Bay Area

UC Berkeley releases study on safety/health impacts of Alta Bates Hospital closure

BERKELEY (KRON) - A new study by UC Berkeley on the consequences for health and safety in Berkeley as a result of closing Alta Bates Hospital was published Tuesday. 

The recent Rapid Health Impact Assessment, published by UC Berkeley's Institute of Urban and Regional Development, found that consequences of the hospital closure include: 

  • Longer wait times at nearby emergency rooms
  • Reduced access by the elderly, poor and uninsured 
  • Delays in ambulance transports and potentially increased deaths

Additionally, the study found that closing the community hospital would result in longer wait times at remaining regional emergency rooms, ambulance travel times would be delayed, and emergency responders response time longer. 

The study also says among its findings, the "impact on the poor, the uninsured, and people of color who are much more likely to not have a primary care doctor and not seek alternative care" if the hospital closes. 

The study also claims that the regional economy would lose an estimated $1.5 billion a year in local economic activity. 

Officials say this is the first in-depth analysis since Sutter Health announced plans to close the hospital by 2030. 

Last year, Alta Bates treated more than 50,000 patients in its emergency room and birthed more than 5,000 babies. 

Council member Kaplan says he supports the study attributing to safety and health concerns.

“I oppose the proposed closure of Alta Bates. The potential for harm to the community is substantial - not only to our neighbors in Berkeley, but also to our residents in Oakland and those who use all east bay medical facilities who will face longer delays in getting needed medical attention and greater risk in an emergency.  We need to work together to assure this valued community hospital remains.”

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