⇒ The impacts of an Alta Bates Hospital closure would be profound for Berkeley and Oakland, and would also be felt widely across numerous communities in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Since the closure of Doctors Medical Center in 2012, Alta Bates hospital has only become a more vital and necessary public resource as it is the only non-Kaiser hospital between Vallejo and Oakland. We believe—and I am sure you would agree—that the people of the East Bay need and deserve access to a range of full service acute care hospitals.
⇒ Time is life – delays are deadly. Patients who spend precious time at a UCC only to discover they require true emergency services would need to be rushed to a hospital emergency room, perhaps along heavily trafficked roads. Transport alone can result in long delays depending on ambulance and staff availability, which can put lives at risk.
⇒ Surrounding hospitals can’t handle the influx of Alta Bates patients. With the 2015 closure of Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, Alta Bates’ patient rose by nearly 54,000 from 2014 to 2015. Where will those patients go?
⇒ Closing Alta Bates would endanger hundreds of thousands of East Bay residents. Along the 1-80 corridor from Oakland to Vallejo, one of the most densely populated – with nearly 900,000 residents – heavily trafficked, congested corridors in California, the only remaining hospital is a small Kaiser Richmond hospital that is already at or over capacity and under staffed.
⇒ Communities need access to a full service hospital. Sutter has suggested that outpatient clinics and an urgent-care center (UCC) could replace the hospital. But dozens of critical and life threatening conditions cannot be treated at a UCC – including heart attacks, strokes, seizures, internal bleeding, most burns, serious allergic reactions, poisoning, severe abdominal pain, head and back injuries, and bone breaks.
⇒ The Bay Area faces numerous natural and man-made disasters. We’ve experienced earthquakes severe enough to collapse a freeway in Oakland; explosions, fires and vapors released at the Chevron Oil Refinery; and in 1991 a wildfire in the hills of Berkeley and Oakland. Hospitals are a necessary component of our environment.
⇒ California’s hospital numbers are shrinking while its population is rising. The number of California acute-care hospitals shrank from 417 in 2001 to 354 in 2015. Yet the population rose by nearly five million residents from 2000 to 2014. Tell Sutter, people deserve hospital care, not hospital cuts.
⇒ Berkeley students deserve acute care. There are 37,581 students who attend UC Berkeley, 7600 at Berkeley City College, and 7,900 at Contra Costa College. For students who are injured, dealing with stress or depression requiring mental health services, experiencing drug or alcohol related illness or other needs, timely access to Alta Bates is crucial.
⇒ Sutter Health CAN afford to keep Alta Bates open. Sutter is one of the wealthiest hospital systems in California, recording more than $2.1 billion in profits the last five years. A 2012 CNA study also found that Sutter had 28 top executives with earnings of more than $1 million a year, the highest in the state, and nearly double the next highest, Kaiser Permanente. Further, the CA Health Facilities Financing Authority approved issuance of bonds to Sutter up to $1.2 billion for capital improvements
⇒ Consolidation is to enhance Sutter’s profits, not services. With the merger of Alta Bates hospital and Summit Medical Center in 2000, Alta Bates Summit lost many critical services – despite Sutter’s insistence that services would not be lost and would be enhanced. This precedent heralds more of the same with a full Alta Bates closure, leaving just the services that are most profitable.
⇒ Healthcare is a human right! People should not have to tailor their healthcare needs to a business model of consolidation and cuts – designed by corporate healthcare to maximize profits. Communities deserve safe hospital care.