Barber: Santa Rosa doctor Robert Nied now part of Warriors' medical team
SAN FRANCISCO — Each floor of Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco Mission Bay medical offices on Owens Street is devoted to a different neighborhood in the city. The seventh floor has home-court advantage; it’s the Mission Bay floor, with industrial-spare furnishings and challenging art.
“I always say it looks like a tech startup that ran out of money,” Dr. Robert Nied said on a recent tour of the floor.
But Kaiser’s Sports Medicine Center isn’t lacking in resources. It has all the X-ray machines, CT scanners, MRI technology, free weights and flexibility devices you would hope for as a rehabbing patient, all arrayed along a circular floor plan with stunning views of the city.
The seventh floor also holds a few clues to its specialized function. There’s a stress echocardiogram machine, the kind that delivers the heart tests the NBA requires annually of its players, and a VO2 max device for measuring the aerobic fitness level of elite athletes. Oh, and very tall doors. Here on the seventh floor, they stretch from floor to ceiling. Even a 7-footer like Willie Cauley-Stein can enter an exam room without ducking.
In most respects, Nied is a typical (if accomplished) sports doctor at a typical (if well-appointed) medical building. Since July, he also happens to be one of the Warriors’ two team doctors, along with orthopedist Christopher Lehman, who shares these offices.
For Nied, who had worked at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa since 2003, it has been a traumatic and exhilarating couple of years. He, his wife Kris and their two daughters lost their home in Fountaingrove and most of their earthly possessions in the 2017 Tubbs fire. Nied was not alone in his loss; three of Kaiser Permanente’s four Santa Rosa-based sports physicians were made homeless by those October fires.
The Nieds did not rebuild in Fountaingrove. They are currently renting a home in the Castlerock neighborhood. More recently, Robert Nied pulled up his professional roots, but this time it was based on opportunity rather than necessity. Nied couldn’t pass up the chance to help Kaiser expand the Sports Medicine Center. He calls that “the cake.” Working with the Warriors is the icing that everybody wants to talk about.
Kaiser Permanente and the Warriors have been corporate partners for years. The relationship got exponentially cozier when the team moved into Chase Center this year. The two organizations are teaming up on the Thrive City project, an 11-acre outdoor area around Chase that they promise will host recurring wellness activities for San Francisco residents, and on the conversion of the Warriors’ former Oakland practice facility into a space that serves local kids.
Part of the agreement calls for Kaiser to supply team doctors. It’s not such an unusual arrangement. Years ago, team physicians in all sports tended to be local MDs with moonlight contracts. These days, it tends to be a corporate partnership. The Giants’ doctors, for example, come from Dignity Health, while the 49ers’ head doctor is affiliated with Stanford Medicine. Until July, the Warriors had Stanford doctors, too.
There was heavy competition within Kaiser Permanente for the Warriors positions, as you might imagine. Nied checked a lot of boxes. Now 48, the Irvine native has a deep background in family medicine and sports medicine. He has been a frequent expert source for Press Democrat stories over the years.