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1953 Video: Henry Kaiser's Dream Hospital

By Jill

This 1953 newsreel extols the brand new Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek, California, where everything is “streamlined and expedited” in popular mid-century modern style.


Key shots:

“Nor is the expectant father forgotten. Here he can get the news officially and suffer (?) under the most comfortable circumstances possible.”


“And for mother? Well, she has only to call for her baby and baby comes sliding through the wall in a drawer-like bassinet for a little visit with the new mother.”



Possibly missing from the reel: Hospital visitors receive a ticket to ride Autopia.


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Reader Comments (33)

Wow, if that birthing experience is not the definition of "detachment" parenting, I don't know what is! At least if my baby cries, I can shove it back in that drawer and leave the nurses to deal with it.

The fathers sure weren't suffering from my perspective. They even had their own ash tray (which was full of cigarette butts, so it must have been a long labor!).

I do wish nurses still wore bonnets, like my grandmother did.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKK

I wish someone would have pushed ME out into the sunshine afer my births.... those hospital rooms can get clautrophobic.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkelly @kellynaturally

That's kind of awesome in a surreal, OMG, did people really live like that kind of way.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFoxyKate

Kelly, I agree!! I would have loved to have gone for a spin around the grounds.

November 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

I'm almost finished reading 'Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born' and this fits right in with what the author talks about in early maternity care. They had some really interesting practices, to say the least! Thanks for sharing this!

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

FoxyKate, if this is 1953 in Walnut Creek, it makes you wonder if 15 to 17 years later, these babies moved due west to San Francisco to seek a very non-streamlined and non-efficient life.

November 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

Katie, I love Tina Cassidy's book.

November 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

"The answer to a doctor's prayer."

Hm. That says a lot, I think.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiff ~ Birth In Joy

Did the doctor who helped design the hospital "wink" at the camera? This whole video clip is a reminder of how off the mark and ridiculous the concept of hospitals and protocol can get. Here we have a hospital that highlights its main features of the maternity ward as "massage therapists, acupuncturists and manicures (?) on site and a grand piano with piano player in the foyer", never mind their 50% cesarean rate...

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

Janet, I know exactly what you mean about hospital marketing. Yes, the fluffy robes made of 100% Eqyptian cotton are a nice idea for postpartum moms, but not if it's at the expense of a solid breastfeeding support program.

November 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill
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