Nurses strike against Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in May 2013. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Nurses strike against Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in November 2013. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center is planning to lay off 358 employees at its Berkeley and Oakland campuses and shutter its skilled nursing facility and infusion center.

The layoffs, which include 133 positions at the main Berkeley hospital on Ashby Avenue and 33 at its Herrick Hospital campus, will affect part- and full-time positions across the board, said Alta Bates Summit spokeswoman Carolyn Kemp.

The cuts were initially intended to go into effect on Friday, after Alta Bates Summit gave the requisite 60-day notice in November, but the hospitals applied for an extension. “This is a slow process and it’s done very thoughtfully,” Kemp said.

Alta Bates Summit said the layoffs and service center closures are pieces of a multi-year effort to “restore Alta Bates Summit to financial health.” While the average daily patient count dropped 18.3% between 2010-2013, the labor hours fell a disproportionate 5.7%, according to the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the California Nurses Association said the layoffs will increase pressure on an already strained workforce.

“The staffing is so categorically inadequate that the thought of having positions cut and having other nurses work less hours is totally unacceptable to the community,” said CNA’s Joanne Jung.

Alta Bates Hospital on Ashby Avenue, where 133 people will soon lose their jobs
Alta Bates Hospital on Ashby Avenue, where 133 people will soon lose their jobs. Photo: Summit Medical Center

Jung said nurses already have to work extra shifts to meet demand. “It’s all about doing more with less,” she said. “And we’ll fight this because it’s very bad for patient care.” Nurses at Alta Bates Summit in Berkeley and other Sutter Health hospitals in the Bay Area went on several strikes between 2011 and 2013 to protest contract demands.

Kemp said Alta Bates Summit, which had 4,471 employees at the most recent count last month, complies with staffing mandates.

“There are really specific guidelines and laws on rations per unit, and we make or exceed those,” she said.

Patients seeking services previously provided by the skilled nursing facility and infusion center will be directed to alternate local programs.

Nurses at Alta Bates, other Bay Area hospitals, on strike (11.20.13)
Council seeks more information on Alta Bates’ charity care (08.09.13)
UC, Sutter nurses on strike over contracts, patient care (05.22.13)
Nurses strike at Alta Bates, 10 other hospitals (06.13.12)
Nurses’ strike draws cheers and honking horns (09.22.11)

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Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...