Frequently Asked Questions

As our East Bay community grows and the way people access healthcare changes, Sutter Health and Alta Bates Summit are planning now to ensure we are able to meet the future needs of the people we serve. By 2030, we plan to build a new acute care medical center and Emergency Department at our Summit Campus in Oakland. All inpatient hospital services will be based at this medical center, which will be built to meet rigorous seismic standards set by the State of California. In Berkeley, at our Alta Bates and Herrick campuses, we plan to expand access to outpatient services, such as doctors’ visits, surgery and cancer care centers, and urgent care clinics. This future vision for healthcare delivery will better align our infrastructure with the rising demand for outpatient healthcare services and bring us into compliance with California Senate Bill 1953, which mandates that all California acute care facilities either retrofit their buildings to meet stricter earthquake standards or discontinue acute care in those locations by the year 2030.

Why are you expanding inpatient and emergency care in Oakland?

The Summit Campus in Oakland has the necessary space to expand and is located on “Pill Hill,” a roughly 17-square-block area that includes many other medical services and doctors’ offices. As healthcare evolves over the next 20 to 30 years, it makes more sense to expand our services, employees, doctors and patients from our Berkeley hospital into a new modern, expanded, seismically compliant campus in Oakland. The Alta Bates campus in Berkeley does not have room to operate as-is while simultaneously undergoing new construction, and California’s strict seismic regulations will make the current Alta Bates campus ineligible for inpatient hospital and emergency care by the year 2030.

What does this mean for the community?

Our plan is to build a large, modern medical center in Oakland that will provide high-quality care that our patients deserve. Our vision is to incorporate advances in hospital design, including all private rooms with technological features that focus on patient care, safety and comfort. This ensures that all patients will continue to have access to high-quality care at a modern regional medical center in Oakland, one that continues to attract and retain top doctors from around the country, increases the region’s access to healthcare, creates jobs, brings economic development and keeps our community vibrant and healthy.

Does this mean the Alta Bates Campus in Berkeley is closing, and if so, when?

It is our plan to consolidate all acute care hospital and emergency services at our Summit campus in Oakland, which is less than three miles away from our Alta Bates Campus in Berkeley. This will happen before 2030, when the State of California’s seismic regulations will make the Alta Bates Campus ineligible for hospital use.

What will happen to the Alta Bates Campus?

We’re currently exploring all possible options to transform this space in a way that helps improve access to care for the community and creates less of an impact on the neighborhood. This includes outpatient healthcare services, training space or office space for support staff. We are committed to keeping a strong medical presence in Berkeley.

What services will Sutter Health continue to provide in Berkeley?

We are committed to making future investments in Berkeley and see it as a primary location to provide outpatient care. Our Herrick Campus on Dwight Way has been identified by the city as a prime location to deliver medical services. We plan to expand Herrick’s services, which include our Comprehensive Cancer Center and Behavioral Health program. In addition, we currently have three large care centers, including our newest one near the Herrick Campus on Milvia Street, where people can also visit our urgent care center.

Will the new facility in Oakland be able to provide enough emergency care?

We plan to enlarge, upgrade and strengthen the current Summit Emergency Room so that we have the capacity to handle more than 90,000 ER visits a year. By the year 2030, we plan to completely rebuild our ER within a second critical care tower to be constructed at the Summit Campus.

Oakland is farther away than Berkeley from where I live. What if I’m having a heart attack or a stroke and need to call 9-1-1?

Any non-Kaiser patient in the Alta Bates Summit service area calling 9-1-1 today for a heart attack or stroke is already transported to our Oakland campus, where we have one of the most advanced heart centers in California. Additionally, the Summit Campus ER is located next to two major freeways (I-580 and I-980) in Oakland. It’s actually faster for most patients in the East Bay – including those from West Contra Costa County – to get to our Oakland campus than it is for them to get to our Berkeley campus, especially during an emergency.

What will happen to the Summit Campus?

In August 2014, the new 238-bed patient care tower opened at the Summit Campus in Oakland. This new tower meets the state’s 2030 seismic regulations and is equipped with the latest technology, ensuring the highest level of medical care and patient safety. We plan to create a modern footprint at this campus that will allow us to build another building – a second pavilion – that will include new operating rooms, intensive care units, a modern, expanded Emergency Room and space for our Women and Infants Birthing Center and Newborn Intensive Care Unit. It is our plan to relocate inpatient and emergency hospital services, including all staff and doctors, from Berkeley to Oakland by 2030.

Why can’t Alta Bates relocate most hospital services to Oakland but still have an ER in Berkeley?

Emergency rooms are only permitted in hospitals; California state law does not permit stand-alone emergency rooms. In addition, California Senate Bill 1953 mandates that all California acute care facilities either retrofit their buildings to meet stricter earthquake standards or discontinue acute care in those locations by the year 2030. These new seismic regulations will make the current Alta Bates campus in Berkeley ineligible for inpatient and emergency hospital use by 2030.

What happens next?

Planning a project of this scale takes years and must be thoroughly vetted and collaboratively developed. We will keep our community informed with accurate and timely information. This transition must be planned far in advance to ensure the community’s ongoing health needs are met without interruption. Please visit this site for updates or use the information on the Contact Us page to reach out to us.