Sutter Health Ob/Gyns, 2450 Ashby

(510) 204-3977
Editors' Notes: 

This practice was previously known as East Bay Ob/Gyn Medical Associates.  No longer in this practice: Ferdinand Beernink, Emily Birenbaum (now practices at Kaiser Oakland ), Aaron Chinn, Heather Irwin, Allen Nan (now practices at Kaiser Walnut Creek ), Richard Rudd (now practices at Sutter Health Ob/Gyns, 2500 Milvia)

2450 Ashby Avenue #3040 Berkeley, California 94705

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

March 2011

Re: East Bay Obstetricians
I have had a great experience with Hilary Modell, a Nurse Practitioner at Sutter OBGYN. I like the doctors in the practice as well, but have mostly worked with Hilary and find her very knowledgeable. 510-841-5510, 2999 Regent St, Suite 301 anon

June 2009

Re: OB Gyn for cervical dysplasia
Dr. Lisa Bernard-Pearl is a wonderful OBGYN and she specializes in cervical dysplasia and colposcopy. I'm not sure if you would be able to get in to see her quickly, but I'm sure you could talk to her about your concern and whether or not it is safe to wait. She is part of the East Bay Physicians Medical Group with offices in Berkeley and Richmond. Her number is: 510-204-8160. Good Luck! Anna

Jan 2009

Dr. Lisa Bernard-Pearl - Any feedback? I'm considering her as an OB. If anyone has any positive or negative feedback, I'd be grateful. If, by chance, you had a VBAC with her or tried and weren't able to succeed, I'd love feedback about that as well. Thank you!

Though Dr. Lisa (as we learned the nurses at Alta Bates call her) was not our OB, our Doc was not on call the night our son was born, so Dr. Lisa delivered. My husband and I both feel extraordinarily lucky that she ended up being our delivery doc. I really wanted a natural childbirth, but after being induced and then having to go through several hours of pushing, it was getting close to becoming a very medical birth. Dr. Lisa allowed and encouraged me to go drug and cesarean free. I think a lot of docs would not have been so accommodating. It was very busy night at the hospital, yet she was able to be very present when she was with us and had a very nice bedside manner even though she delivered 5 other babies that night. anonymous

She delivered my daughter 13 months ago and was wonderful. She was not my regular obgyn, but she was great and very motivating, especially important because I pushed for 3.5 hours. She even stayed way past her shift (her family kept paging her to see where she was!) to finish the delivery. She was also good about giving feedback and suggestions. At one point the baby seemed in distress and she was ready with the vacuum but waited to see if a change in positions would help, which it did, so I didn't need it. So she is cautious but not overly zealous with things like that. I highly recommend her!

Jan 2009

Re: Experienced O.B. Needed for Twin Birth
I would very highly recommend Dr. Lisa Bernard-Pearl (510-204-8160) as an OB for twins or otherwise. She is my OBGYN and while she did not deliver my kids (they are 6 and 9 now and she only recently moved to the East Bay) I have worked with her as a doula. She has always been very open to my clients desires in birth and non-interventionist. She has a very warm bedside manner and really listens. She also has twins of her own! The down side is that she is in a large call group. I think it is still worth meeting her, however. Good Luck! Anna

Oct 2006

Re: OB/GYN for VBAC in East Bay area
Check out East Bay Fertility OB/GYN Medical Group on Regent St. in Berkeley. 510-843-7722.

I had a VBAC for my 2nd child with no problems after a horrendous 1st labor and c-section. I simply TOLD my doctors that I was having a VBAC, but if anything were to go wrong I wouldn't resist medical advice/common sense.

I thought the Drs were very supportive and impressed with my research... You are more likely to have a successful VBAC with a doula present. They asked who my doula was, and I told them it was Treesa Mclean, they were very pleased with my choice. Treesa works well with the Drs at Alta Bates and she has a good reputation there. Also, I found the labor and delivery nurses at Alta Bates VERY supportive of my VBAC decision.

Just b/c you had a difficult 1st delivery doesn't mean the 2nd one won't be easy. My 2nd came so fast I could barely get to the hospital which was a few blocks from my house. It was a text book L & D (the contractions, the water breaking, pushing for 30-45 min. and boom a baby!). So fast I couldn't even get any pain meds, which turned out okay (but God did it hurt) Go for the VBAC!

Feb 2005

What's going on with East Bay Fertility OB/Gyn Medical Group? I've had to switch my doctor three times in the last year due to changes in personnel. Is it just coincidence, or is there a reason that all the ''good'' doctors are jumping ship? I just heard that Dr. Biernbaum has left now and am wondering if it's a sign... Does anyone have the scoop? is it time to find a new doc?

If you decide to switch, I would highly recommend Dr. Lizano in Pinole (same parking lot). She has performed a number of complicated surgeries on me and is the top ranking doctor in her field. Sarah

Sept 2004

Would appreciate hearing about any recent experiences with Dr. Allen Nan and his OB practice. This is my first pregnancy. Thanks! Sarah

I recommend Dr. Nan completely and with high marks...I've been one of his patients for over 8 years, and he has delivered my three children. I've moved to the city, but continue to make the trek to Berkeley or Pinole to see him - and even had my third child at Alta Bates instead of UCSF/CPMC because of him. He's compassionate, warm, and caring, besides being a top notch professional. I had him perform a successful version on my first child who was breach. He's an amazing professional and I am sure you will find him to be very considerate, humorous, and helpful...especially with it being your first pregnancy. Melissa

Though Dr.Nan was not my regular OB, he was on-call the night I had my son. Dr.Nan was a great! In addition to delivering my son after a 74 hour labor, he also did a fine job with our cord blood harvest. I highly recommend him. grateful for a good delivery

He was the doctor on call the night I delivered my first daughter. He is part of the OB/GYN practice that I belong to, but I never saw him during the pregnancy. Honestly, he was only there for like the last 15 mins of a 3 hour delivery process, he was just okay, neither here nor there. There wasn't much a bedside manner. Also, the one thing that bugged us, he never asked my husband if he wanted to cut the cord.

As for the EBOGMA (Berkeley) practice, I've been going there for a long time. Dr. Stachel was my OB/GYN for many years, she is now on disability I believe. So I went to Dr. Arzou Ashan, who was pretty good. But in the end I chose to use a midwife - Lindy Johnson (Family Midwifery in Berkeley on Durant - 644.0104), who was AMAZING. Honestly, if we decide to have a third, I would go the midwife route, I delivered at Alta Bates, she was there through everything and was an incredible support. Hope that helps, good luck. anonymous

I don't know Nan, but I'd recommend Richard Rudd in the same practice. Hilary Modell, a nurse practitioner, is also very good. anon

Dr Nan is PHENOMENAL!!! He delivered my second child last spring, and I can't say enough good things about him.

July 2004

Editor Note: as of July 2004, Arzou Ahsan is now at ObGyn Fertility Group .

June 2004

I've read the posts online about the Alta Bates office of East Bay OB and am wondering if anyone had a natural childbirth with any of these doctors (Rudd, Birenbaum, Nan, etc.) In addition to not wanting an epidural, I don't want an IV or constant EFM. Were the doctors receptive to these or similar requests? Thank you! Beatrice

during my pregnancy i found all of the doctors at EBOGMA very receptive to drug-free deliveries; though i cannot say they were zealous advocates. which is fine by me. i've had two drug-free deliveries with dr rudd, though he wasn't my doctor during the pregnancy. i also did not have continuous monitoring or an iv. in fact, i was in the shower most of the time. rudd (who happened to be on-call both times) was very hands-off for the entire time. when i called in with contractions 4 mins apart, but said i wanted to stay home as long as possible, his response (after making sure i lived 10 minutes away from the hospital) was ''more power to you''. i then saw him for about 45 seconds when i came in and then later when he came in just in time to catch my first. next time, 20 months later, when he came into the room i was already in the shower. he looked in, asked me if i needed anything and told the nurse: ''she knows what she's doing. let her do whatever she wants and call me if you need anything.'' the most important person - both times - was not the doctor but the l nurses who were fantastic. in triage, ask for one who likes attending ''natural'' births. not all of them do, but those who do, are thrilled when they get a chance. i think the trick is to be confident in what you want, but respectful of the staff's professional experience and opinions. rare is the birth that goes precisely as imagined, and IMO there's nothing unnatural about drugs or procedures. i found that i got a lot of respect both from the doctors as well as the nurses, when i respected them, instead of seeing them as my potential enemies. good luck, Hates the Word ''Natural''

I was a patient at East Bay OBGYN as are all of my coworkers. I happened to have had a c-section - but I also had a nine and a half pound baby! My boss had a natural vaginal birth though. They seemed very open to my birth plan - which was to go as far as possible without and epdidural etc. However, I think Dr. Rudd and Dr. Nann suspected I was going to have a big baby because they also wanted to make sure I was open to a c-section should I have needed one. I never felt pressure to do things their way and have always felt like I have had the best care there. I simply can't say enough good things about them. Their office staff is also wonderful. I never had to wait more than five minutes for my appointment and the waiting room was never crowded (the Pinole office). Lastly, I completely adore their nurse practioner Carolyn Hand.

I had a natural childbirth in 2002 at Alta Bates. Dr. Birenbaum almost delivered my baby...she came so quick the nurses had to catch her! Dr. Birenbaum came in and broke my water and that was the extent of my interventions. I did have some fetal monitoring but was not attached to anything and pretty much spent the whole time in the shower. She did not recommend any epidural or any other interventions.

The doctors are really not around much until you are having problems or are ready to deliver. Since I had no problems I can't say if they would have let me try longer to deliver naturally. I can say that Dr. Rudd is an all around excellent physician. He did major surgery on me that allowed me to get pregnant. He was always very supportive of the idea that I could deliver naturally after this surgery based on my outcome. If I had any problem during delivery I would definately want him there to handle it.

Childbirth is something you can't control. Because I had the surgery similar to a C-section I was very motivated to not have to experience that again so I wanted a natural childbirth. With that said, if it had become necessary to have more interventions I would have been ok with that as well. I had a lot of trust in Dr. Rudd and that made me more relaxed to know that if something might go wrong, he or the other doctors would guide me through it.

The biggest help in having a natural childbirth was a doula and making sure you have supportive nurses. They are the ones that will help you through the labor.

Good Luck! julie

I don't know if this has already been said, but Dr. Rudd, in my opinion is the best (he was my OB/GYN)! Tunisha

December 2003

I've looked at the website, and I've even posted practically the same question here before, but I want to make sure I have up-to- date recommendations. I was a patient of Laura Stachel's. I liked her so much that I was willing to put up with remaining on hold for 5-10 minutes every time I called the office, with prescription mixups and copayment problems. Now that she's officially not returning to practice, I need to find another gynecologist. My issues revolve around menopause and hormones, not pregnancy and childbirth. I have Blue Shield HMO, at least for the time being, and my regular MD is a member of Hill Physicians but not ABMG. I haven't seen any of the other docs in Laura Stachel's group, although I had a short visit with Heather Irwin when I was pregnant a number of years ago. Can anyone suggest another gynecologist who inspires trust and confidence, who is open to alternatives, and who might be covered by my insurance? I'd be happy to see a nurse practitioner instead of an MD for annual checkups if I don't need anything more medical than that. Perplexed

I've used Laura Stachel's group for years, and think you'd be equally pleased with Hillary Modell, nurse's pracitioner in the group. I've seen her for years, and also know most of the doctors in the practice (Laura S. delivered my first child, and Lisa Keller the second) I'd recommend Dr. Keller, but I believe she's moved out of the area. I have to admit having a strong bias for Hillary, as her council (and a prescription for Clomid) helped us conceive our second child. Several of my friends use and like other Doctors in the practice, and you might find a match there as well; Hillary just happens to be my favorite. Carrie

May 2003

Does anyone know where Dr. Lisa Keller went? I know she left the east bay fertility group, but I don't know where she went from there. I personally used Dr. Laura Stachel, but she's out on medical leave, and Dr. Heather Irwin is gone. I don't like any of the other doctors left in the practice, and would at least like to try to find Dr. Keller! So, if anyone else has followed her, or knows where she went I would highly appreciate locating her! Thanks! jen

I was informed today by an administrative assistant at Dr. Keller's (previous) office that she has moved to Arcata and is practicing there. I have heard good things about the 2 new female OB/GYNs in the practice but haven't had any personal experience with them. Signed, Hope that answers your question

Lisa Keller moved to Humbolt County to do high-risk OB there...probably too far to drive for your pap smear! Debbie

Dr. Lisa Keller moved to Arcada. She is working at a clinic combining Eastern and Western medicine. It's really our loss. Let me know if you find a great doctor! sirpa

Dr. Keller sent a letter to her patients saying she was relocating to Arcata. Did you try Dr. Ashan, who is new to the practice? She is great, and I actually felt more comfortable with her than Dr. Keller.

Dr. Lisa Keller moved to Arcata. My daughter was seeing her, and really liked her. Now she will be going to Emily Birenbaum, who's also in that group. She's very young, which is fine for my daughter, but you also might want to try Amy Huibonhoa, who is in that same building, but in a different group. She's been in practice a little bit longer. Julie


Dr. Biernbaum delivered my daughter last July. She did a fine job and was nice with a sense of humor. I saw her once for a pre-natal exam and I liked her manner. I think she may be on maternity leave though? Anyway, Dr. Irwin is great and my favorite is Dr. Rudd. He may not be as warm and fuzzy as you would like but he is an excellent doctor and really treats his patients as partners in their health care. Julie

I saw Dr. Biernbaum once for a brief follow-up visit when she was BRAND new and I liked her very much. I thought she was honest and open, and I felt very comfortable asking her questions. In fact, I've decided to switch over to her, as my doctor was Dr. Stachel and she is on leave right now Jill

I've had visits with both Drs. Biernbaum and Ahsan and had great experiences with each. Dr. Ahsan took care of me during my pregnancy and I thought she was super.- DGR

I also am a patient with the EBOGMA group and absolutely adore Dr. Ahzan and Dr. Birenbaum. I am 34 weeks pregnant with our first child and I have found both doctors to be extremely knowledgeable, caring and geniunely wonderful people. Both my husband and I really like their ''bedside'' manner and would feel absolutely confident if either one of them were able to assist in the delivery of our baby. Hope this is reassuring to you! Dana

I've been trying to meet all of the doctors at East Bay OB/Gyn before I deliver, and have had a prenatal appointment with both drs. Ahsan and Birenbaum. I found both of them very patient and helpful with all of my questions. I don't think you'd go wrong with either of them! Wendy

My ob/gyn Laura Statchel is out on leave froim the same group so I'm in the same boat. I went for my yearly with Dr. Ahsan in February and was so relieved. She spent a lot of time with me going over my history, asking questions, answering questions etc. She is young and incredibly sharp. I really like her. Dr. Statchel and I had a great relationship so it was crucial for me to feel a connection with the new doctor. Luckily I do. Good Luck!

I'm not sure if you've been presented with this option, but I highly recommend that you transfer to Lisa Keller's partner in that same practice, Katarina Lanner-Cusin. She is simply the best Dr. I've ever had-- I actually look forward to my annual GYN visits. If you are looking for an OB, she has seen me through 2 pregnancies; one of which was very easy and one very complex, and I can't say enough good things about her. Send me a note if you'd like to hear more, or if you have questions. Isabelle

I too had Dr. Keller as my primary OB. What they recommend to me in the office is to have appointments with all the doctors because you never know who is going to be on call. That way you will have met them all when your labor & delivery starts. I'm 34 weeks and have seen them all and are pleased with my care from every single one of them. They are also patient and answered my extended question list at each visit. I wouldn't worry too much about it because the ''team'' there is excellent! DiAnn

June 2002

Re: RN for Ob/Gyn
I love Hillary Modell at East Bay OBGYN - right across from Alta Bates. Give her a try - 841-5510. She's one of 2 RN's at this practice. Most of the docs at this practice are good too - Drs. Irwin and Keller delievered our 2 children. --Hillary Modell fan


I highly recommend Dr. Laura Stachel, an OBGYN located in the building on Regent street across from Alta Bates Hospital. I have been going to her for years for endometriosis, ruptured ovarian cysts, routine care, and now for my pregnancy. She has done surgery on me twice, and I believe she is an excellent surgeon. She has been very responsive, calling me several times to reach me with urgent lab results, helping me get special care approved for payment through the medical group, etc. I don't know if she is accepting new patients at this time. She works with a nurse practitioner, Hillary Modell, who is also good. I have also heard good reports about Dr. Lisa Keller, in the same practice as Laura, but haven't met her myself. Good luck! Heather

Aug 1998

Does anybody have any recommendations regarding the East Bay Fertility OB/GYN Medical Group in Berkeley (doctors include Beernink, Chinn, Irwin, Keller, Rudd, Stachel)? I recently started fertility testing and treatment there and have a couple of concerns. From the start, it was clear that there is dissension (though certainly no evident anomosity) within the group. The three doctors I happened to see (I was assigned to whoever was available on the days it was recommended I come in) would have seemed just fine on their own, but they gave me conflicting advice, and acknowledged that they each have different opinions on timing of tests, indicated treatments, etc. (Already, I've had to take the same test twice to accommodate the concerns of two different doctors.) Since these differences of opinion are making an already iffy situation even more confusing and stressful (which doc do I listen to?), I am wondering whether anybody else has had a similar experience and whether it has been a problem with regard to accessing information and, ultimately, to treatment itself. Also, if anybody has a recommendation outside this medical group, please let me know!

I used them also during both of my pregnancies. Chinn ... Rudd ... Irwin is great; Keller I only saw once and was great; I never saw Beernink; and Stachel is a god on Earth. She is the best all-around doctor I ever used. I can't speak highly enough about her. She had a way of locking in with me (mentally-verbally) during the final stages of labor that absolutely made the delivery easier.

I had my first child early this year (no fertility treatments) with the east bay fertility group -- Chinn was my official doctor but I saw them all. I liked both Chinn and Irwin. I found Chinn very professional and honest and willing to listen to my concerns. He always made me laugh. I think it is important-- not what others experienced but --whether you are comfortable with your medical group. If you can't talk to your doctor you should change. I am of the opinion that conflicting advice is a part of science, but if that makes your decisions difficult, you should talk to them about it. Tell them you are frustrated with all the conflicting advice and don't know what to do. Remember, we pay them. Their job is to provide medical care for us to the best of their ability, and sometimes they will disagree. But ultimately, if you aren't satisfied with their response to your needs, find another doctor that you like better.

Regardless of the other doctors with whom she practices, I would strongly recommend Heather Irwin as a fertility specialist and general OB/GYN. I was referred to her more than 10 years ago, after several years of infertility work with other doctors. She was great: positive, supportive, down-to-earth and we got pregnant after her first insemination (which she handled with a lot of gentleness, deference, and the right touch of humor). She delivered our first child and was great through a long, slow labor: stayed with me for many hours, was very warm and supportive, but also decisive and firm when those qualities were called for. While at Alta Bates we learned that she began as an L nurse, had gone to medical school after a number of years in nursing, and was much beloved by the L nursing staff then at AB. The highest recommendation, in my mind, was when the head nurse told me that all the L nurses used her as THEIR ob-gyn. We got pregnant without assistance the second time around, but the pregnancy was initially iffy. Heather had moved to another practice by then and some of the other doctors scared me to death (one who was on call, on hearing that I was spotting, refused to have me come in after hours, telling me it's probably too late and that he'd *pray* for the health of my baby--well-intentioned, I'm sure, but not what I pay my doctor for). When we went to see Dr. Irwin a day and a half later during regular hours, she immediately calmed us down and put the fetal heart monitor on the baby--all the time telling me that I should not be disappointed if we didn't hear anything because it was several weeks before one would expect to detect a heart beat. Well, that wonderful whoosh-whoosh sound came right up -- definitely the most beautiful sound I have ever heard -- and she pronounced him healthy, which he turned out to be -- despite being breach until the last minute (despite numerous turnings) and a number of other minor catastrophes that merely foretold the kind of unpredictable and challenging child he's turned out to be. I keep thinking about how easy it would have been for the on-call doctor to do what Heather did and his unwillingness to put himself out in order to perhaps save us days of agony. At any rate, I've followed Irwin now to a third practice and will continue to use her and recommend her without reservation.

I had my first child with the east bay fertility group -- Stachel was my official doctor but I saw her, Celeste Royce (since moved on) as well as Drs. Chinn and Irwin (and NP Hilary Modell) during my prenatal care. I left that group when it came time for my second because I was so unhappy with their care. It wasn't so much the conflicting advice as what I saw as some inordinate and forceful pressure to pursue some medical interventions (stress test, inducement, etc.) when my baby was overdue. (She was born when she wanted to be born and everything turned out fine, although none of those doctors attended the delivery).

For my second I went to East Bay Family Practice (Janet Arnesty) and thought she was wonderful. Low-key but attentive and thorough.

Jan 1998

I just wanted to reply to the reversing tubal ligations. I met with my gyn, Dr. Aaron Chinn recently about reversing my tubes and he's the best around. He has a 90% success rate and 85% pregnancy. Depending on how the tubes were tied, they may or may not be reversable. He's located in Pinole and is a wonderful gynecologist.

When I was pregnant the first time around, we used the group known as WOGOM, Women's Gynecology, Obstetrics and Midwifery. This office no longer exists, but Drs. Laura Stachel, Lisa Keller and the Nurse Practitioner, Hilary Modell are now part of the East Bay Fertility OB/GYN Medical Group which delivered our second child.

We ended up with a premature delivery for our first and Dr. Keller and Dr. Stachel were very supportive and made sure that we were well informed about all that was going on. I was under Dr. Stachel's care for our second pregnancy and she was great about monitoring my progress and I was fortunate to go to term. I find the doctors in the group to be very nice and accommodating to my needs.

Good luck with your pregnancy. Denise