Caitlin Dong, guest writer
Imagine a health care system that emphasizes prevention, instead of focusing only on treating diseases. Oh wait, no need to imagine – Kaiser Permanente already exists.
Dr. Sidney Garfield, physician founder of Kaiser Permanente, sought to create a new economy of health where providers and members turned their attention toward preventative care. Early in its history, Kaiser Permanente expressed to members and patients the importance of balanced diets and how what we consume affects our health.
In a 1965 edition of Planning for Health, a quarterly newsletter available to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan members, an article titled “The Importance of Diet” takes a look at “proper diet and related factors contributing to longer, more healthful living.” The writer asks if it is possible to prevent heart attacks by proper dieting and then answers this question, noting that eating healthier foods can minimize cardiovascular diseases.
Today, Kaiser Permanente physicians, dietitians and others in the organization remain focused on the link between diet and health. Kaiser Permanente Dietitian Carole Bartolotto notes, “So many diseases and conditions we develop are directly related to what we eat.”
Bartolotto works as a senior consultant in Southern California on a variety of projects relating to diet and heart disease. She is responsible for nutrition publications and is chair of the committee that reviews those publications. Their goal is to ensure that whatever is published is up to date and matches the most current evidence available.
Kaiser Permanente makes every effort to ensure that members can easily access accurate and helpful information to guide their nutrition and diet choices. Research articles, such as this one that explores whether consuming sugar and artificial sweeteners changes taste preferences, are part of this effort.
And, if you’re looking for healthy food recipes, Kaiser Permanente’s Food for Health blog is a great place to start!
Knowing the advantages of preventative care, let’s make healthy food choices. Our future selves will thank us.
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Jack Chapman was hired in 1951 by Kaiser Permanente physician founder Sidney Garfield to be the assistant administrator of Oakland Hospital. Chapman personally supervised the construction of our Walnut Creek Hospital for Henry J. Kaiser and became the hospital’s first administrator. He was also a keeper of Kaiser Permanente’s heritage and a master teller of corporate folklore to generations of employees.
When Jack left this earth in 1999 a Kaiser Permanente obituary called him “a legend in his own time.” This is one of his stories captured in an interview, about the brand-new Walnut Creek Hospital that opened September 15, 1953 and the open house held August 23-30.
“Sunday morning, it was about 5 o’clock in the morning and the phone rings.” Jack!” “Yes, Mr. Kaiser.” He’d call you all times, time did not mean anything to him. “We’re having a meeting at 8 o’clock down at the Clinic.” “Okay, yes, right, you bet, Mr. Kaiser.” “I want you to be there.”
So, Wally Cook, Fred Pellegrin and myself, yeah, that was just the three of us. Well, we got there. Sidney is there, Ale Kaiser [Henry J. Kaiser’s second wife Alyce, whom he married in 1951] and Helen [Helen Chester Peterson, Dr. Garfield’s second wife, whom he’d married less than three months earlier].
“Jack, what’s this filing system you have concocted here?” I said, “It’s called the terminal digit system. Filed by the rear numbers. We have been filing by numbers, Mr. Kaiser, in sequence. But, God, if you misfile, how do you find the thing. This way, you always have the last two numbers and misfiling is very rare. Some people will invert them, a 90 can become a 09 or sometimes people will put them upside down like 06 or 09 but at least you can go to those bins and, you know have a pretty good chance of finding the record.”
I said, “Well, I don’t think that is any good at all.”
Ale then says, “We don’t want to treat our members as numbers.”
I tried to argue, you know, and I got about from here to the end of that desk and that was the end of it. “It is going to alphabetical.” “Alphabetical, oh God,” I said.“And, we are going to have a color code.” “You mean, different colors for the different letters of the alphabet.” “Yeah.” “Fine” I said. So here we are, we pull all the charts out and here’s the A’s and Mr. Kaiser is putting the A’s, and the B’s, C’s. Finally, with charts on the floor on a Sunday morning, I said, “Jeez, I wonder if they have enough colors to cover the alphabet.” “We’ll have them make ‘em up.” So sure enough, I don’t know what those chart jackets cost, it must have been ungodly to have these all made up. You know, we had puce, purple and all different colors, my God! Lime green, you know, it looked like Jell-O up there.
“But anyway, we had color codes and then you had to understand what each color meant, that that was an A color and a B color and a D color or whatever. I can recall that incident so well, oh my goodness gracious. Well, it was kind of funny. Finally, the hospital was really going along and we were getting ready to open … we got the whole thing dolled up. We had an open house here like you’ve never seen in your life. We went on for two weeks, every night. 35,000 people marched through this hospital.”
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This year’s Thrive advertising campaign begins its launch on August 5 during opening ceremonies of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Kaiser Permanente first began airing what was then its ground-breaking new campaign during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Then, as now, it focused on total health, demonstrating Kaiser Permanente’s long-held mission to improve both the health and well being of members—to help people “thrive.”
Kaiser Permanente has also been involved in the Olympics up close and personal, through participation by members, physicians, and employees.
Robert King, MD, one of the six original Permanente Medical Group founders, won a gold medal for high jumping at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.
Tom Waddell, MD, (1937-1987) was a decathlete in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and a physician at San Francisco General Hospital’s emergency department. He founded the 1982 “Gay Olympics” (later named the
Gay Games after a challenge from the United States Olympic Committee). Dr. Waddell was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, and his struggle to improve the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients at Kaiser Permanente was a continuation of his “never give up” spirit.
An article in the Kaiser Permanente Reporter featured this employee story:
Joe Rios, chief engineer at our Richmond (Calif.) Medical Center, finally realized his dream. “I made the team – the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team.” Although the United States didn’t compete in the 1980 Olympics, trials were conducted for selection of competition teams. Joe competed in two forms of fencing- foil and sabre – and won medals in both. Each event began with 75 participants. Six were finally chosen for the team. Comments Joe, “I fenced in an 11-hour match to win the silver medal in foil and a 15-hour match to win the bronze medal in sabre. It was absolutely the most fantastic experience. Everything seemed to fall into place for me.”
The United States had boycotted this Summer Olympic Games in Moscow as a protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In opening the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Shirley Craddick, a Kaiser Permanente registered dietitian, carried the Olympic torch for one kilometer as a representative of the Oregon Dietetic Association. Craddick was active with the Health Service Research Center’s “Freedom From Fat” project.
The Olympic Games and Kaiser Permanente – carrying the flame for fitness and health.
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