Hospital Artwork Tips Its Cap to Nursing

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Historical display at the new Oakland Hospital commemorates the former Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing.

It’s been more than 50 years since Deloras Jones, RN, graduated from the former Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing. But when a new historical display commemorating the school was presented in April in the main hallway of the new Kaiser Permanente Oakland Hospital building, Jones seemed almost as excited as a new grad.

“This makes me very proud,” Jones said. “This recognition of the school of nursing in such a prominent place is a reflection of the value and contribution nurses make to Kaiser Permanente.”

Located midway down the main hallway between Oakland’s new hospital and its Specialty Medical Office Building, the historical display, created by ceramic sculptor Paula Moran, is part of a Kaiser Permanente history wall. The display is housed in a 7-foot-tall corner glass case featuring clay sculptures that depict original school of nursing caps suspended in air by wire, while clay sculptures crafted to look like nursing school textbooks and a nursing student’s suitcase anchor the display. All this is set against the backdrop of a school of nursing class picture taken in the early 1950s.

Deloras Jones, RN, (left), stands with sculptor Paula Moran (center), and Nelle Neighbor-Alonzo, RN.

Alumni of the school, including Jones, Phyllis Moroney, and Nelle Neighbor-Alonzo, served as advisers for the project. Neighbor-Alonzo said including the class photo in the background was important because it shows the ethnic diversity of the school, even in the ’50s.

“When they recruited nurses, it was open to everybody,” she said. “And back then, that was not true for many other schools.”

Honoring Nurses Past and Present

The Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing, which was located on the grounds of the Oakland Medical Center, opened its doors in 1947 and graduated its last class in 1976. But Kaiser Permanente Oakland nurse leaders said the historical display was also intended to celebrate Kaiser Permanente nurses today.

“We wanted something special in the hospital that spoke to Kaiser Permanente’s history of respect and esteem for the profession,” said Kay Stodd, RN, director of Kaiser Permanente Oakland’s Hospital Rebuild.

Kaiser Permanente Oakland’s Chief Nursing Officer Charlene Boyer, RN, said the display is a beautiful and a meaningful way to honor the dedication and contributions of Kaiser Permanente nurses, both past and present.

The ceramic nursing caps are modeled after caps worn by students at the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing.

“I feel honored and touched on behalf of all our Kaiser Permanente Oakland nurses for the care, research, and authentic detail that went into this prominent tribute.”

Nearly everyone who attended the presentation of the display mentioned how “real” the clay sculptures appeared. The caps include small details such as thread and buttons, all made out of clay.

“It’s remarkable that the nursing caps are actually ceramic,” Jones said. “It looks just like the cap I wore in nursing school, and the cap I wore as a new nurse. Our artist did an incredible job.”

Heather Keith-Spellman, East Bay Communications Manager, contributed to this article.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. Sharon Kent Harris, KFSN Class of 65

    Proud graduate of KFSN. I remember how proud we were to wear those caps. Plain white with the K on it first, then junior year getting our stripes, then finally the senior pin. Each celebrated with a special ceremony. They were the hardest things to get laundered. I still returned to Oakland to the local laundry to have my caps starched. They came out flat and stiff and we had to fold them into that “flying bedpan” shape. Truly sad when nurses gave up wearing caps which identified them as the RN.

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