Posts Tagged ‘Vallejo’

Margaret “Maggie” Knott, pioneer physical therapist

posted on March 5, 2012
Margaret ‘Maggie” Knott, physical therapist at Kabat-Kaiser Institute Vallejo, 1950

Margaret “Maggie” Knott was an exceptional physical therapist who became world famous for practicing and teaching proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). This was a highly successful treatment modality for those suffering from severe physical impairment, many of them polio or rheumatic fever patients. In 1956 she and Dr. Dorothy Voss published the first textbook on PNF. Dr. Sedgwick Mead, then-director of the Kaiser Rehabilitation Center, described her as “One of the most extraordinary persons I have known.” PT Knott later became director of the Center. She passed away in 1978.

-Lincoln Cushing, Heritage staff writer

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Long-time Vallejo physician leader leaves rich legacy

posted on July 12, 2011

By Edward J. Derbes

Heritage associate*

If Dr. Paul E. Stange had not attended medical school, he probably would have been a  football coach, said his son, Paul V. Stange, who works as a policy analyst for the Centers for Disease Control.

Instead of coaching, though, Dr. Stange served as the physician-in-chief (PIC) at Kaiser Permanente’s Vallejo Medical Center for 22 years, one of the longest-term PICs in Kaiser Permanente history. But, his son added, those two career paths were not far off. That’s basically what he became: a head coach. He was a great leader (to the doctors). Firm, but fair.”

Dr. Paul Stange riding a tractor during construction of Vallejo Medical Center completed in 1973. Stange family photo

Dr. Stange passed away earlier this year on April 28. He was 90 years old.

At his retirement in 1991, his portrait was displayed in the lobby of the original Vallejo Medical Center, which was replaced with a new facility in 2010. His portrait remains near his former office in the old facility, which still houses administrative offices.

“That looks like an intelligent man and a superb leader,” Dr. Donald Nix recalls saying when he first saw the portrait. Dr. Nix was Dr. Stange’s best friend, colleague and long-time golf buddy. “I think those are the qualities that best describe Paul,” he added recently.

Career starts in left-over World War II barracks

Dr. Nix said that although Dr. Stange was their boss, the Vallejo doctors loved him. His two executive secretaries dubbed him “Mr. Wonderful.” When Dr. Stange began his tenure as PIC in 1965, the Vallejo Medical Center was housed in barracks-type buildings originally constructed for the Mare Island Shipyard war workers. His son, Paul, described them as rickety, green-finished wood buildings that Kaiser Permanente took over from the government when they opened a makeshift medical center in Vallejo right after World War II. Dr. Stange served through the construction of the $12 million, seven-story medical center, w hich was dedicated in 1973.

After stepping down as PIC, Dr. Stange continued his medical practice until 1991. He continued to lend his medical expertise by returning to the facility to give follow-up readings of radiology reports and mammograms. Maribel Guerrero, the breast care coordinator for Kaiser Permanente’s Napa-Solano Service Area, writes in gratitude to Dr. Stange in a 2006 letter: “The Kaiser Permanente organization should be proud to have you in its midst. . . . My job as breast care coordinator would not have been possible without your gracious help.”

Dr. Stange with his fellow Kaiser Permanente associates circa 1950. From left to right: Wallace Neighbor, A. LaMonte Baritell, Morris Collen, Cecil Cutting, David Steinhardt, Paul Stange, and Joseph Sender.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1921, Dr. Stange attended the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine during the mid-1940s. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1947 to 1951. After initially failing to get a residency in obstetrics,  he completed a residency in pathology in Washington, D.C.,  in 1950. Three years later, he finished a  residency in his preferred field, obstetrics, at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. Dr. Stange joined the Vallejo Medical Center’s  OB/GYN department later in 1953.

Dr. Stange also had an active community life. He served on the board of directors  for both the Vallejo Housing Authority and the Solano County Medical Society,  which honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 1997.

Stange inspires two generations  of medical professionals

Perhaps his greatest legacy to the medical community, though, is his family. Three of his daughters are registered nurses – Joan Pottenger, Gail Stange and Cynthia Stange-Zier.  Another daughter, Susan Stange, works in patient care in Santa Rosa, California.  And two of his grandsons are well on their way to becoming doctors; one of whom, Lucas Zier, recently received his medical  degree from the University of California, San Francisco, where he is in his third year of residency for Internal Medicine. Brent says that Lucas plans to complete a cardiology fellowship next to finish up his training.

Brent C. Pottenger, another of Dr. Stange’s grandsons, will attend the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the fall. He wrote the following essay about Paul E. Stange’s legacy, and how his grandfather influenced his decision to pursue a career in medicine.

Carrying  on the tradition of physician leadership

By Brent C. Pottenger, MHA

From a hospital bed at Kaiser Permanente’s Vallejo Medical Center, where he served as  a physician and leader for five decades, my grandfather, Dr. Paul E. Stange,  first heard that I had been admitted to the Johns Hopkins University School of  Medicine, often ranked the top medical school in the nation.

“Number one!” he proudly exclaimed when my mom, his daughter Joan Pottenger, herself a registered nurse for over thirty years, shared the news.

Groundbreaking ceremony at Vallejo in 1970.

Upon hearing this story, I felt a responsibility to build upon his legacy of physician leadership; a legacy that, thankfully, my mom fostered in me by  connecting her own experiences as a health care leader with memorable stories about my grandfather’s career.

My grandfather passed away at 90 years old on April 28, 2011. I decided to write this memorial essay for him not only because he inspired me to pursue a career in medicine, but also because of his dedication to managing the quality and cost of health care as a physician  leader – a passion that ties in deeply with the legacy of Kaiser Permanente.

While I pursued a master of health administration degree at the University of Southern California, there was a primary question that drove my research: “Can  physicians manage the quality and costs of health care?” The question is derived from Dr. John G. Smillie’s book, “Can  Physicians Manage the Quality and Costs of Health Care: The Story of The  Permanente Medical Group,” which traces the history of Kaiser Permanente. (The book also features a photo of my grandfather with fellow physician executives of The Permanente Medical Group sitting around a table during the early 1950s.)

In many ways, my grandfather has shown that, yes, physicians can help manage the quality and costs of health care. Throughout his career as PIC, for example, he constantly balanced budget constraints with optimal medical care delivery to provide the most effective health care services to Kaiser (Permanente) patients. After retiring, he also spent about five years leading the creation of a partnership program in Solano County that established a much-needed safety net for patients from underserved communities.

Building bridges defined my grandfather’s legacy – he constantly thought broadly about how to create partnerships that could benefit wider communities. Genuine efforts like those mentioned above capture his interest in health policy and administration considerations: Dr. Stange was passionate about Kaiser Permanente because he believed deeply in the tremendous value that its integrated health care system provides to patients. From prevention to efficiency, my grandfather’s personal values magnificently matched those of Kaiser Permanente.

At Johns Hopkins, I hope to build on my grandfather’s legacy to improve our health care systems. In an effort to combine lessons learned from both my grandfather and my mom, for example, I hope to found the Doctors-Nurses Alliance (DNA) at Hopkins to better integrate the medical training of our future clinicians. The DNA program at Hopkins would facilitate increased interaction between the medical students and the nursing students. I believe that Doctor-Nurse-Aligned teamwork forms the double-helix DNA of medical care delivery, so hopefully I can contribute to this cause during my medical training.

With projects like DNA, I plan on carrying with me throughout my career those inspirations that led to my grandfather’s steadfast dedication to Kaiser Permanente – his legacy inspires me to learn, serve, and lead.

*Edward J. Derbes is a 2010 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), earning a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric with High Distinction (Magna Cum Laude).  He co-founded and was senior editor of Divergence Magazine of Cypress, California, and formerly served on the editorial staff of the College of Environmental Design e-News at UCB.  Derbes grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Opening a Prepaid Health Plan to the Public 65 Years Ago this Month, Kaiser Permanente Begins Its Post-World War II Life

posted on July 22, 2010

By Tom Debley
Director of Heritage Resources

This Oakland Tribune clipping is one of many news stories when Kaiser Permanente began opening its doors to the public.

Sixty-five years ago this month the curtain was about to fall on the dreadful years of World War II, and Dr. Sidney R. Garfield and industrialist Henry J. Kaiser were raising the curtain on their plans to expand their prepaid Permanente Foundation Health Plan—later renamed Kaiser Foundation—beyond Kaiser’s employees to the general public.

So it was, in July 1945, that they announced that the “first large extension of the family health plan” beyond Kaiser workers would be in Vallejo, California, about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco.

The idea of going to Vallejo with a Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospital resulted from a grassroots invitation from citizens there—a sort of populist request for prepaid medical care. That should come as no surprise. The new medical care program—nicknamed “a Mayo Clinic for the common man” by one writer of the era—had been a hit with workers in the wartime Kaiser Shipyards in nearby Richmond and was getting nationwide media notice.

“I don’t see why this can’t be done everywhere, for everyone,” said one shipyard worker. “This should be for everybody,” added another. “We must organize and demand this not only for us workers but for all their families. It should be for everybody in America.”

Against that backdrop, Kaiser Permanente was invited to town by a tenants’ council of the Vallejo Housing Authority to provide care for residents of eight large wartime public housing dormitories. A doctor was assigned to each dormitory and a clinic was set up within an existing public health service infirmary.

Meanwhile, with the cooperation of local physicians, a citizen’s committee had unraveled wartime bureaucracies to get the government-sponsored Vallejo Community Hospital opened in 1944. It was needed because the Mare Island Naval Shipyard at Vallejo and the nearby Benicia Arsenal ordnance facility had drawn thousands of wartime civilian workers. The city’s few doctors had been swamped by a flood of new patients.

However, with the war ending, the government was no longer willing to support a community hospital. The military-style facility—long, low buildings spread over 30 acres—closed after the war ended in August, leaving thousands of civilian families without medical care.

Before long, the not-for-profit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan needed a full service hospital in Vallejo. So, on April 1, 1947, Kaiser Permanente re-opened the 250-bed Vallejo Community Hospital as its own, having first leased it as surplus property from the Federal Works Agency. Later, it bought the hospital at the site where Kaiser Permanente’s Vallejo Medical Center remains to this day.

“This…marks the beginning of efforts now underway by the Kaiser organization to offer Permanente Foundation facilities to all groups interested in complete prepaid medicine,” the July 1945 announcement read. The existing facilities were those on the Home Front of World War II serving Henry Kaiser’s shipyards and steel mill. They were in Richmond, Oakland, and Fontana in California and in Vancouver in Washington state.

Kaiser Permanente's Oakland Medical Center started with rebuilding of the burned out shell of a former hospital, seen here in 1942 with Dr. Sidney R. Garfield, at right, and Ned Dobbs, liaison between physicians and the architects.

A few days later, Clyde F. Diddle, administrator of the Oakland Medical Center, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the Oakland hospital was being opened to the public under four principles: prepayment, group medical practice, adequate facilities, and “a new medical economy.”

“This ‘new economy,’ strongly opposed in part by some factions favoring the traditional family physician-patient relationship, follows the old Chinese practice of paying the physician while you are well,” the Chronicle said.

Added Diddle, “We offer medical service from nasal spray to surgery—and all under one roof. The important thing is that there are no barriers to early treatment. …Patients are encouraged to come in early…”

The Chronicle article also reported that Henry Kaiser was preparing a proposal for Congress to establish a nationwide system of voluntary prepaid medical care.  This would be the first of many continuing efforts to support Sidney Garfield’s dream of health care for all Americans that have continued to the present day.

These historic events are honored today by the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, which includes historic sites of the wartime medical care program. Notes National Park Service interpretative materials: “Today, prepaid medical care is central to American culture—it is a legacy of the WWII Home Front.”

Forecasts in 1945 projected eventually serving about 25,000 people in Vallejo. Today, the Vallejo Medical Centers serves about 10 times that number in California’s Napa and Solano counties alone. The entire Kaiser Permanente multi-state program serves 8.6 million members.

The “official” date for Kaiser Permanente’s opening to the public became Oct. 1, 1945, but the work got under way in earnest starting in July.

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