Kaiser Permanente and the University of California are two major California-based institutions that share a long history of partnership. The collaboration started right after World War II with UC securing Health Plan coverage for its employees beginning in 1945, the year the plan opened to the public.
From the beginning, Permanente physicians joined UC for many medical research projects, and over the decades many have taken on professorships at UC campuses in Northern and Southern California. By all accounts, the partnership has been a fruitful one.
A 1949 feature story in the Kaiser Permanente member newsletter Planning for Health pointed out that the University of California was the Health Plan’s fourth largest group, starting in 1945 with 59 members and reaching 1,961 members by 1949. [i]
The article included an interview with electrical engineering professor Charles F. Dalziel and his wife, who were early members of the university plan.
“During much of the period the family have been members of the group, Mrs. Dalziel has had many opportunities to evaluate the Plan in action. Like so many otherwise healthy children, their charming daughter, Isabelle, aged 8, is allergic.
“Mrs. Dalziel is enthusiastic in her comments on the results Permanente doctors have achieved in determining the child's allergies and combating them,” the interviewer wrote.
In 1972, Kaiser Permanente’s Jack Chapman wrote the “Kaiser-Permanente Marching Song,” an authorized adaptation of the UC Berkeley athletic fight song “The Big C.” Chapman was the first Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek hospital administrator and later the Northern California regional director of training and management development.
Chapman’s first two lines:
“We are Kaiser-Permanente, finest plan in all the land
K-P stands for qual-i-ty and doing all we can.”
Edgar spent 3½ years at UC Berkeley majoring in economics. But in 1930, one semester short of graduation, he quit college and headed for Texas where he had been offered a chance to work as a pipeline construction superintendent.
His father gave him his blessing. “I talked it over with my father,” he once recalled, “and we agreed that I had learned about as much as I could in college, and that two months more of class work would not matter.” [ii]
Many Permanente physicians have associated with UC to teach and conduct research on various campuses. Morris Collen, MD, taught a public health course at UC Berkeley. Mark Binstock, MD, MPH, a Kaiser Permanente physician at Woodland Hills, was an assistant clinical professor at the UC Los Angeles School of Medicine in the 1990s. Monte Gregg Steadman, MD, was a lecturer at UC San Francisco.
UC Berkeley’s venerable Bancroft Library houses the Henry J. Kaiser Papers collection, a massive trove of Kaiser’s personal and business correspondence, memoranda, speeches, and papers. Kaiser’s documents from his Oakland, New York, and Hawaii businesses, principally from the period after World War II, are archived at the Bancroft.
The collection includes material on the Kaiser Industries corporation, the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, the Kaiser Shipyards at Richmond, Calif., and other Kaiser industries.
UC Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office staff has interviewed dozens of Kaiser Permanente pioneer physicians, administrators, and board members to document their roles in the development of this innovative health maintenance organization.
The initial interviews were conducted between 1984 and 1999 as the series: "History of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program—Founding Generation." A second series of interviews started in 2005 to look at Kaiser Permanente and the transformation of health care in the U.S. from 1970 to present.
[i] "University of California Is our Fourth Largest," Planning for Health, April 1949 [ii] Obituary, New York Times, December 13, 1981