Part one of two parts – Walnut Creek, Dragerton, and Fontana
“Hospital design is sort of a hobby of mine.”
—Sidney Garfield, MD, New York Times Magazine, April 28, 1974.
Mayhew’s career began in 1922 as a draftsman at the San Francisco firm of Arthur Brown, Jr.. He traveled abroad to study at Paris’ Ecole des Beaux-Arts between 1922 and 1925, and returned to the Francisco Bay Area, where he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley School of Architecture in 1927.
He remained in the Bay Area began a long and distinguished career. Mayhew designed homes, including two in scenic Big Sur and Los Angeles for Lucille and David Packard (co-founder of the multinational information technology company Hewlett-Packard). Among his institutional commissions were the Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Alumnae House at Mills College (Oakland, Calif.), the Alumni House at U.C. Berkeley, and a racetrack in Lima, Peru.
But it was his design of early Permanente Foundation hospitals that is the foundation of his legacy.
Mayhew’s first Permanente hospital was the 76-bed Walnut Creek Medical Center, which opened in April, 1953, one year after the flagship Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles hospital. Dr. Garfield was listed as “functional designer and medical consultant.” It, and the subsequent Kaiser Permanente Fontana Hospital, were part of a “small city” hospital movement; the larger and more urban Kaiser Permanente hospitals in San Francisco and Los Angeles were called “dream hospitals.”
A short newsclip about this facility can be seen here.
Walnut Creek, along with Los Angeles and San Francisco (opened August 1953), were considered marvels of hospital design. Kaiser Permanente’s member newsletter Planning for Health of October 1952 gushed about its charms:
Many unusual innovations have been incorporated to make the hospital outstanding in the service it will render. The usual central corridor has been converted into a private corridor for nurse, doctor and employees, with a nurse’s station located for approximately each eight beds. This keeps the public away from the service area and bring the nurse, supplies and equipment in close proximity to the patient for more efficient care. Visitors reach the rooms via an outer corridor. Each patient enjoys a private or semiprivate room enclosed on one side with glass, affording the patient a pleasant view of landscaped grounds and trees.
Another progressive feature is the maternity wing. Here the central nursery has been eliminated and replaced with an individual nursery behind the bed-wall. At any time the mother, or visitors, can view the baby through a glass window beside the bed while the baby is actually attended by the nurse. Whenever the mother wants her baby beside her, she need only pull out the bassinet and her baby is there.
Even more impressively, the hospital was featured in an eight-page article in the July 1954 issue of Architectural Forum. It was titled “Today’s Most Talked-About Hospital…for four good reasons,” which it articulated:
1: Its architecture is part of the cure
2: Its corridors are actually long workrooms
3: Its bedrooms are designed for patient self-help, and
4: Its economics make it self-supporting at low rates.
Although many of those functional features were Dr. Garfield’s ideas, the aesthetics of the design were credited to Mayhew: “Note the easygoing grace with which Architect Mayhew has imbued a necessarily machinelike plan.”
Immediately on the heels of Walnut Creek were two smaller facilities built in 1954, one at a remote World War II Kaiser Steel coal mining location in Dragerton, Utah, and the other as a civic expansion of the hospital in the city of Fontana, Calif., where Henry J, Kaiser’s wartime steel mill was located.The War Production Board had built a hospital at Dragerton (now called East Carbon City), which was later purchased by a physician who soon afterwards was charged with medical and fiscal mismanagement. United States Steel asked Henry J. Kaiser to take over the hospital in early 1952. Miners were desperate for proper care, and the team of Permanente physicians – which included shipyard doctor Wallace “Wally” Cook – was swamped. Mayhew designed a simple hospital, for which Dr. Garfield was listed as “consultant.”
Although a Permanente health plan was never established in the region, the hospital remained as Utah Permanente Hospital until 1966. However, this commitment to serving working people would eventually re-emerge as a plea for expansion from stakeholders in Colorado, which Kaiser Permanente began to do in 1969.In Fontana, a wartime hospital existed on the steel mill site, but once the Permanente Health Plan was opened to the public after the war it made more sense to locate a hospital in town. At first Dr. Garfield considered simply expanding the hospital at the steel plant, but in late 1953 Kaiser Steel Corporation Vice-president and General Manager Jack L. Ashby wrote to Dr. Garfield and told him:
I am advised that last month alone some 9,000 to 10,000 people visited the existing clinic now at the steel plant. The overcrowded condition is constantly a problem… In our opinion, not to build the clinic in the City of Fontana would be like building a beautiful automobile without an engine.
The San Bernardino County Sun published an article August 19, 1954, announcing a three-day open house:
The Kaiser Foundation’s newest “hospital of the future,” bringing to the Fontana area the last word in comfort and efficiency for patients and the hospital staff, will be introduced to the public next week.
The new medical facilities, initially containing 42 beds, are located on a 15-acre site at 9961 Sierra Ave., corner of Marygold Ave. They will complement the existing 88-bed Foundation hospital at the nearby steel mill of Kaiser Steel Corp., which donated $300,000 to help finance the new structure. The hospital, in the center of the expanding Fontana-Bloomington-Rialto-Etiwanda area of 60,000 population, is a community hospital open to the general public and to all qualified physicians and their patients, as well as Kaiser Foundation Health Plan members.
The one-story, “T” shaped building, of steel construction and utilizing vast amounts of glass, is the second of the Foundation’s concept of the ideal “small city” hospital.
Three hospitals in two years – that’s a pretty remarkable pace. But Mayhew was just getting started.
Next: More California hospitals 1955-1973: Harbor City, Panorama City, and San Rafael.
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The health plan we now know as Kaiser Permanente got its start at the end of World War II, during which industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and founding physician Sidney Garfield, MD, took care of the industrial and nonindustrial health care needs of almost 200,000 workers in seven West Coast shipyards and a steel mill. Almost 400,000 men and women in the U.S. armed services, not to mention the 9,000 serving in the Merchant Marine, perished during this terrible struggle.
On the Home Front, civilians in war industries paid the highest price as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that each year between 1942 and 1945 there were some 2 million disabling or deadly industrial accidents, a total of more than 6 million. More than 75,000 Americans died or became permanently and totally disabled in industry during the war. Additionally, some 378,000 industrial workers suffered a permanent partial disability.
This powerful 1942 photo from Kaiser’s Oregon Shipbuilding Company shows two workers with heads bowed. We don’t know the details of this scene, but we can be certain they were mindful of the wartime casualties that mounted every single day. The observance for military casualties we now call Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” three years after the Civil War to honor those casualties. It became known as Memorial Day after World War II, and was established as a federal holiday in 1971.
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Prevention has always been fundamental to Kaiser Permanente’s mission. That includes both the prevention of illness through healthy behaviors and the prevention of injury by taking safety precautions. Even outside the health care field, Henry J. Kaiser’s Kaiser-Frazer automobile company strove to build safer cars and educate drivers, especially newly licensed teenagers, about safe driving. The 1953 Kaiser Manhattan was dubbed the “World’s First Safety-First Car!”
A current Kaiser Permanente campaign to encourage the wearing of helmets when riding a bicycle (“Making Bicycle Helmets the New Safety ‘Seatbelt,” May 3) may be our newest effort in this arena, but it’s certainly not our first. Here are just two notable bike safety efforts from our archives:
Maryland’s bicycle helmet law, which became effective in October 1995, covered children under the age of 16. The legislation was spearheaded by Maryland Governor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (now called the Governor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee). Kaiser Permanente was among Maryland’s bicycle helmet legislation partner organizations, providing testimony, incentives, and education.
Oregon’s law was even earlier. It passed in July 1993 and took effect in July 1994. The year’s delay was built in to educate the public about the law and because of concerns about the ability of low-income children to afford bicycle helmets. The legislation was pushed by the Oregon Bicycle Helmet Coalition, which included a wide range of people and groups, including Kaiser Permanente.
As soon as the law was implemented, Kaiser Permanente distributed 1,500 free bike helmets to students at schools in Portland in hopes of reducing bicycle-related injuries and deaths. Ellen Hall, MD, from the Beaverton, Ore., Medical Office, was quoted as saying, “We’re concerned about how few children in our communities have helmets.”
In addition, Kaiser Permanente worked with officers from the Portland Police Bureau’s Bicycle Safety Unit and the Community Cycling Center in northeast Portland to teach traffic safety classes at north Portland schools. Kaiser Permanente also sold bike helmets at cost at three ‘cash-and-carry’ sales. By the end of 1995 Kaiser Permanente had donated nearly 2,000 bicycle helmets to low-income and at-risk children.
“Even though Oregon law requires everyone under age 16 to wear a hike helmet when riding, many families can’t afford one,” said Adrianne Felustein, MD, co-chair of Kaiser Permanente’s Trauma Committee. “At Whitman school, just over half of all students qualify for free or reduced lunches—and the majority don’t have bike helmets.”
In 1995, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission selected Kaiser Permanente’s “Evel the Weevel” (a parodic reference to the motorcycle daredevil Evil Knievel) bilingual bike helmet safety brochures in Oregon to be distributed nationwide. The brochures were praised as an “example of a best practice in preventing childhood injuries.”
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One of the most famous cargo vessels built during World War II in the Kaiser shipyards was the SS Robert E. Peary, assembled in 4 days, 15 hours and 29 minutes. Her keel was laid at 12:01 a.m. on November 8, 1942, and she was launched in Richmond, Calif., November 12 to considerable fanfare. She was a testament to the “we can do it!” spirit of the civilian workforce and the efficient assembly processes developed in the wartime shipyards.
But what happened to her after the festivities and before she was scrapped in Baltimore on June, 1963? The article, “Liberty Ship, Built in Week, to be Honored” in the Oakland Tribune, September 15, 1944, tells us much of her wartime performance:
When the Merchant Marine of World War II is honored on Victory Fleet Day September 27, high on the list of celebrated ships will be the Robert E. Peary, the Liberty ship built in the world’s record time of one week to establish a high record for sailing the seas of war.
She sailed out of San Francisco Bay that November on her maiden voyage of more than 19,000 miles, carrying war cargoes to the South Pacific and followed this with trips to Casablanca and the British Isles.
Once a Lyle gun [a short-barreled cannon firing a projectile attached to a rope to a boat or victim in distress] on her deck shot a line to American soldiers marooned on an island by Japs and the Americans were thus supplied with ammunition and food until they could defeat the attackers. Even while undergoing repairs at Halifax, Nova Scotia, following a collision, her record for speed was unbroken, for loading of war supplies proceeded at the same time.
Operated by the Weyerhaeuser Steamship Company for the War Shipping Administration, she is commanded by Captain Dael P. Baird, of 3617 22nd Street, San Francisco.*
However, behind every story there’s another story.The above article briefly mentions a collision and repairs – and that fuller account episode can be found in the 1958 book The Gray Seas Under by acclaimed Canadian maritime and naturalist author Farley Mowat (1921-2014). Mowat’s brisk prose about the rugged sea tug SS Foundation Franklin immerses you in the salty waves and bitter Atlantic cold:
On Christmas Day of 1943, Franklin was setting a precedent. This was the first Christmas in four years that she had been in a port. Her people were celebrating, but warily, and none of them was surprised when at 1:30 P.M. the long wail of Franklin’s whistle rang out over Halifax and Dartmouth. Resignedly her people put down their glasses, their after-dinner cigars, or their lady friends from off their laps, and made hurriedly for the docks.
A distress message from a vessel called the Robert Peary had just been passed to the Foundation Maritime Company from the Canadian Navy, together with instructions that Franklin was to sail at once. The information was meager, consisting of a dubious location and the fact that a naval vessel was reported to be standing by the casualty [salvage term for stricken ship].
… It was not until dusk on December 28 that Franklin finally [located] the crippled ship. The Peary was in the trough and far down by the stern as a result of the collision damage she had sustained. She was being swept by every heavy sea that passed and, seen through the curtain of blowing snow, she was a spectral shape. By 8:40 P.M. the tow was under way for Halifax, which then bore one hundred and eighty miles to the west-north-west.
At dawn Peary’s master signaled to [Franklin’s Captain Harry] Brushett that his after bulkhead, which alone was keeping the ship afloat, was being badly strained and had begun to leak seriously. He was afraid that it might let go at any instant.
Franklin gave of her best. A hundred and sixty miles of head sea and head wind still lay before her, and the ship astern was sheering from side to side with depraved abandon. At dusk on the following night the cripple took a violent sheer until she rode out almost abeam of Franklin and then, with pure brute ugliness, she turned hard away, bringing such a strain on the tow-line that it rose out of the water for five hundred yards.
Things then proceeded to go from bad to worse.
The wire itself withstood that savage lunge, but the strain of it was too much for Franklin’s steering gear and the rudder chain was ripped from the quadrant, leaving her as helpless as her charge.
…The Peary was hauling Franklin’s stern so far down that every sea was breaking on the after deck. Nor was this the worst of it. The constant jerking on the wire was sending the rudder crazy, and the quadrant arm was banging back and forth with a violence that could have decapitated a man with ease.
Brushett had two courses open to him. Either he could cast off the wire in order to ease the strain so that his men would have a chance to repair the steering gear; or he could remain fast to the Peary, and hope for some moderation in the weather before the casualty was overwhelmed. He deliberately chose the latter course; for he was aware that if he cast off he might not find her again in time to save her or her crew.
The two ships lay at the mercy of the storm for six hours. [Eventually] the [Franklin’s] arresting tackle was set up taut; the rudder was firmly held, and two men crawled aft under the grating to struggle with the chain amidst the freezing slush.
The Franklin’s rudder got fixed, and by midnight the Peary was headed for the safety of Bedford Basin in Halifax, the Franklin‘s massive pumps keeping her afloat. They docked on December 31, the Peary was repaired, and she continued to make history. While in the Atlantic starting in April, 1943, she ran convoy routes to Europe, ferried prisoners of war from North Africa, and served off Omaha Beach on D-Day.
Tough men aboard tough ships during tough times.
* According to a September 29, 1944 article in the Kaiser Richmond shipyard newspaper Fore ‘n’ Aft, the first ship’s master was Captain Harold E. Widmeyer, of San Pedro, Calif.
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May 6-16, 2016, is National Nurses Week.
Caption in the 1970 Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing yearbook: “Larry, Gerry and Ricky: a first for Kaiser.”
Larry Rowe, Gerry Beideck, and Ricky (Ricardo Pangilinan) Mosqueda were groundbreakers in the 1970 class of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing, which operated between 1947 and 1976. As the first enrolled male students, they were pioneers in a traditionally female nursing profession.
After World War II, a national shortage of nurses prompted Kaiser Permanente founding physician Sidney Garfield, MD, to create a school in 1947.
Frances P. Bolton (1885-1977) was the first Ohio woman elected to Congress and an advocate for gender and racial desegregation of military nursing units. She introduced the 1949 Bolton Act (H.R. 9398) which provided for the appointment of male citizens as nurses in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Six years later, Lieutenant Edward T. Lyon was commissioned into the Army Nurse Corps in 1955.
A December, 1959, article in The Modern Hospital titled “Mr. R.N. Is Wanted on the Nursing Team” repeated the need for more and diverse nurses. “Hospital authorities are wondering how long a nation with a critical shortage of nurses can afford such an outworn notion as thinking of nursing as ‘woman’s work’,” stating that 97.6 percent of the nursing workforce was female and that only 225 male students a year were graduating from nursing schools.
Sadly, not all pioneers made it from the classroom to the hospital room. By 1972, KFSN students Larry and Gerry had dropped out, but Ricky graduated. For reasons unknown, he didn’t complete his California state board examinations, and we don’t know which career path he chose after that.
The growth in numbers of male nurses is a welcome diversification in staffing. A 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation article pointed out that “Patients are much more receptive to health care providers of similar cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and that may well translate to gender as well.” And to support those professionals, the American Association for Men in Nursing offers trainings, scholarships and resources.
One example of supporting exceptional efforts is Kaiser Permanente’s Extraordinary Nurse Award Program, which complements existing regional recognition programs and honors nurses that demonstrate all six of the Kaiser Permanente nursing values: professionalism, patient and family centric, compassion, teamwork, excellence and integrity. This year, there are two male winners out of 11 total – Victor Falle, RN, of the Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center in Honolulu, and John Kirk Phillips, RN, of the Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco Medical Center.
As of 2015, 17.3 percent of Kaiser Permanente’s nurses are men. And we are proud to have male nursing leaders throughout regional and national level positions, including Gregory A. Adams, who was recently appointed Group President to lead all Kaiser Permanente regions.
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