Health and Wellness
Quality Health Services for Bay Area Residents

The San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont Metropolitan Statistical Area, or the Bay Area, has a stable, highly educated, relatively affluent and ethnically diverse population of nearly 4.5 million. It is also home to some of the finest hospitals and specialty health-care facilities staffed by talented, recognized physicians and providers. Here, residents of all ages have access to a suite of comprehensive services and treatments. In addition, many of the facilities offer the most modern, state-of-the-art equipment available.

According to the California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF), the state of California spent a total of $230.1 billion on health care in 2009, and in 2011, the state reported that 1.5 million of its residents were employed in the health-care profession. In a regional market study by the Center for Studying Health System Change, the key findings of the San Francisco report noted that Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health are the dominant hospital systems in the Bay Area, and the largest health plans in the local market are Kaiser and Anthem Blue Cross, followed by Health Net and Blue Shield of California. The study also reported that San Francisco General Hospital and Alameda County Medical Center are the major safety-net hospitals that provide primary care to the uninsured.

The San Francisco Bay Area has a variety of medical facilities available to its residents, some of which are part of larger health systems that serve other parts of California and sometimes beyond. The following section outlines those systems as well as some of the other busiest hospitals in the nine-county region. Learn more in this section about specific hospitals and facilities available in the region.

— Kaiser Permanente
Founded as a public program in 1945 from a post-Depression industrial health care for construction, shipyard and steel-mill workers, Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, serving more than 9 million members. Kaiser Permanente is headquartered in Oakland and comprises Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries; the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.; and The Permanente Medical Groups. At the end of 2011, Kaiser Permanente’s health plan in Northern California had 3.35 million members, and the entire system included 37 hospitals, 611 medical offices, almost 16,660 physicians representing all specialties and nearly 173,000 total employees.

Resulting from the challenge of providing Americans medical care during the Great Depression and World War II when most people could not afford to go to a doctor, Kaiser Permanente made many innovations in U.S. health care, such as prepaid health plans, which spread the cost to make it more affordable; physician group practice, which maximizes their abilities to care for patients; a focus on preventing illness as much as caring for the sick; and an organized delivery system to put as many services as possible under one roof.

Following are the Kaiser Permanente medical facilities available to Bay Area residents:
  • Dameron Hospital
  • Kaiser Permanente Fremont Medical Center and Offices
  • Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center and Medical Offices
  • Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center and Medical Offices
  • Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center and Medical Offices
  • Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Medical Center
  • Oakland Medical Center
  • South San Francisco Medical Center
  • Vacaville Medical Center

— Sutter Health System
Sutter Health is a network of doctors and hospitals in Northern California that offers nearly 48,000 physicians, employees and volunteers who care for patients in more than 100 Northern California cities and towns. As a not-for-profit organization, Sutter Health System invests its earnings in patient care, and in 2011 alone, it spent $756 million investing in services for the poor and underserved and benefits for the broader community.

In 2011, Sutter Health System served nearly 786,000 ER visits and 10.5 million outpatient visits at its 24 hospitals, 28 outpatient surgery centers and 45 other specialty centers for cardiac, cancer, acute rehabilitation, behavioral health, trauma and neonatal patients. Sutter Health System has earned many awards, six in 2011 alone, for its service to its employees and patients. Its 2011 awards include the Joyce Raley Teel Humanitarian Philanthropy Award from the local American Red Cross chapter, a Gold Award in Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles from the National Business Group on Health and a Gold Award from CA Fit Business.

Following are the Sutter Health medical facilities available to Bay Area residents:
  • Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Ashby Campus
  • Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Herrick Campus
  • Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Summit Campus
  • California Pacific Medical Center California Campus
  • California Pacific Medical Center Davies Campus
  • California Pacific Medical Center Pacific Campus
  • California Pacific Medical Center St. Luke’s Campus
  • Eden Medical Center Eden Campus
  • Eden Medical Center San Leandro Hospital Campus
  • Menlo Park Surgical Hospital
  • Mills-Peninsula Health Services
  • Novato Community Hospital
  • Sutter Delta Medical Center
  • Sutter Lakeside Hospital and Center for Health
  • Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center of Santa Cruz
  • Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa
  • Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa Warrack Campus
  • Sutter Solano Medical Center

— John Muir Health
A leader in health care in the San Francisco Bay Area, John Muir Health is a not-for-profit integrated system of physicians, employees and volunteers at two of the largest medical centers in Contra Costa County: John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek, a 572-licensed bed medical center that is Contra Costa County’s only designated trauma center; and John Muir Medical Center, Concord, a 313-licensed bed medical center. Together, these facilities are preeminent centers for neurosciences, orthopedics, cancer care, cardiovascular care and high-risk obstetrics. John Muir Health also offers complete inpatient and outpatient behavioral health programs and services at its Behavioral Health Center, a fully accredited, 73-bed psychiatric hospital in Concord. Other areas of specialty include general, robotic and weight-loss surgery as well as rehabilitation and critical care.

The John Muir Physician Network is a not-for-profit medical foundation of 900 physicians, all of whom belong to the John Muir Medical Group or the Muir Medical Group Independent Practice Association (IPA) and accept all HMO and most PPO insurance plans as well as Medicare. The network owns and operates 24 locations staffed by the John Muir Medical Group throughout Contra Costa County and parts of Alameda County. The Muir Medical Group IPA is a panel of primary-care physicians and specialists with offices throughout Contra Costa and parts of southern Solano and Alameda counties.

For four years in a row, John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek, has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Hospitals, with rankings at No. 24 in Orthopedics, No. 30 in Gastroenterology and No. 45 in Gynecology. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) honored John Muir Health with Magnet® recognition status for excellence in nursing services and quality nursing care at both its hospitals.

Following are the John Muir Health medical facilities available to Bay Area residents:
  • Behavioral Health Center
  • Breast Health Center
  • Diabetes Center
  • John Muir Medical Center, Concord
  • John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek
  • Lung Health Services Office
  • Medical Imaging, Brentwood
  • Medical Imaging, Concord
  • Medical Imaging, San Ramon
  • Medical Imaging, Walnut Creek
  • Metabolic Nutrition Center
  • MuirLab
  • Occupational Medicine, Brentwood
  • Occupational Medicine, Concord
  • Occupational Medicine, Walnut Creek
  • Outpatient Center, Brentwood
  • Outpatient Center, Tice Valley-Rossmoor
  • Pediatric Specialty Clinic
  • Physical Rehabilitation Center, Concord
  • Physical Rehabilitation Center, Pleasant Hill
  • Senior Services Office
  • Urgent Care Center, Brentwood
  • Urgent Care Center, Concord
  • Urgent Care Center, San Ramon
  • Urgent Care Center, Walnut Creek
  • Women’s Health Center
  • Wound Care Center

— Washington Hospital Healthcare System
The Washington Hospital Healthcare System was formed in 1948 as the Washington Township Hospital District, and Washington Hospital opened its doors 10 years later as a district hospital licensed for 150 beds. Today, Washington Hospital Healthcare System serves residents of Fremont, Newark, Union City and part of South Hayward and unincorporated Sunol, encompassing approximately 124 square miles of southern Alameda County and a population of approximately 320,000. In 2011, the Washington Hospital Healthcare System admitted more than 12,700 patients, performed more than 4,300 surgeries and serviced nearly 51,300 ER visits with 517 physicians on staff.

Washington Hospital Healthcare System’s comprehensive health-care services include 24-hour emergency care, childbirth and family services, cardiac and surgery, pulmonary function and respiratory care, crisis intervention, rehabilitation services (cardiac, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and stress), social services, laboratory and medical imaging, a Level II nursery and hospice care.

In the specialty of joint replacement, Washington Hospital was given by HealthGrades a Five-Star Award for the seventh year and an Excellence Award for the sixth year as well as named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals and the No. 3 hospital in California in 2012. HealthGrades also ranked Washington Hospital among the Top 5 percent in the nation for Treatment of Stroke, awarding the Hospital with a Stroke Care Excellence Award. Other Five-Star awards were given to the hospital’s Neurosciences, Back and Neck Surgery, Total Hip Replacement and Total Knee Replacement programs.

Following are the Washington Hospital Healthcare System medical facilities available to Bay Area residents:
  • Institute for Joint Restoration and Research
  • The Institute for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery
  • Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford
  • Washington Hospital
  • Washington Outpatient Catheterization Laboratory
  • Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center
  • Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center
  • Washington Outpatient Surgery Center
  • Washington Radiation Oncology Center
  • Washington West

— Daughters of Charity Health System
Officially formed in 2002, the Daughters of Charity Health System (DCHS) is a regional health-care system of six hospitals spanning the California coast from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles. The system is sponsored by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul who have been serving the sick and those living in poverty through healing ministries worldwide for more than 375 years. In 2011 alone, DCHS invested $129.6 million in benefits for the poor and the broader community. Compassionate care and service is provided every day by more than 7,150 associates and physicians within DCHS. In the most recent annual report (2011), DCHS reported 53,340 inpatient visits (12,161 of them surgical) and 172,142 ER or urgent care visits.

Following are the DCHS medical facilities available to Bay Area residents:
  • O’Connor Hospital
  • Saint Louise Regional Hospital
  • Seton Medical Center
  • Seton Coastside

— San Francisco Department of Public Health
San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) offers primary care and other health services at sites throughout the City and County of San Francisco. In the 2010–11 fiscal year, it served 331,255 primary-care patients and 62,672 patients for emergency visits at its facilities. SFDPH is also the manager of Healthy San Francisco, a program designed to make health-care services accessible and affordable to eligible uninsured San Francisco residents. SFDPH’s main facilities include the following:
  • Laguna Honda Hospital & Rehabilitation Center: This therapeutic community provides skilled nursing and rehabilitation services to 780 seniors and adults with disabilities in San Francisco. Every day, Laguna Honda gives individualized care to its residents, and every year as many as 240 people complete rehabilitative therapy program.
  • San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center (SFGH): This licensed general acute-care hospital provides full inpatient, outpatient, emergency, skilled nursing, diagnostic, mental health and rehabilitation services for adults and children. It is the only acute hospital in San Francisco with 24-hour psychiatric emergency services and the only Level I Trauma Center for 1.5 million residents in San Francisco and northern San Mateo County. Through its long-standing affiliation with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), SFGH also serves as a training ground for its medical program, one of the best in the country.

— Alameda County Medical Center
Alameda County Medical Center annually sees about 268,000 outpatient visits, 73,000 ER visits and 1,600 births in Alameda County. It operates the 236-bed Highland Hospital, the159-bed Fairmont Hospital and the 80-bed John George Psychiatric Pavilion as well as three freestanding clinics: Eastmont Wellness Center, Winton Wellness Center & Newark Health Center.

— Contra Costa Health Services
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is a comprehensive county health system that meets the needs of Contra Costa County residents in a variety of ways. CCHS is the largest department of county government, employing more than 3,500 people, and every year, its facilities support more than 640,000 visits for medical, mental health and other concerns.

— Marin Healthcare District
Formerly known as Marin Hospital District, Marin Healthcare District (MHD) is a publically elected nonprofit entity that owns Marin General Hospital (MGH) and encompasses all of Marin County with the exception of Novato and portions of West Marin.

— San Mateo Medical Center
San Mateo Medical Center is a 509-bed public hospital and clinic system fully accredited by The Joint Commission. The San Mateo Medical Center operates outpatient clinics throughout San Mateo County, an acute-care hospital and long-term care facilities in San Mateo and Burlingame.

— ValleyCare Health System
ValleyCare Health System has provided state-of-the-art health care to local families since 1961. As a not-for-profit health system, with facilities in Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton, ValleyCare Health System reinvests any profit it makes into the organization for new technology, facilities and services. ValleyCare has a total of 242 beds and a medical staff of more than 300 who offer an array of inpatient and outpatient services

— Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland
Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland has provided exceptional medical care for children in the region and beyond since 1912. Children’s Hospital Oakland is the only independent children’s hospital in Northern California and the oldest pediatric medical center between Los Angeles and Seattle. Today, with 191 licensed beds, Children’s Hospital Oakland’s medical center offers outstanding patient care and also supports nationally recognized pediatric teaching and research with specialized staff and facilities able to treat rare illnesses and health problems in children. Children’s Hospital Oakland is not connected to a university or other institution and proud to be one of only 45 freestanding children’s hospitals in the nation.

— The San Francisco Heart Institute
The San Francisco Heart Institute is located in Daly City at the Seton Medical Center, which is recognized as one of the Top 100 hospitals for cardiovascular services in the United States. Its highly experienced cardiologists and cardiac surgeons are known worldwide for their excellence and medical advances and are committed to providing a full range of services and state-of-the-art cardiovascular treatments for their patients.


— University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center
University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center (UCSF Medical Center) is part of the University of California, San Francisco, one of the 10 campuses of the University of California. UCSF Medical Center is recognized throughout the world for innovative patient care, advanced technology and pioneering research for more than a century. A leading research institution, UCSF has fostered clinical innovations that have brought about dramatic advances in medicine. UCSF Medical Center is ranked one of the nation’s top hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, and the hospital’s almost 8,000 employees carry expertise that covers virtually all specialties, from cancer to women’s health. Each year, UCSF Medical Center’s services generate about 770,000 patient visits to its clinics, 38,000 hospital admissions and 1,800 births. Annually, these services generate about $1.6 billion in revenue.

With dozens of locations throughout San Francisco as well as outreach clinics throughout Northern California and beyond, UCSF Medical Center’s two main facilities are the 15-story, 600-bed hospital and clinics at the Parnassus campus and the 90-bed hospital at the Mount Zion campus. At the Parnassus campus is the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, consistently ranked one of the top children’s hospitals in California with more than 150 pediatric physicians in more than 50 different specialties. The best-known service at Mount Zion is the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, which has won the National Cancer Institute’s “comprehensive” designation for innovative research and cutting-edge patient care. A third hospital complex at the Mission Bay campus is scheduled to open in 2015.

Once you are settled into your new community, it is important that you select a doctor for you and your family. Following are a few ideas and suggestions to begin the process:
  • Consult your company’s health plan and its list of preferred providers that will accept the company’s insurance.
  • Ask family, friends, neighbors, coworkers or professionals with whom you are in contact to find out what they like best and least about their doctors.
  • Use hospital physician-referral services, but keep in mind that the services refer you to the doctors on staff but do not offer information on the quality of care these doctors provide.
  • The American Medical Association (AMA) has a DoctorFinder service at that provides you with basic professional information on virtually every licensed physician in the United States and includes more than 814,000 doctors. You can search by doctor name, location or specialty.
  • Be sure to verify that the doctor is Board certified. All U.S. Board-certified specialists are listed with the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). ABMS is a not-for-profit organization that assists 24 approved medical specialty boards in the development and use of standards in the ongoing evaluation and certification of physicians. ABMS, recognized as the “gold standard” in physician certification, believes higher standards for physicians means better care for patients. Call (866) 275-2267, or visit for more information.
  • Other online resources, including or provide searches by name, specialty and location.

Also consider that your relationship with a physician and medical staff is often the most important factor in determining the best health-care provider. Your health and wellness is a personal matter, and finding the facility that best meets your expectations is crucial.

It is evident by the sheer abundance of health-care systems and medical facilities in the Bay Area that you will have no problem finding the best one to fit your family’s needs. However, it is important to remember that while the preceding pages of Relocating to San Francisco have presented a large selection of options, it is only a short survey of what the region has to offer in the field of health care.

Before you schedule an appointment or visit a health-care facility, make sure it accepts your family’s health insurance plan. Many providers accept different insurance plans, so knowing where you’re covered and where you’re not is key. Often you can find a list of insurance companies that are accepted on the health-care provider’s website. Alternately, contact your insurance company or health-care provider for more information.

In addition, your insurance company may have facilities and providers classified as “in-network” or “out-of-network.” Visiting providers that are in-network can save you lots of money, so it is worthwhile to determine if a health-care provider you are considering is in your network. If not, you may consider finding a similar in-network provider to avoid paying additional costs charged by out-of-network providers.

If you are without health insurance, it is always useful to research any low-cost clinics available in your area. Financial programs often are available for low-income families or families without insurance. The Bay Area has a program called Healthy San Francisco, which is designed to subsidize medical care for certain uninsured residents of San Francisco. Launched in 2007, the program’s objective is to bring universal health care to the city, but eligibility and services are limited, and the program website states that insurance “is always a better choice.” The program is open to city residents ages 18–64, regardless of citizenship, immigration, employment or health status, whose income and net worth are low but do not qualify them for other public coverage and who have had no insurance for at least 90 days. The program covers a range of services, but only pays providers within San Francisco.

With so many options to choose from in the Bay Area, remember that if you are not comfortable with your first choice, you are free to try another. It is more than likely that you can find multiple facilities offering similar services in close proximity to each other. Remember that there are many medical-related institutions in San Francisco alone. Also, make sure to keep a copy of Relocating to San Francisco readily available as you begin investigating your options.
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