Alameda Health System

Highland Emergency Medicine

Highland Emergency Medicine

Alameda Health System

Highland Emergency Medicine

Alameda Health System


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@2020 Benjamin Thomas c/o 2018


Diversity, community, quality, compassion, longevity and dynamism are the words that describe the essence of the training program at Highland Emergency. In 1980, Bob Dailey M.D., our first department chair and one of the true fathers of Emergency Medicine, established an EM residency at Highland Hospital. Highland Emergency is one of the oldest Emergency Medicine residencies in the country.

 It began as a two-year program, (PGY 2-3) with six housestaff per year, and in 1988, was among the first residencies to transition to a four-year training program. As the residency grew and matured, private and university experience was added to the primarily county-based program. Today we match between 10-12 residents per year, forming a tight knit and diverse community.

Highland Hospital opened its doors in 1927 with the mission to improve the health of all county residents regardless of ability to pay. Located on a hilly 16 acre site, 3 miles south of downtown Oakland, the original hospital, with its Spanish baroque architecture, promised “progressive medical care in comfortable surroundings.” 

Today, Alameda Health System (formerly Alameda County Medical Center) consists of three inpatient facilities; Highland, Alameda, and San Leandro hospitals, a 159 bed Fairmont Rehabilitation Hospital, and the 80 bed John George Psychiatric Pavilion. Alameda Health System is home to residencies in Emergency Medicine, Surgery, Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery and Internal Medicine. It is the only level 1 trauma center for the East Bay and is the county EMS base station.

For it’s first 50 years of existence the Emergency Department at Highland consisted of one very long hallway. Its 6,000 square feet of space were usually jammed with patients. In 2004 we opened our 26,000 square foot modern ED in the new and seismically-safe Koret Building, equipped with the latest technology such as a dedicated light speed multi slice CT scanner and integrated informatics system.

This beautiful new space ensures that we will be prepared to serve our community and its needs for years to come. In 2013, the medical center was re-organized to meet the emerging demands of the Affordable Care Act, and the new name Alameda Health System was adopted. In 2015, a new, state-of-the-art inpatient hospital was opened.


Highland Emergency is composed 46 EM residents, 16 full time faculty and 3 administrative assistants. Our mothership is Alameda Health System – Highland Hospital (formerly Alameda County Medical Center), in inner-city Oakland. While this website provides details about the many facets of our department, there are 3 that we would like to highlight here: location, clinical innovation, and community.

Our program is located in the heart of the Bay Area, which allows our residents to live in Oakland, Berkeley, or San Francisco and enjoy all the fruits of this wonderful region of the country. We recreate on a daily basis from the Pacific Coast (Santa Cruz to Point Reyes) to the Sierra Nevadas (Tahoe to Yosemite).

Our group leads the nation in training and research in emergency ultrasound. We have on our faculty multiple widely recognized leaders in this field – early pioneers as well as innovators at the current cutting edge.

Most importantly, our department is like a big family. Our residents are instrumental in selecting the incoming intern class and we are a group that truly enjoys working and playing together. Highland Emergency was one of the first West Coast EM programs. We’ve built a reputation as a county hospital crucible that turns out emergency physicians that not only work hard and could handle absolutely anything but also play hard. As the specialty of Emergency Medicine has matured, our program has evolved along with it. We pride ourselves on being on the cutting edge of clinical practice and academic research, yet we have never lost that Highland Emergency schtick that makes us unique and is so central to our esprit de corps.


The Bay Area is the large metropolitan region in Northern California encompassing the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.

San Francisco is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. In addition to the famous Golden Gate Bridge and Park, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Alcatraz Islands, San Francisco is home to the SF Museum of Modern Art, de Young Museum, and the California Academy of Sciences. Across the Bay Bridge are Oakland and Berkeley, making up the East Bay where the majority of residents live and home to Highland Hospital. The area has multiple centralized communities including Downtown Oakland, Lake Merritt, Rockridge, Montclair, and the UC Berkeley campus area. The Bay Area has always been at the center of new and live music with numerous historic venues in San Francisco and Oakland including the Fillmore, the Fox Theater and Yoshi’s Jazz Club. The Bay Area is home to nine professional sports teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Golden State Warriors, and San Jose Sharks.

The hills, mountains, and ocean produce immense geographic diversity within the Bay Area. The coast along the Pacific Ocean has small temperature variations during the year, with cool summers and mild rainy winters. Inland, the summers are warmer with colder temperatures during the winter, however, very few residential areas ever experience snow.

The Bay Area boasts some of the most scenic coastlines, beautiful beaches, and world-class surfing from Marin County down to Santa Cruz. Napa and Sonoma County offer year-round access to the famous wine country. Outdoor enthusiasts don’t have to travel far to have unlimited access to some of the best hiking, climbing, biking, and camping in the United States. Mt. Tamalpias in Marin County is the site where mountain biking was born, and Mt. Diablo State Park presents diverse hiking terrain and striking views of the East Bay. Yosemite National Park, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the greater Lake Tahoe area are a short drive away. Residents frequently get the chance to escape to these beautiful destinations for weekend getaways or even day ski trips.


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