ALAMEDA COUNTY: Summit, Alta Bates Hospitals Merge
Alameda County's two largest hospitals -- Oakland-based Summit Medical Center and Berkeley-based Alta Bates Medical Center -- are set to merge, the two facilities' presidents announced yesterday. The Hayward Daily Review reports that Summit becomes the 27th hospital in the state and the fourth in the county to join the Sutter Health network that owns Alta Bates. The merger still needs the approval of the Federal Trade Commission and the state attorney general's office to proceed (Kagan, 12/15). A health care union said the merger was "part of a drive by Sutter to monopolize the region, leading to fewer hospital options, higher costs and cuts in service." Sal Rosselli, president of Local 250 of the Service Employees International Union, said, "Sutter has a track record of coming in, taking over a community hospital and immediately consolidating and eliminating services to increase their profits." Nevertheless, top officials "took pains to assure the public that services would be enhanced because of a pooled medical staff and better access to state-of-the-art equipment," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Lee, 12/16). "This affiliation and merger will allow us to enhance the health and well-being of the people in the communities we serve," said Summit President and CEO Irwin Hansen, who will become head of the new entity (release, 12/15). Under the deal, "medical, surgical, critical care, birthing and 24-hour emergency services would continue to be provided at the Berkeley and Oakland sites," but advanced specialty care "would be consolidated at one location." Sutter "plans to infuse $450 million in capital over the next 10 years to the yet-unnamed regional medical center" (Chronicle, 12/16). Click Sutter Health for past coverage of the network.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.