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

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Garfield’s Café: Serving Up a Healthy Bowl of History

posted on August 13, 2018

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

 

Kaiser Permanente’s offices in Portland, Oregon, recently added a public coffeeshop on their ground floor. In addition to stimulating brew, the cafe serves up history as well.

The space was christened “Garfield’s Café” to honor our founding physician and Kaiser Permanente’s long-standing commitment to nutrition as a component of good health. The menu features a wide variety of healthy options, ranging from oatmeal to daily paninis, veggie bowls and salads. The architects of this new café hope patrons will also sink their teeth in history of Kaiser Permanente and the Northwest region.

Kaiser Oregonship staff cafeteria, with nurses, 1942; click for large image

The space is near a display mounted in 2015 that includes key moments in Kaiser Permanente history in the Northwest. Oversize panels on the café wall highlight Dr. Garfield and the programs in the Portland area during World War II to feed the home-front workforce. These include photos of “Victory Gardens” in the worker-housing projects and employees dining at the huge Kaiser Oregonship cafeteria at St. Johns in 1942.

A large photograph of Dr. Garfield at Contractors General Hospital in the remote Mojave Desert is captioned with a quote from a 1980 letter to the 12,000 members who were part of his Total Health Care Program:

“Remember, good health is a way to get more out of your life — more energy, more enjoyment, more potential, more purpose, more life.”

Also, perhaps another cup of coffee and tasty bowl of oatmeal!

 

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

 

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Peaceable Kingdom Mural Unearthed

posted on July 9, 2018

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

 

The eyes didn’t have it.

Lion and lamb detail, Peaceable Kingdom mural by Emmy Lou Packard; OMCA A80.35_18_10104_K1

In 1967, artist Emmy Lou Packard created a stunning mural, “Peaceable Kingdom, the Garden Before the Fall of Man,” for the Kaiser Industries’ flagship Oakland headquarters. A prankster, she slyly swapped out the glass eyes of the lion and the lamb, but got into trouble.

“Taxidermy eyes removed because patrons were uncomfortable with the eyes watching them over the bar,” she lamented on one of her sketches.

For 38 years, that bas-relief mural has rested in storage, but this spring it was briefly displayed in its full glory. The work of art is a reminder of Henry J. Kaiser’s support for the arts, a focus that lives on in Kaiser Permanente hospitals and facilities.

“Peaceable Kingdom” was 6 feet tall and 26 feet long, composed of 16 panels cast in basaltic concrete and carved before fully set, and portions were sandblasted for texture.

Photo collage of all mural panels; click to enlarge [OMCA photos, composite image by author]

Packard, an activist as well as artist, had worked for Henry J. Kaiser before — in 1944 and 1945 she’d been an illustrator for the weekly Kaiser Richmond shipyard newspaper Fore ‘n’ Aft, injecting messages of feminism and tolerance in the medium read by a new and unconventional workforce. With this mural commission for an unconventional industrialist, she continued making powerful artwork advocating for a better world.

Artist in front of mural sketch, 1967; OMCA A80.35E_18_015

The 28-story Kaiser Center was built in 1960 on the site of the former Holy Names College on the shore of Lake Merritt as the world headquarters for Kaiser Industries and affiliated companies. This conglomerate produced over 300 products, including steel, aluminum, Jeep vehicles — everything from gravel to guided missile components. It had a combined $1.5 billion in assets, employing 76,000 people in 17 states and 5 foreign countries. The gently curved Kaiser Center was a modern classic, designed by Welton Becket and Associates showcasing Kaiser’s many building materials.

In 1967 — the same year Henry J. Kaiser died — the elegant Mirabeau Restaurant opened on the 3rd floor, looking over the stunning 3-acre rooftop garden. The interior was designed by noted local architect Henrik Bull, who commissioned Packard to create the mural for the cocktail lounge’s back wall.

Making the mural; Emmy Lou Packard on left, with assistant Mary McChesney, August 1967; OMCA A80.35K_18_007

Packard prepared a colorful description explaining her mural’s message:

The lion lies protectively shielding the lamb, but the lamb has tiger eyes to preserve the balance of nature in the Garden …

The cat and dog and mouse, traditional enemies, live peacefully together, and the cat eats grapes while protecting the mouse in the curve of its tail …

A horned creature somewhat like the triceratops and the stegosaurus combined lurks under the giant fern … he is called militasaurus, and will flourish for a while after the Fall, but like others of the Mesozoic era, will become extinct because he is over-armed …

In 1980, the Kaiser Center underwent a major remodel, and the mural panels were taken down and gifted to the Oakland Museum of California. The Mirabeau continued operation until 1984. Also in the Kaiser Center, on the 28th floor with a sweeping view of Lake Merritt, was the Kaiser Executive Dining Room which opened in 1960.

Don Cairns inspecting stored mural, 2018 (author photo)

When Kaiser Industries imploded, the dining room was replaced by the members-only Lakeview Club in 1984. But as business lunching evolved from martinis to kale salads, membership dropped, and it closed in 2000.

In June 2018, Packard’s son Don Cairns and other family members inspected the mural in storage at OMCA. Cairns had watched his mother make it years ago, and remembers seeing it when dining at the Mirabeau. Thanks to the able stewardship of OMCA, the panels are as clear and strong as the day they were taken down. And Packard’s family could once again see the dream of the cat, and the dog, and the mouse, living together in peace.

 

 

 

Short link for this article: https://k-p.li/2N1D2oZ

Credit for all OMCA images: A80.35 Emmy Lou Packard, Untitled (Fauna & Flora Mural), 1967. Concrete with embedded glass. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California. Gift of Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp.

 

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