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Kaiser Permanente Honors Founding Physician With Release of Biography

Book chronicles Sidney Garfield, MD's vision of health care from its ground-breaking roots to the creation of a new model of health care in the United States

OAKLAND, Calif., April 23, /PRNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente co-founder Sidney Garfield MD's innovative vision of American health care - from a 12-bed hospital in California's Mojave Desert to what is now the nation's largest health care delivery system and not-for-profit health plan - was released today in a biography, "The Story of Sidney R. Garfield, MD: The Visionary Who Turned Sick Care into Health Care." The book (Permanente Press, 2009) also presages a future for health care in which physicians and caregivers collaborate and leverage technology to provide the best care to every patient.

"Rarely has an historical book shown such relevancy for today's environment or circumstances," said Jack Cochran, MD, executive director of The Permanente Federation. "The tenets upon which Dr. Garfield's health care system are founded, including access, affordability, prevention and evidence-based medicine, are at the core of what is being discussed as a model for today's health care reform."

In the 1940s, Dr. Garfield partnered with industrialist Henry J. Kaiser to develop a new kind of health care system for the nation, based on the ideas of group medical practice, prepayment, and illness prevention and health promotion - a divergence from the way health care was financed and delivered in post-World War II America. Garfield also predicted and embraced the idea of electronic medical records and leveraging technology to advance medicine, more than 40 years ago.

The book provides an extraordinary glimpse into how technology evolved and revolutionized the health care industry, and how Kaiser Permanente has put this vision into practice with tools for both patients and providers. Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect(TM) is the world's largest civilian electronic health record, enabling all of Kaiser Permanente's 14,000-plus physicians to electronically access the medical records of all of its 8.6 million members nationwide.

The book distinguishes Dr. Garfield's contributions as an originator of physician-driven care and is brought to life for the first time by author Tom Debley, director of Heritage Resources at Kaiser Permanente. "Our archives hold thousands of pages of Dr. Garfield's own words and many contributions of his colleagues and others," Debley said. "This was the basis that allowed me to bring Dr. Garfield's colorful story to book form. My hope is that his story can inspire people to share his vision that someday health care will be considered a right, not a privilege."

Collaborating on the book with Debley was Jon Stewart, a communications director at Kaiser Permanente. The book is scheduled to be released publicly at the 82nd annual Meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine this week in Cleveland.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is shaping the future of health care. We are America's leading health care provider and not-for-profit health plan. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to

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