A State of Emergency

Posted by christinejaylee
2018.03.06 18:38 EDITORIAL/사회 :: Current Issues

A State of Emergency | English Columnist Shelby Kim

    The City of Berkeley’s only acute-care emergency room might be shut down in 2030. Located on Ashby Ave just one mile from Sproul Hall, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (ABSMC), a Sutter Health affiliate, is a nonprofit health services facility that offers care to thousands of low-income residents of the area with zero or public insurance. It is the only facility not affiliated with Kaiser that serves the I-80 corridor between Oakland and Vallejo, with multitude of its services catered to women and children. Alta Bates hospital is not up to par with the standards from the California Seismic Safety Commission, and the closure would maneuver Sutter Health away from the state law requiring Alta Bates to seismically upgrade its facility. If Alta Bates closes, it will have a negative cascading impact on nearby hospitals and emergency services: from overcrowding in emergency rooms, to preventing first responders and ER vehicles to navigate through the East Bay infrastructure due to congestion.

[1] Alta Bates-Sutter Health

If you are a Berkeley student, this closure holds even more weight for you. Your health is at risk if Alta Bates closes, because that will mean no more access to its emergency, acute, and urgent care services. The Tang Center sends more than one Berkeley student each day to Alta Bates, and more than 37,000 individuals of UC Berkeley’s total student population relies heavily for treatment of life-threatening injuries and illnesses. In the year 2017 alone, Alta Bates was home for 45,336 ER patient visits and 5,863 births, with almost 70% of its patients female.

According to Daily Cal and the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), Sutter Health closure will happen, but not all of a sudden. Berkeley’s Community Health Commission published a Health Impact Assessment resolution about the proposed closure of emergency services at Alta Bates last October, and the California State Assembly passed a bill the same month requiring health service facilities to get support from the attorney general before closing any of their departments. ASUC is still active to alleviate the adverse effects from the closure within the campus community, from attending meetings with the Community Health Commission to electing senators with a platform dedicated to reversing the closure of Alta Bates.

[2] Ed Roberts Activism

As seen with the ASUC participation, many campus-wide issues, especially related to community health, have been shaped by student population. Ed Roberts was the first student with severe disabilities to attend UC Berkeley, and he was a passionate activist who fundamentally shifted the way disabled students were viewed in society. He pushed for the Independent Living Movement that pushed for equal participation in every aspect of public life through massive protests and mobilizations in San Francisco. Eventually, his actions resulted in changes in the regulations and living standards that paved way for future disabled students to enjoy equal civil rights with other students on campus. Gleaning from the activism of Ed Roberts, I believe that each and every student has the power to create a change in the community.

[3] Alta Bates Closure Pins

            As a Public Health major myself, I want to emphasize the importance of “participation.” Instead of being a bystander of these issues, you can be a leader for change to be aware of and strive to improve opportunities for UC Berkeley students. I believe the concept of corporate social responsibility applies to everyone, especially because we attend a liberal, high-potential for growth educational institution like UC Berkeley. The first step of addressing this change is to increase awareness for positively shaping the attitude of the people around you. The best way to take action in improving these societal issues at the individual level is through the five pillars of the Rapid Assessment Tools. The first pillar relates to laws at the national and local level, and this is important to address in order to aim for changes and alternatives to currently existing regulatory issues. The second pillar is political will, regarding discovery of key sectors that individuals are interested in. This will help understand the primary motivations of individuals and unite them for change. The third pillar is identifying institutions that are responsible to implement the changes, and this goes hand in hand with the partnership of motivated groups with organizations that can actually enforce these changes. The fourth pillar is about public attitudes and if people believe that these are important issues. Being cognizant of public attitudes is key in recognizing the community dynamics and reinforcing the knowledge of these issues. The last pillar is constituted by what I emphasized initially, which is participated. People need to be engaged in finding solutions, implementing the results, and innovating change. With a clear idea of the community goals, perspectives, and experiences, an individual has the potential to change what is beyond the personal level and create a lasting change.


[1] https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/02/02/alta-bates-emergency-center-will-close-but-sutter-health-says-not-as-soon-as-people-think/

[2] http://www.dailycal.org/2017/11/17/closure-alta-bates-hospital-endangers-community-health/

[3] http://www.dailycal.org/2017/10/01/berkeley-city-council-to-talk-impact-of-closing-alta-bates-emergency-services/

[4] http://www.ktvu.com/news/sutter-health-says-alta-bates-will-stay-open-for-at-least-another-year

[5] https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Berkeley-s-only-hospital-Alta-Bates-to-close-8337937.php

[6] https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2017/10/02/sutter-alta-bates-berkeley-oakland-closure.html

[7] https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/10/30/planned-closure-of-alta-bates-raises-concerns-of-a-health-care-desert/


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