Press Release

Sunday Sept. 9 Stroller Brigade to Save Alta Bates Medical Center Parading in Solano Stroll, Berkeley

Save The Birth Place of The East Bay

"Hands off the birthplace of the East Bay, Sutter! Save Alta Bates!" say RNs

On Sunday Sept. 9, community members, elected officials and registered nurses will lead a brigade of strollers in the Solano Stroll parade, starting in Berkeley, to protest Sutter Health's proposed closure of Alta Bates Medical Center, the city's only acute care medical facility and the birthplace of thousands of East Bay residents.

The Solano stroll is the East Bay’s largest street festival, and with the potential closure of Alta Bates impacting so many members of the community, nurses say the stroller brigade is a great way for neighbors, friends and families to combine a day of fun with a critical statement about the importance of the hospital’s survival.

“We encourage the community to come on out and parade with us on Sunday, to let Sutter know they must either save Alta Bates or transfer it to a new operator that will, but we need our hospital right here, in Berkeley,” said Alta Bates Labor & Delivery RN Tora Spigner. "Sutter Alta Bates had 5863 live births last year, ranking number seven out of all the hospitals in California. We are demanding Sutter refrain from shutting down this vital center of maternity and neonatal health care in our region. No baby is required to participate in this stroller brigade; anyone can hold a sign and parade with us. But it’s also a great opportunity for families to stand up, together, for what’s right."

WHAT: Stroller Brigade to Save Alta Bates Medical Center
WHEN: Sunday Sept.9, 2018, meet 9 a.m. for parade lineup

WHERE: Fresno Avenue, Berkeley, CA (between Solano Avenue and Marin Avenue)
BRING: Family, friends, neighbors, strollers, signs. Wear RED!

Save Alta Bates stroller brigade participants will include Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Council Members Kate Harrison and Sophie Hahn, who also joined in a November 2017 Save Alta Bates stroller brigade, which drew over 300 participants—as well as Cynthia Alta Schmidt, great granddaughter of Alta Alice Minor Bates, the founder of Alta Bates Hospital.

“My great grandmother was an amazing nurse and caregiver,” said Schmidt. “She left Berkeley a wonderful legacy in Alta Bates hospital, a full-service, actue care hospital and center of maternal-child excellence that has helped nurture countless families that make up the East Bay today. I am proud to march with nurses, elected leaders, and community members to say loud and clear, ‘Step Aside Sutter, so we can save Alta Bates!’”

Sutter’s Broken Promises to be on Display

Nurses, together with the Alta Bates Regional Task Force, say they have recently uncovered a “Ten Community Commitments” document Sutter Health corporation submitted to the City of Berkeley in 1999, when bidding for public support to merge Summit and Alta Bates hospitals. The document promises Summit and Alta Bates will “continue to operate as full-service community hospitals”—and RNs say this document of Sutter Health’s broken promises to the community will be on display during the Stroll.

“Now we are seeing Sutter’s true colors. They care about profit, not this community,” said Alta Bates Neonatal Intensive Care Unit RN Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto. “As an Alta Bates nurse, I know the community will be at risk if Sutter is allowed to shut this hospital down. Sutter needs to step aside so we can save Alta Bates. Nothing less is safe for our families, and our community.”

Despite Sutter's claim that patients rerouted from a closed Alta Bates to Summit will only experience a 12-minute delay in care, RNs emphasize that East Bay traffic makes that time estimate highly unlikely. And even if it were true, nurses say, 12 minutes to someone who has experienced a massive heart attack, a GI bleed or a stroke can mean the difference between life and death, even traveling in an advanced life support ambulance.

Last year the Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the closure of the Alta Bates hospital and emergency room recognizing that a closure would restrict access to emergency care for thousands of Berkeley residents — as well as students, faculty and staff on the UC Berkeley campus.

Sutter says it will maintain only doctors’ offices and potentially an “urgent care center” in Berkeley. But a broad range of vital patient services cannot be treated at an urgent care center, including heart attacks, strokes, seizures, internal bleeding, most burns, life threatening allergic reactions, poisoning, electrical shock, and severe abdominal pain, head and back injuries, and bone breaks.

Community members joining the day-long street fair will have a chance to join nurses and send a message to Sutter Alta Bates CEO: “We need Alta Bates to be seismically safe when the earthquake hits, and we need Alta Bates to be appropriately equipped with supplies and staff to provide the highest levels of care for our community. If you are not prepared to provide the care this community needs—here and now and into the future—then you and Sutter Health must step aside so we can save the hospital we need for our lives.”

The California Nurses Association has 100,000 members statewide and is affiliated with National Nurses United, the largest and fastest growing union of RNs in the nation. CNA/NNU has won landmark health and safety protections for nurses and patients in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence protection.