Which Primary Care in the East Bay?

Parent Q&A

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  • I've never had a PCP in my adult life - I've used One Medical and Carbon Health in the past as needed (strep throat, yeast infections, etc). I loved my OBGYN team at Sutter East Bay, but when I tried to see a provider in the Sutter system for a non-pregnancy related issue, it was an absolute mess. 

    Now that I'm in my early 40s and wanting to take charge of my health for the next phase of my life, I'm looking for a PCP who will treat me like a person, spend time with me, and be proactive about preventative care. I do a lot of "alternative" wellness support like acupuncture, chiropractic work, and Chinese herbal medicine, and I'd like a PCP who can accommodate that part of my health care approach. 

    I'm specifically looking to do a full physical and testing for hormone levels, potential vitamin deficiencies, and any other screenings a woman approaching menopause may need to have done. 

    We have Blue Shield (Covered CA) insurance.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    I've been under Jess Pinder's care at One Medical since 2017, and I must say, he's truly exceptional. Based out of the Emeryville clinic, Jess possesses an incredibly open-minded approach, attentively addressing all my concerns with unwavering support. When I hit  40 and felt like my body was suddenly failing me, Jess didn't hesitate to order a battery of tests to delve into any potential underlying issues. What sets him apart is his understanding of often overlooked conditions and his refusal to dismiss even the slightest symptom, ensuring I never feel invalidated or brushed aside which I appreciate so much as a woman nearing menopause.  In short, he's an absolute gem of a healthcare provider. 

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  • Does anyone have advice about a good one-stop-shopping way in ADDITION to Berkeley Parents Network to find existing community reviews of East Bay doctors, or where you can ask for recommendations for help with a particular issue or specialty? The recommendations here are super-helpful, but as I age out of the "active-parenting" category, I wonder if there's any broader source for this than a parents' group. (Just searching the internet rarely turns up anything that feels reliable, and Yelp reviews feel like current patients who are afraid to give less than 5 stars, mixed with people who are giving 1 star because they're mad about a slight.) I'm interested in Kaiser in particular, but "general doctors that include Kaiser" would be good enough.


    Dear Anonymous, 

    There's nothing like the Berkeley Parents Network!  Our kids aged me out of "active parenting" in 2017, but I still use BPN all the time -- as recently as yesterday, when I was looking for a handyman plumber. 

    By the way, when our doctor retired from Kaiser, he highly recommended that we choose Dr. Suresh Rangarajan at Kaiser Oakland.  I was dubious at first, because his web page shows he has a focus on children, but my husband (now 85) and I have been seeing him for five years now, and we love him.  He's super smart, kind, and knowledgeable.  When my 54-year-old cousin joined Kaiser, I recommened him to her, and she loves him, too.  (As for his background, he grew up in the Midwest, and has children in college, I think.) 

    I also find recommendations on Nextdoor. 

  • We moved here a couple years ago and I've been consistently horrified by the health care system(s) here. Our experience has been primarily with Sutter, with a few out of network exceptions (equally bad). After going through a pregnancy and dealing with other family health issues, I'm wondering if we're just not dialed in, because I can't imagine that what we've experienced is broadly accepted as normal (but maybe it is?). For context, we have a Blueshield of CA PPO plan paid for out-of-pocket (we're self-employed) and sometimes wonder why we have insurance at all because we can rarely access health care when we need it. Example - for a fairly routine but potentially serious postpartum health issue, I was told by both my Sutter gyn and PCP that the next available appointment is in Sept (it's May) and to go to Urgent Care. Urgent Care told me to just go to the ER.

    The issue was urgent but did not rise to the level of requiring an ER visit and I imagine the ER is clogged with relatively minor issues because more often than not, that's where I've been directed for pretty much anything that requires same-day but not emergency care. We've also needed urgent assistance on the weekends that could be easily resolved with an on-call nurse able to assess and write a prescription if needed. But of course, Sutter will just refer me to the ER for this. I don't think we have the option of switching to Kaiser until Oct (and not sure that's the best option) and have been referred to OneMedical, but reviews aren't stellar. We take our kids to Berkeley Pediatrics and we're in LOVE with their practice and in an ideal world, would be able to find the same thing for adults. 

    Questions are: Does anyone know of/have a great family practice that offers an after-hours number to call for urgent but non ER issues AND who takes Blue Shield of CA? 

                            Any recommendations for a ob-gyn practice where appointments aren't booked months out and that also offers after-hours assistance (and takes BSofCA)? 

    Thanks for reading.

    You should try One Medical. I don't put too much stock into reviews. They have family practice offices (for adults and kids) as well as general women's health (not OB though specifically). There is also 24/7 access to on-call providers via video and phone. Their access isn't as great as it used to be but you can often get an appointment within a day or two. 

    I'm so sorry you're experiencing this. Unfortunately, my family has experienced much of the same with Sutter. We've found two things that help. The first is finding an excellent primary care provider within Sutter who can be your advocate and get things done quickly. We have not found an OB who fits that bill - we've had to do a lot (and I mean a LOT) of self advocacy when things aren't completely textbook. The second thing that has helped is calling Sutter's corporate HQ when you have a reprehensible situation like being told to wait until September for an urgent postpartum situation. We had a similar situation, where we were told my six week follow up post c-section would be three months after the birth. We called Sutter's HQ to complain, which led to us getting a call from Sutter' Milvia location a half hour later with an appointment the following Monday. The whole situation feels terrible. I've heard great things about some concierge doctors (outside of Sutter), though that's more expensive as many fees are out of pocket. 

    I had really positive experiences with all of the OBs at the Sutter East Bay Medical center on Milvia, including postpartum complications and pretty severe postpartum depression that hit the week of the shelter in place mandate in March 2020. They were still available for me. Dr. Kadri was my primary but everyone I met there was great.

    Perhaps you might need to switch to a different doctor who is more compassionate and connected to their patient. No, you may not always be able to see your specific OB for an urgent issue, but you should be able to see one. Also, if you have a relationship with your OB they will make referrals.

    In the event your OB dismissed your pospartum depression concerns that is serious and you should look for another doc. I think this is less about the network and more about the specific doc. I had a means to email my doc which I didn't abuse but did use to alert her to issues when they were serious.


    I use John Muir for my PCP, and they have same day appointments for urgent issues (not sure about after hours though). And Milvia obgyn, which is sutter affiliated for my OB. They are busy but I’ve never had to book that far out. 

    Unfortunately I don't have a good suggestion but I agree with your observation about the healthcare systems in the Bay Area.  I had appendicitis earlier this year and both the Carbon Health urgent care center and the Alta Bates ER failed to diagnose me correctly.  I ended up with a ruptured appendix and was seriously ill and hospitalized for a week.  I had to be hospitalized again a month later in Chicago due to complications from the original surgery, and the quality of care in Chicago was amazingly better (and much less expensive).  It actually makes me nervous to live in the Bay Area long term...

  • Sadly, my primary care doctor of 20+ years has just retired. So, I'm looking for someone new. Preferably someone who is caring and a good communicator and with a kind, competent office staff as well. I'm wondering whether anyone has any recent experience with Dr. Carolyn Klebanoff, Dr. Deena Neff, Dr. Anthony Jones or Dr. Andrew Ross? Thanks so much for your help and advice!

    I have been seeing another doctor in Dr. Klebanoff's office for more than a decade and have on occasion seen her as well. They are all fantastic--possibly the best primary care physicians I've ever seen. Each of the doctors in that office takes time to truly listen to their patients. The only drawbacks are that the office staff isn't great (although not a deal breaker), and they don't take most insurance. 

    I see Dr Bodor who shares the office with Dr Klebanoff. I am very happy. Every doctor in that office is excellent. Appointments are never rushed. The quality of care I've received has been consistently high. 

    I have been a member of Dr. Jones' practices for 5+ years and really appreciate the clinician's I've interacted with. I had Dr. Lisha Wilson first and after she left the practice, I'm now with Jaime Young (NP). I've been happy with bedside manner, their generally non-invasive approach, that they take my concerns seriously, and that they're light touch. I highly recommend them.

  • I am trying to help a good friend who is suffering severely from several disorders. Severe skin issue, hearing or ear issues some mental weakness, depressive and in difficult home environment..

    He is from Israel and has a heavy accent. He is not much being helped by Kaiser. I thought that a doctor or practitioner in his own language might be very helpful for this friend. Chinese medicine or other natural approaches would be welcome.. I want to find someone who can actually be interested in this persons complex trouble and take him on to heal with a loving mind.

    If you can think of anybody, please let me know. Thank you

    Hi! Unfortunately, I don’t know of a Hebrew speaking doctor. However, there is an Hebrew speaking Israeli clinical psychologist in Oakland, Dr. Halleli Toder. She accepts Medicare, or out of network via superbill, or if your friend works at UC Berkeley she’s in EAP. I will private message you her email address. 

    I think it’s really great that you’re trying to help. Good luck! 

  • My long time primary care doc is leaving to work on policy issues, so I'm looking for a new one in the East Bay (preferably Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito area) who is kind and smart (and a good listener), who takes Medicare.  If possible, I would prefer a woman.  Any tips much appreciated!

    Try GP Talia Gracer MD at Stanford, 5800 Hollis, Emeryville.  She is competent, friendly, goes by the book on recommending vaccinations, discouraging drinking alcohol.  And she is young enough that she won't retire anytime soon,.

    I go to Stephanie Petreas who is a NP at Sutter on Milvia. She is patient and an amazing practitioner who listens and if she doesn't know an answer, she finds someone who does.

  • I’m seeking a primary care physician who will emphasize best possible health, rather than disease prevention. I’m a woman in my early 50s, and I’ve always been in excellent health, but recently have been diagnosed with both pre-diabetes and pre-hypertension. I have been treating my hypothyroidism for years. My current PCP sees many patients struggling with much greater challenges, so in her view, I’m just fine. But I would love to find a doctor who would want to explore with me the root causes of these changes, and see if there’s anything I can do to address them now. I already exercise regularly, eat a very healthy diet, and am not overweight. Do you know a doctor who proactively emphasizes best possible health for any individual? I do not have Kaiser, but my insurance will allow me to see anyone else. Thank you!

    It sounds like you already make good lifestyle choices but you may find that a health coach (rather than a PCP) can help you to continue to refine those lifestyle choices which is ultimately the only factor you have control over. I don't have any specific recommendations but that may be one thing to search for as part of your health journey. Good luck! 

    Good for you for taking your health in your own hands! From my personal experience, no regular practitioner practicing western medicine will be able to help you achieve true health.If you can seek out a Functional Medicine doctor to help you get to the root cause of your symptoms. I haven't personally seen this practitioner myself, but I was referred to Dr. Brandy at Body Love Cafe in Walnut Creek. I do see Dr. Faranak Fiedler who understands integrative medicine and is working on getting a functional medicine doctor in her office. 

    As a side note, you may be able to heal yourself through research. Most all disease can be healed through healing the gut and detoxing. Hyperthyroidism being one that can be healed through proper nutrition and iodine supplements. Look up the "Global Healing Center" website, so much information. You can type in anything you want and get results to heal yourself naturally through fasting, healing the gut and detoxing the liver. Good luck.

  • i am looking for a new pcp that takes United health and is comfortable with a western and functional medicine approach. I will also likely work with a functional  med doc, but am hoping to find a regular pcp who is willing to order some of the labs that go beyond CBC  labs, and who respects incorporating a functional medicine approach. I am dealing with some family history of dementia and am wanting to actively work on some preventative ideas, including inflammatory issues. I have had difficulty finding such a dr, even in the Bay Area. Although I currently have united health, I would consider switching to Kaiser if there was a dr there that fits this description.

    Thank you

    I am not a physician but I am married to one and for those who want to heal, he orders specific labs (unfortunately he can’t do it for you as he’s up to the brim with patients/clients). I want to offer this: ask for your APOb-to-APOa1 ratio test.  Your doctor(s) may not even know what this is / how to read it and the lab might not “offer” it (I.e. you will pay out of pocket). Very important: when your doctor says “no,” ask them to document it. That tends to kick their reptile brain into gear and are more likely to accommodate. Due to our lifestyle, environment, food supply and medications, dementia (now being looked at as Type 3 diabetes), along with Type 2 diabetes, metabolic disease and/or autoimmune diseases are all in the deck of cards for most our health. The idea is to see which direction your headed. You can get your deep cell health looked at, too, which tells you a lot. Now, to do the work is a different story - let’s just it can be done with time and effort. My father was an athlete, didn’t drink alcohol, did brain activities for ages (brain gyms too) and was vegan for 20 years (which might have been a big culprit in his fueling the demise of his brain function - inflammation and low fats)...alas, he had a terrible case of dementia that we dealt with for five years. You are doing the right thing by attempting to mitigate it. Watch the movie (Netflix) the Magic Pill for more insight. 

  • My excellent primary care doctor has just retired, and I'm looking for recommendations for a replacement.

    I need someone who accepts Anthem Blue-Cross, and ideally is associated with Alta-Bates Summit.

    Any experience / opinions with the following:

    Rong Huang

    Melvin Huie

    Roxanne Fiscella

    Carolyn Klebanoff

    i would also be interested in hearing recommendations for any others you have first hand experience with


    My husband has been seeing Roxanne Fiscella for years and likes her. I think she is well-respected in the community and probably has several good reviews here on BPN. I'm not familiar with any of the other names you mention.

  • I'm 52 and for a long time haven't had primary care, nor a need for specialists apart from ob/gyn and routine colonoscopy. I want to sort this out and get a primary care doctor, keeping in mind that SOMEDAY something will go wrong and I'll need some kind of specialist (cancer, cardio, orthopedist, who knows). 

    I want to know that if I find a lump, or develop symptoms of some kind, or end up needing a specialist, I won't have to wait weeks for an appt. SEBMF is closer, I'm in Berkeley. But I have the idea that maybe UCSF is more a "networked" operation, where primary care would be in communication with specialists, etc. Also my University of California insurance says that UCSF is covered for everything, and while SEBMF seems to be they aren't as tight a network and so I seem to have to look up doctors to be sure they are covered in-network.

    Do BPN folks have experience with primary care at UCSF and/or SEBMF and whether, when something comes up, specialists are easy to get to and doctors communicate with each other?

    I have SEBMF (don't love Sutter, but love my primary doc). When I needed a specialist (endocrinologist) I could easily get an appointment at Eden in Castro Valley (I live near Alta Bates), I could not get in to see the group of endocrinologists in Oakland for several months. So that was annoying but it turns out that Eden is a slightly longer drive, but parking is free and easy. So I'm happy. I've been referred to other specialists as well, and it's been relatively painless, even if they aren't Sutter docs (I guess they contract with Sutter). I can't compare to UCSF. Would you have to go over the bridge to be seen for everything? That would be a dealbreaker for me.

  • Looking for recommendations on a great primary care doc for my parents who live in El Cerrito. They have PPO. Any recommendations in El Cerrito or Berkeley are so appreciated!! Thanks!

    I like the office of Dr. Andrew Wallach near Albany Bowl. I usually saw the nurses rather than the dr because it was faster to get an appointment.

    I recommend Dr. Francine Yep and her group in Berkeley on San Pablo Ave. Nice new offices, easy parking, everything under one roof, and a good experience with all staff involved in my care. Others have had similar positive experiences. Highly recommend!


    I've been really happy with One Medical.  I've seen various doctors there.  It's really efficiently run and they take their time with each patient.  They have offices in Berkeley and Oakland - you can pick a primary care doc at the most convenient one and then if needed make appointments elsewhere too like if you need same day.  They're very responsive by phone and email too.  Good luck!

  • Looking for PCP for myself and my wife in the Berkeley area. Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

    I recommend Dr. Francine Yep and her group in Berkeley on San Pablo Ave. Nice new offices, easy parking, everything under one roof, and a good experience with all staff involved in my care. Others have had similar positive experiences. Highly recommend!



  • Hi All -

    I have had chronic pain for many years, and have managed it well with many tools - one of these is pain meds.  My doc at kp retired; new doc wants me to suddenly stop meds.  He is virulently against trying cbd/thc and I feel trapped to handle my condition.  Only doc in his area who handles this now  I need a doctor at Kp in any east bay kp (or a recommendation of any system in Bay that handles chronic pain management well).  I work full time, physically active.  Want to stay functional.  

    I'm sorry to hear this.  I don't have any suggestions for physicians, but I too had the same situation and I feel for you.  My long time doctor left and some young kid just out of medical school took his place.  I was irate some young kid was telling what was best for me.  A friend of mine who's a physician with Kaiser once told me that they're given incentives to get people off of traditional pain meds.  I refused to take the mind numbing garbage they tried to push on me.  Thankfully, this happened to me in December a few years ago, so I was able to switch insurances and find a doctor who's more open minded to treating chronic pain issues.  Unfortunately, with the current environment with people abusing medication, it's quite tough to find doctors who are willing to prescribe the only things that work for some people.  Good luck.    

    I use opiates regularly and have Kaiser. When the opioid crisis really ramped up and I realized how much pressure drs are under to reduce rxs, I met w my doctor and reviewed my use.  I assured her that I’m aware of potential for tolerance and abuse, how I keep them to a minimum using other methods to deal w pain.. How I haven’t had substance abuse problems in past, etc.. Basically, I made my case. Im sure it helped that I’ve been seeing her for years.. it would be harder with a new provider. And also helped, I’m sure, that I’m a well-off White woman.. which makes me a little sick. I wish u luck, I worry a lot about my access being cut off. 

  •   I'm desperate to find a new pcp who is covered by Blue Cross / UC Care. I far prefer someone in Berkeley or Albany rather than in Oakland's Pill Hill. I have a few health problems that have taught me to be very selective about doctors. I need someone who works full-time, is very responsive and kind, a good listener and record-keeper, available for last-minute appointments in some circumstances, medically excellent (naturally), and runs an organized office with pleasant and efficient staff members. Please, please send me your recs!

    I recently began seeing Ana Hanas at Hana Holistic in Berkeley.  With a complex medical issue myself, he has taken loads of time at each appointment, seems to listen well and works collaboratively with me.  I find that I have been able to get appointments when I need them.  So far, i have been pleased with the care I have gotten from him.

    Not certain if she’s a provider for your insurance group but I’d recommend Dr. Rong Huang, internist. She’s located at 400 Evelyn, Albany (next to El Cerrito Plaza parking) 510-524-4040. Dr. Huang is all the things you described.  

    Good luck!

  • We are seeking to change primary care providers. Live in San Leandro, but can travel for the right fit. What we are hoping for is a provider with a wellness/whole person perspective. Keto- or low-carb friendly would be a nice change from where we are now. My specific issue rn is possible hypothyroid. Thank you for any referrals you may have.

    No responses received.

  • I just found out my beloved doctor is retiring. I have Blue Shield coverage and am seeking recommendations for a compassionate, experienced female general practitioner in Albany, El Cerrito, Berkeley or nearby. Thanks!

    I highly recommend Marcia Charles-Mo at East Bay Pediatrics!

    Doctor Amal Sawries at Sutter Health is very good.  She helped me navigate through a major surgery treatment last year.

    I'm sure she's been recommended on this site before, and may not be taking new patients, but I wholeheartedly recommend Nina Birnbaum. She's in Albany and is smart, thorough and compassionate.  She is often overbooked, however, and I don't always get to see her.  But when I do, I know that it's worth staying in her practice. She's great.

  • My husband was just diagnosed w/ very high cholesterol. He is very health conscious and excercises 6 days a week. He is not overweight and in fact is quite fit. However his father and brother both have it so it was not entirely  surprising to get the diagnosis. The Dr prescribed statins and right after starting the statins his gout returned ( he had one episode of gout 4 years ago after a long trip abroad in a country with very few dietary choices.) The gout is so bad that he can hardly walk. His Dr said he does not think the two are related but we cannot believe he would get gout after 4 years without it and we feel it has to be related to the statins. Throughout this process it has become clear that we don't feel this Dr is a good fit and would like to find someone new. He would like a male doctor who has experience treating people with these types of issues and who is smart and has great listening skills as well. He is very afraid the cholesterol issue will eventually kill him and he is afraid! 

    Berkeley, Oakland, Albany preferred but he will go to SF for the right person.

    thanks all!

    There is a definite connection between statins & gout, but your current doctor may have reasons for thinking the two not related in your husband's case. 

    In any event, I highly recommend Nelson Bunin of the Albany Medical Group [still so named although the office is now in Emeryville]:  http://albanymedicalgroup.com/

    I'm very happy with him.  It may be statins for me some day, but we talk the pros and cons each visit, and it's my call. 

  • I've had my awesome doctor for about 10 years, through 2 pregnancies, and her office no longer accepts any individual health insurance plans:( I am switching insurance to Sutter Health Plus and looking for a new primary care physician (preferably female).  Please please recommend your doctor you love and trust. thank you!! Feeling sad.

    I really recommend my doctor, Nina Birnbaum, with one giant caveat: you probably won't get to see her very often.  She is guiding me through a recent diagnosis and she looked at my chart and said, "Oh, I haven't seen you since 2013!"  Of course, I have had to see other docs in the practice since then, because Dr. Birnbaum is so overbooked.  But she is smart, thorough, thoughtful and sympathetic, so if you are lucky enough to be seen by her, you will be in good hands  All that said, she may not even be taking new patients.

  • Does anyone recommend a primary care physician that offers a holistic approach? I have Sutter Health Plus HMO and would love to find a covered physician that I can align with in a health partnership, someone who appreciates a wellness model vs. a disease model. I would love to find a physician who prioritizes nutrition, and is willing to have a conversation about vaccinations/flu shots etc. instead of just repeating the CDC recommendation. 

    I would recommend not focusing so much on the PCP, but on finding the right the nurse practicioner in the PCP's office. In my experience, nurse practicioners spend much more time discussing and listening, and providing whole-person advice (sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, in addition to following CDC recommendations). I don't have one to recommend specifically at the moment, but at my previous doctor's office I always asked for my annual appointments with the NP.

    Francine Yep, at Sutter Oakland (pill hill). I was referred to her by someone who has chosen not to give some vaccines to her child. Dr. Yep (who goes by Frannie) is a family physician, so I see her too. I struggle with chronic inflammation and gut issues. Since I had already tried her first-line approach (diet), she gave me a referral to a functional medicine doctor in Berkeley. Insurance doesn't pay for that, but I mention it because this shows that she is not locked into a narrow medical model. I think she received some training in traditional Chinese medicine, though I may be misremembering.