Kaiser is the surname of Henry J. Kaiser, a world renowned industrialist who was born in upstate New York on May 9, 1882, and died in Hawaii on August 24, 1967. He was the founder of the Kaiser industrial enterprises and co-founder, with Dr. Sidney Garfield, of the nonprofit organizations that later became Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
In 1939, the cement company founded by Henry J. Kaiser built its first plant on the slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains, near Cupertino, Calif., about 40 miles south of San Francisco. A creek meandering through the site of the plant is called Permanente, the Spanish word for “permanent,” or “ever flowing.” Kaiser and his wife, Bess, had a creek side weekend getaway. Bess liked the name Permanente and, when they established the first nonprofit foundation and hospital organizations in 1942, they named them Permanente.
Over the years, the names of the succeeding organizations were changed to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and the groups of physicians associated with the Program retained the designation of Permanente Medical Groups.
The informal term “Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program” reflects the partnership of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan with the Permanente Medical Groups.