The East Bay public health system has spent decades nurturing a pipeline of diverse talent from the local community.

OAKLAND, Calif., July 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A cohort of Alameda Health System’s (AHS) HealthPATH interns will graduate next week, ending their six-week immersion in the health care sector under the mentorship of clinicians, administrators, and staff at Highland Hospital in Oakland. Every year, HealthPATH programs provide internships and work-based learning experiences to more than 300 middle school to college students from the Bay Area communities most affected by health inequities.

“HealthPATH is unique in that it offers opportunities to students who don’t often have access to mentorship from health care leaders,” said James Jackson, CEO of Alameda Health System. “AHS is making this significant kind of investment in our young people. We’re increasing diversity in health care and nurturing a workforce pipeline directly from the community we serve.”

HealthPATH is just one of the AHS initiatives intended to train health care providers who reflect the diversity of Alameda, a minority-majority county in the East Bay that is among the most ethnically diverse regions in the country. Dr. Berenice Perez, M.D. and Dr. Jocelyn Freeman Garrick, M.D., M.S. have been leading an effort to elevate physician leaders of color in Highland Hospital’s Emergency Department for nearly two decades.

Their efforts are paying off. This month, in an entirely unplanned first at AHS, a team of Black ED residents switched shifts with a second team of all Black residents. The historic moment happened on July 10, 2022. Attending Physician Evan Rusoja, M.D., Ph.D., gathered physicians for the morning turnover of patients from the night team to the day team. He paused the usual process to commemorate the significance of the moment.

“Their perseverance and leadership have played a major role in caring for our community during this time of unprecedented health and social crisis,” Dr. Rusoja said.

Highland has been home to many distinguished chief residents and physician leaders of color over the years, but July 10 marks a watershed moment worth celebrating – and a stark contrast to the decades when physician leadership was often 100% white.

“The Department of Emergency Medicine has a long history of leadership within our field and community,” said Dr. Rusoja. “Our residents are not only some of the best physicians in the country, they’re also some of the most dedicated to centering the voices and experiences of our patients. In a community renowned for Black-led social change, it is a privilege to work with a provider group at the intersection of such rich heritage and professional excellence.”

ALAMEDA HEALTH SYSTEM (AHS) is a leading public health care provider dedicated to caring, healing, teaching and serving all. AHS is a haven for the most vulnerable among us and an advocate for equitable, compassionate, and culturally sensitive care regardless of social and financial barriers. AHS is a vanguard of medical excellence, with a teaching hospital that draws the nation’s best medical students. As one of Alameda County’s 15 largest employers, AHS is a major economic power providing more than 5,100 jobs and contributing nearly $560 million annually in salaries, wages and benefits. AHS is also home to more than 760 physicians across the nine facilities within the health system. Since 1864, AHS has served the East Bay’s health care needs. For more information, visit

Eleanor Ajala
Manager of Media & Communications
Alameda Health System
(510) 421-9222