UCSF Health and John Muir Health announced Wednesday that Berkeley Outpatient Center, which will not provide emergency services, will open in June.
According to incoming Berkeley Outpatient Center Medical Director Caroline Schreiber, the goal of the new facility is to provide a convenient location for Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville residents. In order to avoid requiring patients to travel to multiple locations for appointments and tests, the full spectrum of outpatient care will be located in one site. It will be accessible by public transportation and have free, on-site parking.
Berkeley Outpatient Center will be available to those who live, work or go to school in Berkeley, Emeryville and the surrounding communities. In contrast to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, which offers inpatient services, the new outpatient center will offer 17 specialty areas ranging from audiology to vascular surgery, but it will not provide emergency services. Berkeley Outpatient Center’s urgent care teams will work with local Emergency Medical Services to connect patients to ambulance services in the event of an emergency.
“Our goal is to partner with patients to better manage their health and prevent trips to a hospital for emergency or inpatient care,” Schreiber said in an email.
Khadijah Kabba, a member of the California Nurses Association, or CNA, emphasized that Berkeley Outpatient Center will not be a full-service hospital and that the potential closure of Alta Bates is still a critical issue, as patients may lose potentially lifesaving time when they are routed to an outpatient center before being transported to a fully equipped emergency room.
“Should Sutter, a multibillion-dollar corporation, close Alta Bates … those who will be hardest hit are the poor, the uninsured and the underinsured, many of whom are students,” Kabba said. “Do not be duped into thinking that an urgent care center or an outpatient clinic is akin to a full-service acute care hospital or an emergency room equipped to handle a myriad of illnesses, injuries and diseases.”
ASUC External Affairs Vice President-elect Nuha Khalfay echoed Kabba’s sentiments, stating that though the outpatient clinic is a “fantastic” asset for the city, the continuation of emergency services at Alta Bates is essential for community members.
“Like the new … medical care center, the Tang Center has a robust outpatient clinic but cannot account for injuries that need to be seen in an emergency room with minimum travel and wait time,” Khalfay said. “We will continue our efforts at the local and regional level to keep Alta Bates Hospital open for students and all community members.”