Press Release

Nurses, Community Leaders Demand Sutter Health Make Firm Commitment to Retrofit Alta Bates Hospital

Nurses rally to save Alta Bates

“Save It or Sell It” Community Demands

Registered nurses, community and local leaders, including Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, and El Cerrito Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, will hold a press conference Tuesday, December 11 as the Berkeley City Council is poised to address the community’s demand that Sutter Health be held accountable for providing a firm commitment by end of February 2019 to seismically retrofit and maintain Alta Bates Hospital as a full service acute-care hospital for the community into the future.
“Sutter has continuously said that the cost of retrofitting is prohibitive, but has never backed up this claim,” said Mayor Arreguín. “We think it’s high time that the organization – which enjoys tax-exempt status—demonstrates the financial impact of a retrofit or sell to another operator. Alta Bates is a vital community resource and its closure would result in delays in care and decreased access, especially for low-income residents and people of color.”
“If Alta Bates closes it would trigger a cascade effect on Bay Area hospitals and emergency services, exacerbating already crowded emergency rooms and increasing the time first responders would need to get to people who need immediate life-saving care,” said Mayor Pardue-Okimoto, registered nurse at Alta Bates. “We have waited more than two years already for Sutter Health to be clear about their next steps, it is time for Sutter Health to either save Alta Bates as a full service acute-care hospital or sell it.”  
What:  Press Conference to Save Alta Bates Hospital before Berkeley City Council Meeting    
When: Tuesday, December 11 at 4:45 p.m. Press Conference
                                                      6:00 p.m. City Council Meeting  
Where: Press Conference at Berkeley City Hall - 2180 Milvia Street
              City Council Meeting at Berkeley Unified School District office - 2020 Bonar Street

Speakers include:

  • Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín
  • El Cerrito Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, registered nurse at Alta Bates Hospital, Berkeley
  • Dr. Ramona Tascoe - Internal Medicine Specialist
  • Mike Hill - registered nurse at Summit Medical Center, Oakland     
  • Dana Alpert - UC Berkeley Student and Voter Coalition Director for ASUC

“Closing Alta Bates will exacerbate the already morally reprehensible inequality in our communities, taking a heavier toll on African Americans, people of color, and low- income people and the homeless,” said Dr. Ramona Tasco. “While the entire East Bay will be impacted negatively by a closure, those hardest hit will be those who are already struggling the most.”
Sutter Health announced in 2016 its intention to close Alta Bates Hospital, although it had pledged to keep the hospital open when it merged with Summit Medical Center in 1999. In 2017, Mayor Arreguín convened the Alta Bates Regional Task Force to stop the closure. Cities along the East Bay’s I-80 corridor have passed resolutions opposing the Alta Bates’ closure, including Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond and San Pablo.
Despite its nonprofit status, Sutter reported almost $12 billion in revenue last year and an operating income of $326 million. With $14.3 billion in assets as of December 2015, Sutter can well afford to seismically upgrade Alta Bates, say nurses.
Alta Bates is a 347 bed hospital, the sole acute-care hospital and birthing center in Berkeley. In 2017, Alta Bates had 5,863 births and 45,336 ER patient visits and it is the only non-Kaiser hospital serving the I-80 corridor between Vallejo and Oakland.