September 20, 2013

The Permanente Creek

Henry J. Kaiser's wife, Bess, admired the creek and its name, leading Kaiser and Dr. Sidney Garfield to use the name Permanente.

Permanente Creek flows out of the hills above Cupertino, California, through the property of the Hansen Permanente Cement limestone quarry and cement plant, formerly Kaiser Cement, which Henry J. Kaiser started in 1939 to provide cement for Shasta Dam. Kaiser and his wife, Bess, had a lodge on Permanente Creek.

Bess Kaiser so loved the creek that she asked Henry to adopt the name for the medical care program that Sidney R. Garfield, MD, created for the Kaiser Shipyard workers at Richmond during World War II.

The creek was first named Permanente by early Spanish settlers because it flows year-round and thus was a permanent source of water for the Spaniards’ ranches.

In 1948 Sidney Garfield and Associates became The Permanente Medical Group, and Permanente from that point on referred to the independent medical groups that, in partnership with Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, constitute the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program.

For more on the Permanente Creek in Kaiser Permanente history, read "Search for the source of the Permanente" by Steve Gilford with photographs by Stu Levy, MD, from The Permanente Journal, Summer 1998.