California community fights to keep Sutter Health emergency center open

Over 350 community members protested with the California Nurses Association Saturday morning to oppose the proposed closure of Berkeley-based Alta Bates Medical Center, according to a Daily Californian report.

Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health owns the medical center. The CNA hosted the event to protest against the hospital's closure, which could occur as soon as 2019. Sutter Health aims to maintain an urgent care center in Berkeley and expand facilities in its Oakland location by 2030 after closing Alta Bates, according to the health system's proposed plan.

Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Calif., joined the protesters, arguing closing Alta Bates would make Berkeley a "hospital desert." Ms. Skinner criticized Sutter Health for using California's requirement for a seismic safety update — a way to increase the facility's earthquake resilience — as an "excuse" for the proposed closure.

Ms. Skinner said she will introduce another bill in the next legislative session to place stricter regulations on nonprofit hospital closures. She introduced a similar bill in February 2017, which was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2017.

"What we see is a pattern among many of our private and nonprofit hospital corporations in California — a pattern of putting the hospital executive's pay … and other — what we might consider profit — motives ahead of patient care and community needs," Ms. Skinner said.

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