Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Northern Permanente: lecture for tonight, resources for tomorrow

Belated notice of this evening's lecture on the history of Kaiser Permanente in the Portland area crossed my desk today. Tom Debley, Director of Heritage Resources for KP and author of the recent book, Dr. Sidney Garfield: The Visionary who Turned Sick Care into Health Care, will be speaking tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Portland State University. More details are available on the PSU web site. For those interested in the subject who are unable to make it to tonight's event, you can still find the stream of Debley's 2006 lecture on Northern Permanente on the OHSU History of Medicine Society Lecture Series web site here.

A bit of serendipity brought some pertinent primary source material on the history of Kaiser in Portland and Vancouver to our collection today. Dr. Charles M. Grossman, MD, located an old folder of correspondence marked "1944" in his files and brought it in to add to the growing collection of his personal papers. The letters are primarily from 1945, despite the folder labeling, and contain details about the organization that Grossman encountered when he first came out to the Pacific Northwest from Yale in 1944.

Missives to Lucy Hacker, MD, and Joseph Kriss, MD, (both of whom were recruited to Vancouver shortly after the letters were written) talk about the typical case load, the development of formal training programs, and the recruitment of the medical staff. There are also a number of letters pertaining to Grossman's study of pneumonia incidence (later published in the Kaiser Bulletin), and several relating to his application for a Navy commission. There is also one letter to Henry A. Wallace, then editor of the New Republic, describing his meeting with the widow of Evans Carlson shortly after his death. That letter is reproduced here.

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