In a statement, Sutter says the closure of the hospital and ER "is not new information. We began discussion about this important transition with civic leaders several years ago."
Alta Bates maintains the only emergency department in Berkeley, but ramification of its closure would be felt well beyond the city's borders. Last year Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo closed, including its inpatient hospital and emergency department. People north of Berkeley to Vallejo had relied on this safety-net hospital.
If Alta Bates were to close, that would leave Kaiser Richmond with the only emergency room between Richmond and Oakland.
Arreguin said he wants to work with Sutter to try to find a solution to keep Alta Bates open. He said he supports efforts to try to retrofit the existing hospital to meet the new standards.
"But it's going to take building a broad coalition," he said, "and we need to start that process."
Berkeley council members Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson are co-authors with Arreguin of the draft resolution to be introduced tonight, which says in part:
(T)he Mayor and City Council of the City of Berkeley oppose Sutter Health Corporation’s plan to close its acute care services at Alta Bates Hospital and calls upon Sutter Health to cease and desist all actions in furtherance of any and all plans to close Alta Bates.
The resolution further hints at possible legal action, saying that the mayor and council "request the City Attorney to investigate the actions taken by Sutter Health and initiate proceedings, whenever warranted, under relevant statues."
In its statement, Sutter said it is "committed to a strong medical presence in the City of Berkeley," but that "increasing demand for outpatient services and procedures decreases the need for inpatient care."
Sutter's Summit Medical Center and Alta Bates are three miles apart. Sutter said that "if we are to remain viable as an organization and affordable to our patients, we cannot operate two full-service hospitals" in such close proximity.