By Ginny McPartland
The California city of Richmond, branded for years as
a community with poverty issues and high crime rates, is making steady progress toward restoring itself as a Bay Area bright spot. Pick any Richmond success story – Urban Tilth, Main Street Initiative, Healthy Richmond – and you can trace its roots to vibrant community groups who see the city’s potential.
One such group is the Rosie the Riveter Trust, a nonprofit association whose focus is to support the programs of the Rosie the Riveter World War II/Home Front National Historical Park established in 2000.
The trust has collaborated with the national park, the city of Richmond, the YMCA, the state of California Cultural and Historic Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, the Richmond Community Foundation, local labor and business groups and others to bring many projects to fruition since the nonprofit’s creation in 1999.
Home front stories highlighted
The Rosie Trust raised funds to obtain recognition in 2003 of Atchison Village, a wartime housing project, as a national historic landmark. The community, built for Kaiser Richmond Shipyard workers in 1942, is still thriving as an affordable housing cooperative.
The nonprofit organization helped arrange funding for the $9 million restoration of the wartime Maritime Child Care Center, which now houses a Richmond College Prep preschool, the Richmond Community Foundation and a national park historical display commemorating the progressive child care available to workers in the Kaiser Shipyards during World War II.
The Rosie Trust has helped to develop educational materials to tell the stories of the home front, including the birth of the Kaiser Permanente prepaid health plan in the wartime shipyards, the role women and minorities played in the workforce, and the development of worker safety principles.
Trust members were integral to the development of the Rosie the Riveter national park Visitor Education Center that opened in 2012 next to the restored Ford Assembly Plant, a popular event venue now called The Craneway. The trust operates the center’s gift shop and book store.
‘Rosie’s Girls’ go to summer camp
For the past four years, the Rosie Trust has supported a six-week working summer camp for Richmond middle school girls who – due to their environment – might take a risky path without guidance. As “Rosie’s Girls,” they spend their summer engaging in activities meant to expose them to positive female role models and to learn traditionally male skills such as carpentry, plumbing, self-defense, and fire fighting.
The camp is free to girls from Richmond neighborhoods that have been designated as disadvantaged. The program has limited space. If interested, contact Lucien Sonder, National Park Service, 510-232-5050.
The camp sponsors include the Rosie Trust, the city of Richmond, the YMCA, the national park and the West Contra Costa County School District, as well as Wells Fargo, Kaiser Permanente East Bay, Safeway Foundation, Chevron, and Mechanics Bank.
Dinner supports park initiatives
The Rosie Trust Board of Directors hosts an annual dinner each spring to raise funds for its various park projects. This year’s event, “Rosies – Then & Now,” will be held Saturday, April 13, in the Craneway Pavilion, 1414 South Harbour Way, Richmond. Cocktails begin at 6 p.m. in the national park visitors’ center; dinner will follow at 7 p.m. in the Craneway Conference Center.
Tickets are $150 per person; sponsorships are available. For more information or to reserve tickets, go to the Rosie the Riveter Trust site and click on “Rosies — Then and Now” or phone the trust office at 510-507-2276.
By Ginny McPartland, Heritage writer
In a highly technological world, paper medical charts no longer show up in Kaiser Permanente doctors’ hands when they interact with today’s tech-savvy patients. These collections of hand-written notes of our medical complaints, drug prescriptions, lab tests and more, are going the way of fax machines and typewriters.
They’ve been replaced by Kaiser Permanente’s award-winning electronic medical record system, Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, which brings patients much closer to their providers.1
But preserved paper patient records going back to World War II will continue to be a valuable asset for research, even as we trade in the old cumbersome model for the new.
Gary Friedman, MD, retired director of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., says Kaiser Permanente’s medical records – whether the original hard copies or digital files– are valuable assets to allow groundbreaking research.
In a 1998 article in The Permanente Journal, Friedman wrote: “Our collection of manual charts going back over 50 years is a national treasure and must be preserved despite the storage and retrieval costs entailed.”
In his 2006 oral history, Friedman said the highly touted study on the value of sigmoidoscopy in preventing colon cancer relied on paper records going back to the 1970s.2
He added: “(In) a recent study I did on the early symptoms of ovarian cancer (we found) by going into the charts (paper records) we could get much more of what the physicians recorded in text about the symptoms these women were having . . . Who knows what question might come up in the future (that could be answered) by looking at these charts that go back to the mid-1940s?”
Kaiser Permanente’s early foray into digital world
Kaiser Permanente’s journey into electronic record keeping started around 1960 and took advantage of emerging computer technology. A desire to prevent chronic disease through pre-symptom screening supplied the motivation to automate routine tests and to compile anonymous patient data for population-based research.
Barbara Breen, a medical assistant at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center in the early 1970s, had her hands on paper charts as well as on the pioneering electronic medical records of the day. She often stood by as lunch-time relief to ensure the computer ran fluidly as it processed punch cards that coded the results of patient visits for Kaiser Permanente’s complete physical (multiphasic) examination.
She was on the cutting edge of computer technology of the time and was in awe. “I got to see all these brand new machines and they assigned me to the spirometer (to test lung capacity),” Breen recalled recently. “The patients filled out a medical questionnaire (health assessment) and had 90 minutes to go around to all the cubicles where they had the tests.”
Data collected by Breen and others in the multiphasic unit were fed into early computers that took up the basement at 3779 Piedmont Ave., just off of MacArthur Boulevard near Kaiser Permanente’s flagship medical center in Oakland, Calif.
Tracking members’ health over decades
Over the years, these records, now considered invaluable and precious, have been the basis for many Kaiser Permanente longitudinal research projects. Collection of detailed patient data from 1964 to 1972 was made possible by the pioneering computer work of Morris Collen, MD, largely funded by the federal government.
Breen, who worked for Kaiser Permanente for 30 years mostly in the northern San Francisco Bay Area, recalls having the duty to retrieve charts for patients scheduled to come into the San Rafael facilities in the 1970s.
“I got a job down on Fourth Street, which was an old motel . . . General Medicine was downstairs and Internal Medicine was upstairs, and the garage next door is where all the charts were. And in those days, we didn’t have (access to) computers yet, so if you needed a chart ASAP you would order it by phone.
“The chart room didn’t always have an extra person to bring the chart over. So the medical assistant or other (staff person) went out, rain or shine, across the parking lot, into the remodeled garage and picked up your chart.”
Today, Kaiser Permanente medical centers are constructed without medical chart rooms, indicating a confidence that the electronic chart is here to stay. With KP HealthConnect® in place, patients get their routine test results much quicker, and they can discuss their care with their physicians via secure email and mobile devices.
For member convenience, patients who travel can have their medical data downloaded on to a memory stick to take wherever they go. For quality of care, physicians have access to patients’ medical information in any of Kaiser Permanente’s facilities nationwide, enabling better care and avoiding duplication of tests.
1 Kaiser Permanente has been awarded Stage 7 honors by the Health Information Management Systems Society Analytics for 36 of its hospitals. Stage 7 is the highest award in the category and recognizes environments in which paper charts are no longer used to deliver patient care. KP was also honored with the HIMSS Davis Award for excellence for 2011. The 2013 annual HIMSS conference is under way in New Orleans through Thursday, March 7.
2 Selby, JV, Friedman, GD, Quesenberry CP Jr, Weiss NS. A case-control study of screening sigmoidoscopy and mortality from colorectal cancer. New England Journal of Medicine 1992.
Also see: “Screening for Better Health: Enter the Computer”
By Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer
In January 2011, Kaiser Permanente launched the “Every Body Walk!” public awareness campaign. Chairman and CEO George Halvorson kicked off the initiative in his weekly celebration letter to all employees and physicians on January 14, 2011:
“It is time to celebrate walking. There are very few things that we can do that have a more positive impact on our health and our lives than walking. . . Kaiser Permanente is on a new path, so to speak, to encourage everyone in America who can safely walk, to walk. The theme is — Every Body Walk!”
Walking a prescription for health
Bob Sallis, MD, family physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana (Calif.) Medical Center and the national spokesperson for the campaign, described the goals for Every Body Walk:
“The aim of the campaign is to inform Americans about the tremendous health benefits of walking. Walking is an excellent form of exercise for everyone. For those with conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease and depression, a regular walking regimen has the added benefit of helping to manage these diseases.
“I’m a strong believer in the power of walking and that’s why I literally prescribe it to my patients as front-line medicine — often in place of medications.”
From a public health point of view, the campaign is important because it addresses the many people that don’t get what is commonly thought of as “regular exercise” – going to a gym, playing tennis, or riding a bicycle.
Every Body Walk! encourages a modest amount of activity, thus opening up a new path to healthy behavior for millions of people. The campaign provides news and resources on walking, health information, walking maps, help in finding walking groups, as well as a place to share stories about individual experiences with walking.
Research validates value of walking
Medical research shows that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can prevent the onset of chronic diseases, or help manage them. The roots of this prescription can be found in a 1996 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Physical activity and health: A report of the Surgeon General.[i]
The research supports the common-sense and empowering notion that some exercise is better than none, and any approach to encourage activity will have positive health benefits:
“Emphasizing the amount rather than the intensity of physical activity offers more options for people to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives. Thus, a moderate amount of activity can be obtained in a 30-minute brisk walk, 30 minutes of lawn mowing or raking leaves, a 15-minute run, or 45 minutes of playing volleyball, and these activities can be varied from day to day . . . Through a modest increase in daily activity, most Americans can improve their health and quality of life.”
Recent studies confirm concept
Subsequent medical research amplified the benefits. A 2002 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that patients who ate a healthy diet and engaged in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, reduced their risk of getting Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.[ii]
A 2010 prostate cancer study found: “A modest amount of vigorous activity such as biking, tennis, jogging, or swimming for less than three hours a week may substantially improve prostate cancer-specific survival.”[iii]
Recent research at Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences suggests the health benefits of small amounts of activity – even one- and two-minute increments that add up to 30 minutes per day – can be just as beneficial as longer bouts of physical exercise achieved by a trip to the gym.
The study, which involved a broad demographic of more than 6,000 American adults, shows that an active lifestyle approach, as opposed to structured exercise, may be just as effective in improving health, including the prevention of metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Lead author of the study, Paul Loprinzi, explains:
“We encourage people to seek out opportunities to be active when the choice is available. For example, rather than sitting while talking on the phone, use this opportunity to get in some activity by pacing around while talking.”[iv]
Garfield walks, jogs in desert
At Kaiser Permanente, innovation is usually framed in the context of deep previous experience. In the mid-1930s, founding physician Sidney R. Garfield, MD, was running a clinic in the Mojave Desert for the workers on the Colorado River Aqueduct project. Guess how the clinic staff stayed fit?
“When we were at the hospital (walking) is what the staff did all the time for keeping fit (and for) exercise, except we’d jog – yeah, we would run, but we’d wait until the sun went down, go out and jog and then would walk along. And about that time the rattlesnakes would come out, and then we’d really jog.”[v]
History is repeating itself, and we’re all the better for it.
See “Gift of Walking,” a short video featuring Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson.
Short URL for this story: http://bit.ly/WHcZbv
Reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. New England Journal of Medicine has published a new article by Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, et al entitled “Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin.” N Engl J Med 2002 Feb 7;346(6):393–403.