Bernard J Tyson: chief executive of US non-profit healthcare provider Kaiser PermanenteBMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6672 (Published 26 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6672
- Bob Roehr
- Washington, DC, USA
Bernard J Tyson had a leading role in making Kaiser Permanente the largest and one of the most innovative healthcare providers in the US before he became chairman and chief executive of the non-profit organisation. His death shocked the company, depriving it of a charismatic leader.
One of seven children, Tyson was born in Vallejo, California, a “hardscrabble” city at the north east end of San Francisco Bay. His father was a carpenter and part time preacher. His mother had diabetes, and the time young Bernard spent with her in hospitals for that condition led him to a career in hospital administration.
Kaiser Permanente (KP) grew out of efforts by industrialist Henry J Kaiser to create affordable, accessible healthcare for his workers—first in isolated locations, where he was building large dams and smelting aluminium, and later in the shipyards that quickly and inexpensively cranked out hundreds of Liberty ships and other cargo vessels for the war effort. Later it would become an independent non-profit health maintenance organisation that collects insurance premiums and provides a full range of medical care.
Tyson joined KP soon after college and spent 35 years rising …