Seeking an ObGyn in a Small Practice

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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Is there a smaller OB practice in Berkeley area?

April 2011

I saw Dr. Ahsan for my last pregnancy, Dr. Thomas delivered my son, Drs. Honneger, Foley and Mattlock visited me during labor. Today I waited 75 minutes to see RN Alice Cannan before I gave up, asked for my co-payment back and decided it's time to find an OB practice that prioritizes that human relationship between a doctor or doctors with the patient. I've always had to wait a long time at the Sutter Telegraph practice but today's experience really exposed how impersonal and factory-like that place can be. I'd really like my next pregnancy to be mellower- I'm a low-risk, healthy person. Does anyone see a doctor *NOT* affiliated with this practices who can still deliver at Alta Bates? I have an Anthem policy if that helps. I'd love an OB or Midwife who will remember my name, ideally, or at the very least let me know if he/she is running late. Amanda

I recommend Dr. Kurt Wharton . He moved to a small practice for just that reason. He and his staff are wonderful, friendly, and they definitely remember their patients. He delivers at Alta Bates, though his office is in Lafayette, but I found it surprisingly easy to get to, and well worth the trip. 970 Dewing Ave # 201 Lafayette, CA 94549-4260 (925) 962-0002 love seeing just one doctor

You could try Kurt Wharton in Lafayette. I know it is not Berkeley, but it is not that far. I would travel to see Kurt from Marin, his office is that good! A real small office feel (he is the only OB) and he delivers all his own babies. He is super personable and will know your name and remember you of course. My husband and I both adored him and he absolutely put us at ease. His staff is also fantastic. I am not sure if he accepts ANthem insurance though. Worth a call. ANother option is Hsiao-Li Cheng (midwife) in Oakland. happymama

Dr. Amy Huibonhoa (wee-bin-wah) is GREAT. I love love love her. Even though I moved 50 miles away, I kept her (just as a gyn now) because I love her so much.

When I was pregnant, she was wonderful. I felt like she was more of a friend than a doctor. She was very responsive to all my concerns, called me back when I called in with questions or concerns, and I felt like she provided great care. My water broke just after 5pm on a night she wasn't on call but she still stayed late to deliver my baby.

The only time I was kept waiting for long, she had to leave for an emergency with a patient across the street (at Alta Bates), and I was told she was gone, given an estimate for when she would return, and given the option to reschedule. Happy patient

OB for twins with small call group?

Jan 2010

Hi, I am expecting twins and though i have an initial appointment set up at Dr. Ahsan's practice i am worried about how large a delivery group she shares call with. Are there any OB's out there, with twin experience, who have a small group of on call Dr's? Thanks! visualizing vertex

My ob/gyn, Debra Levinsky has a small call group for around here - 6 doctors. When I was pregnant she was on-call two weekdays every week and then they rotated the weekends. I don't know about her twin experience but overall she is very experienced. The doctors I know she shares call with are Streitfeld, Nishimine, and Lizano. Good luck!

Large OB practice vs. sole practitioner

Jan 2009

Does anyone have any opinion on whether a large OB practice or a sole practitioner tends to work out better for pregnancy and delivery? I currently see Dr. Honegger at Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation, and I like her and the 2 other OBs at the office, but for delivery any one of the 12 total physicians from the group's 3 offices will be on call, and I am concerned about a stranger possibly delivering my baby. Also the staff at the office are a bit brusque and impersonal. Any thoughts? GK

Having a sole practitioner will not guarantee that delivery will be by him/her. I had a GREAT sole practitioner OB/GYN (Margaret Cuthbert who retired after getting a book contract to write medical mysteries but that's another story...!) But BOTH times I was under her care, I ended up in delivery with Deborah Levinsky (also excellent) a sole practitioner that had a mutual backup agreeement with Margaret. To tell you the truth, the labor nurses are who really are in the labor room with you (and the Alta Bates nurses when I gave birth were just fantastic!). The doctor gets there just in time for the main event unless there are complications. I suggest that if having personal and continuous care is really important for you, that you add a midwife to your ''team''. In terms of your OB choice now, your confidence/trust/comfort in your OB is what is paramount. But if having a warm office staff is part of what will make/break your baby experience than that is a reason for change. Karen H.

i hear you about the dilemma. i'm also part of the disturbingly large sutter medical which feels like a factory. the good thing is, someone from the office will be there at all times. while i never delivered with my sole-practicing doc in LA, he had two more doctors to handle the hospital deliveries, so i'm assuming other sole practitioners also have networks to help them and each other. it's unreasonable to ask a doctor to be around for 40+ hours straight when others can handle the task and less likely to be sleep-deprived.

so as long as you found some doctors you like, i don't think you have to worry. my doc was on vacation when i was induced, and i think i had at least 3 different docs throughout my hospital stay. while i prefer some doctors over others, i know all the doctors are doing everything possible to make sure that all births go as smoothly as possible. i used to obsess about doctor issues, but once the labor process began, i didn't care who delivered, as long as it went well. good luck!! less high-strung mom

Most smaller practices and solo OB providers will participate in a call group with multiple providers. If you go to a solo provider, odds are that someone else will deliver your baby. If you like Dr. Honeggar and her partners, I recommend sticking with them. With respect to the office staff, please keep in mind that people who work in medical front offices are in near constant interaction with the public - patients like you, family members, other doctor's office staff, other providers, insurance companies... They are constantly juggling multiple tasks at once. Their day is dynamic and unpredictable - especially in a busy OB practice - and they frequently must deal with frustrated, worried, stressed, or angry people. They cannot be effusively friendly always with everyone, day in and day out. It is reasonable to expect efficient politeness, but anything more than that is not realistic. Put yourself in their shoes, and cut them a little slack. I wish you a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. When you look back on it all in several months, you'll know that all the other details are insignificant. loving motherhood

I had two children with Dr. Honegger's OB practice group. Dr. Honegger delivered my first child when the practice consisted of about 6 doctors who were all in the same office. I had the chance to meet all of the doctors and Dr. Honegger was great. Between my first and second child the practice changed considerably. They incorporated the other offices/doctors as you explained. I was given the option of scheduling appointments with the outside doctors before delivering my second child but it was a virtually impossible task. I was pregnant, working and chasing around a toddler. Long story short, a doctor I did not know showed up for the delivery and she had a terrible bedside manner. Really, truly awful. The good news is that the delivery was complication free and my daughter was/is beautiful and perfect. If I had to do it over again I would have changed to a smaller practice. I didn't realize how great I had it the first time around.

You are fortunate to have the choice as there are some medical plans (I think Kaiser is one of them) that pretty much guarantee a strange doctor at your delivery - and usually a resident in tow. So feel blessed you have options.

Sorry to babble and best of luck on your choice. anon

i posted a couple of weeks to this, basically saying that at large OB practice is fine, though it's more of a baby factory. but i do have a couple of more gripes about that particular office.

when i wasn't pregnant and just wanted to schedule a simple annual, they cancelled and rescheduled me 3 times. and it's not like these were rescheduled on the same week - we're talking over a month later. after getting delayed for several months, i finally asked if i could see a nurse practitioner instead, and they said fine. you'd think with a rotational system, another doctor in the office could see you instead of cancelling you.

the front office is not good about returning calls - i've been waiting for almost 2 weeks. i do like my doctor and several others in that office, but maybe they have too many patients because i'm quite annoyed at this point.

it's tough finding an ob-gyn in this town, so have your baby, and stick with the doctor(s) since you feel comfortable with them. i think i'm going to start looking elsewhere. - been there, hopefully done that