer home.”

I worked about one year, and in 1962 returned to work for the Teamsters in their Grand Junction office. I walked in their office and organized their records, which were a mess. This was just about time the Teamsters came under federal investigation. I had to stall them for two days because my boss was out of town.

It was through my Teamster employment that I became a Kaiser Permanente member, and have been ever since.

My mother stayed in Portland. Here’s a Bess Kaiser Hospital postcard from my mother, on which she wrote “My Summer Home. Third floor, May 10, 1964 – Broken arm; fourth floor, September 3, 1964 – head-on collision. Fifth floor, August 1962 – gall bladder operation.”

 

-Special thanks to the Colorado Kaiser Permanente communications team for setting up this interview, and to member Laura Robertson for her patience and support in producing this story.

 

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

Tags: , , , ,

Henry J. Kaiser’s dream of personal aircraft

posted on January 10, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

kaiserair5

Artwork from draft “Fly with Fleetwings: Kaiser-Craft” promotional brochure (never produced), circa 1950.

“Flying is a pleasure, even if it is for business!” For a man whose professional passions blurred with enjoying the fruits of one’s labor, this was Henry J. Kaiser’s dream of transportation in America as we entered peacetime after World War II.

During the war, Henry J. Kaiser was involved in a several military aviation manufacturing projects, and was briefly put in charge of the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation. Most of those projects went well, with the notable exception of the infamous “Spruce Goose.”

Aerial photo of Spruce Goose (H-4, Hercules Flying Boat), Long Beach, 1947.

Aerial photo of Spruce Goose (H-4, Hercules Flying Boat), Long Beach, 1947. Note shadow of dirigible from which photo was taken.

As early as 1942, Henry J. Kaiser proposed a massive fleet of giant cargo planes, figuring that they could have a better survival record than the Atlantic ship convoys were experiencing. Kaiser began a partnership with Howard Hughes and snagged a government contract. However, by early 1944 Kaiser withdrew from the project when nothing viable had been produced. Kaiser and Hughes parted ways, but Hughes doggedly persisted with his “Spruce Goose” monster airplane (it was actually made of birch plywood because of wartime restrictions on aluminum). It flew only once, on November 2, 1947, but was seen by the U.S. Senate as a boondoggle.

Henry J. Kaiser purchased a controlling interest in the aircraft manufacturer Fleetwings of Bristol, Penn., on March 29, 1943, as a division of Kaiser Cargo, Inc. During World War II, they developed the Model 23 Tandem and Model 33 trainers. They also designed the limited edition XBTK-1 torpedo bomber as a technical response to the need for smaller aircraft that could work well on compact aircraft carriers such as Kaiser’s CVE escort carriers.

xlg_kaiser_kid-det

Hiller-copter in Modern Mechanix, December 1944

Fleetwings also produced a prototype XH-10 “Twirleybird” helicopter in 1945. Kaiser’s attraction to helicopters had been sparked earlier when he heard of Berkeley boy genius Stanley Hiller’s easy-to-fly gyrocopter; after Kaiser saw the young Hiller’s demonstrations, Hiller Aircraft became the Hiller-copter Division of Kaiser Cargo in 1944.  However, the next year Hiller and Kaiser’s partnership collapsed, at least partly because Kaiser refused to increase the Hiller-copter Division’s funding to levels required for full scale production.

But soon it was postwar civil, not military, aviation that fermented in Kaiser’s brain, and Henry J. Kaiser had grand plans.

An opening salvo came from an article titled “Still pioneering” in the Kaiser Richmond shipyard newspaper Fore ‘n’ Aft August 10, 1945, five days before the war’s end:

As concerns air travel, people who supposedly know say we are still in the pioneering stage. They agree it may be some time before every manjack of us has his own private plane, but ‘”the age of the air,” as Kaiser says, “has already begun…”  Kaiser foresees mass production of airplanes – and most of it in the west – with sales running up to 100,000 a year.

Clay Bedford [Kaiser Richmond shipyard manager] declared in 1944: “Think of a string of airports dotting the state every 15 miles in two great networks, connecting with air highways across the nation—each field equipped with inns and motels, restaurants, service and repair stations, hangars and clubrooms.

“Fantastic? Henry Kaiser doesn’t think so. He’s proposed to build a nation-wide network of 5,000 air terminals.”

Henry J. Kaiser at first test flight of experimental pusher "family" plane; designer Dean B. Hammond on left, H.V. Lindbergh on right, likely Oakland airport, 1946-02.

Henry J. Kaiser at first test flight of experimental pusher “family” plane; designer Dean B. Hammond on left, H.V. Lindbergh on right, likely at Oakland airport, February, 1946.

No long afterwards, the Associated Press wrote a story on February 7, 1946:

Henry Kaiser disclosed today he is well on the way to becoming an airplane manufacturer. He saw his first model plane given its test flight at the Oakland airport. The plane, tentatively called the Kaiser-Hammond, is a twin-tail, pusher type, single-engine craft, with a 40-foot wingspread. It will carry 1200 pounds.

The plane had been originally designed and developed by Emeryville, Calif., aeronautical engineer Dean Hammond in the mid-1930s. In 1936, Hammond partnered with noted aircraft designer Lloyd Stearman and formed the Stearman-Hammond Aircraft Corporation to build the Stearman-Hammond Y-1. High costs hampered sales, and production was interrupted by World War II. One design oddity was that the aircraft had no rudder; the tailplane fins were adjustable but not during flight. Turning was achieved by differential operation of the aileron and elevator.

In another article on the Kaiser-Hammond, Henry J. Kaiser was quoted as saying: “This is an automobile. Not a plane – it steers like a car and rides like one.”

But in the mid-to late 1940s, Henry J. Kaiser was heavily involved in many other projects, including his Kaiser-Frazer automobile company. His aviation ventures began to lose altitude, but he wasn’t quite done yet.

kaiserair3

Artwork from draft “Fly with Fleetwings: Kaiser-Craft”

A Fleetwings 51 airplane proposed around 1950 was his last stab at populating the skies. The all-metal plane would be powered by a 200-horsepower General Motors Model GM-250 radial engine.

By 1948, Fleetwings had been renamed Kaiser Metal Products, manufacturing a range of consumer products, including cabinets and dishwashers. However, Kaiser had kept the Fleetwings brand name alive for his civil aircraft projects.

A prototype brochure, “Fly with Fleetwings in a Kaiser-Craft,” sold the basic concept:

A preview or your personal plane, the Fleetwings 51… designed and built to serve your requirements for speed, comfort, safety, and economy, plus an entirely new concept in aviation–four passengers side-by-side.

Artwork from draft “Fly with Fleetwings: Kaiser-Craft”

Artwork from draft “Fly with Fleetwings: Kaiser-Craft”

Flying no longer requires the superman that it took to pilot the tricky craft of a few years ago. Aerodynamic advances have brought it within the reach of the average person. The Fleetwings 51 is a plane that any physically and mentally normal person can learn to fly.

In classic 1950s advertising prose that would humble Don Draper, the section “Flying is a pleasure, even if it is for business!” sold the dream:

Your personal plane will take you to the seashore or the mountains for weekends, quickly, without using up most of the time going and coming; pleasantly, without tiring hours of stopping and going, weaving in and out of traffic in a haze of exhaust smoke.

kaisercraft1

Artwork from draft “Fly with Fleetwings: Kaiser-Craft”

It will take you to the far-away places where the best fishing and hunting a replaces too far away to reach often by other means in the time most people have available. Equipped with pontoons, it will take you to Canadian lakes seldom or never fished before. It will take you over more of the United States than you have ever been able to tour. It will enable you to visit friends and relatives so far away that you would otherwise never see them.

It will enable you to enjoy a summer change of scene when you can’t get away from the office, by providing quick commutation.

Alas, the Fleetwings 51 never took off, and there’s no evidence that Kaiser sought to further develop civil aviation. During that period Henry J. Kaiser’s beloved wife Bess was suffering from poor health, and she passed away March 14, 1951. Henry soon married Bess’ nurse Alyce, and Henry became much more involved in the operations of the rapidly-expanding Kaiser Permanente health care program.

 

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

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kaiser and Disney – Spreading Fun and Health since World War II

posted on January 3, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

dscf9274-med

“Visitors from Aulani brought smiles to 4-month-old Moses Love and his family.” 2016, photo by Lance Agena.

At the end of last year, pediatric patients being treated at Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Medical Center in Hawaii received a special holiday visit from Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Pluto. Aulani, a Disney resort on Oahu, sent these cartoon characters to spread cheer to children during the holiday season.

But few know that Minnie has been greeting children at Kaiser facilities for more than 70 years. The historic connections between Kaiser (Kaiser Industries and Kaiser Permanente) and Disney (Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland) are longer than the bobsled ride down the iconic Matterhorn.

During World War II, when Henry J. Kaiser was building hundreds of ships for the war effort, Walt Disney Studios was producing posters for the War Manpower Commission encouraging home front workers to be productive.

"Don't be a job hopper" poster for War Manpower Commission, Walt Disney Studios, 1944. [Source: National Archives]

“Don’t be a job hopper,”  Walt Disney Studios, 1944. [National Archives]

Safety graphic, back cover of Bos'n's Whistle by former Disney artist Bob Davidson, OSC, 1942-04-09, OHS

The Bos’n’s Whistle, 4/9/1942

The weekly Kaiser Oregon shipyard newspaper The Bos’n’s Whistle included several mentions of former Disney workers – one 1942 back cover safety graphic had been drawn by Bob Davidson, a field aide and draftsman in the shipyards who’d worked in Walt Disney’s publicity department illustrating children’s books and posters for theater advertising. An article on the Hull Detail department boasted that “One of the most interesting types of work handled in the department is production illustration … which includes some ex-Disney men from Hollywood.”

Another article from June 29, 1945, titled “Artist Prefers Hull Drawing to Comics” interviewed one of those illustrators:

Sketching pink elephants and giddy fauns is a far cry from the businesslike lines of a ship’s hull for Charles Shaw, Oregon Ship Company production illustration supervisor, who was formerly an artist-animator connected with the famed Walt Disney studio. “Dumbo and Bambi were fun to sketch, but I’d much rather be doing just what I am – production illustration,” Shaw declared.

Oregonship photos, Disney images painted on wall, Box 3; Child Care Center, PA-665

Disney character art in Permanente Hospital pediatric waiting room, circa 1944

The waiting room of a pediatric ward at one of the wartime Kaiser shipyard hospitals featured a mural of Pluto and Minnie Mouse with two unidentified young mouse characters. A recumbent Bambi graces the floor.

After the war both Kaiser Industries and Walt Disney greatly expanded their operations.

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened to the public in Anaheim, Calif. – and one of the featured displays in Tomorrowland was the Kaiser Aluminum Hall of Fame. The display ran until July, 1960.

Interestingly, one of the theme parks that inspired Disneyland was Children’s Fairyland, which had opened five years earlier on the shores of Oakland’s Lake Merritt near the headquarters of Kaiser Industries – just across the lake from the current Kaiser Permanente’s national headquarters at 1 Kaiser Plaza.

Postcard - Kaiser Aluminum exhibition, Tomorrowland at Disneyland, 1955-1960. [Jon Geary discrete collection]

Postcard – Kaiser Aluminum exhibition, Tomorrowland at Disneyland, 1955-1960. [Jon Geary discrete collection]

Kaiser Permanente historian emeritus Tom Debley described the Kaiser Aluminum Hall of Fame:

A giant aluminum sphere sat in the center of the exhibit, onto which was projected a knight who would bemoan the fact that his armor was not made of aluminum. The knight would fade away and be replaced with a firefighter and then a spaceman.  On the outside walls of the exhibit were smaller displays extolling the benefits of the “miracle substance” called aluminum.  After you signed your name in the registration book, with an aluminum pen, you got to meet the Kaiser Aluminum mascot pig, KAP (“Kaiser Aluminum Pig”). KAP was 3 feet tall, wore aluminum overalls, and carried a wrench.  According to lore, he was the first non-Disney character at Disneyland.

KP 7th Annual Family Fun Party at Disneyland, 1974-10-06. [Jon Geary discrete collection]

Kaiser Permanente 7th Annual Family Fun Party at Disneyland, 1974. [Jon Geary discrete collection]

Disneyland Park would serve as a venue for many Kaiser Industries and Kaiser Permanente events. Beginning in 1967 and onward for several years, Kaiser Permanente hosted “family fun parties” at Disneyland.

A 2006 Kaiser Permanente media release enthused that “Disneyland Resort Welcomes Kaiser Permanente as Presenting Sponsor for the Inaugural Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend,” which included more than 8,000 runners.

“The Disneyland Half Marathon is the perfect setting for our message about the importance of good health,” said Ed Ellison, MD, Medical Director for Kaiser Permanente in Orange County [Dr. Ellison is currently Executive Medical Director and Chairman of the Board of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group]. “This will be a beautiful weekend event filled with fun and physical activity for the participants and spectators alike. We hope that everyone involved will be inspired to live well and thrive.”

innoventions1v2

1998 Innoventions video still, click to see on YouTube

As far as Kaiser Permanente’s presence at Disneyland is concerned, undoubtedly the biggest moment was at the “Innoventions” pavilion that was installed when Tomorrowland was redesigned in 1998. Kaiser Permanente was featured in a huge interactive educational display about health and health care. A story in KP Perspectives, the internal news medium in videocassette format, explained how it all came to be. These quotes from that video told our story:

“We were approached by Disney. They were going to redesign Tomorrowland, and the centerpiece of Tomorrowland was going to be the Innoventions exhibit.” -Kathy Swenson, senior VP, Communications, Marketing & Sales.

“They needed a health care organization that met their standards, and Kaiser Permanente came to mind.” -Kenneth E. Bell, MD, medical director, Kaiser Permanente, Orange County.

 “I saw it as a terrific opportunity for us to partner with a wonderful organization that knows how to bring critical messages to the American public.” -David Lawrence, MD, chairman and CEO, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals.

“It was important to us that the people pictured in these exhibits were real Kaiser Permanente staff and real Permanente physicians. We are not in the fantasy business, what we do is very real.”
-Sharon Levine, MD, associate executive director, The Permanente Medical Group [currently director and senior advisor, The Permanente Medical Group].

Kaiser and Disney – spreading fun and health since World War II.

 

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2iN5fSf

Ale Kaiser’s Pink Christmas truck

posted on December 19, 2016

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

FC-170 Jeep truck - Xmas gift for Ale Kaiser, 1958

FC-170 Jeep truck – Henry’s Christmas gift for Ale Kaiser, 1958

Henry J. Kaiser may have been a bold man of action and an international industrialist leader, but he was also a devoted husband. So it should come as no surprise that he was perfectly happy to break with 1950s gender-stereotyped gift giving by buying his wife a pink truck for Christmas.

Kaiser and his second wife Alyce “Ale” moved to Hawaii in 1954, where they enjoyed the island life until Henry died on August 24, 1967 at the age of 85. Alyce’s favorite color was pink, which was the reason why some of the Kaiser facilities in Hawaii are pink. Not just any pink, “Kaiser Pink.”

It had all started when ordering custom-dyed leather for furniture in his Hawaiian Village Hotel. What was supposed to be a mild coral pink showed up a far deeper hue. Too late to change for the opening, the color proved to be a popular hit.

Henry declared that “Pink is a happy color,” and he and Ale proceeded to use it for everything, from building trim, to cement trucks, to catamarans. It was even rumored that Ale once dyed her poodles. And oh, by the way, since it turned out that Ale also liked trucks…

This Christmas story from 1958, written by a Kaiser Industries public affairs person, is a window into their personal life.

Mrs. Henry J. Kaiser started a while back letting the word get back to her industrialist husband that what she wanted most for Christmas this year was – a truck.

At first, Mr. Kaiser couldn’t believe it. One night he exclaimed at dinner table, “I guess I’m being kidded … Everyone in the house seems to think your heart’s desire for Christmas is a powerful truck.”

“But it is – really!” Mrs. Kaiser declared.

Henry J. Kaiser and Ale Kaiser, wedding photo, 1951-04-10. [C10-Oakland Trib - Box 22]

Henry J. Kaiser and Ale Kaiser, wedding photo, 4/10/1951.

“Now what on earth would you do with a truck?” asked Mr. Kaiser, who manufactures Willys Jeep trucks in the United States, Argentina, and Brazil. [The year before moving to Hawaii, the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation had purchased Jeep manufacturer Willys-Overland for approximately $60 million. It would remain under Kaiser Industries control until 1970.]

“It would be great,” Mrs. Kaiser explained, “if I had a truck to haul landscaping plants and gardening supplies when we build our new Portlock Road house. Think of all the uses.”

“Now wouldn’t that be a sight when the family gathers at the Christmas tree and opens packages,” Mr. Kaiser remonstrated, “and I’d say – ‘now come out to the garage, Ale, and see your present’ – and there’d be a pink truck wrapped in cellophane.”

“Just the same,” Mrs. Kaiser replied, “that’s what I want for Christmas.”

So that’s the story-behind-the-story of the Kaiser Pink truck that created something of a sensation among Honolulu people who saw it lowered from the S.S. Leilani, or rolling over to the Von-Hamm-Young Company Jeep distributorship and then out to the Kaiser Kahala avenue house.

FC-170 Jeep truck - Xmas gift for Ale Kaiser, 1958

FC-170 Jeep truck for Ale Kaiser, 1958

The Kaiser gift to his wife is the new Forward Control Jeep FC-170 that can carry 3,500 pounds of cargo on its nine-foot truck body. Mr. Kaiser explained that the 1,700-pound heavy-duty vehicle has nine forward and three reverse power combinations.

Mrs. Kaiser forthwith took the powerful Jeep out for a rigorous drive. She came back beaming.

“It’s a living doll,” she exclaimed. “It’s the most useful Christmas present you could have – simply terrific.”

P.S. – Mr. Kaiser, who thought he was going along with a gag, had another present wrapped and under the Christmas tree for his wife, but decided she wasn’t joking – she obviously was so overjoyed over getting her wish – the pink truck.

 

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2i8xYzJ

Tags: , ,