Endocrinologists at Kaiser

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi all, I have combed through the advice here and wanted to see if anyone had recent, positive experience with treating thyroid and/or adrenal issues at Kaiser? I won't be able to switch providers until next year and would love to find an integrative or holistic doctor, ideally one that is covered through Kaiser. I'm on the waitlist to see a doctor at the Institute for Health & Healing at Sutter Health, but of course that will be out-of-pocket. I've been through the same frustrating experience at Kaiser as many others, it seems, with trying to find a doctor who takes me seriously and doesn't just prescribe some medication and call it a day. I've been given a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but I feel as though that's a bit of a catch-all and doesn't really match my symptoms. Thank you in advance.

    Hi there, I had similar issues and completely understand where you're at. I think Dr.s are limited in what they can order for testing so I ultimately didn't get to the bottom/root cause of my issues until I saw a functional medicine chiropractor (5 years later and out of pocket...). It was the best decision I ever made though. This chiropractor was in San Diego, otherwise I would recommend. That being said, my primary care physician is Dr. Ashley Phipps at Oakland Kaiser. She is a Dr. of Osteopathy (D.O.). I looked for DO's for my primary care because they tend to be more holistic than others and I am very happy with her and she acknowledged my adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues, has ordered testing for them and is not quick to pull the trigger on pharmaceutical drugs. She really works with you on natural alternative options. She's also in the Family Medicine department so our whole family sees the same Dr. which also helps to diagnose more holistically. I really love the setup for now and hope I can keep Kaiser because of it. I highly recommend Dr. Phipps, especially for what you are describing. Good luck! The healing process is quite a long journey, but getting to the bottom of it is the first step. Sending best.

  • Hashimoto’s Treatment at Kaiser

    (3 replies)

    Open enrollment is quickly approaching and my family is thinking of switching to Kaiser. 

    I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (hypothyroid) and I have heard anecdotally that Kaiser’s treatment of Hypo/Hashi is based on blood work and that people have not been able to have their symptoms addressed if their blood work shows minimal disease (as mine does). Obviously if Kaiser does indeed have a limiting treatment protocol that would keep me sick we will not be switching!

    Does anyone have experience about having Hashimotos at Kaiser and how their symptoms are/were managed?  Any recommendations for an endocrinologist that has knowledge/experience in this area?  

    Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

    Hey there!

    I am a Kaiser patient who was diagnosed with Hashimoto's when I was 19 (now 40). When I was 19 I presented with a goiter, sleeping all the time, and weight gain. I saw an endocrinologist for the initial diagnosis and treatment (beta blockers, radioactive iodine) and was prescribed Levothroid. For the last twenty years I have been on different versions of Levothroid at different dosage levels. I see a general practitioner who reminds me to take blood tests every 6-8 weeks (or when I complain about changes in energy levels and weight). From there we tweak the medication. I have not seen an endocrinologist since I was about 22. 

    I am not unhappy, but I would say that Hashimoto's has not had a significant impact on my life and that I feel good about my current management system. I imagine that everyone has different needs. The best feedback that I could give you about Kaiser is that it requires you to be your own advocate and to be an informed patient. If at any time you have a doctor who is not responding to your needs, get another one. 

    My doctor is Lesley Sternberg-Pierce (general practitioner) and I think she's pretty responsive and great. She is not an endocrinologist, and I don't know that once you're in the treatment stage that they would recommend one. I would think you would need to advocate for that. My original endocrinologist is retired (I'm pretty sure). 

    Hi!  I don’t have hashimoto’s but I do have a thyroid condition (post ablative hypothyroid,  Graves) and Kaiser.  For me, I am monitored through bloodwork with my primary care dr (I think they may consult endocrine behind the scenes?).  I used to have a PPO plan and I could/would see my endocrine dr in person and she would look at my bloodwork.  I have not physically seen an endocrine dr since I got on a Kaiser plan in 2015 but I have communicated through phone and email.  At first it seemed kind of odd but I guess now I’m used to it.  I don’t not like Kaiser but it just seems like it’s more difficult to physically see this kind of specialist there.  Same with a dermatologist- it has been difficult for me to see one at kaiser.  Hope this helps!  

    I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's through Kaiser and have been told by two doctors that there is nothing I can do about it. Both doctors were OB/Gyns, but when I consulted with an endocrinologist last year about my hypothyroidism and asked to be tested for Hashimoto's, they downplayed its usefulness and did not recommend that I get tested. So based on my experience, I would say Kaiser is NOT helpful or effective in dealing with Hashimoto's. But hopefully someone else will have had a different experience and be able to recommend specific doctors who are more open.

  • Has any one had a good (or bad?) experience with the endocrinology department at Kaiser? 

    Specifically for Hashimoto/thyroid disease. The reviews of the specialists are so mixed.

    Dr. Deloitte .. Walnut Creek kaiser

    I LOVE my endocrinologist at Kaiser Union City, Dr. Gaines. I used to pay out of pocket for a fancy one at UCSF, but I switched a few years ago and haven't noticed a difference (except in the cost, of course).

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Dec 2009

I need a good Kaiser endocrinologist to help manage my thyroid issues (I have multinodular goiter for which I got RAI in August). I've been seeing Dr. Peng in Oakland, but although she's friendly, she gave me no information about the after effects of radiation, she often doesn't answer my email questions and she has refused to give me a standing lab order to get my thyroid levels tested although it's clear that I will need to be getting blood tests at least semi-regularly for the rest of my life to monitor my thyroid levels. So, I've been frustrated with the care I've been getting. Does anyone have any experiences positive or negative with Dr. Amer Budayr? He's the other Oakland endocrinologist. For that matter, if you know of a good Kaiser endocrinologist a little further afield (e.g. Walnut Creek) I'd be willing to go further if it meant good care. Still Hoping for Good Medical Care

My aunt has been seeing Dr. Basina at Oakland Kaiser and thinks she's nice and responsive. Good luck. Christine

We have tried a few endocrinologists in the area for thyroid issues and like Dr. Kershner at Kaiser Walnut Creek. We also did not have a great experience with Dr. Cheng. Dr. Kershner is very accessible - will return kp.org messages right away and will make requested referrals, lab requisitions, etc. Not sure about standing lab orders, which would be a great idea, but am sure she would discuss this with you. Good luck!

I can recommend my endocrinologist, Dr. Richard Kanter, in SF. His bedside manner is not the absolute warmest, but it seems more out of a slight awkwardness than coldness. Over the years I have come to realize that he is very nice man; more importantly, he is very responsive. He returns emails promptly and if you leave your phone number he will call you back. I do not feel rushed in my appointments. Ilene

Pediatric Endocrinologists at Kaiser

October 2007

Has anyone here taken their child to see one of the pediatric endocrinologists at Kaiser? Can someone recommend a good one or, conversely, those to avoid? I'm shopping around for a new person. Thanks. Mary

My kid went to Yvette Fan at Oakland. I can recommend her without reservation. There are a couple down in Santa Teresa that are good, but I don't remember their names. kmom

Dr Fan at Kaiser Oakland is excellent. Our daughter began to see her a year ago for premature signs of puberty. She is knowledgable, thorough, personable and very interactive with my daughter (she sat on the floor at her first visit and played with her to get aquainted). We now see her every 6 mos and it is always a pleasant experience. She really seems to know her stuff and practices medicine like a parent. She gets my highest praise! Greta

Dr. Yvette Fan - Simply the best.

My daughter was suspected of having early onset puberty - we had a referral for Dr. Fan. Although my daughter was only 6 1/2, Dr. Fan explained the endocrine system in a way my daughter could understand, explained to her that she would have a variety of blood tests and also that there would be a follow-up appointment to talk about the results. Because of the simple straight-forward, gentle way it was explained, my daughter will now have blood tests quickly and easily.

In the end, my daughter did not have early on-set puberty; however Dr. Fan had 3 appointments 6 months apart to assure my daughter all was well with her body. At no point did my daughter feel like a freak or that something was wrong. She did feel like she could work with Dr. Fan to make her body ''the best it could be.'' Dr. Fan fan

Treatment plan for hypothyroidism at Kaiser

June 2007

I've read a few discussions on this listserve about the normal TSH range having been recently revised. My TSH is about 4.6 and I've been told by my Kaiser Oakland doctor (through a note, of course) that this level is within normal bounds. However, I have heard that 3.0 is now the newly revised upper limit for ''normal'' TSH tests. I still have symptoms of hypothyroidism and don't feel 100% (as apparently 2/3 people on synthetic hormone feel). I would like help on how to get my Kaiser doctor to acknowledge the new norm, and to get perscriptions for thyroid medication (such as Armour) that has T4 and T3. Has anyone been successful in getting their Kaiser Oakland doctor to adopt this treatment plan for those with hypothyroidism? Who was your doctor and what did you say to them? Did you go to a specialist? Thanks for your help! anonymous

I can recommend NP Marianna Philippek at RICHMOND Kaiser. Marianna is the most wholistically minded NP/Dr. I could find in Richmond (which actually isn't saying a lot for wholistically minded available practitioners at Richmond Kaiser). She put me on Armour thyroid (after my former GP refused) and she will usually get me whatever tests I request and discuss the whys and why nots of things with me. My TSH has jumped around at various times in the past, even on synthetic hormone. It's now been stable for some time but I get tested about every 3-4 months.

Richmond Kaiser also has free parking and you RARELY have to wait more than 10minutes or so for your appt. Good luck, June

Recently diagnosed with Grave's Disease, need an endocrinologist

April 2007

I appreciate the recommendations found here for Endocrinologists at Kaiser. I'm wondering, though, if anyone has more current information. I have recently been diagnosed with Grave's Disease and would like to see someone who specializes in thyroid problems. I would prefer not to go to Oakland at this point - can't even get the Endo. dept there to return my phone calls. Thanks for any recommendations. Anne

I know you didn't want Kaiser Oakland recs, but I did want to relay my experience with endocrinology there. I have seen both Dr. Basina and Dr. Budayr. Both were quite competent, but I have to say I preferred Dr. Basina's bedside manner. She was great when I had postpartum thyroiditis. Once I saw her, she gave me her card and direct line and I was able to communicate with her very easily. I saw Dr. Budayr many years ago for evaluation of some thyroid nodules. He was with a resident at the time of the visit, so I think he was a bit more tuned in to the resident's learning needs than my needs as a patient. He seemed slightly cocky, which turned me off. But, it was a brief visit and not enough time to get a very accurate impression. I would give him a second chance if the need arose. If your PCP refers you to endocrinology, you should be able to get an appointment without any problem. Generally, you can't self- refer to specialists in Kaiser. That might be why you haven't gotten through?? Good luck.

Hi - I've been seeing Dr. Marina Basina at Kaiser for the past 4 years for thyroid issues. She works out of both Richmond and Oakland. She's been wonderful and very attentive with me over the last few years (in which I've been through one miscarriage, and two pregnancies with her). She's also brought out the ultrasound to examine lumps, which twice she's biopsied on-the-spot. On reading your post I went back and read through the recommendations on the website. I was surprised not to see Dr. Basina recommended there. I was also surprised by the number of comments regarding the difficulty of getting in to see an endocrinologist, particularly at Kaiser Oakland (where I am a patient). I was immediately referred to endocrinology when my OB felt a lump on my thyroid, even though I showed no other symptoms of thyroid issues (I have since been diagnosed with Hashimotos/hypothyroid).

Maybe the issue is finding a primary care doc (or gynecologist) that you get along with and with whom you can have a discussion about your desire for a referral? And a referral is key, because I do believe that you can't see an endocrinologist without one (which is probably why you haven't gotten a call back from the department).

I think you are absolutely right that this should be taken care of by an endocrinologist, not by a general practitioner. I've noticed on several occasions that the TSH levels that Dr. Basina is comfortable with (particularly during pregnancy) are different than what my GP and OB are comfortable with. Fortunately, Dr. Basina always follows up my TSH tests with a phone call and a letter confirming my test results and next steps. Best of luck to you & I hope you find the care you need. -fellow thyroid patient

Thyroid Treatment at Kaiser

July 2004

I would love to hear from anyone who has had success getting treatment for hypothyroid at Kaiser. I was diagnosed with a THS test in April and have since had my medication increased three times after subsequent THS tests, and if anything I have more symptoms than at the start(hair loss, muscle spasams, memory impairment...etc.,etc.). Some initial research indicates that more tests and other medications might help, but my doctor is convinced that the THS test and continuing to increase the Levothroid is the best course of action (hasn't referred me to endochronology and won't run T3 or T4 tests). In the meantime, my plans and life are on hold. I would love to start planning for my second baby, but have had 2 miscarriages and really want my thyroid levels stabilized before I can even think about being pregnant again. I am eager to hear from someone who has had a similar challenge and find out how they navigated their way through Kaiser (I'm at Oakland but willing to travel). Becoming desperate

Greetings - Your post immediately raises several red flags for me. I too have been a Kaiser patient for many many years and in general have been most happy with my treatment there. In fact, we had both our kids at the Oakland Kaiser and have found the pediatric care to be first rate for over ten years. However, upon learning and beginning to treat my Papillary Thyroid cancer and hypothyrodism, I've had for the first time to go outside the Kaiser system. Firstly, it is imperative to be treated by an endocrinologist. Secondly, it is critical to be a fully informed consumer and your own best advocate (this means knowing what drugs you are being given, insisting on a full battery of tests (on a regular basis once stabilized medically) and having your symptoms better regulated. I was in the care of the local Kaiser Oakland endocrinologist initially, but found he was too much of a biochemist for me and not at all in synch with my need to better understand my condition or manage it in a way I could relate to. Thus, for the first time, I am in the care of a private physician, Dr. Nathan Becker. Dr. Becker is a total expert on thyroid disease with an office on Parnassus in San Francisco where he is affiliated with UCSF. These bi-annual visits are worth every penny for his counsel and care. As an example, he recently pointed out to me that Kaiser has switched its synthroid provider to a generic, and feels this medicine does not have the same pharmecutical purity as the name brands, and has recommended that I stick to the non-generic. And since I totally trust him, I am following his advice. If you can't go outside the Kaiser system, it's worth traveling to other Kaiser facilities until you find a great endocronologist. I've been dealing with this issue now for four years, and recall hearing that the Walnut Creek facility had a good doc, but I found Dr. Becker and never pursued that avenue. So, in a nutshell, I think Kaiser is outstanding for many things, but again, on occaison, it is necessary to put your health in the best possible hands and that may mean going outside the system. For me, it has been worth the extra expense to have the peace of mine and sense of well-being that being in Dr. Becker's expert care brings. I hope you get lots of good recommendations and start to get the care you need. Best of luck. Fellow patient

There's an excellent endocrinologist at Kaiser in Vallejo who is very knowledgeable about thyroid issues: Susan Stevens. Feel free to email me for more information. Julia

I had postpartum thyroiditis and was referred by my personal physician to Dr. Basian, one of the endochrinologists there. She was fantastic! Switch primary MDs if you can't get a referral to the specialist until you can. Euthyroid now

Wow, I can identify with your struggle with Kaiser and concern over fertility. A few years ago I began having severe fatigue, hair loss, night sweats and altered periods. I can't remember if I had picked a primary md yet but I saw 4 doctors over a 9 month period. My thyoid levels were tested and I had signs of mild hypothyroidism. I was placed on a small dose of synthroid which did nothing for my symtoms. One practicioner just off hand suggested I might be going into menopause. This really upset me. I was not at the time trying to get pregnant but I was 36 and wanted the option to. I insisted on seeing an endocrinologist. A nurse friend of mine suggested I see an OBGYN that specialized in endocrinology and fertility. I found Janie Hirata. She is an excellent Kaiser doctor. She took a thorough set of lab tests and explained to me, in simple terms, the delicate balence between the hormones in the endocrine/ reproductive system and how they can affect one another. Also how stress and nutrition can influence the balence. For me the thyroid was not the problem. I was able to make some lifesyle changes and the symptoms resolved. It took a long time and lots of phone calls and waiting on hold to finally get the care I needed. My advice is to insist on a specialist and be persistant. Good luck to you. Email if you want to talk further. molly

I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism(at Kaiser) about 13 years ago when my first son was 6 mos. old. Actually, Kaiser didn't diagnose me....they had no clue as to what my symptoms were about...they were going to send me to a neurologist because my speech was slightly distorted....in the list of hypothyroid symptoms this is called ''enlarged tongue''...they sent me for a CT scan. While I was waiting for my CT scan I went to the Kaiser library and looked in a book of symptoms. I had almost every symptom listed under Hypothyroidism....even then the Dr. said ''nah, you don't have it''....3 days later he called me with my blood test results and said ''you have hypothyroidism''....I already knew. That said.....I'd like to recommend a great book called ''Living Well With Hypothyroidism''...I forget who it's by. You can get it at Amazon, and I think The Vitamin Express in Bkly, and probably Whole Foods, etc. The woman who wrote it explains her ordeals wit h the medical profession and how she came to do her own research.

The symptoms of hypothyroid can be misleading...anxiety, constipation, coldness, hoarse voice, speech wierdness etc. I think ALL Dr.s will tell you that the TSH test is the only test you need. NOT TRUE!!! There are at least 2 adn maybe more different thyroid hormones and they serve different functions in the body. TSH mostly tests T-3 (not positive about that...it's been a while since I've read about it), so if T-3 is sufficient, but another hormone, is not, the TSH is not going to show that....

You have to insist on the entire test. Then don't wait for them to contact you....call a few days later and get your results. Ask them what is the range of normal..low end of normal, and high end of normal, and where you are in that range. I've hear stories from so many people that their TSH is normal and they're still having symptoms.

There are some supplements you can take that will enhance thyroid function, but if your thyroid is not working at all you s till have to take the synthetic hormone. There is also Armour Thyroid which is a natural form of the hormone. It's made from pigs (to sound more polite they call it bovine thyroid). Kaiser won't even consider prescribing that. You might want to go outside Kaiser and see a more wholistic minded Dr.

I take Synthroid, or Levathroid...different brand names and have since the beginning. I don't have a problem with that, although I am actually very ''drug'' opposed. This made sense to me and as far as my own research went didn't have any adverse long term side affects.

It's been 13 years now. I get blood tests about twice a year to check. Other then when I was pregnant, my test levels stay the same.

Good luck getting more help and info. You'll have to be your own researcher and go to Kaiser with information and stick to your guns in getting what you want. June

Endocrinologist for hyperparathyroidism

January 2003

A routine blood test came back with my TSH is abysmally low, and my Kaiser MD has ordered a thyroid scan. I checked the website, but there are no Kaiser Endocrinologists mentioned - I'd very much appreciate any recommendations, as I don't think I want to simply rely on my primary care doctor - my clinical picture may be complicated due to a history of hyperparathyroidism from a benign tumor years ago. =asymptomatic excerpt for nervousness!

Hi, I saw Dr. Amar Budayr at Kaiser Oakland last October. I saw him only once but I thought he was caring and very competent. He took some cell samples from my thyroid to be analyzed, and took all the time necessary to do that and to answer all my questions. A few days later he personally called me to let me know of the results of the biopsy, which were negative, and said he had written down in his calendar to call me again in 6 mo. for the next check-up. I felt I was in good hands with respect to my not so worrisome thyroid problem. Irene