Archive for February, 2014

Public health hero’s institute grooms disparities-conscious leaders

posted on February 24, 2014

Ginny McPartland, Heritage writer


David Satcher, MD, founded the Satcher Health Leadership Institute in Atlanta.

David Satcher, MD, founded the Satcher Health Leadership Institute in Atlanta.

Third in a series marking Black History Month
For David Satcher, MD, all roads lead back to Atlanta where he graduated from medical school 50 years ago. It was there that he adopted the belief that being a black physician meant a lot more than setting up a private practice.

Satcher has had an amazing public health career that has included serving as the U.S. surgeon general during both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, and simultaneously as assistant secretary of health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

He also has served as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, president of Mehary Medical School in Nashville, president of Morehouse Medical School in Atlanta, and in many other leadership roles in academic medicine and public health.

Today, he brings his many and varied experiences back to his Atlanta alma mater, where he heads the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Kaiser Permanente is a major supporter of Satcher’s institute and contributed a total of $800,000 in Community Benefit grants in 2009 and 2011.

Dr. Satcher as U.S. surgeon general 1998-2002

Dr. Satcher as U.S. surgeon general 1998-2002

Kaiser Permanente’s decades-long mission—providing preventive care, promoting healthy lifestyles and working to eliminate disparities in health care —dovetails beautifully with Satcher’s initiatives over his long career.

While surgeon general from 1998 to 2002, Satcher adopted what he called “Prescription for Healthy Living”:

  • 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week
  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Avoidance of toxins – drugs and alcohol
  • Responsible sexual behavior
  • Daily participation in relaxing and stress-reducing activities.

A constant warrior for eliminating disparities in health care, Satcher founded the leadership institute in 2006 to train health care leaders intensively to bring new, inspired energy to the battle for parity in health care.

He takes a quote from civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., as the Satcher Health Leadership Institute’s mantra:

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Satcher has not been afraid to push for ways to improve the health of everyone, with special emphasis on breaking down barriers for minorities essentially locked out of the health system by financial constraints.

Kaiser Permanente Senior Vice President of Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy, presented UC Berkeley's Public Health Hero Award to Satcher in 2013.

Kaiser Permanente Senior Vice President of Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy, presented UC Berkeley’s Public Health Hero Award to Satcher in 2013.

Pushing for unfettered education and realism to promote sexual health, Satcher has bumped into controversy along the way.  He has also been a strong proponent of reaching the mentally ill population through primary care and preventive services.

Satcher grew up in an environment that did not treat African-Americans as full-fledged citizens: when he was 2 and deathly ill with whooping cough and pneumonia in Anniston, Alabama, his only hope — because of hospital segregation— was the one black doctor who came out to the family’s farmhouse to treat him.

“Dr. (Fred) Jackson told my parents he didn’t expect I would live out the week,” Satcher related.  “But my mother refused to give up. She stayed up with me all night, my older sister told me, and breathed for me when I couldn’t on my own.”

As a young child, Satcher heard of the near-death drama many times: “My mother never let me forget it!” he recalled with a laugh. As a result, Satcher vowed at age 5 or 6 that he was going to be a doctor just like Dr. Jackson.

“I had no idea what it was going to take to get there, but I was as certain as anything in my life that I would,” he said.

In 2013, the University of California at Berkeley honored Dr. Satcher with its Public Health Hero award, along with J. Michael McGinnis, MD, senior scholar at the Institute of Medicine, who has worked with four U.S. Surgeon Generals in his career.

Raymond Baxter, PhD, Kaiser Permanente’s national senior vice president for Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy and a longtime friend of Satcher, presented the award to Satcher, noting the honoree’s vast contributions to public health over his long career.

Earlier the same day, Satcher met with Kaiser Permanente leaders and presented his core concepts on leadership.  He applauded Kaiser Permanente for its vision for Total Health and for its rich history in primary care and prevention.

In accepting the award, Satcher said he was a “debtor” who owed his success to many people who contributed to his life. He said “Public Health Hero” with the relish of someone who had to pinch himself to believe the honor was his.

Satcher called out the person to whom he is most indebted: Anna Curry, his mother. “I dedicated the entire year of 2013 to Anna Curry. She was born 100 years ago on Feb. 28, 2013.

“She was the 16th of 17 children and she was to have 10 children of her own. My parents never finished elementary school. . . . When I got sick, she had just lost one child and she wasn’t going to let another one go.

“If it wasn’t for her I would never have made it out of childhood.”


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Interned Japanese artist’s work shown at Rosie the Riveter national park

posted on February 19, 2014
Sunset, Water Tower, Topaz, March 10, 1943, by Chiura Obata

Sunset, Water Tower, Topaz, March 10, 1943, by Chiura Obata

Kimi Kodani Hill, granddaughter of artist Chiura Obata and author of a book of his paintings, will show Obata’s work and tell his story in a special event at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park this Saturday, Feb. 22.

The free event begins at 3 p.m. at the Visitors Education Center at the former site of the Kaiser Shipyards on the waterfront in Richmond, Calif.

Obata and his family were among the Japanese-Americans removed from their homes and incarcerated during World War II under Executive Order 9066 signed by President Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942.  The Obata family was interned at the Topaz War Relocation Center in Central Utah.

The national park event was scheduled to coincide with the 72nd anniversary of the Executive Order’s issuance, marked as the annual “Day of Remembrance” for the Japanese-American community.

Obata taught art at UC Berkeley

The artist was trained in Japan in the traditional form of sumi-e (ink painting). He came to California in 1903 at the age of 18 and made his home in the San Francisco Bay Area. He taught in the art department at the University of California at Berkeley beginning in 1932 and after the war until 1955.

Obata cultivated a life-long reverence for nature as a powerful spiritual force that inspired both his art and his life. He has gained recognition among art lovers and art historians, especially during the past several years.

His paintings are in collections of the De Young Museum in San Francisco, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento and in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

His two distinct bodies of work have been published in “Obata’s Yosemite” (1993) and “Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata’s Art of the Internment” (2000). Executive Order 9066 empowered the Secretary of War to “prescribe military areas . . . from which any or all persons may be excluded. . . .”

This broad power enabled the forced removal of more than 110,000 people of Japanese descent living in California and much of Oregon, Washington and Arizona.

Immigrants from Japan, as well as their American-born children who were citizens, were subjected to forced incarceration in desolate camps for the duration of the war.

The Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is located at 1414 Harbour Way South, Suite 3000, Richmond.

For more information and directions, you may call (510) 232-5050, ext. 0 or visit our Web site.

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Alva Wheatley: Champion of Kaiser Permanente diversity

posted on February 18, 2014

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer


Alva Wheatley, Vice President and Manager, Facilities Development, Northern California, 1986; KP Reporter

Alva Wheatley, Vice President and Manager, Facilities Development, Northern California, 1986; KP Reporter.
Click on image to watch video

Third in a series marking
Black History Month
Kaiser Permanente executive Alva Wheatley, who can claim a number of firsts for African-American women in business, was inducted into the Kaiser Permanente Diversity Hall of Fame in 2007.  She retired in 1995 after 31 years of service.

Wheatley was the first woman of color to serve as a Kaiser Permanente hospital administrator, and was the first female vice president of facilities construction, both for the Health Plan and throughout the building industry.

She was the first woman of color on the Northern California Kaiser Permanente regional leadership team and the first black person and first woman to serve as Health Plan national vice president.

She was also the first executive responsible for Kaiser Permanente’s diversity program and is co-founder of the Kaiser Permanente African-American Professionals Association established in 1990.

During her tenure as head of facilities construction, Wheatley oversaw the development of five hospitals and 10 medical office buildings.

Wheatley has deep roots in the Kaiser organization; both of her parents worked in the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards during World War II and were members of the Kaiser Health Plan in the 1940s.

Alva began her career at Kaiser Permanente in 1964 when she took a position as assistant receptionist supervisor at the San Francisco Medical Center.

She held various management positions after that, including hospital administrator at the South San Francisco Medical Center for three years.  She returned to San Francisco as hospital administrator in 1981.

Subsequently, she was appointed vice president and manager of Facilities Development for the Northern California region and was later named national vice president for facilities for the Kaiser Permanente program across all regions.

In 1989 Kaiser Permanente management formed the Minority Recruitment and Development Task Force to more systematically address institutional inequalities. Among other activities, that group conducted an employee survey and developed recommendations leading to an official Policy Statement on Cultural Diversity.

In 1991, while Wheatley was serving as facilities head for Northern California, she took on a two-year special assignment as vice president and manager of the Kaiser Permanente’s Cultural Diversity Project for the national program.

“So much of valuing diversity is simply increasing awareness . . . you can’t just confront people and tell them they have to change overnight,” she pointed out. “So we start with awareness and confronting our own prejudices. It doesn’t guarantee people will change their opinions right away, but they will have to change their behavior.”[i]

Wheatley’s appointment further underscored Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to those ideals. She visited all of the Health Plan’s regions and listened to learn about each of their situations. “My job is to help the regions identify what they need to do to deal with their own issues,” she said.

Alva Wheatley served as a role model for women and people of color in Kaiser Permanente; the 2007 Diversity Hall of Fame Award honored her pioneering spirit in making the Health Plan a better place to work.

Kaiser Permanente Diversity Hall of Fame Award inductees:
2002: Beatrice Lei, MD; Robert J. Erickson; Ella Mae Simmons, MD
2003: Fred Alexander, MD; James A. Vohs
2005: Ed Butts, MD
2007: Edgar F. Kaiser; Alva Wheatley
2008: Sandra Cox
[No inductees 2009-2012]


Watch video of her story:

[i] Article in KP Spectrum, Fall 1992.

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Henry Kaiser honored for his role in East (San Francisco) Bay area development

posted on February 13, 2014
Henry and Bess Kaiser addressing Kaiser Shipyard workers during World War II.

Henry and Bess Kaiser addressing Kaiser Shipyard workers during World War II.

The East Bay Economic Development Alliance will present its 2014 Legacy Award to Henry J. Kaiser today (Feb. 13) in a gala event at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

Kaiser is being remembered for the spirit of enterprise and economic development he nurtured during his lifetime in the East Bay community. He is well known for his work on Western dam projects, including the Hoover Dam in Nevada and the Bonneville and Grand Coulee dams built in Washington State in the 1930s.

But he is best known as co-founder with Sidney Garfield, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan.

Barbara Crawford, Vice President, Quality & Regulatory Services in Northern California will accept the award on behalf of Kaiser Permanente.

Industrial giant of the mid-20th century

Henry Kaiser is one of America’s great business leaders of the 20th century. In name recognition he ranks among the likes of steel man Andrew Carnegie, oil magnate John D. Rockefeller and auto industry pioneer Henry Ford.

A man “greatly restless and restlessly great, one of America’s last real Horatio Algers,” the Oakland Tribune said of Kaiser in 1958.

In the 1940s, Kaiser was called the “patriot in pinstripes” for revolutionizing shipbuilding during World War II. His global enterprises included automobiles, steel, cement, aluminum, engineering and mining, to name a few.

Today, he’s remembered most for his socially responsible approach to business, better wages and pensions, a collegial approach to working with labor unions, one of the 20th century’s greatest experiments in workplace childcare, a devotion to honesty in business, and the health care delivery system that bears his name.

He was inducted into Modern Healthcare’s Health Care Hall of Fame in 2011.

“He was a powerful and complex man who charged full bore and seemingly without rest through the best part of the 20th century, generating big ideas, mastering big projects and projecting an endless supply of big dreams,” wrote Michael Dobrin, curator of a 2004 Oakland Museum of California exhibit on Kaiser’s life.

“Henry Kaiser was a pioneer in the new breed of responsible businessmen,” is how President Lyndon Johnson described him. “I was constantly startled at the adventure and compassion and the social consciousness and (his) willingness to extend a hand to the working man.”

Henry Kaiser’s health care legacy

Henry Kaiser was a champion of prepaid, group practice medicine at a time when innovation in health care delivery was frowned on by the American medical establishment.

With Dr. Sidney Garfield as the visionary of the Health Plan, the program was conceived to serve Kaiser’s workforce during the hardscrabble years of the Great Depression at the Grand Coulee Dam construction site in Washington State.

The Health Plan matured in Kaiser’s World War II shipyards and was converted to a public plan in 1945 with 27,000 members.

Today Kaiser Permanente has more than 9 million members and 17,000 physicians and operates in eight regions around the country.

Follow this link to view a video on the growth and development of Kaiser Permanente:

Henry J. Kaiser, Sidney Garfield, MD, and Their Shared Vision for Total Health

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Watts center brings hope and healing to troubled Los Angeles neighborhood

posted on February 11, 2014

Ginny McPartland, Heritage writer


Group session for teenage girls at the Watts Counseling and Learning Center, 1974.

Group session for teenage girls at the Watts Counseling and Learning Center in Los Angeles, 1974.

Second in a series marking Black History Month
In 1965, optimism was a scarce commodity in the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts.

Anger and frustration in the black community fueled a violent eruption that resembled the burning, looting and gunfire of riots in America’s biggest cities in July and August of 1964. In a six-day period in August 1965, 34 people were killed and more than 1,000 were wounded in the Watts uprising.

The Los Angeles inner city districts that once flourished were in decay. Industry – and its jobs – was leaving, and people who could escape moved to the burgeoning suburbs.

Breadwinners lost their jobs and lacked the education and training for skilled employment. The promise of equal opportunity for all “proved more of an illusion than a fact,” wrote the authors of the Governor’s Commission on the Los Angeles Riots” published in December 1965.

Before the smoke from the riots cleared, Raymond Kay, MD, Southern California Permanente Medical Group executive medical director, was pondering how Kaiser Permanente could ease the suffering and help Watts residents find their way out of poverty and violence.

Young children get help with their homework, 1970s.

Young children get help with their homework in the Watts center started by Southern California Kaiser Permanente in 1967.

How can we start to heal?

The children and families had to be the focus. The delicate psyches of these vulnerable children, born into a desperate environment, had to be nurtured and healed.

The impulse of Dr. Kay and his colleagues was to hire a social worker whose job was to sleuth out what Watts’ people needed the most. SCPMG hired Bill Coggins, a black licensed clinical social worker, in November 1966.

Setting up a home base in a small prefabricated building in August 1967, Coggins drove around the community talking to people. He went door to door seeking out people and their stories.

The Watts Counseling and Learning Center’s location at the corner of Success Avenue and 103rd Street seemed a good omen.

March 6, 1977: Director of the center, Bill Coggins, and Annabell Ratcliff, 4, untie the bow to officially open the Watts Counseling and Learning Center. Via the LA Public Library.

Center Director Bill Coggins and Annabell Ratcliff, 4, untie the bow to officially open the Watts center’s new building, 1977. LA Public Library photo

Dr. Kay wrote in 1979: “Counseling, educational and preschool services are provided to families with children who have either learning or behavioral problems, or high development potential.”

From the beginning, the center’s services, including low cost or free mental health counseling, have been open to all Watts area residents; membership in the Health Plan is not a factor, and the center doesn’t provide medical care.

‘Core mothers’ sign on

Coggins found his “core mothers” early on. He brought them into the center as essential advisors and they quickly became clients along with their children.

“Sweet” Alice Harris, a core mother, offered Coggins her help. “He (Coggins) said he was looking for people who were determined. I was determined.

“(The center) took the fear out of me. I had friends. I was no longer alone. I had people I could talk to.”

The Watts center opened a preschool in a converted two-car garage in 1971. Its mission was and is to help children and parents successfully navigate the education system.

Today the school has its own 1,600 square-foot building and an outdoor classroom where its 20 students can climb, dig and learn about nature and science in a park-like environment. The school obtained accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in 2005.

Growing to meet needs

In its 47-year existence, the Watts community center has grown and expanded to meet the continued need for its services. The 9,000 square-foot center has become an island of hope and success for three generations of Watts families.

Coggins retired in 1998 and a scholarship program was launched in his honor. Since then, the center has awarded grants of $1,000 to $2,000 to about 15 students per year for a total of $200,000.

The success story of one of the recipients was told in “Our Weekly”, a black online newspaper in Los Angeles, in May 2013:

Michael Martin became homeless while a high school student, and his telling of his life on the street helped him earn a Coggins scholarship as well as acceptance to the college of his dreams – Georgetown University.

In 2008, Kaiser Permanente supported the opening of the Watts Healthy Farmers’ Market, a thriving project that brings produce and other healthy food to Watts, a neighborhood considered a “food desert” due to the lack of a full grocery store.

In 2011, the Health Plan opened a new medical office building at Manchester and Denker avenues in Los Angeles to bring health care services close to members in Watts and other neighborhoods in the south section of the metropolis.

Counseling and education services help children navigate school.

Counseling and education services help children and parents navigate the school system successfully.

Students give back

The Watts center’s services have expanded in recent years to include a training ground for interns and fellows seeking degrees in social work, psychology and related fields.

Jackie Atkins, PhD, a former Watts center preschooler, did part of her clinical psychology rotation at the center while she was a psychology fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Sunset Boulevard.

Today Atkins is a Los Angeles clinical psychologist who values her experience at the Watts center.

“The Watts center empowered me to believe in myself and make efforts toward making my life better, helped me know that it could be better. It destigmatizes getting help by making it fun – that’s what I’m trying to do with the youth I’m working with,” she said in a 2005 interview.



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Kaiser Permanente no stranger to water conservation

posted on February 6, 2014

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer



‘Please save melted ice water for Sara,’ KP Reporter, April 1, 1977.

On January 17 of this year California Gov. Jerry Brown publicly declared what everyone already knew – that California was entering a serious drought, potentially the worst in 163 years of recorded history.

But 1976 and 1977 were also very dry years.  During this two-year period, statewide precipitation was ranked among the five lowest ever recorded.

Jerry Brown was governor then, too, and everyone was asked to step up and reduce water use. Kaiser Permanente staff tackled the task with zeal and ingenuity.

One example was the San Rafael Medical Center in bone-dry Marin County. Sara Harney, an RN in San Rafael’s Emergency Room, jumped in and captured the condensation from their ice machine.

“It would be just wasted otherwise. This is the only way I feel justified watering my flowers.”

This, and other similar efforts big and small by employees at the medical center, was charted to show progress and build support.


Water conservation chart, KP Reporter, April 1, 1977.

Overall, water consumption was cut by over half.

We did our part before, and we will do it again.

Short link to this story:

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