Courage to Heal

He changed Medicine forever

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"Courage to Heal" is a compelling story based on the birth and development of the Kaiser Permanente medical care program.  Although fictional at times, Dr. Bernstein has captured the true character of its leader, Dr. Sidney Garfield:  his courage, his integrity, and his passionate conviction that the combining of prepayment with group practice was advantageous to both patient and physician alike.

Those of us who participated in the early development of the program were ostracized by community physicians and medical organizations who sought the extermination of our unconventional program.  At the same time, we found ourselves contending with Mr. Henry Kaiser.  We were determined to preserve the physician's control and responsibility for medical decisions against any lay interference.   It was our firm belief that voluntary enrollment in our prepayment program and the group form of practice combined to provide good medical care, encouraged preventive measures and was entirely ethical.  It was that conviction that compelled us to continue.

Foreward of Courage to Heal by Cecil Cutting, MD, age 96, Medical Director Emeritus of the Permanete Medical Group, close friend and associate of Sidney Garfield, MD


Excerpt from Courage to Heal, Page 104

“Scalpel.”      No time for a small suprapubic incision.   I made a midline exploratory lap cut from sternum to pubis.   I cut down through the skin and rectus muscles in one pass, lifted the peritoneum and snipped through with the Mayo scissors, careful to avoid damaging the underlying bowel.  Her abdomen was an ocean of blood with only weak pulsations transmitted from the aorta.  

“Two suctions, Mrs. Herman.   Keep both going.”     I felt for the uterus and sponged the clots off its upper surface, looking for the source.   There was a four-inch rupture, through which I could see the ghastly sight. 




                                                                                                           Excerpt from Courage to Heal, Page 148                                      

Kaiser slapped me on the back like a football coach.  “A nickel a day,” Kaiser repeated.  “Not a bad idea.   I just might be able to convince Industrial Indemnity Insurance to go along.”

     “I don’t have a lot of time,” I said. 

     “Doctor.   You’re talking to a man who jumped off a train to save time.   I’ll have the agreement drawn up and ready to sign tomorrow.”   He extended his hand.   “Until then, a handshake is enough for me.”