Posts Tagged ‘Oakland Medical Center’

Dr. Nathan Leonard Morgenstern, KP physician

posted on July 9, 2014

By Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer


“Two members of the Cancer Committee in our Oakland hospital review a medical record in consultation”; Krikor Soghikian, MD (left), and Nathan Morgenstern, MD, KP Reporter September 1962

Nathan Leonard (Len) Morgenstern, prominent physician, educator, (San Francisco) East Bay Area civic leader, and dedicated father and grandfather, passed away May 29 from head trauma following a fall. He was 91.

Dr. Morgenstern was a distinguished physician at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center for 35 years, starting in 1954 and retiring in 1988 as chief of pathology. He authored several articles on cancer (including “Carcinoma of the Thyroid at Autopsy” in the AMA Archives of Internal Medicine, April 1, 1959), and taught as an adjunct professor of neuropathology at the University of California at San Francisco.

He was an active and beloved figure at the Oakland hospital, and over the years he took on many of the tasks that it takes to make a medical facility great.


Dr. Nathan Leonard Morgenstern (standing, left), Planning for Health newsletter, Fall 1960


A 1959 article in the employee newsletter KaiPermKapsul described how he conducted a training program for students who expected to make a career in pathology.

His one-year course in Medical Laboratory Technology was accredited by the AMA and the State of California, and affiliated with San Francisco State University, which gave credit for the work.

The article noted:

Dr. Leonard Morgenstern with Philippines exchange student Rosario Bautista, KaiPerm Kapsul, May 1959

Dr. Leonard Morgenstern with Philippines exchange student Rosario Bautista, KaiPerm Kapsul, May 1959

Rosario Bautista and Clyde James are among those receiving this thorough training in laboratory work, the former as an exchange student from the Philippines. Medical technologists in this state must all be licensed by the State Department of Public Health, following an examination.

Just to mention a few of the newer procedures they encounter in a Kaiser hospital laboratory: there are the microchemical analyses of blood, the assays on hormones, the tests on sensitivity of bacteria to various antibiotics, the investigation of allergic phenomena and use of new isotopes for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

In many cases where the purpose of the test is the same, it is the method or equipment used which is the innovation. “Some of the procedures are complex and require very careful manipulation,” Dr. Morgenstern explained. “We try to adopt these as fast as we can satisfy ourselves of their worth. Where there’s doubt of the worth we may return to older, simpler methods. We rather incline toward the scientific caution ‘Don’t be first, and don’t be last’.”

In 1963, a Kaiser Permanente newsletter announced a research article he published in the medical journal Cancer, “Work with Doctors in Community” about early diagnosis and treatment of tumors in children, in collaboration with physicians from Kern County General Hospital, University of Southern California, and the Tumor Tissue Registry of the California Medical Association in Los Angeles.

A 1969 article touted the Oakland hospital’s School of Medical Technology, which had been in place for 20 years; as director of that program Dr. Morgenstern supervised the eight students — six women and two men. Each student in Oakland received a stipend of $3,600 for the year’s internship.

One of Dr. Morgenstern’s colleagues noted after his passing, “He always had time for teaching and clearly enjoyed it . . . He also had a great sense of humor and a wonderful kindness. He was a good man.”[i]

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[i] Dr. Art Levit, MD, comment in obituary memorial booklet.

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Kaiser Permanente’s first hospital changes and grows

posted on June 24, 2014

Vintage photos chronicle evolution
of Oakland Medical Center campus


Click on any image to see a slideshow.
To close the slideshow and return to this page, click on “X” in upper
left of slideshow page.

Short link to this page:

Find out about the new Oakland Medical Center to open July 1.

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Beloved nurse Jessie Cunningham earned honored place in Kaiser Permanente history

posted on May 1, 2014

First black nursing supervisor at Oakland Medical Center:
mentor, pioneer and friend to anyone in need

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Jessie Head Cunningham as a student at Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing, 1954

Jessie Head Cunningham as a student at Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing, 1954

In an era when registered nurses wore starched white frocks, stylized caps indicating their alma mater, white stockings and nun-like white shoes, young Jessie Head (later Cunningham) dreamed of joining the ranks of those she so admired.

Born in 1930 in Ruston, Louisiana, Jessie moved with her African-American family to Oakland, California, when she was four. By the age of seven, she had set her mind to pursue a career as a professional nurse.

Against all odds, in 1951 she succeeded in her quest to enter the then mostly white world of nursing and to forge a highly successful 40-year career as a Kaiser Permanente nurse and nursing supervisor and a tireless community health advocate with the Bay Area Black Nurses Association.

Friends of Jessie Head Cunningham, also known as Mrs. C, Mrs. Ham and Jessie Bea, gathered recently to celebrate her rich life. She died on New Year’s Eve 2013 at the age of 83.

Career delayed by racial discrimination

As Jessie prepared to graduate from Oakland Technical High School in 1948 (famed actor-director Clint Eastwood was in her class), her career counselor told her she should pick another occupation because “coloreds” didn’t go in to nursing.

Undaunted, Jessie set out to get her nursing education. She applied to several schools that rejected her, but she didn’t give up.  Biding her time, she enrolled in classes at San Francisco City College and UC Berkeley and continued to apply to nursing schools.

In 1951, Jessie was accepted to the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing and became one of the first three African-American women to graduate from the school started by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and his wife Bess in 1947.

A model student and mentor

Jessie Head married Robert Cunningham in ceremonies on May 9, 1954. Photo courtesy of Cunningham family.

Jessie Head married Robert Cunningham in ceremonies on May 9, 1954. Photo courtesy of the Cunningham family.

Jessie was a model student, says Clair Lisker, retired Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center director of nursing and long-time member of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing faculty and management staff.

“In those days we would have meetings at my house to discuss patient care and patient education and all kinds of issues,” Clair recalled recently. “Jessie was a part of that. I remember her asking questions and being totally engaged . . . She would always take new students under her wing; she wanted to be sure they got the help they needed.”

Jessie started her in-hospital training at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center in surgery; her friends say she was always proud when the physicians requested her to assist in the operating room.

One Sunday morning, she was surprised to find her picture in the Oakland Tribune along with her colleagues in surgery. She was wearing a mask, but everyone could recognize her by the distinctive mole on her forehead.

Jessie Cunningham specialized in OB-GYN nursing in her almost 40-year career with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. Photo courtesy of the Cunningham family

Jessie Cunningham specialized in OB-GYN nursing in her almost 40-year career with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. Photo courtesy of the Cunningham family.

She graduated in 1954 and Sidney Garfield, MD, founding Kaiser Permanente physician, personally handed Jessie her registered nursing degree during ceremonies in Oakland.

After graduation, Jessie decided to focus on OB-GYN nursing and she continued in that field for the rest of her career.  In the 1960s, she was the first black nurse to be named supervisor at Oakland Medical Center. She served in that role for 22 years until she retired in 1989.

Also in 1954, Jesse married Robert Cunningham. Son Jeffrey was born in 1955 on the couple’s first anniversary; daughter Robbyn was born in 1957. Sadly, Robert died at a young age in 1979.

Making connections with black colleagues

Dorothy Williams, a nurse anesthetist who started at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco in 1960, met Jessie Cunningham in 1962 when they were both juggling career and family. Coincidentally, Jessie was the nurse assisting when Dorothy gave birth to her second child in Oakland.

Dorothy, originally from Detroit, transferred to Oakland Kaiser Permanente in 1962, and although the two women didn’t work together directly they cemented their friendship. Both earned their bachelor’s degrees in health and nursing administration from Golden Gate University in the early 1980s.

Both were Kaiser Permanente nurses who had found a place where they were valued as professionals despite their race. At the time, opportunities for black nurses were still limited.

Jessie Cunningham, first black nursing supervisor at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center and early member of the Bay Area Black Nurses Association. Photo courtesy of Cunningham family

Jessie Cunningham, first black nursing supervisor at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center and early member of the Bay Area Black Nurses Association. Photo courtesy of the Cunningham family.

So when they heard about the Bay Area Black Nurses Association forming in San Francisco in the late 1960s, they saw an opportunity to help other black women make their way in the profession and ultimately to improve the health condition of the black community.

Jessie and Dorothy dove into the black nurses association’s activities and traveled to many cities across the country attending national conferences after the National Black Nurses Association was founded in 1971. Jessie served two terms each as vice president and treasurer for the Bay Area chapter.

In the local community, they set up health fairs and screening clinics that targeted health problems that especially affected African Americans. Over the years, they were instrumental in conducting community events screening for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and to help people quit smoking.

Black nurses association community programs also took aim against social problems such as domestic violence, child physical and sexual abuse and illiteracy.

‘Do it right’

Jessie was a stickler for professionalism. “She always said: ‘If you going to do it, do it right,’ ” Dorothy Williams recalled. “She believed nurses should be up on their medical knowledge and follow proper procedures.”

Jessie was adamant about the use of the English language. “She detested it when someone spoke (improper) English . . . She would correct people when they mispronounced a word or used incorrect grammar,” Dorothy said.

Friends and colleagues teased Jessie about her strictness with the language. They said she missed her calling and should have been an English teacher.

Williams says Jessie was someone who would always be available to anyone in need. “If you went to Jessie for help, she wouldn’t let you go until your need was taken care of,” she said in a recent interview.

“Jessie was a good person to know. If she was a friend, she was always a friend. She was outspoken . . . she would tell you what she thought, and she would give you advice – in a loving way.  But she never deserted her friends, no matter what.”




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Nursing school alumni commission sculpture to honor profession

posted on April 24, 2014


Model of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing commemorative clay sculpture.

Clay model of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing commemorative bronze sculpture to be placed on the grounds of the new Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center.

Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing grads launch fundraising campaign

By Deloras Jones, RN, MS
Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing
Alumni Association
Board member

Sidney Garfield, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s co-founder with Henry J. Kaiser, had a vision for health care. A key component of his dream was high-quality care and the requisite excellent education and training for the physicians and nurses who would take care of the health plan’s patients.

Garfield articulated his hopes for the future in the “Second Annual Report of the Permanente Foundation Hospital,” 1945:

We have mentioned previously our conviction that teaching and training is essential to quality maintenance.

We are planning an accredited school of nursing which will be free from the traditional pressure of economics on nursing education, and permit proper emphasis and time in the purely medical aspect of instruction, carrying this on to nursing specialization in the various fields and medical care on a parallel with resident physician training in medicine.

In line with Garfield’s vision: The Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing opened its doors in 1947 at the Oakland hospital offering a three-year diploma program. Over the decades, strong leadership and high academic standards earned the school a reputation as an exemplary institution.

The school was noted for its recruitment of students that represented the diversity of the community – this set it apart from most others at that time in California.

From the beginning, students took general education and science courses at nearby College of Holy Names in Oakland and Contra Costa College in El Sobrante; this allowed them to earn credits that were transferable to a four-year college where they could pursue higher degrees.

KFSN students participated in clinical rotation programs in rehabilitation, community, and rural health.  In the 1960s and 1970s, the school’s California licensing board examination scores were consistently in the top three in the state.

In 1976, the school graduated its last class, as the Board of Trustees was unsuccessful in developing a partnership with a four-year college to offer a baccalaureate degree in nursing.  Over a period of 30 years, 1,065 nurses were educated at the school of nursing.

Oakland Medical Center’s rich history to be told

The 2014 opening of the new Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center is a unique opportunity to commemorate the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing’s contribution to the heritage of Kaiser Permanente.

Medical center planners have set aside space in the main corridor of the new specialty medical office building for the recounting of Oakland Kaiser Permanente’s history. The Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing Alumni Association has collaborated with medical center officials and the Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources staff to develop a portion of the display to recognize the school of nursing.

Additionally, the alumni association plans to raise funds to pay for a life-size bronze sculpture of a student nurse. The statue will be given to the Oakland Medical Center, which was the home of the nursing school.

The sculpture will be placed in a prominent location on the new Oakland campus, serving as a monument to the legacy of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing and to honor the nursing profession as a whole.

The likeness of the nurse with a child will remind passers-by of the essential contribution nurses make to the health of the community and the care they provide to all patients.

Sculpture fundraising project under way

The alumni association has launched a $100,000 fundraising campaign to commission the sculpture.  Staff, friends, and colleagues are invited to contribute to this commemoration of the school of nursing and recognition of the nursing profession.

Community Initiatives, a not-for-profit organization, serves as the 501(c) (3) fiscal sponsor for the KFSNAA; thus, contributions to the sculpture are tax-exempt.

Deloras Jones, board member and Heritage Project Director of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing Alumni Association

Deloras Jones, board member and Heritage Project director of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing Alumni Association

Please make donation checks out toNursing Education Heritage Project/CI. 

Mail to:
Nursing Education Heritage Project/Community Initiatives

354 Pine Street, Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94104

Scholarships for nursing students

The nursing school alumni association’s mission also includes promoting professional nursing careers and the advancement of the profession through scholarships for nursing education.

Editor’s note: Deloras Jones, RN, MS, retired Kaiser Permanente nursing leader, is a member of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing Alumni Association Board and serves as the association’s Heritage Project director. She graduated from the school with the Class of 1963.

Clair Lisker, RN, MSc, retired Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center nursing administrator, longtime nursing school faculty member and graduate of the Class of 1951, provided historical information for this article.

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Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing highlighted in Oakland history

posted on September 11, 2013

By Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

Kaiser Foundation student nurses get their caps after six months of study. Dorothea Daniels, the school’s first long-term director, far right, and instructor Claire Lisker, a 1951 graduate, second from right, 1954.

In early 2014, Kaiser Permanente will open its rebuilt and expanded Oakland Medical Center in Oakland, Calif.  One of the many features of the flagship facility will be high-tech displays highlighting Kaiser Permanente’s history, including the contributions of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing.

The nursing school display case will include a nurse uniform and cap, photographs, a yearbook, and other memorabilia. More nursing school history will be shown virtually in an adjacent interactive digital screen.

It’s particularly fitting to commemorate the school and its graduates at the Oakland site because the new facility campus encompasses the site of the old hotel that served as the school for nearly 30 years.

At the end of World War II when the health plan opened to the public, qualified nurses were in short supply. Kaiser Foundation established the nursing school in 1947 to train more nurses and help alleviate the shortage.

With approval from the California Board of Nurse Examiners, Henry J. Kaiser and founding physician Sidney Garfield, MD, purchased the Piedmont Hotel at 3451 Piedmont, a block away from the hospital.

The site was across the street from the Albert Brown Mortuary, and by the mid-1960s the school nested in the shadow of bustling elevated Interstate 580.

The accredited Permanente School of Nursing graduated its first class in 1950 and offered tuition-free education and training for its first seven years. In 1953 the name of the school was changed to Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing and it became an independent institution. The last class graduated in 1976.

During its existence the school produced 1,065 nurses and boasted numerous accomplishments. It trained a diverse pool of highly skilled nurses, and student scores in State Board Examinations consistently ranked in the top three of all California programs, including university schools.

For a more complete history see Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing history.

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Kaiser Permanente nursing excellence: 75 years in the making

posted on June 2, 2011

By Ginny McPartland

Heritage writer

Last in a series

Kaiser Permanente's first nurse, Betty Runyen, at Desert Center in 1933.

The history of nursing at Kaiser Permanente actually begins in 1933 with Betty Runyen, Dr. Sidney Garfield’s sole nurse at the Desert Center Hospital near the construction site of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Runyen, a young nursing graduate from Los Angeles, was just starting out and looking for adventure.

She was well aware of the early 20th century restrictions on her career options. Her mother had told her she could be a secretary, a teacher or a nurse. Nursing sounded the most intriguing. She became bored with her first job helping to birth babies, and sprung at the opportunity to help launch this pioneering hospital in the desert.

In 1933 nurses were not expected, or even allowed, to perform such a task as starting an IV (tube to introduce liquid intravenously). But Garfield, co-founder of Kaiser Permanente with Henry J. Kaiser, was forward thinking. He had taught Runyen how to start an IV, and the skill came in handy one day when she received an emergency call that one of the workers had succumbed to heat exhaustion. Dr. Garfield was not around, so she drove the ambulance to the job site and immediately inserted a saline IV. The patient quickly recovered.

Looking back from 2011, it seems absurd that nurses – usually women – weren’t entrusted with a task that is now considered routine. But this fact is indicative of how far nurses have come in 75 years in America and at Kaiser Permanente. A review of Kaiser Permanente’s history reflects the major strides the nursing community has made, bringing them to a place and time where their skills are as varied and as specialized and expert as physicians.

KP history reflects national trends

Nursing history is also punctuated with challenges related to the nurse’s evolving role on the medical care team and with major changes in technology, including medical equipment and use of computers to record medical notes.

In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s care of patients shifted away from the hospital to outpatient settings. Advances in technology made it possible for surgery patients to spend less time in the hospital, and Medicare reimbursement policy revised in 1983 dictated shorter hospital stays. Despite a growing and aging population, the length of stay national average trended down from 8.5 days in 1968 to 6.4 in 1990 to 4.8 in 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Wartime Oakland nurses confer with pioneer KP physician Cecil Cutting.

These changes spawned the same day surgery program that allowed patients to have a procedure without staying overnight. The KP home care program was beefed up to provide surgery and hospitalization follow-up. Outpatient chronic condition management – for the benefit of the patient and the health plan – became ever more important to minimize the time patients had to spend in the hospital. Changes in maternity care also led to shorter hospital stays and an emphasis on family-centered perinatal practices.

New nursing specialties emerge

New categories of nursing have popped up throughout the decades. In the 1970s, the nurse practitioner role was developed to perform many of the tasks formerly done by the physicians. For example, the KP multiphasic or annual physical, initiated in the 1950s for the longshoremen’s union and expanded to the general membership, began to be administered by nurse practitioners working under supervision of physicians. Nurse practitioners were also tapped for well baby care and routine pediatrics visits as medical roles morphed during a critical shortage of medical manpower in America.

With KP’s emphasis on preventive care, its nurses have been called on to create outpatient education programs to help members manage their own health in partnership with their medical care team. Nurses have become specialized in outpatient management of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and in providing home and hospice care. Specialized nursing roles have multiplied exponentially over the decades with today’s nurses trained in every aspect of medicine: surgery, intensive care, cardiac care, obstetrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, and the list goes on.

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Celebrated farmer urges Kaiser Permanente doctors to further healthy food traditions

posted on April 5, 2011

By Grace Emery

Heritage correspondent*

Joel Salatin, celebrity farmer. Photo by Rachel Salatin.

When I heard that famed farmer Joel Salatin had come to Oakland to speak with Kaiser Permanente (KP) doctors, I felt like this event almost constituted a brush with celebrity. I wrote my senior thesis on food movements in the Bay Area, and my longtime interest in food politics had introduced me to Salatin and his work to bring sustainable food to America’s tables.** While some may be puzzled at the idea of a “famous farmer,” I leapt at the chance to write about a veritable hero of the food politics world, and I was anxious to learn more about where KP doctors and Salatin crossed paths.

Thanks in part to Michael Pollan’s discussion of Salatin in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and his appearance in the 2008 popular documentary “Food Inc.,” Salatin has become a renowned advocate of sustainable food and farming, and somewhat of an icon in the healthy food movement.

During his visit, Salatin, who raises beef, pork, and poultry at his Virginia family farm, Polyface Inc., spoke of the challenges small farmers face at the intersection of healthy food and politics. Locally grown food is often healthier and more sustainable, but small farmers struggle when selling their products to large institutions, preventing the large-scale adoption of a local food system.

Salatin started his visit with a stop at the birthplace of local food sales—the farmers market. Preston Maring, MD, a KP physician in Oakland, Calif., founded the first Kaiser Permanente farmers market at the Oakland Medical Center in 2003, and today there are more than 35 KP farmers markets in several regions, demonstrating Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to total health through nutrition.

After a visit to the market, Salatin spoke to a group of KP physicians on the topic of “Local Food to the Rescue.” His message served to both validate the work Kaiser Permanente farmers markets and hospital cafeterias are already doing, and to inspire Kaiser Permanente officials to supply hospitals with even more locally sourced food.

History of healthy eating

Kaiser urged wartime shipyard workers to eat healthy, even grow their own vegetables, as this 2009 poster illustrates. Design by Pam Zachary, KP Multimedia Department.

Kaiser Permanente has long focused on the link between healthy eating and prevention. Before Kaiser Permanente was synonymous with health care, war workers flocked from all parts of the U.S. to Richmond and Oakland, Calif., where they helped to build ships in the Kaiser Shipyards during WWII. Henry Kaiser quickly realized that to build ships at a fast pace his workers had to be healthy and strong, and that meant they needed to eat nutritious foods. He saw that well-nourished workers translated into less absenteeism, more productivity, and happier employees.

In a 1943 memo written by Cecil Cutting, MD, a founding Permanente physician, there is a clear emphasis on the importance of nutrition. With healthier meals, Cutting hoped to “bring about greater vitality, greater psychological effect and consequently increased productivity.”

In “Ships for Victory, author and historian Frederic Lane discusses the Maritime Commission’s initiative to improve in-plant feeding at America’s shipyards in 1943. Many shipyards received additional funds to provide more hot meals and make sure workers had access to healthy food in the workplace. In the Kaiser Shipyards on the West Coast the emphasis on good nutrition even spilled over into the Kaiser-run child care centers where children were fed three square meals, and mothers could pick up prepared meals when they collected their children at the end of the work day.

After the war when Kaiser established a health plan open to the public, nutrition and prevention were among the core principles. “Kaiser health planners supported concepts of holistic preventive care,” writes Rickey Hendricks in “A Model of National Health Care: The History of Kaiser Permanente.”

A focus on healthy food comes to Kaiser Permanente hospitals

Nutrition education was big in the WWII Kaiser shipyards, as highlighted in this poster created in 2009. Design by Pam Zachary, KP Multimedia Department.

A 1972 article from the publication “Institutions/Volume Feeding” highlights Kaiser Permanente hospitals’ progressive commitment to providing patient meals with higher nutrition at a lower cost.  Hospital dieticians were consulted so that every meal had optimal nutrition and calorie content for a patient’s needs. Kaiser Permanente even began to serve meals with an accompanying pamphlet that explained the nutrition information of the meal so that patients could “begin to learn more about the foods that they eat” while in the hospital.

Quality nutrition was at the center of meal planning, and administration felt that when it came to cost “it was of the utmost importance to separate patient feeding from other food-service activities necessary in a hospital.” While the development of an efficient system came about slowly, Kaiser Permanente never strayed from a focus on the healing power of healthy meals.

Oakland: an epicenter of progressive food movements

In my thesis research on the bay area, I was surprised to find that the city of Oakland has also long been a center of progressive food movements. In the 1970s, the Black Panther Party provided a free breakfast program and other “people’s community survival programs” in Oakland, serving residents hot meals with a side of political activism.

The effort of the Black Panther Party members to address hunger in their community was seen as revolutionary and empowering. Soup kitchens and free breakfast programs drew attention to the fact that the local food system was not currently meeting the needs of the West Oakland community. In “A Panther is a Black Cat,” (1971) author Reginald Majors explains that rather than wait on city officials, residents intended to subvert the power dynamic of the community by taking matters in to their own hands.

The free breakfast program for school children went hand in hand with revolutionary ideals and food became an expression of political power. Majors explains, “The Panthers would be betraying their own beliefs by not pushing a little political orientation along with the grits, bacon, and eggs” they dispensed each morning.

Today there are several West Oakland farmers markets in action that echo these themes of racial empowerment. My thesis focused on several of these markets, like “Mo Better Foods” and “Phat Beets Produce,” which provide both locally grown food and social empowerment within a community many residents believe to be historically disenfranchised.

Kaiser Permanente’s continued progress and inspiration

Given Kaiser Permanente’s nutritional history coupled with Oakland’s revolutionary food movement past, Joel Salatin could not have delivered his somewhat radical message to a better group in a better location. Kaiser Permanente initially focused on healthy food in hospitals, and then on bringing local, sustainable food to the community through the Kaiser Permanente farmers markets in Oakland.

What follows logically is a bridging of those two ideals: bring even more local and sustainable food in to hospital meals. Kaiser Permanente hospitals already bring in over 600 pounds per week of sustainably grown vegetables on patient entrée plates at 21 Northern California Kaiser Permanente Hospitals, and Salatin hopes his talk will encourage them to expand that trend and do even more. When he visited Oakland in January, Salatin said:

“The idea of bringing local food right into the façade of a hospital — there couldn’t be a better match. . . If anyone should lead the way in bringing this nutrient-dense food, food that heals people, heals the soil, heals communities, it should be the hospital. Every sphere of its existence should be healing.”

*Grace Emery is an intern with Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources. She is a graduate of Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, and is pursuing a career in public health.

**Grace Emery, “‘Feeding Ourselves’: Power and Participation in West Oakland Food Movements.” Senior Political Science thesis for Whitman College. Winner of the 2010 Whitman College Robert Fluno Award for Best Politics Thesis.

For more about Joel Salatin’s visit to Oakland Kaiser Permanente,

To learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s green programs:

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Kaiser-built 1954 sports car delights today’s collectors

posted on November 15, 2010

1954 Kaiser-Darrin donated to Oakland Museum by retired KP pediatrician Ed Schoen

By Ginny McPartland

When Henry J. Kaiser went into the car manufacturing business in the late 40s, he had big ideas, as he did in all his ventures.  Unlike his many successful start-ups – the most notable legacy being Kaiser Permanente – his foray into the automotive business seemed a failure at the time. He went on to make a success in producing Jeeps, but the economy sedans (the Henry J), luxury and family cars (Manhattan and Special), and the sporty, two-seater Kaiser-Darrin were no longer manufactured after 1954. The small Kaiser Motors Corporation had lost out to the big three: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.

The happy part of this story is about the Kaiser-Darrin, which is living a charmed life today in the hands of avid collectors.  Earlier this year, a “supercharged,” red Kaiser-Darrin garnered a handsome $220,000 in a classic-car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. Other Darrins have sold in recent years for $100,000 to $176,000 at the same auction.

One of the first American sports cars, the Darrin has a fiberglass body, sliding doors that disappear into the fenders, a three-position soft top, bucket seats, and a low center of gravity good for cornering. Only manufactured in 1954, the Kaiser-Darrin came in four classy colors –yellow satin, cream, red and light green. To date, only 80 or so widely scattered examples of the Darrin have escaped the junk heap.

Famed automobile designer-to-the-stars Howard “Dutch” Darrin, an on-and-off Henry Kaiser collaborator, developed the prototype of the fiberglass-body beauty on his own and unveiled it to Henry Kaiser as a fait compli. Henry Kaiser was not pleased. He is reputed to have told Darrin the idea was scatter-brained.  But Kaiser warmed up to the idea when his second wife, Alyce “Ale,” piped up: “Oh Henry, it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

Kaiser agreed to produce 435 of the stunning vehicle that turned out to vie with the 1954-released Ford Thunderbird and the 1953 and later Chevrolet Corvettes.  These sports cars were America’s answer to British models, such as the Jaguar produced as early as 1948. The Kaiser-Darrin and the Chevy Corvette compete for bragging rights for the first fiberglass body – the Darrin prototype was developed in 1952, and the Chevy Corvette was first shown and produced in 1953.

1954 Kaiser Motors Corporation sales brochure

Fifty to 100 unsold Darrins, touted in the sales brochure as the “the sports car America has been waiting for,” were reportedly left in a forgotten snowy lot in Willow Run, Michigan, during the winter of 1954-1955. Darrin, whose heart was in the Kaiser-Darrin, later bought the abandoned roadsters from Kaiser. He put them in saleable condition and souped up many of them with Cadillac V-8 engines.  A Willys Jeep 6-cyclinder engine was standard in the Darrins produced by Kaiser.

Permanente physicians drive Kaiser cars

The story of the Kaiser automobile intersects early on with the Kaiser Permanente saga.  As a perk of the job, Permanente physicians were given a Kaiser car to drive to work and for their personal use. In the days before 1952, doctors used the company car to make house calls ($5 per visit). The physicians had a choice of vehicles; most chose one of the sedans. But Ed Schoen, MD, a pediatrician who joined KP in 1954, saw the Darrin as an apt ride for a bachelor relocating from Boston to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Schoen had followed fellow resident and friend Cliff Uyeda to San Francisco where Uyeda was a KP pediatrician. Schoen joined KP in Oakland where he worked for 49 years, the longest tenure of any KP doctor. He became chief of pediatrics at the Oakland Medical Center in 1966 and regional director of newborn screening in 1990 before retiring in 2003.

Kaiser-Darrin postage stamp 2005

When the auto manufacturing venture ended in 1955, Kaiser offered to sell the cars to the doctors at bargain prices. The Darrin had originally retailed for $3,600. Schoen got his with 6,000 miles on it for $900. He would drive the unusual sports car exclusively for the next eight years, and he got a lot of attention driving around town. “People used to follow me home from work and ask me, ‘what is it?’” Schoen related. And as a bachelor, Schoen found that girls fancied a ride in the Darrin.

After meeting his wife, Fritzi, who came to the U.S. from Austria in 1958, Schoen took her many places in his cream-colored convertible. “I courted her in that car. . . She liked it,” he said. Ed and Fritzi married in 1960, and it wasn’t long before the Darrin was no longer practical. A daughter, Melissa, was born in 1963, and son Eric came along in 1968.

But Schoen kept the car and drove it to work for many years.  In recent years, he had it restored and preserved it in his garage. He entered it in car shows and won a couple of prizes competing with Ford T-birds and Chevy Corvettes. He also loaned the car for the 50th anniversary of Kaiser Permanente Vallejo and for display during another KP event in Oakland at Mosswood Park. The Darrin was never neglected:  Schoen took it out for a spin almost every weekend.

Rarity has its rewards

After owning the car for almost 50 years, Schoen donated his Darrin to the Oakland Museum in 2004 for the Henry J. Kaiser “Think Big” exhibit. The Darrin was shown along with a 1953 Henry J Corsair Sedan in the ambitious exhibit that covered Kaiser’s amazing life as a 20th century industrialist and co-founder with Sidney R. Garfield, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente health plan. Today, Schoen’s Darrin is in storage awaiting a new venue.

Schoen was interested to learn about the high bids cast for the $220,000 Darrin in the 2010 Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale. “When I donated mine in 2004 to the museum, it was appraised at $60,000 to $75,000,” he related.  He also noted the differences between his car and the one on the auction block. “The original Darrins did not have supercharged engines. Mine just had the 6-cylinder Willys Jeep engine . . . it was not a high performance car.”

To see a Kaiser-Darrin in action, go to:

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