The ‘Core Mothers’ inspired community health at Kaiser Permanente program in Los Angeles

posted on February 25, 2019

Aryonia White, 2018 summer intern

 

In August 1965, the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts underwent a 6-day riot against police brutality and social injustice. Following the violent uproar, many families and businesses faced the restoration of their neighborhood — but the fractured community felt helpless. The riots left psychological trauma on residents’ ability to speak up and ask for help. Yet every neighborhood deserves an uplifting environment that provides intentional care with high-quality services.

Bill Coggins with Core Mothers Group, Watts CLC, 1975

Kaiser Permanente stepped in to help the community recover, and hired Bill Coggins, Master of Social Work. Coggins saw an opportunity in the aftermath of the uprising as “a chance to develop something” and in 1966 he began a program that would later blossom into Kaiser Permanente’s Watts Counseling and Learning Center.

Coggins founded Helping People Grow, a self-help program that encouraged social interaction and self-awareness through individual and group meetings. Kaiser Permanente staff members were involved at the time and helped design personal approaches for individuals, offered field trips, and served a pilot project for early childhood education. In 1967, the Kaiser Foundation Parent-Child Center was established to help disadvantaged children and their parents improve social and educational skills at no charge.

Soon after, concerned mothers from the community came together to help rebuild their neighborhood and provide a safer place for families. In October 1970, eight of them formed “The Core Mothers.” Their president, Christine Caraway, led meetings and forums where they solved problems and took proactive measures to improve their community. By knowing more and working together, everyone had something to contribute — and people began to heal.

Christine Caraway, Watts CLC, circa 1977

In 1976, the brand-new Watts Counseling and Learning Center was built on the corner of 103rd and Success Avenue. What began as a “loosely defined program” for emotional support and educational therapy became a more formal program with facilities that continue to serve the Watts community. Over time, programs have included counseling, personal development, pre-school, education development, academic coaching, a support group for children with parents with cancer, and a summer camp.

It required a village of help to raise children in a nurturing way. Coggins supported the Core Mothers early on and made them essential advisers for the center. One of them was “Sweet” Alice Harris, who was determined to improve conditions for Watts women and was empowered by Kaiser Permanente’s program. “The center took the fear out of me. I had friends. I was no longer alone. I had people I could talk to,” she said.

The simple act of finding community and talking to someone can improve emotional health. Today, the center, with Kaiser Permanente support, continues to serve as a safe place where participants find purpose again. The Core Mothers are no longer an official group, but their legacy remains.

Please see this website and video for more information about current programs at the Watts Counseling and Learning Center, including counseling, educational therapy, child development, and community outreach.

 

Short link to this article: https://k-p.li/2UatP1K

 

Mobile Clinics: “Health on Wheels”

posted on February 5, 2019

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

 

Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing student members of Kaiser Black Student Nurses’ Association serving on mobile Foot Health Clinic, 1972

If you can’t easily get patients to a clinic, what do you do?

Take the clinic to the patients.

This year, a Kaiser Permanente grant to the Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation in Fresno, California, paid for a brand-new recreational vehicle that’s been transformed into a dental clinic on wheels, complete with exam space, X-ray machines, and dental equipment. Several hygienists and dentists work inside the clinic, cleaning children’s teeth, and filling cavities.

It’s a model that’s been researched in the medical literature — and, because of long history in mobile medicine, we know that it works.

Early innovations in mobile medicine

In the early 1970s, Kaiser Permanente undertook several projects to test the feasibility of mobile health vans to serve underrepresented communities. One was rural, one was urban.

STARPAHC mobile health unit with medical personnel, neonatal patient and mother, 1970s

The rural example was “STARPAHC” — short for Space Technology Applied to Rural Papago Advanced Health Care. Kaiser Permanente and NASA partnered with Arizona’s Papago Indian Reservation to test the practicality of the emerging field of telemedicine. The project used the real needs of a remote earth-bound population to see how technology and routines could work when providing health care for astronauts in outer space.

And in very urban Oakland, California, Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing student members of Kaiser Black Student Nurses’ Association served on a mobile Foot Health Clinic in 1972.

Our medical care keeps moving

Mobile health van, Kansas City Region, 1989

In 1988, Kaiser Permanente launched a Mobile Health Education and Screening Program in the Kansas City area. The 25-foot mobile van traveled to Kaiser Permanente medical offices as well as community organizations, local businesses, and public health fairs, where staff checked blood pressure and cholesterol levels, gave lifestyle assessment quizzes, and provided educational materials on a variety of health topics.

 

Southern California Care-A-Van, 1988

In Southern California, Kaiser Permanente had a similar program that operated out of a 38-foot Wellness Care-A-Van. It traveled as far north as Bakersfield and as far south as San Diego, reaching out to people in their communities, testing blood pressure and body fat. Frayne Rosenfield, Member Health Education administrator and Worksite Wellness Program coordinator, was enthusiastic about the service: “The van has been very well received. We see approximately 120 people a day, and the van is out 5 to 7 days a week.”

Kaiser Permanente also used the mobile van model for immunization drives in the 1990s.

Scan Van, Mid-Atlantic states, 2001

Kaiser Permanente’s 2001 Annual Report profiled a mobile bone-scan van used in the Mid-Atlantic states (complete with custom Maryland license plate “KPBONES”) to help members prevent and treat osteoporosis. It was staffed by Stephen Moki, radiology technologist and health educator, and Pat Brown, clinical assistant.

The Scan Van rotated among several Kaiser Permanente medical centers, spending 1 to 3 weeks at each facility before moving on. It proved to be a valuable outreach tool, and community organizations frequently called to request a visit from the van. Michael J. Moriarty, MD, vice president and associate medical director of Quality and Health Management, said, “I think that it helps to affirm our image as an innovator and a quality health care provider.”

Mobile health vans are in our future

In 2009, Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii celebrated the arrival of a mobile health vehicle. The 500-square-foot, 10-wheeled rolling clinic was fully wired, equipped with our electronic health record system, a digital mammography unit, and video telemedicine capability.

Hawaii Island Mobile Health Vehicle, 2009

The vehicle was designed to roam the Big Island, providing glucose and cholesterol screenings, mammograms, urinalysis, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and vaccinations for the flu and pneumonia.

Billy Kenoi, the mayor of Hawaii County, praised the service when it was formally blessed July 2.

“I come from a 48,028 square mile island with incredible geographical and infrastructure challenges,” Kenoi said, “and the delivery of this Mobile Health Vehicle will improve not only the health care available on the island of Hawaii, but ultimately, the quality of life for our island residents.”

 

The use of mobile health vans is now integrated into our health plan, visiting urban worksites and rural communities and saving members time and travel for many of their medical needs.

As Frayne Rosenfield said in 1988, “The van is out 5 to 7 days a week.”
That’s about as accessible as health care can get.

 

Also see: “Driver as Receptionist? Kern County union and management leaders work out innovative solution” to optimize mobile health van driver workload.

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The First Women Industrial Welders Weren’t Rosies

posted on January 23, 2019

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

 

The nation is at war. A desolate stretch of waterfront is rapidly turned into a state-of-the-art shipyard, producing vessels for national defense. The huge demand for labor runs deep, and, for the first time ever, women are hired to perform electric welding on ships for the Navy.

The Kaiser Richmond shipyards, 1942? No.
Hog Island, just outside of Philadelphia, 1918.

“Sarah A. Erwin and Aina Kannisto at work at their welding machines.” The Baltimore Sun, 12/15/1918.

Although the powerful role of women on the World War II U.S. home front is well-known now as the story of “Rosie the Riveter,” the pioneering role of women 24 years earlier is all but forgotten.

Sarah A. Erwin was the first woman in the United States to be engaged in industrial ship construction. She applied for a job at the Hog Island shipyard in September 1918.

The managers put her in the electric welding department as a test of women’s abilities in this craft, where she did so well that the jobs were opened to 30 more women. The shipyard provided paid training, and the women fixed bad welds in the plate and angle shop. Erwin was followed by Anna Kenneste (or Aina Kannisto) and Mary Dunn. The women had to be between the ages of 24 and 35 and be “healthy and robust.”

The thousand-acre Hog Island yards were under the jurisdiction of the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation, had 50 shipways, and employed as many as 35,000 men and nearly 700 women.

Newspaper ad for women drivers at Hog Island shipyard, 10/5/1918.

Although only a handful of women worked as welders, other non-clerical positions included such jobs as drivers of “high power touring cars.” The newspaper want ads noted that, despite requiring the ability to change tires and perform engine cranking, “Women of poise and character only wanted.”

Like the World War II “Rosie the Riveter” and “Wendy the Welder” pioneers, the women welders at Hog Island were proud of their accomplishments. A November 30, 1918, article in the Pittsburgh Press quoted Kannisto as saying, “I would rather do electric welding than sell ribbons behind a counter or work in an office. The pay is better, and you have more independence. This war has driven out of the heads of many women the mistaken idea that they are only fit to look pretty and flatter their husbands.”

Alas, a generation later, on the other side of the country in the Kaiser shipyards, women would again have to blaze the same path. Yet Erwin’s contribution to the advancement of women in the workforce should not be forgotten.

Special thanks to History of Total Health reader Frank Trezza who pointed out this lost history.

 

Short link to this article: https://k-p.li/2FL9P2h

 

 

 

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Steps from Rosie the Riveter, a New Ferry Service

posted on December 20, 2018

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

 

Workers disembarking from Richmond ferry, Fore ‘n’ Aft, 9/24/1942

During World War II, Henry J. Kaiser’s job wasn’t just getting ships built. It also included providing the services all those workers needed — such as child care, housing, health care, and transportation. Fast forward through history, and a $20 million commuter ferry terminal is opening right next to the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, where thousands of Kaiser shipyard workers on the home front produced cargo vessels.

Those workers had ferry service, too — a few hundred yards from the new terminal, across the Richmond Inner Harbor Channel.

A news item in the shipyard newspaper Fore ‘n’ Aft on September 17, 1942, noted, “After untiring efforts by Labor-Management committees in all three yards, the trial run of the San Francisco ferries to the shipyards took place Wednesday of last week.”

The hour-long trips went from the Ferry Building in San Francisco to the slip at the parking lot along the estuary at Yard Three. Ferries arrived 15 minutes before shifts started and left 30 minutes after shifts ended. The fare was 10 cents each way, and passengers could buy food onboard.

Richmond-San Rafael ferry ad, Oakland Tribune, 7/11/1943

The service was sponsored by the U.S. Maritime Commission and run by the Wilmington Transportation Company, which operated the Los Angeles-Catalina Island ships. Pressed into duty were craft from the Key System, the enormous public transportation service of San Francisco’s East Bay, and included relics such as the side wheeler Yerba Buena. Some of the ferries carried automobiles.

The Commission proposed four ferries run between Richmond, San Francisco, and Sausalito, with almost continuous service to accommodate the staggered shifts at the Kaiser Richmond and Bechtel’s Marinship (Sausalito) yards.

The wartime ferries weren’t the first to come to Richmond; regular service between Richmond and San Rafael had operated since 1915.

Oakland Tribune, 7/2/1944

By 1943, the ferry service was overwhelmed, and thousands of workers threatened to quit because it wasn’t running on time and was making them late to work. Under Maritime Commission rules, worker pay was docked if they were 15 minutes late. Faster ferries were put in service.

Some of the transits were quite eventful. The Klamath rammed a surfaced submarine in the middle of San Francisco Bay on July 1, 1944, (minor damage, no injuries) and almost collided with an anchored — but loaded — ammunition ship in the foggy morning of September 5, 1945.

A new auto ferry pier was one of the first infrastructure projects authorized after the war ended. Construction at Castro Point, at the terminal of Standard Oil (now Chevron), commenced in early 1946, and service began March 1947. By 1951, plans were being drawn up for a Richmond-San Rafael toll bridge. When it opened in 1956, the bridge was the last across San Francisco Bay to replace a ferry service.

It’s unlikely the new generation of Richmond ferry passengers will risk hitting a submarine or an ammunition ship, but they can travel with pride knowing that commuters to the Kaiser shipyards over 70 years ago were part of a bold social experiment in child care, housing — and health care.

 

 

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