November 27, 2013

Film of Mason City Hospital doctors, nurses, and staff ⁠— 1938

MWAK Hospital 1936-37
Original hospital at Mason City, circa 1936.
(Under original construction consortium of Mason, Walsh, Atkenson-Kier, or MWAK)

This piece is a Thanksgiving offering, a display of our deep appreciation for all the health care professionals who keep us well.

Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources recently digitized some silent film footage of the Mason City (Washington) Hospital circa 1938. It shows doctors and nurses who were proud to serve at America's largest Depression-era construction project, living under hardship conditions in a remote town with blistering heat and freezing cold.

This facility was the birthplace of the Kaiser Permanente health plan, where Dr. Sidney Garfield was brought up to care for the workers and families at Henry J. Kaiser's massive Grand Coulee Dam project.

original hospital
Renovated hospital at Mason City, circa 1938.
(Kaiser Industries)

The original hospital at the site had fallen into disrepair and the unions claimed it was insufficient for their members' health care. In 1938 Kaiser Industries won the contract to finish the dam, and Henry J. Kaiser and his son Edgar (General Manager of the project) spared no expense on a remodel.  Among the many modern amenities installed was air conditioning.

In this clip Kaiser Permanente founding physician Dr. Sidney Garfield is seen exiting the recently-renovated facility to a gathering of doctors and nurses which includes Dr. Cecil Cutting (center of this frame, with a ball in his hand), Dr. Wallace Neighbor, nurse anaesthetist Geraldine "Jerry" Searcy, and RN's Winifred Wetherill and Evie Sanger. The footage is short clip from recently digitized from Dr. Neighbor's home movies, which also includes doctors on horseback, the local rodeo, scenes of Mason City, and dam construction.

See them thrive. Then go thrive yourself, and help build thriving communities.