Photo Friday: Born to be a Leader (beginning with being baby in a drawer)

When I talk to people about one of the early innovations of Sidney Garfield, MD, the co-founder of Kaiser Permanente, I like to mention the “baby in a drawer,” which was designed by him to support mother-baby bonding in an era (1953) where this was not the norm. See this blog post: KP’s ‘Baby in the Drawer’ Helped Turn the Tide Back to Breastfeeding Babies after World War II « A History of Total Health | Kaiser Permanente History Blog:

Garfield arranged each mother’s maternity room in a circle around an adjacent nursery. A bassinet for the infant was set in an ordinary metal file drawer built into the wall separating the mother’s room and the nursery.

“When the mother wanted to take care of the baby,” Garfield explained, “she’d pull the drawer out and there was the baby. (If) she wanted to put it back in the nursery, she could put it back in. That was a great hit.”

This allowed a newborn to be adjacent to its mother while also being under the direct supervision of the medical staff. A simple light signal would tell the nurse whether a baby was in the nursery or in its mother’s room.

I usually also tell people, “you will meet Kaiser Permanente staff who will tell you they were a baby in a drawer.” This is how significant this innovation is/was.

And so, meet Chris Miura, MD, who stopped in to the Center for Total Health (@kptotalhealth) while in DC for the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit. He grew up to be a physician leader in one of the nation’s best medical groups, the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group. He’s now the Chief of OB/Gyn for Honolulu. He began his life leading health care as a baby in the drawer, and now he leads health care in real life.

Here are the rest of his colleagues who came for a visit, including Shannon L.F. Young, who took Chris’ photo:

Baby friendly hospitals help create healthy people

The hospital system that Chris was born in was one of the first examples of a baby friendly hospital, that promoted mother-baby bonding and breastfeeding, well before its time.

According to Baby-Friendly USA, only 6.7 percent of births in the United States are in baby friendly hospitals. 100% of the births in Kaiser Permanente’s 29 hospitals that offer maternity care will be. See Kaiser Permanente Commits to Support Breastfeeding as Key Strategy to Prevent Childhood Obesity | Kaiser Permanente News Center.


Ted Eytan, MD