Posts Tagged ‘Mother’s Day’

Mother of Invention: Henry J. Kaiser’s Inspiration for Building a Health Plan

posted on May 11, 2017

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Mary Kaiser in wedding dress, 1873; photo from Henry J. Kaiser: Western Colossus, by Albert Heiner.

Every institution has a story about how it started. For the health care plan now known as Kaiser Permanente, it began with Henry J. Kaiser’s mother.

In his last published interview, three and a half months before he passed away on August 14, 1967, Henry J. Kaiser stated “I see the day when no one need die for lack of medical care, as my own mother died in my arms when I was 16 years old.”

Mary Kaiser, a practical nurse, was only 52 years old when she died on December 1, 1899.

It was a story told and retold. During World War II medical author Paul de Kruif helped bring Kaiser’s novel health plan to national attention in Kaiser Wakes the Doctors. De Kruif described Kaiser’s motivation:

It was the lack of a doctor – who might have saved her life – that had killed Kaiser’s own mother at the age of 49… He was raw about this medical injustice. [Later in life] it offended him that he and his family could command the best medical advice, while millions of human beings were medically kicked around.

Henry Kaiser himself was vocal about his motivation. At a speech he made before a doctor’s group at San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel June 9, 1948, he said:

Mother would not go to a hospital as a charity patient because she believed in giving, not taking, charity. … I propose to earn millions of dollars and put millions into hospitals and to devote my life toward helping my fellow citizens who, as my own Mother and Father did, suffer because they cannot pay for the full services they require.

Henry J. Kaiser speaking at dedication of Permanente Foundation Hospital, Oakland, August 21, 1942.

More details emerged over time. He later said that Mary’s specific condition was Bright’s Disease, a constellation of kidney diseases now known as chronic nephritis. In addition to relative poverty (Henry’s father also had health problems and was going blind), another complication for her care was that the family lived in small town in rural New York.

Historian Mark. S. Foster’s biography of Henry J. Kaiser points out some inconsistencies in Henry’s story. For one thing, Henry was actually 17 years old when his mother passed. And there’s no corroborating evidence that Henry was present at her death.

But all origin stories value mission over details, and this one is no different.

According to one of Kaiser Permanente’s founding physicians, Morris Collen, MD, Henry Kaiser told the audience at the dedication of the Oakland Hospital in 1942 “My mother died in my arms because she didn’t receive adequate medical care, and I vowed that I would do whatever I could so this wouldn’t happen to anybody else.”

The health plan that Henry Kaiser built has certainly been proof of a son’s love for his mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mary.

 

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Ceremony to unveil permanent exhibits at California WWII Home Front park on May 24

posted on May 10, 2014

SS Red Oak Victory pancake brunch cool option
for Mother’s Day: SF Bay Trail celebrates 25 years

Visitors Education Center preview in 2012. Temporary exhibits have been replaced with new interactive displays.

Rosie the Riveter national park Visitor Education Center preview in 2012. Temporary exhibits have been replaced with new interactive displays to be unveiled to the public May 24. Photo by Joe Paolazzi

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Rosie the Riveter’s dance card is full for the next two weeks at her namesake national historical park in Richmond, Calif.

The signature event is the Memorial Weekend unveiling of the park’s permanent, interactive historical exhibits on Saturday, May 24, at the Visitor Education Center. Park staff will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m.

Visitors are invited to participate in various programs offered throughout the day. For more information and directions, you may call: 510-232-5050 Ext. 0, or go to the park Web site.

After the ribbon-cutting, San Francisco Bay Trail officials will stage a 25th anniversary celebration of the 500-mile walking, biking and hiking trail.

Park officials advise arriving early because seating is limited for both events. They also urge visitors to dress warm for the cool and windy weather usual on the waterfront in the morning.

Mother’s Day can be a breeze

SS Red Oak Victory is the site of a Mother's Day pancake brunch Sunday.

SS Red Oak Victory is the site of a Mother’s Day pancake brunch Sunday.

Enjoy Mother’s Day pancake brunch this Sunday (May 11) sitting on the deck of the SS Red Oak Victory docked on the Richmond waterfront. The ship, built in Henry Kaiser’s World War II shipyards, is on the site of the former Shipyard No. 3.

A full breakfast will be served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $7 per person.  Children under 5 eat for free.

Red Oak volunteers will give tours of the ship for an additional fee of $5 per person. The SS Red Oak Victory is berthed at 1337 Canal Blvd, Berth 6A, in Richmond.

The Richmond Museum of History operates a museum and gift shop within the Red Oak’s hold.  For more information, call 510-237-2933.

Film festival features “Swing Shift” on May 15

Also coming up is a showing of “Swing Shift,” a World War II movie starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell as California aircraft production workers who find romance on the Home Front.

This is the last in a series of historical films shown on the Red Oak Victory this spring.  The 1984 movie will be screened at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 15. Admission is $5.

More to see at historical park

The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park offers a full schedule of ongoing programs. For example, films are shown in the visitors center theater every day.

Rosie the Riveter park visitor center on opening day in 2012. Permanent exhibits will be unveiled May 24.

Rosie the Riveter park visitor center on opening day in 2012. The center’s historical exhibits have been refreshed this spring.

Visitor center docents present programs covering many World War II themes, including the Japanese American internment, food rationing, the African American war experience, toys of the 1940s, dogs for defense and more.

On Fridays, visitors have the opportunity to meet real-life Rosies and hear their stories. “Rosie Meet and Greet” is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. in the visitors center.

The park visitor center, located behind the historic Ford Assembly Building, is open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 1414 Harbour Way South, Richmond.

For more information: (510) 232-5050 x0, or visit the park Web site.

Home Front quilt show at Richmond museum

The Richmond Museum of History in downtown Richmond is exhibiting the Quilts of the World War II Home Front through June 6. Admission is $5.

Quilting expert Mary Mashuta will present “A Conversation about Story Quilts” from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 18, at the museum, 400 Nevin Ave., Richmond. The program is included with the admission fee.

For more information, call 510-235-7387 or visit the museum’s Web site.

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