Choosing a Primary Care Doctor at Kaiser

Parent Q&A

Primary Care Doctor Recommendation - Kaiser East Bay Feb 16, 2020 (5 responses below)
Kaiser Oakland pediatrician for new baby Mar 15, 2017 (8 responses below)
Looking for Kaiser GP who is open to alternative medicine Jan 21, 2017 (1 responses below)
Seeking Kaiser Doc and Naturopath Referrals Dec 22, 2016 (1 responses below)
Fat Friendly Kaiser Doc & Switching Kaiser Docs Sep 15, 2016 (3 responses below)
Kaiser Doctors- need some now -help! Sep 9, 2016 (4 responses below)
  • I am having a hard time with my new doctor in Pinole, who doesn't seem to read my chart or pay attention to what I've told her. I had have this nasty flu going around for 2 weeks now, even had to go to the ER Saturday last week. My doctor has just sent me an email suggesting I take Flonase (which I've been on for years) and Benzonatate, which was prescribed by the ER doctor.  I get it that Kaiser doctors have ridiculous patient caseloads but she just doesn't seem to be paying attention. We've also had two phone appointments where I've been waiting at the appointed time and she says she's called me 3 times and left voicemails but I got no calls or voicemail. Anyway...I'd love to find a doctor who can remember who I am and what I'm taking, preferably in Oakland or Richmond. 

    I see Dr. Sarin in Pinole. He's actually great, quick responses to email, always reviews my chart, and gently guides me to better self-care. He's new to Kaiser 2 years ago with many years of experience under his belt.

    I can recommend Nancy Palmer, MD at Oakland (she's a family practitioner, as opposed to "internal medicine"). If she has a crazy patient caseload (and i'm sure she does) then I can't tell... she remembers me and is warm and personable and just seems to be paying attention. (And I'm only in there a couple times per year.) When we've had phone appts she calls on-time. She emailed me after a surgery just to check in, even though I hadn't expressly told her I was scheduled for the surgery. Maybe see if she's accepting new patients?

    When I had Kaiser, I went to Oakland CA. I found Margaret Park MD, internist, and liked her.

  • Kaiser Oakland pediatrician for new baby

    (8 replies)


    I'm expecting my first baby in June and am starting to look into pediatricians at Kaiser Oakland. Does anyone have any experience with these doctors who are accepting new patients? 

    Naomi Bolden, Susan Goddard, Meera Tatapudy, Lisa Turman

    Thank you!

    We use Dr. Tatapudy and have been happy with her. We've been with her for about 1.5 years (daughter is 2.5). 

    We have experienced both Susan Goddard (our regular pediatrician) and Lisa Turman when Goddard isn't available. We absolutely love both. I love the fact that Dr.Goddard actually remembers my kids and if one is in she always asks about the other. She even knows their nicknames when we come in which makes me feel that we're not just another patient. She is mostly available sometimes even last minute and if not she responds quick thru Kp emails. We have been with her now for almost 7 years and would be very sad the day she would decide to leave. I highly recommend her! 

    First of all, don't worry about choosing a "wrong" doctor at Kaiser.  If you don't like him/her after a visit or two, you can always make an appointment with someone else, even if they aren't "your" physician, and see if you like that doc better.  That's the great thing about Kaiser:  there are always doctors on duty, and you can make a same day appointment if you have to, which is pretty much what happens when kids get sick.  

    Regarding your list of docs. My both kids saw Dr. Tatapudy many times, and I've always been very satisfied with how attentive, common sensical and knowledgeable she is.  She didn't act in a condescending way towards me like some other docs do, e.g. she felt comfortable putting in a prescription for an antibiotic and giving me a choice to either fill it out or not, while other docs would make me come in again to be sure the prescription was necessary.  By the way, I ended up NOT filling out that prescription as my daughters ears got better within the time Dr. Tatapudy and I agreed would be a reasonable time to wait and see.

    The only thing that you might want to ask her is if she's planning to retire in the near future, in which case you'd have to look again.  Although, it doesn't matter so much, given that you can make an appointment with pretty much any pediatrician available, even if you are assigned to someone else.

    I also really like Dr. Katrina Saba, but I don't know if her panel is open for new patients.

  • Hello Parents,

    It looks like we will move to Kaiser and was wondering if any of you out there can recommend a great GP (woman) for primary care, who is open to alternative medicine and is possibly in SF or alternatively in the East Bay, and takes new patients.

    Thank you very much!


    We have been pleased with basic WellCare and two surgeries at Kaiser -one rather extensive for my child after an accident. However, the  system does not address or allow their physicians to treat w anything other than very traditional pharmacology. They also require their providers to see extremely high patient load-every 15 minutes. We pay outside separately for all of our alternative care. I am an RN on a state committee working towards alternative treatments included in plans. If anyone has different experience/knowledge about this I am all ears -but so far this is all we have seen. Best of luck

  • I recently moved into the area and had to switch doctors at Kaiser, and leave my Naturopathic Dr. behind. I thought I had found a great ND until I found out she wasn't available for three months and was going to charge me $2k(!) - and I had a *terrible* experience with the doctor I chose from the Kaiser list. So I'm looking for recommendations for both a Kaiser doc and an ND in the area, and would be grateful for your suggestions. 

    Please let me know if you can recommend:
    1) a Kaiser GP, Family Doctor, and/or Endocrinologist who is taking new patients, who has some understanding of auto-immune disorders and/or thyroid disfunction, and who is open-minded to the concept of holistic medicine. 
    2) a Naturopath who can prescribe natural thyroid medication, ideally also practicing acupuncture, who doesn't push a lot of supplements and has appointments available within a few weeks.

    I'm hoping to find practitioners located in or near Berkeley, but I'm willing to travel anywhere from Richmond to Orinda to Oakland for the right person. Thanks in advance for your help!

    Terry Minn is a great MD at Kaiser Pinole.

    Marcey Shapiro is a great holistic MD in Albany.

  • I would like to switch my primary care doctor at Kaiser Oakland (I guess I would consider another location if distance from South Berkeley is similar). I am hoping for recommendations from fat people who have Kaiser docs who they feel are comfortable and respectful about their weight and take health concerns seriously without automatically assuming weight is the source of the issue. Please provide as much info as possible about why you like the doc you are recommending. I would also be interested in a OB/GYN recommendation.

    Also, if anyone has experience switching to a doctor who is not listed as open to new patients I am interested in this information as well.



    I can't offer specific recommendations, as I don't have Kaiser, but I want to say I really feel you. I just posted about this on Facebook and while many friends were supportive, several responded with workout regimens and diets even though I had specifically said I have a great diet, work out a lot, and have good health, yet my doctor constantly harps on my weight as if that, alone, was not just a disease but some sort of sin or moral failing. I have been reading about the HAES movement (Healthy at Any Size) and I feel like I'm finally going to be at peace with myself, even if no-one else is. If anyone is thinking to lecture you, I recommend reading this article:

    I am also on the hunt for a new doctor, I can't take this crap anymore. I'll ask about, like, an earache and she yaps about my weight. I'm not even all that heavy. 

    I have Gretchen Mello as my primary care dr and Neeru Gupta as my OB/GYN. Both have been respectful, empathetic, & taken concerns seriously. Neeru Gupta, in particular, has seen me through 3 pregnancies with some complications and never once did I feel she assumed my weight was causing any issue.

    I recently dropped an ob/gyn for this reason, I discussed my concern about breast cancer (which my mother had twice) on my first visit and she said instead of worrying about breast cancer, I should worry about my weight. Then in a very patronizing way, she "counseled" me. 

    I am not sure if she is "fat friendly", but I have been seeing Priscilla Flores as my primary care physician for many years. In the Kaiser world, I tend to fall in the "overweight" category as opposed to "obese", although my weight has fluctuated. I have been seeing her for so long that I think it has come up, but the context and the way she discussed it was reasonable, scientific and not inappropriate. My impression is that she is more focused on regular exercise. I think if you asked her up front about it, she would give you an honest answer about her view about the role of weight in health, which for me is really what it comes down to.

    As far as switching to a doc that isn't taking new patients, I tried to get an ob/gyn that a friend loved and I think  Kaiser told me I had to write to the doc personally to see if they would make an exception. So I did that and dropped my friend's name. Unfortunately it didn't work. I hope you have better luck with this than I did.

  • Kaiser Doctors- need some now -help!

    (4 replies)

    Dear BPN!

    I need rapid help in selecting Kaiser doctors - Oakland is preferable but we can travel to San Leandro or other close locales. We have never been Kaiser members -

    I need primary or internists for both my husband and myself. I would like someone who is thoughtful, knowledgeable and open to both western and eastern medicine. 

    I also need need an ob who is good with over 40 hormones and cancer.

    I also need a pediatrician for my 12 yr old tween girl who definitely wants a women who is smart and kind. She has her period and can be prone to anxiety. She loves her pediatrician now so this will be a hard change. Warmth and accessibility is most important.

    Lastly I need a new dr for my 18 yr old son who be away at college and there is no local Kaiser.  Hoping for a man who is good with email! 

    Thanks so much!! 

    You can change your doctor at any time at kaiser....   good luck finding one that swings eastern tho....

    I go to Kaiser Richmond and I find it much easier to deal with than Oakland - there are usually no waits, it's clean and calm.

    I love my primary doctor - Melinda Glines.

    I've seen two OBs, Rachel Hartshorn and Lester Refigee and both are kind and wonderful. Don't know about their experience with over 40 and cancer, but I recommend them as thoughtful doctors who are good at listening.

    Our pediatrician is a man, so I can't help you there. Good luck!

    I had my first appointment yesterday with Dr. Sherman (gyno) out of Oakland and was very impressed. She knew her stuff, was funny and smart and (in response to your eastern criteria) mentioned acupressure during our appointment so is possibly open to alternate modalities. She has kind of a sassy New Yorker vibe which, as an east coast native, I adore. I've had to email her twice already and both times she replied in less than an hour.

    Dr. Sternberg-Pierce is my GP and I've found her to be very accessible and warm as well. I've actually only met her in person maybe a handful of times because she lets me do almost everything via email (which I love and request). I've never had to fight her to get treatment or referrals for anything.

Parent Reviews

RE: Kaiser OB - Oakland ()

As a Kaiser physician, I would caution you in using Kate85’s methods. Yes, while you might be able to get into see any doctor that way, s/he may not be able to continue to see you for any number of reasons (sometimes our panels are truly closed and it’s beyond our control) and the availability of someone with an open panel is going to be much better. 

RE: Kaiser OB - Oakland ()

SallyMae - you actually *can* get in to see anyone, even if they aren't taking new patients.  And once they've seen you, you are on their patient list and you can book future appts with that person seamlessly and you'll see them listed as a member of your care team.  You just can't choose them upfront in the Find a Doctor tool.   This is how you do it:

1.  Work the system" through   Set up an account with your member ID if you don't already have one. 

2.  Login.  Choose appts.   Choose that you want to be seen for a women's health service, and that you aren't pregnant (yet!).   

3.  Then you can choose a date range.   You can scroll through the options until you finally find an appt with the doctor you find the best.   

I had to go 2 months out find a first appt with my OB/GYN (at a crummy time like 10am on a Wednesday too!), but once I saw her, I became her patient, and it was no issue to continue seeing her.  Having had an unexpectedly complicated pregnancy, I am *so* glad I spent a couple months getting set up with a provider I loved, so when I became pregnant, I had that provider in my court.   Hope this helps you get in with the provider you really want, and that doing so gives you peace of mind throughout pregnancy when you reach that season!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


How to get in to a provider whose panel is closed?

Feb 2010

I have read a lot of great recommendations for Kaiser primary care providers in Oakland and Richmond. Unfortunately none of these providers have open panels. Does anyone know any tricks to get into a provider whose panel is closed. For our pediatrician, we were lucky enough to have a friend who recommended her and she sent an email to ask if we could make an appointment. Some providers I know aren't officially taking new patients but do still have openings. Does anyone know how to get around this? Stumped

The only advice I can give you is to keep calling the phone # for Personal Physician Selection of your Kaiser facility. I go to Richmond Kaiser and the person I talked to there in recommended that. I did this last year and it worked (this MD was recommended to me by my OB-GYN). Actually,the first time I called, the PCP had no openings.But, the person I talked to in the Personal Physician Selection dept. called me back the next day to tell me the PCP had an opening. Can you believe that!

Even though some MDs have closed their panel, patients drop out all the time. So, if you are lucky, when you call you may hit it just right. Also, if you have a specialist you see, you may ask them to put in a good word for you, but this probably will still not guarantee you will get in. Good luck! 24 yr. Kaiser member

I was confused by this process as well. Once I found a MD I was interested in, I phoned whatever phone number given to chose a doctor. I asked the person if they could send a message to that particular doctor to see if they would be willing to take me onto their panel. That was all it took, I got who I wanted and all went well. It is a strange system for sure and rather confusing as well. Many doctors listed on the internet as having open panels are actually full. Don't give up! anon


How to change to a different doctor

Feb 2008

I would like to change my medical doctor at Kaiser (Oakland). I have gathered some recommendations from this blog and from my OB/GYN nurse practitioner but none of these are on the ''choose your doctor site. Is there any other way to get a new doctor besides this online list? Is it possible to call a doctor directly or someone not in an anonymous call center? Thanks

I think you can ask for anyone you want when you call the call center to make your appointment, even though they default to booking you with your assigned GP. The website only lists doctors who have space in their ''practice'', but I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean you can only see those doctors. I used to have a GP that I really didn't like and if I recall correctly I just asked the call center staff to book me with someone else. I eventually made my GP switch official. Good luck! Oakland Kaiser patient

How to decide on a doctor from the website?

Jan 2006

I've been a Kaiser patient for decades but never had a personal physician, simply seeing many different docs on an ad hoc basis. Now I'm turning 50, my medical needs are increasing and not having a doctor is becoming a liability. I need to select a doctor from the ones currently available (from the Oakland Kaiser website). Aside from the personal statements the only other info is where they went to med school & did their residency & whether they are board certified. What I'd like advice on is this: How important are these considerations: which med school gave them their degree & whether they are board-certified in internal medicine? I'd appreciate advice from any knowledgeable people about this, and any other tips on selecting a doctor. Thanks. Monica

I've been a Kaiser patient for a long time also and have had 3 different primary practitioners along the way. One of them I finally left because the communication just wasn't working well enough for me, another went on to become an administrator, and another left Kaiser. I've had a GYN for about 10 years who I love, and I had a psychiatrist who was great for 6 years until he left Kaiser and I am now working with another psych doc recommended by him who I like so far.

I am the sort of patient who is assertive, actively involved in whatever my issues are (I do research and organize myself well before appointments), and consider my doctors as collaborators in my health care- so I'm picky. What I've done is to make appointments to meet different doctors until I found one I really liked. I've asked nurses and personal friends for recommendations as to who to check out. This is a time consuming process, but it's worth it to me. I'm in my 50's also and have several ongoing medical issues, and I want doctors who know my history. Where they went to med school is not as important to me as how smart they are, and most of all how well we can communicate. I take into consideration their experience also.

I'm willing to travel to any facility within reasonable distance (I live in N. Berkeley) for a doctor I like. My former prim practs have been in Richmond and Oakland, my current one and my ENT surgeon are in San Rafael, I followed my GYN from Richmond to Petaluma, my allergist is in Richmond, my former psych was in SF and my current one is in Union City. I don't happen to like Oakland- I find it rushed, the staff can be unfriendly, I hate the fumey parking garage, and I find it time-consuming to get there thru city traffic. All the other facilities I've mentioned (except SF) are easy and pleasant drives for me and I like the facilities and staff. Except for my former psych doc who was recommended by a psychiatrist outside Kaiser and my current one who was recommended by my first, I've found all the others by trying out different available docs.

This is the process that's worked for me. anon

In my experience, when you are looking at the page where it shows where they went to school, etc. there is a link to their personal home page which gives a lot more insight into their interests and manner. You can usually get a pretty good idea of the kind of person you're dealing with. I always appreciate knowing their hobbies, etc. It's kind of nice and helps to narrow down the selection process. Although, with Kaiser, trial and error is good too! Good Luck Sarah

How to choose a doctor at Kaiser

Feb 2006

Re: Kaiser Pleasanton Pediatricians
About the Kaiser choose your own primary care doctors--Internal medicine, pediatrics and OB-GYN. You can either do it over the web (see below) or when you are first seen in clinic. There is also a physician selection 800 number (which I don't know off hand). You cannot choose a physician when you call the call center for an appointment (for a number of arcane computer system reasons). I think the easiest way is to choose over the internet. Just Google the Kaiser Permanente site. On the home page, click on the ''members'' icon on the left (0nce you've chosen the northern california region). Once you get to the members page, you'll see ''A vital step: Choose your own physician'' on the left. After that, the program is self-explanatory. You can see which pediatricians at Pleasanton have open practices and you can check out each open panel pediatrician's home page so you can learn more about him/her. The site allows you to choose a pediatrician (or other primary care doctor). You can also link to all sorts of pediatric health information from the physician's home pages. I'm not sure, but I think the first time you get on the site, you might also be asked to choose a password. The Kaiser Permanente web site has a lot of interesting information--when you have a chance, you should check it out further.

One other thing...if you choose a doctor, and decide after meeting that person, you don't feel comfortable with him, it's okay to change again. You're not locked in. I have a closed practice, otherwise I'd offer to take you.

Good luck with your decision and welcome to Kaiser! madelyn