Berkeley City Council will vote on resolution to oppose Alta Bates closure

BERKELEY (BCN) — The Berkeley City Council will vote tonight on a resolution that would oppose plans by Sutter Health to close Alta Bates Medical Center by 2030 to avoid the cost of meeting the state’s tough earthquake safety standards.

Sutter Health officials recently said they plan to close the 300-bed hospital and merge it with Summit Medical Center in Oakland, which is 3 miles away.

Alta Bates’ acute care facilities aren’t up to state standards that require acute-care buildings to remain operable after a major earthquake.

The move would leave Berkeley without an emergency room.

The resolution by City Councilmembers Max Anderson, Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin would oppose Sutter Health’s plans to cease operations at Alta Bates and ask that city departments identify opportunities to seismically retrofit the current location, which is on Ashby Avenue near Telegraph Avenue.

The resolution says Alta Bates “is crucial for providing timely healthcare services for the people of Berkeley and cities beyond Berkeley’s border.”

It says, “Sutter must not be allowed to put profits before lives nor endanger the residents of Berkeley.”

The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the council’s chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

At 6 p.m., registered nurses who belong to the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United and community leaders will hold a news conference in front of the council chambers to urge the council to approve the resolution.

The nurses’ union said Alta Bates is an important facility because it’s the only remaining full service hospital along the densely populated corridor between Oakland and Vallejo.

Stephanie Crowe Patten, a cardiac telemetry registered nurse at Sutter’s Summit Medical Center in Oakland, said in a statement, “As a cardiac nurse and a patient advocate, it is vital that Alta Bates remain a full service acute care hospital” because the Oakland facility doesn’t have the capacity to make up for the loss of the Berkeley facility.

“Without this hospital, the residents of the city of Berkeley, West Contra Costa County and Alameda County will be deprived of health care anywhere near their home and people will suffer adverse outcomes,” she said.

The nurses’ union said patients needing true emergency care would need to be rushed to a full-service hospital from Berkeley along heavily trafficked roads that can result in delays of up to 90 minutes or longer, depending on the availability of ambulances and transport staff.

Nurses said the loss of Alta Bates would also have a devastating impact on women and children because it is a major regional center of care for women in labor, post- and ante-partum care and newborn intensive care.

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