Aiming to commemorate the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing and ensure its legacy will not be lost, the school’s alumni association commissioned a life-sized bronze sculpture of a Kaiser student nurse, in a cap and holding a baby, titled “Nursing: The Heart of Health Care.”
“The sculpture also honors all nurses and their caring for patients and contributions to the health of their communities,” said Deloras Jones, MS, RN, a graduate in the class of 1963, a member of the alumni association board and leader of the Heritage & Legacy Project. She is a retired chief nurse executive for the Kaiser Permanente California Division and retired founding executive director for the California Institute for Nursing & Health Care.
Nursing school history
Kaiser Permanente opened the school in 1947 to help alleviate a shortage of qualified nurses and to provide care to patients in its health plan. During the first seven years, the school offered free tuition. The school became an independent institution in 1953, and it closed in 1976, having trained 1,065 nurses. Physicians from the Permanente Medical Group trained the state’s first nurse practitioners at the school. Those nurse practitioners focused on disease prevention and wellness.
The alumni association commissioned Betty Saletta of Oakdale, Calif., to design the sculpture and gifted it to the Oakland Kaiser Hospital, the home of the school of nursing, Jones said. The sculpture features details, such as Kaiser emblems on the cap and buttons on the uniform, so it is historically accurate. Facially, she’s a blend of multiple ethnicities, as was the makeup of students at the school, according to Jones. The sculpture was placed in a plaza between the facility and its parking structure, just a few hundred yards from the former Piedmont Hotel, where the original school of nursing was based. The school graduated its first class in 1950.
The dedication ceremony took place June 20, 2015, at a hospital conference room, followed by an unveiling in the plaza. Nearly 200 people attended the ceremony, including Dorris Facey Lovrin, a member of the 1950 inaugural class. She wore her white cap. Lovrin worked at Kaiser Permanente for 63 years, retiring last year. Phyllis Moroney, class of 1957 and president of the alumni association board of directors, and Marilyn Chow, PhD, RN, FAAN, vice president of National Patient Care Services and Innovation at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, participated in the dedication ceremony.
Chow said the statue not only represents graduates of the original school, but also Kaiser’s 50,000 nurses across every practice setting, the first nurse to work at the health plan, the diversity of the school, and the academic and science-based foundation it provided its graduates.
“Nurses everywhere are stepping up to show our leadership.” Chow concluded. “The world is looking to us to lead the way for the healthcare future of this country and we will do it. We’ll do it with the backing of more than 100 years of professional nursing history behind us, and a whole world of opportunities and possibilities ahead of us.”
[accordion title=”About “Nursing: The Heart of Health Care”” load=”hide”]• Funded by alumni; retired physicians, administrators and employees; friends and family of alumni; and a grant from Kaiser Permanente
• Weighs 400 pounds
• Stands 5-feet, 8-inches tall, plus the cap on a 5-inch base
• Took one year to complete
• Inspiration came from historical photographs and actual caps and uniforms worn by students.
• Details accurate, including Kaiser emblems on cap and the correct number and spacing of buttons and location of seams on the uniform.
• Created using a lost wax casting process.
• Edition limited to 100 10.5-inch bronze models of the life-size statue are available for purchase from the alumni association.[/accordion]