BayHealth — a joint venture between UCSF Health and John Muir Health — is set to open its first outpatient and urgent care center in West Berkeley in 2018.
The company announced Sept. 13 that it will lease 96,000 square feet of Foundry 31, a mixed use building located at 3100 San Pablo Ave., near the intersection of Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland. The BayHealth Outpatient Center could serve 30,000 to 40,000 patients each year, not including walk-in patients using the urgent care center, according to Chris Willrich, BayHealth CEO.
BayHealth has plans to develop 75,000 square feet of the space and leave the rest for future programming and development, Willrich said. The center will have 15 primary care physicians, five urgent care physicians, a full imaging suite and lab services and will provide offices for up to 10 specialists at one time, Willrich said.
West Berkeley does not currently have a facility that provides urgent care in the same capacity as the proposed BayHealth center, said Councilmember Darryl Moore, in whose district the center will be.
With the outpatient center, BayHealth aims to provide an alternative to emergency room trips for the treatment of minor ailments, according to a BayHealth press release.
“About a third of all ER visits can be safely and appropriately treated in an urgent care setting,” said Alta Bates Summit Medical Center spokesperson Carolyn Kemp in an email. “These visits might include earaches, sore throats, diarrhea (and) minor traumas, such as a sprain or shallow cut.”
According to Caesar Djavaherian, a co-founder of Direct Urgent Care, which has a location on Telegraph Avenue, the costs for treatment at urgent care centers also tend to be significantly lower than those at emergency rooms.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington, referencing the planned closure of the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center by 2030, said new urgent care centers supplement health care access but are not prepared to treat all patients. The Alta Bates Summit Medical Center contains Berkeley’s only emergency room.
“We could have a dozen facilities (that offer) outpatient services and that would be great, but it’s no substitute for a full-service hospital,” Worthington said.
BayHealth applied for use permits in July and is currently working on designing the facility. Construction could begin as early as the first quarter of next year.
According to the city permit application, the outpatient medical services will typically operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the urgent care services are expected to operate from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The application also states, however, that hours could expand to allow for 24/7 operation as necessary.
Willrich said that in the future, BayHealth hopes to develop additional outpatient care centers in areas it feels are underserved.
“We’re evaluating other areas in the East Bay where patients and the market would benefit from better access to providers locally than they may receive,” Willrich said.