Doctors at Children’s Hospital Oakland allege favoritism toward UCSF since 2014 merger

Four years into its integration into the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) health system, Children’s Hospital Oakland physicians are complaining they’re being treated as less important than those at its sister institution, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, driving away researchers and other physicians. 

According to the San Jose Mercury News, hospitalizations at the Oakland hospital are down 11 percent since the 2014 merger. Psychiatric and lung specialist care aren’t available in Oakland, the physicians say, and only 30 percent of its available research space is occupied.

“There’s a lot of anger. The anger is palpable,” said Stephen Long, MD a pediatric anesthesiologist who has represented his Oakland colleagues in communication with UCSF executives. “At the time (of the affiliation), it was sold to us in a different way. We were told we’d be stronger not weaker. They sold it to us like a healthy marriage, but where it is now feels like a Cinderella adoption.”

While the hospital is set to open a new outpatient clinic this month, physicians said the project predates the affiliation and only hides the disagreements with management.

In a March letter to UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, 120 physicians from Children’s Hospital Oakland expressed their concerns, declaring they have “no confidence” in the integration letter. The hospital’s chief medical officer, David Durand, disputed the claims and said the doctors’ comments may be tied to contract talks.

“There’s a strong commitment in the entire organization to keep a strong presence in the East Bay,” Durand said. “We’ve been here for 100 years and we anticipate being here another 100 years.”

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