The Picture of Health

posted on October 16, 2018

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

 

Masthead for Planning for Health, Kaiser Permanente Southern California member newsletter, 1958

Quick — what’s the symbol commonly used to depict medical practice?

If you said two serpents wrapped around a winged staff, you would be right — and wrong.

The story of the symbol representing medical care is one of mistaken identity. In the United States, we usually think of the caduceus, two snakes twisted around a winged staff. Its origins go back to antiquity, where it was carried by the Greek god Hermes and represented commerce and negotiation. It was later appropriated by the Roman god Mercury. The caduceus never referred to medicine (or at least the essence of healing), but it looks very much like the Greek Rod of Asclepius (composed of a single snake and staff, no wings), which does. What happened?

It appears that when the U.S. Army Medical Corps developed their branch logo in 1902 they picked the wrong symbol, and it has permeated American medical graphics ever since.

Here are examples of these images from the Kaiser Permanente archives. Some are from our own organization, some are external, and some display various combinations of the two logos. Click on one to engage slideshow.

Also see article on the Kaiser Permanente logo
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Hungry for Health: The Evolution of Hospital Food

posted on October 5, 2018

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

 

Joyce Nishimura using Radarange model 1161 at a Kaiser Foundation hospital, circa 1958

Did you know that Kaiser Permanente’s founding physician, Sidney Garfield, MD, was an innovator in prepaid health care, hospital design and … hospital food service?

In 1955, along with E. R. Park, coordinator of the Kaiser Permanente Dietary Departments, Dr. Garfield worked out the plans for introducing microwave ovens into Kaiser Foundation hospitals. Dr. Garfield was extremely proud of this experiment, claiming they would bring more flexibility to serving patients warm meals. In 1956, he wrote an unpublished article titled “Just a Second! Becomes a Truism With Microwave Ovens.”

In this age where “fresh and local” is synonymous with good, healthy food, it’s easy to smirk at the benefits of microwave ovens in food preparation. But, like the advent of refrigeration, this technological advance had its advantages in the preparation of hospital food. The microwave’s primary purpose was warming previously cooked meals when the patient was ready to eat.

Kaiser Foundation hospital nurse using Radarange microwave oven circa 1961. The dome cover on top of the dish was designed by Marie Marinkovich of the Kaiser Dietary Department to ensure even heating.

The earliest microwave ovens were the size of a refrigerator, required water for cooling, and consumed massive amounts of electricity, thus limiting their usefulness. The Raytheon Corporation’s first commercial model, the 1161 “Radarange,” was introduced in 1954. It would be another 10 years before Raytheon produced a microwave model that was user-friendly and inexpensive enough to become a universal kitchen accessory. Between 1965 and 1997, Raytheon’s consumer products were produced under the Amana name.

Dr. Garfield was an early adopter, bringing 1161s into Permanente’s new California hospitals at Harbor City, San Francisco, and Walnut Creek.

By the mid-1960s, the ovens had gotten small enough that they could be moved out of the kitchen and placed in nursing stations, closer to patient rooms. These were accompanied by refrigerators and hot water/coffee dispensers, creating kitchenettes throughout the facility.

Kaiser Permanente nurse with food tray and happy patient, 1972

In 1965, Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Clara Medical Center became the first in the organization to provide built-in microwave ovens on the nursing floors. The Bellflower Medical Center followed suit when it opened in 1965.

An article in the June 1967 issue of the trade publication “The Modern Hospital” examined how the Kaiser Foundation hospitals were embracing microwave ovens, a key part of what was called the “total convenience food system.” At that point, most of the 18 Kaiser Foundation hospitals in the Western states and Honolulu had converted or built into their new facilities a food service system using microwave ovens and prepared foods.

Caution sign for early hospital microwave oven, 1971

Kaiser Permanente food service consultant Marie Marinkovich said: “The difference between other hospitals’ failure … and our success lies in the quality of the food being served … [our suppliers] cooperated with us fully in developing entrees, both for regular and special diets, that met our needs.”

Microwave ovens continue to serve as part of the toolkit for providing healthy and appetizing hospital food. Jan Villarante, director of Kaiser Permanente’s National Nutrition Services, calls microwave ovens “workhorses“ and notes that every food service operation within the organization uses microwaves today.


National Healthcare Food Service Week is October 8-14, 2018. Honor food service workers.
Pacemaker hazard warning graphic by Delmar Snider, MD, 1934-2017

Short link to this article: https://k-p.li/2NpH8XK

 

 

 

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Be an Upstanding Citizen!

posted on September 19, 2018

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

 

Fore ‘n’ Aft, 1/29/1942

Falls Prevention Awareness Week starts September 22. This 1942 cartoon from the Kaiser Richmond shipyard newspaper Fore ’n’ Aft illustrated remarks from Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox about industrial accidents on the World War II home front. “We have no time to train replacement workers… We cannot afford to permit accidents to encroach upon that bare minimum of time.”

Falls were among the largest contributors to shipyard accidents, which overall accounted for approximately 5 percent of employee absenteeism. But campaigns around safety education and rule enforcement made a difference – the frequency and severity of accidental injuries dropped 50% from 1941 to 1942, an improvement unsurpassed by any major industry in the United States.

These days, Kaiser Permanente still seeks to reduce fall-related injuries, for both employees and patients.

An injury-free workplace is an essential ingredient of high-quality, affordable patient care. Kaiser Permanente has set the goal of eliminating all causes of work-related injuries and illnesses. “Slip, trip, and fall” prevention is part of a comprehensive workplace safety strategy, designed to keep employees safe and create a workplace free from harm.

A focus on patient safety comes from the “No One Walks Alone” program – pioneered at the San Diego Medical Center and adopted at the Moanalua Medical Center in Hawaii – where the number of patient falls was reduced by more than half. And last year, the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute contributed an editorial accompanying the latest JAMA study about preventing falls among seniors.

For 10 tips on preventing falls, see this infographic.

 

Short link to this article: https://k-p.li/2QKLYlj

 

 

When Labor and Management Work Side by Side

posted on September 2, 2018

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

 

Two black Kaiser Richmond shipyard #4 employees, "Labor Management," 1/4/1944

Two black Kaiser Richmond shipyard #4 employees, “Labor Management,” 1/4/1944

During World War II, American industrialist Henry J. Kaiser’s job was building ships to win the war. Everything else — the housing and transportation infrastructure required to accommodate the influx of workers, even the incredible health care program that is his greatest surviving legacy — was a secondary, but necessary, part of the deal. And it was accomplished with a remarkable level of respect and cooperation between labor and management.

In an article titled “Class Bitterness Most Serious Problem for Labor, Management” in the Oakland Tribune September 9, 1943, Kaiser said “There is no such thing as labor relations. There are only human relations. You are dealing with people, not impersonal problems of finance or electronics. There are three sides to every argument — your side, my side, and the right side.”

Cooperation was pragmatic. Since Kaiser’s approach to building ships — like products in an assembly line — was new and evolving, there was an urgent need for innovation and shop-floor creativity. Workers were always coming up with more effective and efficient approaches, and rewards ranged from War Bonds to the right to christen a ship.

This cooperation was the task of Labor-Management Committees, established in early 1942 at the behest of the War Production Board. When the committees were first set up, some saw it as a plan by industry to throttle unions, but the WPB directive stated “The plan is not to further any special interests of any group nor to promote company unions or to interfere with bargaining machinery.”

Article about role of Labor-Management Committees, Richmond shipyards, 8/6/1943

Article about role of Labor-Management Committees, Richmond shipyards, 8/6/1943

Since production improvement involved many things besides mere mechanics, the committees also concerned themselves with many other matters, such as housing, food, transportation and morale. Valuable suggestions were shared with other shipyards, and by the end of 1944 over 3,000 ideas had come forward that saved an estimated $45 million and 31 million labor-hours.

Today’s health care worksite may not be the war-driven frenzy of the Kaiser shipyards, but it still relies on worker wisdom to serve Kaiser Permanente members through its unit-based teams. These are groups of frontline employees, managers, physicians and dentists whose work brings them together naturally and who collaborate with one another to improve member and patient care.  The Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership’s UBTs continue the tradition of healthy competition and innovation to achieve results.

"Labor-Management Award Winners," the Bo's'n's Whistle 11/25/1943

“Labor-Management Award Winners,” the Bo’s’n’s Whistle 11/25/1943

Recent examples of successes include a UBT at Kaiser Permanente’s Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, D.C., that adjusted to a big jump in Kaiser Permanente member enrollment and improved patient care at the same time;  a team at Colorado’s Ridgeline Behavioral Health which reduced the number of unnecessary Emergency Department visits while still ensuring patient care; and a Sacramento pharmacy that helped members reduce wait times.

Henry J. Kaiser’s vision of labor-management cooperation was channeled by Harry Caulfield, MD, a previous Executive Director of The Permanente Medical Group, when Dr. Caulfield described the first National Partnership Agreement signed in 1997: “When we work together, then we’re able to progress together. But without each other, neither one of us will be able to accomplish anything near what we could accomplish together.”

 

Top photo courtesy of the National Park Service, Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front NHP, RORI 5049_Box 4-02

Short link to this article: https://k-p.li/2wCB3kt

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