The California Nurses Association (CNA) hosted a forum on February 3, 2018 on their initiative to save Alta Bates from closure by Sutter Health. State Senator Nancy Skinner, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Berkeley Fire Chief Dave Brannigan, and other East Bay officials and citizens spoke over the course of several hours to a standing room only audience at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley.

As Berkeleyside reports, Sutter recently announced “plans to relocate emergency and delivery services to Oakland’s Summit campus by 2030, the state’s deadline for full-service hospitals to make seismic upgrades.” Every speaker emphasized that such a significant change would devastate the already overburdened health care services in the East Bay. Among other things, since Doctors Medical Center of San Pablo closed in 2015, Alta Bates has under state law been the only medical facility that serves the whole of the East Bay north of Oakland (including west Contra Costa County) where emergency services like paramedics can deliver patients.

Sen. Skinner and Mayor Arreguín addressed Sutter Health’s status as a non-profit entity and state and city governments’ ability to regulate it. Particularly, Skinner spoke of Senate Bill 687, a bill she authored that would have given the Attorney General oversight of hospital closures. Governor Brown vetoed S.B. 687 last year, and Skinner now plans to rework the bill. Mayor Arreguín questioned Sutter’s non-profit status, noting that Sutter had over $15 million in assets after 2016 and asking whether it was providing the requisite “community benefits” to receive that status and if Alta Bates’ closure would affect the answer to that question.

Near the end of the program, Chief Brannigan spoke to Alta Bates’ role in providing emergency medical services, working as a crucial node in the nexus for firefighters and paramedics. Alta Bates’ closure would increase transit time to doctors at locations in Oakland and add to those sites’ existing workload. Those minutes can make the difference in individual cases of life or death, and can be catastrophic in a regional emergency like an earthquake. And that’s not to mention the significant overhaul that the dispatch and response services would have to undergo, which would take years to implement at significant cost to taxpayers.

At the conclusion of the forum attendees filled out postcards to Sutter’s CEO, requesting that Sutter invest in retrofitting Alta Bates or sell it to someone who would retrofit rather than close it. Indivisible East Bay will continue to follow this story as it develops. In the meantime, here are some ways you can support Alta Bates:

  • Write to Sutter CEO Sarah Krevans, 2480 Natomas Park Dr #150, Sacramento, CA 95833, expressing your support for keeping Alta Bates open for the good of the community and the entire East Bay.
  • Say thank you to Sen. Nancy Skinner for her work to keep Alta Bates open and to require oversight of proposed hospital closures.
  • If you live in Berkeley or Oakland, tell your City Council member(s) you want them to support keeping Alta Bates open and to continue oversight of Sutter’s attempts to close the facility.

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