Oakland Council Opposes Closure of Berkeley's Only Hospital

Oakland City Council meeting on closure of Alta Bates

Oakland City Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to oppose the closure of Berkeley’s only hospital, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.

In order to avoid state-mandated earthquake safety upgrades, Sutter Health, which operates Alta Bates, is planning to close the emergency room and inpatient hospital as early as 2018. Acute care services at Alta Bates would be consolidated to Sutter Health’s Summit campus in Oakland.

Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan, Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Larry Reid and City Attorney Barbara Parker last week submitted a resolution opposing the closure of Alta Bates.

Now approved, the resolution directs the City Administrator and City Attorney to prevent and remediate harm that the closure of Alta Bates could inflict on the community.

“Patients already face a system where there are ever increasing costs,” said California Nurses Association treasurer Martha Kuhl, RN.

“We do not need to add another insurmountable barrier by allowing the closure of the only hospital in Berkeley. This will have a negative impact on the ability of Oakland residents to get care,” she said.

On Wednesday, nurses, local leaders and community members held a town hall meeting in Berkeley to share the negative health impact of Sutter’s intention to close Alta Bates hospital.

According to a press release from the California Nurses Association, Sutter Health will maintain doctors’ offices and potentially an ‘urgent care center’ in Berkeley.

However, vital patient services like heart attacks, strokes, seizures, poisoning and more cannot be treated at an urgent care center.

“Nurses know very well that the closure of Alta Bates would present a dire risk to patients in this community by leaving them with a dearth of lifesaving services,” said Kuhl.

“That’s why we will be uniting with community leaders… to help local residents understand Sutter’s plans, what’s at stake — and why we must fight to keep the hospital open.”

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