Oakland — By a vote of 38 to 2, psychiatrists at John George Psychiatric Hospital demanded that
the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, Joe Walker, M.D., be removed from that position.
The doctors are no longer willing to tolerate a Chair who fails to treat patients, who is far
removed from the workings of his Department, and who in his role as an interim chief medical
officer has awarded financially reckless contracts. A contract negotiated by Dr. Walker with
Traditions Behavioral Health would pay $264 per hour for psychiatrist services, 50% more than
what it costs to have John George employees continue to do the work. John George doctors took
the unprecedented step of voting no on Dr. Walker’s leadership because his continued missteps
will waste resources and jeopardize patient care.
“We think that Alameda County residents should know what’s going on at John George
Psychiatric Hospital,” said Milton Lorig, M.D., a psychiatrist who worked at the facility for
decades. “Dr. Walker wants to spend a lot of money on a plan that will also compromise patient
“We’ve never had a group of psychiatrists take a poll on their leadership and vote no so
overwhelming,” said Stuart Bussey, M.D., President of the Union of American Physicians and
Dentists, which represents the doctors. “We’re hoping that stakeholders in the community, and
that means both taxpayers and those who rely on the mental health system in Alameda County,
will take notice.”
John George Psychiatric Hospital, located in Oakland, is part of the Alameda Health System.
The hospital treats the acutely mentally-ill in both an in-patient and outpatient setting. The
hospital’s psychiatric emergency department provides services on a 24-7 basis to those facing a
mental health crisis.