Archive for April, 2016

Throwback Kaiser Permanente recipes – 1970

posted on April 28, 2016

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer


Cover to booklet of compiled recipes submitted by the Kaiser Volunteer League, 1970.

Cover to booklet of compiled recipes submitted by the Kaiser Volunteer League, 1970.

Things have certainly changed since 1970, especially in the realm of diet and cooking. A recently cataloged document in the Kaiser Permanente archives is a booklet of 36 recipes produced by the Kaiser Volunteer League. The meals range from cheese balls, to chili, to crab dip, to “pork chops baked in tangy sauce.” Needless to say, these are a far cry from recipes such as “tender kale salad” and “Asian-inspired Quinoa bowl” on today’s Kaiser Permanente Food for Health blog.

One of these recipes from the 70’s was submitted by Millie Cutting, who in addition to being the wife of World War II Kaiser shipyard physician Cecil Cutting, MD, was a registered nurse who played an important role in promoting health education as part of the Kaiser Permanente mission.

Contemporary cooks would probably use fewer canned goods, butter, mayonnaise, Jello, and tequila, but the spirit of sharing love through food remains.

The changing definition of food for health is certainly food for thought. One wonders what will replace kale and quinoa as healthy foods in the future.


Faye Nelson

2 cans shoestring beets – drained
1 pkg. each Wild Raspberry, Wild Cherry, Wild Strawberry Jello
1 large can crushed pineapple (drained)

Add to strained juices enough water to make 6 cups. Dissolve Jello in the 6 cups of liquid and heat. When partially set fold in pineapple and beets. Let set several hours.

Topping:  1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup each chopped celery and onion. Spread over top. Serves 8 to 12.

[Suggested healthy improvement: use fresh steamed beets, fresh fruit, and Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and sour cream.]


Millie Cutting

4 chicken breasts, split
¼ cup soft butter
¼ cup minced parsley
1 tea. minced chives
1/8 tea. poultry seasoning
2 tbs. sour cream
Salad oil
2 tbs. parmesan cheese

Make pocket slits parallel to the skin in the thickest part of each breast, large enough to hold 2 tea. of filling. Blend together butter, parsley, chives, seasoning and 1 tea. sour cream. Fill cut pockets with mixture and close with a stuffing pin or wooden pick. Brush breasts with a little salad oil and place skin down on rack in high position, broil 15-20 min. turn, 15-20 min. on other side until fork tender, combine remaining sour cream with parmesan cheese, spread a small amount on each breast just a minute or two before taking from broiler. Serves 4.

[Suggested healthy improvement: use yogurt instead of sour cream]


Sadie Tupper

1 quart tomato juice
1 pint tequila
4 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tea. Pepper sauce
Block of ice
1 quart orange juice
6 tbs. lime juice
onion salt to taste
slices of lime or lemon

[Suggested healthy improvement: consume in moderation!]


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Henry J. Kaiser’s environmental stewardship

posted on April 20, 2016

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer


“Being environmentally aware is more than good citizenship: if approached with a long-term perspective, it brings efficiencies, saves money, and improves competitiveness. For Kaiser Permanente … environmental stewardship is a core business tenet, and it started in the beginning.” -“The Green Standard,” Fall 2008; Transforming Your Enterprise (Hewlett-Packard corporate magazine)

Newspaper ad from Fontana steel plant about reduced emissions, circa 1956

Newspaper ad from Fontana steel plant about reduced emissions, circa 1956

We couldn’t have said it better.

Henry J. Kaiser and his numerous industries – including the health plan and hospitals – have often been models of environmental stewardship. Although Henry J. Kaiser was no tree hugger, and on occasion his massive construction projects took shortcuts that today might make us cringe, he was an ethical leader who valued efficiency and frugality.

Here are several examples of Kaiser Industries and Kaiser Permanente environmental practices over the decades.

Environmental controls at Fontana steel:

One problem that was not given extra thought at the start but which became more and more burdensome was the matter of air pollution control. All of the original ovens and furnaces were designed with the same emission controls as the newest steel mills in the East, but that proved not to be enough in the smog-conscious Southern California. However, as troublesome and costly as the problem proved to be, his engi­neers and operators knew they would always have Kaiser’s backing in their efforts to be leaders in the field of air pollution control.
[In 1972 this was demonstrated affirmatively through an unconventional set of circumstances.]
-Heiner, A. P. (1991). Henry J. Kaiser, Western colossus: An insider’s view. San Francisco: Halo Books.

“Kaiser Industries Seek to Enrich Communities,”
Christian Science Monitor article on Fontana Steel plant; June 12, 1959

For people anywhere near the steel mill, one apprehension formed the question, “Will it make smog?” Henry Kaiser laid down a rule when the plant was started: “Don’t make it a nuisance.” His engineers believe they have carried out the directive. Nobody who travels out the San Bernardino Freeway from Los Angeles on a smoggy day can help wondering about those high stacks behind the eucalyptus trees that mark the steel mill. But looking closer, he grants that precious little smoke is visible.

From the start, Kaiser Steel built $5,000,000 worth of air control devices. It put electrostatic precipitators on the blast furnaces. Then it developed a $30,000 laboratory to study, among other things, the effects of air contaminants on plant life. Researchers of Kaiser Steel get leaf samples from 79 different places; they operate three greenhouses in the pattern of the smoke. One man puts it this way, “We’re working to be part of the answer instead of part of the problem.”

Over in Honolulu, Mr. Kaiser’s approach is the same. His plans for a $12,000,000 cement plant in Oahu stress that the operations will be “dust free.” Always a stickler for factory good housekeeping, Mr. Kaiser says he will do nothing that will cloud the island’s tropic skies.

Rachel Carson 1963_Page_1

Rachel Carson speaking at Symposium, 1963

“Kaiser Sponsors Talks on Scientific Dangers,” Planning for Health, Vol. 8, No. 4, December 1963

The largest audience in its 7-year history attended the symposium sponsored by Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Permanente Medical Group for the bay area medical community. Topic of the meeting, “Man against Himself,” was keynoted by Rachel Carson, biologist and writer. Her book Silent Spring drew attention of Americans to the destructive effect of poisons being sprayed to kill insects.

Other distinguished authorities discussed, during the two-day session, various other ways in which man threatens to destroy his own basis for life: tobacco and its relation to cancer and heart disease; the part played by social progress, with its pattern of inactivity and overeating, in a rising incidence of heart disease; the hazards of radiation…

SC Solar Project 1980 2

Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara solar energy project, 1980

“HEW funds solar energy project”
(Santa Clara, Calif.), KP Reporter, May 12, 1978

Kaiser Permanente recently signed a contract with the federal government for a solar energy demonstration project at our Santa Clara Medical Center. The $203,000 project should be operational by early 1979. When operational, it is expected that 30% of the hot water used throughout the medical center will be heated by solar energy, which would mean a saving of 935 million BTU’s per year.

Our Redwood City Medical Center has been using solar energy on a much smaller scale for the past year or so. Although built in-house by Engineering staff with limited materials, the Redwood City effort has been effective in lowering the cost of utilities. (When it opened, the project was one of the largest solar installations at a health care facility in the United States.)


So, what has Kaiser Permanente done for Mother Earth lately? Plenty.

Half the energy it uses in California will come from renewable sources by next year when solar and wind energy projects under construction are completed. Other efforts help improve previous programs – like phasing out furniture treated with fire-retardant and stain-resistant chemicals with healthier choices. And Kaiser Permanente has created the industry’s first Sustainable Food Scorecard, helping improve the environmental profile of the goods we purchase.

Kaiser Permanente – thriving with Earth Day since we began.


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Donovan McCune, MD – Kaiser Permanente pediatrician who made an impression

posted on April 14, 2016

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer


Reporter 1963-12

Dr. McCune binding a book, from KP Reporter December, 1963

The Beagle Press mark (Dr. McCune), from publication 1968

Donovan James McCune, MD (1902-1976) was a beloved Kaiser Permanente pediatrician with a passion for books.

Dr. McCune was physician-in-chief and chief of Pediatrics at the Vallejo Medical Center from 1953 until his retirement from full-time practice in 1966, and subsequently served as staff assistant to The Permanente Medical Group Executive Director Cecil Cutting, MD. Dr. McCune already had established a distinguished international reputation in pediatrics before coming to Kaiser Permanente in 1951, teaching pediatrics at Columbia University for 20 years and receiving numerous medical honors from U.S. and European societies.

But books were his extraprofessional passion. He was a noted bibliophile with an extensive collection of rare books, including a page from the Gutenberg Bible (the first book to be printed with movable type), and many other books printed prior to 1500. His collection was donated to the John F. Kennedy Library in Vallejo, where it is housed as a special collection. There it is shared with the public in an unusually open manner:

…The McCune collection…is open to everyone with an interest in books. We encourage a hands-on approach. We recognize that there is a big difference between seeing a book through a glass case and actually holding one in your hand (Clean hands, please!). We recognize that there is a special feeling when one actually handles a rare book and knows the history behind it.

Letterpress logo, The Beagle Press (KP Dr. McCune), 1988 [circa]. [NCal production file photos]

Letterpress logo, The Beagle Press, circa 1968

Physicians are a hands-on lot, and mere collecting was not enough for Dr. McCune. Typography, calligraphy, bookbinding, and printing were among his other cherished pursuits, and he frequently hand-set his own proclamations and literary efforts under the name “The Beagle Press,” named for his pet dog You-You.

When he retired from TPMG it gave him an English-built Adana Horizontal Quarto printing press. He took lessons from Roger Levenson at The Tamalpais Press. Another fine printer, Henry Morris of The Bird & Bull Press, taught him how to improve his skills and suggested that Dr. McCune would be happier with a bigger press.

Dr. McCune took Morris’ advice, and imported an Albion hand press manufactured in London in 1852 by Hopkinson & Cope. This six-foot-tall behemoth was 2,000 pounds of iron and steel with a 24 by 28 inch platen. Dr. McCune installed it in his Vallejo, Calif., kitchen, which already housed the Adana press and an inking stand. Dr. McCune only stood 5-foot-6, so he added a platform from which he could bear down on the impression lever.

This year the Book Club of California in downtown San Francisco will honor Dr. McCune with a memorial plaque. Dr. McCune was a long-time member and a contributor to the Club’s scholarly newsletter on the history of the book. His special collection in Vallejo contains over 100 Book Club of California publications including many by the Grabhorn Press – which printed a beautiful limited edition of Henry J. Kaiser’s wartime speeches.


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Kaiser Permanente’s work to provide affordable pharmaceuticals – since 1943

posted on April 5, 2016

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer


File #3078A - Pharmacists fill prescriptions, 1940s, Oakland Hospital

Pharmacists fill prescriptions, 1940s, Kaiser Oakland Hospital

Everybody complains about the high cost of pharmaceuticals in the United States.  Medication that is within one’s budget can make the difference between a course of treatment that is successful and one that isn’t. Kaiser Permanente is part of a coalition of health care organizations and other stakeholders determined to make drugs for health more affordable. But few know that our efforts to bring down drug costs began during World War II, when we created our own in-house drug manufacturing capability.

One of our emeritus physicians, Morris Collen, MD, spoke about it in a 1986 oral history transcript:

During the war, since the purchase of medications was very expensive, Dr. Garfield set up Royfield, which is a combination of syllables for Sidney Roy Garfield – Roy and Field. Julian Weiss was our first director of pharmacies. I remember we had an old barn and in it they made most of our medications. I recall that they stamped out the pills for common drugs like Donnatal, and that was our Rx number five. Donnatal, Phenobarbital, and aspirin–we had a formulary, which contained a majority of the common drugs we used. At considerable savings, Royfield stamped out all these pills, made all the cough medicines, and all that sort of stuff.

On October 13, 1943, Permanente Foundation Health Plan physicians Sidney Garfield (general partner) and Cecil Cutting (special partner) formed a limited partnership titled “Royfield & Company” to supply many needed drugs and medications for the hospital, clinics, and first-aid stations operated by the Foundation. To capitalize the partnership, Garfield put up $15,000 and Cutting put up $5,000. Dr. John Smillie’s book about the history of the Permanente Medical Group, Can Physicians Manage the Quality and Costs of Health Care? described the importance of this effort:

…Garfield introduced into the Foundation program a capacity for in-house drug manufacture that would make the future Kaiser-Permanente Health Plan the largest private prescription drug distributor in the United States.

File #3077A Cropped - Julian Weiss at counter of Oakland Hospital pharmacy, 1940s

Pharmacist Julian Weiss at counter of Kaiser Oakland Hospital pharmacy, late 1940s.

Royfield operated out of a secure warehouse not far from the flagship Kaiser Permanente Oakland hospital near 51st Street and Broadway, where trucks could drive inside and securely load these crime-magnet products.

In 1952 Royfield became formally integrated into the health plan as Dapite. The program was highlighted in a TIME magazine article from 1962, “Prepaid Medical Care: Nation’s Biggest Private Plan”:

Dapite, Inc. is a planwide subsidiary which prepackages medicines and supplies them at bargain rates to the hospitals and clinics (whose doctors also agree to use mostly generic-named drugs, cheaper than the trademarked equivalents).

Northern Ireland pharmacist Margaret McClelland worked at Dapite for eight months in 1961, and wrote this account in the United Kingdom publication The Chemist and Druggist:

The Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Vallejo, where Dapite is situated, has a rehabilitation centre at which is operated a specialised technique perfected by Dr. Mead and Miss Knott (chief physiotherapist). Dapite, Inc., has, in the past, employed many disabled people from the Centre as part of its rehabilitation scheme. At the time of writing two such workers, victims of mining accidents, repackage drugs and two polio victims are on the office staff. Products manufactured by Dapite include x-ray solutions, pharmaceutical solutions, lotions, mixtures, ointments, eye preparations and disinfectants. Much of the work comprising repackaging of drugs in smaller quantities.

While I was at Dapite two young assistants carried out the heavier and “bulk” work — for example running alcohol from 40-gallon drums into l-gallon containers. Disinfectants, x-ray solutions, dextrose solutions, were put up similarly.

Orders were mailed in each morning by the various pharmacies or recorded on the telephone. Our day started at 7.30 a.m. when a hospital truck collected the orders and delivered them, providing a reasonably fast service within the 40-mile radius from Vallejo. The trend towards proprietary drugs I found even more marked in California than in Ireland.

Reporter 1964-06

Don Murray, Dapite manager, shows samples of drugs packaged at Dapite to Virginia Young (right) and her assistant, Paula Haug, who handle drug purchasing. Inset: Julian Weiss, purchasing agent and director of pharmacies. KP Reporter June, 1964.

In January 1963, the manufacture and wholesaling of drugs, previously conducted by Dapite, Inc., as a subsidiary of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, was taken over by the department called Permanente Services, which centralized the competitive bid purchasing of virtually all supplies and equipment for Kaiser Permanente operations in Northern California. The KP Reporter described the transition:

At the same time Permanente Services took over the retail pharmacies at detached Medical Offices which had previously been operated by KF Health Plan. Purpose of these organizational changes, which do not affect the day-to-day functioning of the pharmacies, was to eliminate from the Health Plan structure any enterprise which might be considered commercial. The Dapite Company will be dissolved.

Today, Kaiser Permanente continues its efforts to address the high prices of prescription drugs by participating in public dialogue around the issue, advocating for our members and communities, and thus continuing the work we started in 1943 to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals.


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