Exit of the Day… is a Factory.
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EXIT 67A I-95s to: Bellwood, Virginia
In March 2020 in Seattle, Washington, the giant health management organization, Kaiser Permanente was first to develop and test vaccinate 44 volunteers to immunize against the Coronavirus. The first to be vaccinated was Jennifer Kaller, a tech worker and mother of two.
Since World War 2, companies created by the late Henry Kaiser have been in the forefront of many industries. So today we explore a prominent landmark which drivers can see from Interstate 95 and which — like the COVID-19 Vaccine — is a legacy of an American Immigrant…
Off to the left you can see a huge hulking factory. It is a Kaiser Aluminum Plant. The founder of Kaiser Aluminum was an immigrant who rose from very humble beginnings. Born in 1882 to impoverished German immigrants, Henry’s mom was a homemaker and his father was a shoemaker. Although in time he would become one of America’s wealthiest citizens, he did not forget his origins.
From the high seas to Healthcare, Henry Kaiser pioneered many firsts. An inveterate tinkerer and a stickler for efficiencies, Kaiser became known as the father of modern American shipbuilding. On the west coast, he established the Kaiser Shipyards, which during World War Two built Liberty Ships launching almost one freighter a day.
Liberty Ships were essential as merchant ships to supply the far flung war efforts and which kept beleaguered allies like Britain and Russia supplied with weapons and food.
After getting a contract to provide ships to the US military during World War two, he began to worry about his workers lack of health care.
To provide affordable care and economies of scale for his thousands of ship-builders Kaiser took over the local Permanente Hospital in Oakland, California. Therefore, Kaiser Permanente (now Kaiser Permanente Thrive) became the first voluntary group plan in the country to feature group medical practice, prepayment, and comprehensive medical facilities on a large scale.
Kaiser's Healthcare became a forerunner to company health plans and pioneered today's HMO's.
After the war, Kaiser founded Kaiser Aluminum by leasing and later purchasing surplus aluminum facilities in Washington state from the United States government. Buying huge factories cheap and running them lean made him a wealthy man.
With his wealth, he established the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, non-partisan, charitable organization which focused on health care issues.
While the man, Henry Kaiser, died in 1967, his intrepid legacy lives on in this trail blazing Foundation which is not associated with Kaiser Permanente nor Kaiser Industries.
In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation operates independently as a think tank; it makes facts and analysis available to policymakers, health care groups, and the media. A leading authority on many issues, The Foundation echoes its founder’s nature. Both valued independent thinking and innovation. So apart from hulking factories, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Kaiser’s various medical companies continue to be the best legacy in Henry Kaiser's life.
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