Primary Pediatric Medical Group
(Alameda, Castro Valley & Oakland, CA)
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Primary Pediatric Medical Group
Pediatricians reviewed on this page:
Laura Balestreri, Jennifer Betz,
Patricia Chiang, Bruce Horwitz, Laura Saldivar,
Kathleen Smith, Lloyd Takao, Michael Usem
Re: Fabulous pediatrician needed!
I can't say enough good things about Dr. Bruce Horwitz at Primary Pediatrics
http://www.primarypediatric.com/clinicians.html. They have offices in Oakland (Pill
Hill area), Alameda and Castro Valley, with Saturday hours alternating between the
Dr. Horwitz is kind, patient, good humored, and takes time to explain everything
clearly. He has a way of putting parents at ease and a great rapport with children.
He's a grandfather and has been in practice for a long time, so he's seen
everything. I feel so fortunate to have found Dr. Horwitz!
I haven't seen the other doctors at the practice but I hear they're great too. The
Oakland office is lovely and the staff are all friendly. They take Blue Shield.
Re: Pediatrician for uncircumcised boy
We take our son to Primary Pediatrics in Oakland (in the 3300 Webster Building),
and have seen just about every pediatrician in the group at some point within the
past 2.5 years. His primary physician is Dr. Chiang (female), but we also love Dr.
Horwitz (male). My husband and I do not care for Dr. Usem, although many others
really like him. The fact that my son isn't circumcised has been a complete
non-issue at every exam, and no one has ever tried to retract his foreskin (I
responded to your original post that I would be pissed if anyone did this).
I anticipate you'll get lots of great suggestions. Good luck!
prefers the whole package
Re: Lactation Services at Pediatric Practices
We had a great experience with the lactation consultant at Primary
Pediatrics. Georganne Walker splits her time between the Oakland and
Alameda office locations, and we found her to be extremely
knowledgeable and patient when we were struggling. Can not recommend
her enough! Cut and paste for her bio:
Re: Pediatrician for Japanese seitai newborn
i go to http://www.primarypediatric.com with Dr. Takao. he's japanese,
but i'm not sure if he speaks japanese. i have a 4 month old baby and
Dr. Takao is really patient and he explains everything he's doing and
why or where the baby should be at this age and what to look out for
next month. i've even called him on emergency and he has been a great
help. i'm sure your cousin will like him. good luck!
I would like read some recommendations for a pediatrician in
Alameda. I prefer women doctors, but i will take any
recommendation for a competent, confident pediatrician who
practices in Alameda.
I highly recommend Primary Pediatrics in Alameda on Park St. (above
Scott's Shoes). We have seen all the female doctors in the practice and
they are all wonderful (Laura Balestreri, Jennifer Betz and NP Jen
I have a 4 year old girl and a 6 week old boy. When my son was born we
had him circumcised and saw Lloyd Takao, also in the practice. He is
fabulous. I had always preferred female doctors until I meet him. So
now when we have appointments we will happily see anyone that fits our
The office staff is great and knows who we are when we call about our
concerns. We always get a same day appointment for those sick days that
come up. They also have Saturday hours for sick kids that rotate
through the Alameda, Oakland, and Castro Valley offices. We have gone
to the Saturday clinic in the Oakland office with my daughter and it is
nice as well.
We love Primary Pediatrics in Alameda. Friendly staff and
great docs! There have been some changes there recently
with Dr. Saldivar moving away and Dr. Takao (male) joining,
but it has not been a problem. Dr. Betz and Dr. Balestreri
are the two women there, who I don't think are reviewed on
BPN. There website is www.primarypediatric.com
Primary Peds mom of 2
Editor Note: reviews were also received for Alameda Pediatrics
Re: Pediatrician shopping
After billing problems at another office, we have changed Ped. offices to Primary Pediatrics, my
children are Dr. Bruce Horwitz's patients and not only are he
and his colleagues really good but their office/billing staff
is fairly efficient. Hope this helps!
Re: Do you love your Pediatrician?
Wow, this really tells me the importance of getting first-hand
experience, in addition to other people's recommendations! Yes, i
love my Alameda pediatrician--at Primary Pediatrics. My experience
has been completely counter to what you've heard; their policies and
staff have never been a problem for us, they've always been pleasant
and helpful. For a while they used a very confusing billing agency,
but they responded to feedback and switched, and it hasn't been a
problem since. Best of all, I know my kids are getting great care
from excellent doctors, we get same-day appointments whenever we need
them, and they've seen us through more late-night phone calls than I
care to count. One of their nurse practitioners caught an
easily-missed but life-threatening condition in my daughter while it
was early enough to treat without complications. I'm very, very glad
they're our doctors.
Can you pay the office a visit to see if they can address your
concerns? They were happy to make an appointment for me to talk the
doctors before my first child was born; I'm sure you could talk to
the front office staff at the same time, if you let them know your
interest when you call so the relevant people are available. Because
you really need to find a practice that works for YOU, not me or any
other parent, my recommendation would be to make such an appointment
at PP and any others that interest you, and pick the one that feels
Best of luck with your babies!
Re: Looking 4 Great Pediatrician in Alameda
Dr. Laura Saldivar who also
practices at Primary Pediatrics in Alameda is AMAZING. She was
our ped. when my daughter was born, but then started only
practicing in Alameda, and we thought it was just too far to go to
on a regular basis.
We found her warm, knowledgeable, and really willing to take time
to discuss our concerns and answer our questions. Once I even
came in with a long list of questions and she took the time to go
through each one and write down the answer. Amazing. She was
always running behind when we saw her in Oakland, and I don't know
if that has changed, but I'd go back to her in a heartbeat.
Re: Oakland or Alameda pediatrician
I'd like to enthusiastically recommend Dr. Laura Saldivar and Jennifer Wineman, Nurse
Practitioner, both with Primary Pediatrics. They are part of a group that has offices in
Oakland, Alameda and Castro Valley (I think). I've been taking my four year old and five
month old to see both of them at the Park Street office in Alameda. They are both extremely
attentive and knowledgeable, and have a wonderful way with children. The front desk staff are
helpful, the waiting room and exam rooms are clean, and they have free parking in the back of
happy alameda mom
Re: Pediatrician in Alameda
I can't say enough about the MD's at Primary Pediatric group in
Alameda. Dr. Chiang has been our pediatrician for my 7 month
old son - except for 2 months where we went on my husbands
benefits since I didn't return to work. Dr Chiang is a
wonderful pediatrician - has always answered our questions and
returned calls late in the evening, we just love her. The
entire group are all great - we have also seen Dr. Smith who is
just as good as Dr. Chiang. We usually go to the Oakland
office, but have also gone to Alameda on a few occasions. The
entire staff at both places are warm, friendly and always tell
us when they are done to stay and breast feed if we wanted (at
Kaiser when I did this, the dr returned and said, ''you're still
here? We need this room.'' I was shocked, but understand the
numbers that Kaiser has and they needed the room. But, at
Primary Ped's they would never ask us to leave.
Re: Pediatrician in Alameda
I can recommend Dr. Laura Saldivar at Primary Pediatrics in Alameda. (She also has
an office in Oakland). She's never made me feel rushed, explains things completely
and clearly, plus I've always had good experiences with the front office staff as well.
Best of luck.
Re: Pediatrician in Alameda
We love primary pediatrics. Michael Usem and Kathleen Smith
are my favorites, but I've heard great things about dr.
I love Dr. Saldivar at Primary Pediatrics. She is the mom of two
boys and is great with both of my kids. I often have a bit of a
wait, but I think it's because she spends so much time with her
patients, so I'm okay about it. She answers all of my questions
and has been fine with my decision to delay some vaccinations.
She is also very open and non-judgmental about my use of herbs
and homeopothy- she actually suggested a chiroprator when my
daughter failed a hearing test and the treatment worked
Re: Hispanic Pediatrician who takes Blue Cross PP0
I love Dr. Laura Saldivar at Primary Pediatrics. I am not sure
of her ethnicity, but she is a woman of color and a mom with two
kids. She is great at connecting with my kids and is very
supportive of my choices re: vacines and using alternative
medicine. I highly recommend her. We also have Blue Cross PPO.
One caveat, she can run late at times because she does not rush
Re: Pediatrician for non-vaxed baby
We had the same concerns about vaccinations and wound
up switching at about 6 months to Primary Pediatrics
(510-433-1040). They were totally comfortable with not
pushing any vaccines/spacing things out, and provided a lot
of education which made me feel more comfortable with
the whole process, (At 2 my son is now vaccinated for
everything, and I'm truly okay with this)
My son sees Dr. Michael Usem. We've had a couple of sick
visits with Dr. Patty Chiang and she's my secret favorite.
Their offices are in Alamedia and Oakland (Pill Hill)
I just moved to Oakland a month ago and need to find a
pediatrician for our baby (due April 5th). My OB recommended
either the Primary Pediatric Medical Group (Oakland) or Bayside
Medical Group (specifically, Dr. Linn). The archives are fairly
dated so does anyone have a recent point of view on either group
in general, a specific doctor at Primary and/or experience with
Dr. Linn? Thanks!
We go to PPMG and love them. Our pediatrician is Dr. Kathleen
Smith, but we met all of the doctors there during an open house
night for new parents and liked them all. We interviewed Dr.
Linn at Bayside and liked him personally, but looking at the
whole package, including waiting room atmosphere, familial feel
of practice (which we were looking for), how the practice works
(whether they suggest you see any doc or one doc consistently--
we were looking for the latter), and considering Linn's
comments on the other docs, PPMG was a better fit for us. They
are warm and friendly. Also, when I asked about typical wait
times, it sounded like Bayside schedules heavily, such that you
usually end up waiting at your appt. time. Conversely, PPMG
considers itself one of the better practices at staying on
schedule... they have a rule that if you are 15 minutes late
for your appt, then you may be asked to reschedule--I think
this is probably what keeps them in line. Even so, I never
feel rushed and always can ask as many questions as I like
during our visits. (We have a 5 mo. old and have been 8 times
now.) Even though they suggest seeing one doc consistently,
you are welcome to schedule with any doc for any appt. All of
that said, you should really interview the practices yourself,
so you can get a feel for the right fit for you and your
family. As a bonus, if you interview Bayside, you'll get a
handy little baby manual written by one of their docs, which we
found fun and helpful to read while expecting our little one.
Again, we are very pleased with Dr. Smith at PPMG--she is calm,
thorough, understanding and pleasant (plus, she has a toddler
herself). Dr. Saldivar of PPMG examined our baby in the
hospital at birth, and we also liked her; I've heard good
things about Michael Usem at the same practice; and we also
liked Patty Chiang the night we interviewed the practice. Good
We use PPMG and can't say enough about them. We looked around
prior to the birth of our now five year old and were amazed by
the response we got from Laura Saldivar who is with the group.
We have seen all of the doctors in the Alameda office and some
from the Oakland office during Saturday drop in. The nurse
practitioner, Jennifer Wineman, is too good to be true.
Sometimes the wait is a bit long but it is because they listen
to you and never rush you out the door so you actually may end
up being the family that makes someone else wait...worth it for
the attention. Can't say enough about this practice!
Re: Pediatrician who has time for longer appts
I have a new baby, so this recommendation is based on limited experience (5 visits so
far). Having said that, I would highly recommend our pediatrician, Dr. Laura Saldivar
with Primary Pediatrics. She has offices in Oakland and Alameda. She spends a lot of
time with us, is calm, kind and thorough and never gives the imperssion that she is
rushed or has somewhere else to go. She is patient with our questions and great with
the baby. The office staff have also been nice and we have not had long waits. The
practice will accept a delayed immunization schedule, but does require families to
immunize. I searched for a holistic doctor and ultimately decided that I would use
the alopathic doctor for well baby visits, etc. and seek homeopathic and other
alternative therapies elsewhere. Most doctors I've encountered here seem to be
alternative or mainstream, but not a combination. So having a combination of providers
is perhaps the only way to get the range of care and perspective we are searching for.
Looking for those who have had experience with the Primary Pediatric
Medical Group in Oakland, and/or experience with Dr. Michael Usem. Thanks.
I can not speak highly enough of Dr. Michael Usem. We really feel
comfortable with him. We are moderate-attachment parenting style
folks and we feel he is affirming of our less than traditional ideas,
as well as when we are more by the book. Friends are always surprised
when we tell them he did our first well-baby check-up at our home so
we would not have to go out with an one week old. I am under the
impression that he would come to our house again if our child were
terribly ill. We have never had any problems making or changing an
appointment. We have had a lot of trouble with insurance (changing
jobs, switching primary parent, etc) and the office staff has been
very understanding and flexible. Feel free to email me if you have
any more questions. Good luck. Mariflo
My daughter (3 years old) has been seeing Dr. Usem since she was born.
I like him very much. His style is very mellow, doesn't get hyped up
about things and is not judgemental. No pressure felt to get a few
vaccines I didn't want at the time. As to the practice, its been
fine. Sometimes I don't wait at all, other times I wait too long .
However they do commingle well and sick kids, which is sort of a drag.
The desk people seem nice enough. I've never had to use them for an
emergency, so I can't speak to that. But I've always been able to get
an appointment quickly in the case of a sickness, no hassle. The only
other doctor I've seen there is Dr. Horowitz who was very good with my
daughter. So based on my experience, I'd recommend Dr. Usem.
I have had only the most positive experience with Dr Michael Usem for
6 years now. Since I was pregnant and through every visit, including
an operation my son had at 18 mos, he has been thoughtful, caring,
practical, easy to talk to, positive, great with the kids and parents.
I feel so confident with his ability and his manner, he can calm down
even the most worried parent and child, I never hesitate to call for
parenting advice, his office is very accommodating for sick kids, even
Saturday am drop-ins! The other doctors in the practice all seem great,
too. I've referred others and they've all been thrilled, too.
We have been seeing Dr. Usem since our daughter, who will be 3 in
January, was an infant. And now our 5 month old also is his patient.
We have been satisfied with the care we have received from Dr. Usem
and from the practice. We particularly like that they have a
sick-child drop-in every morning at the Oakland office, including
Saturdays (not Sundays). Of course you don't see your doctor
necessarily at the drop in, but it has helped us deal with things on a
timely basis, etc. We also have liked the other doctors in the
practice when we've met them, and I can see possibly shifting to one
of them when my daughters are adolescents if they want a woman doctor.
You probably know already that the MDs do their own vaccinations,
another thing I like. Dr. Usem has a good sense of humor, and I can
see where some people might find him a bit flip, but I've found it
reassuring (i.e., the baby won't spit up forever; how many adults do I
know that spit up 5 times a day?). If you want to contact me directly
to discuss further that's fine.
I have been seeing Dr. Patty Chiang of Primary Pediatrics, for my son,
Colm, over the past nine months and have been very happy with her.
She makes a point of coming into the exam room with a big smile and an
enthusiastic welcome which really makes Colm happy. Although I have
sometimes had to wait for 30 minutes before we are seen, she always
takes her time with us.
Dr. Usem visited us on day one and two while we were still in the
hospital. I really liked Dr. Usem's manner. He was very upbeat,
patient, reassuring and took time to answer my questions.
I have also seen Dr. Smith once. She didn't give me the "warm-fuzzy"
that Dr. Usem and Dr. Chiang do, but I felt that she was intelligent
We really like him, although it's rare that my son's illnesses have
coincided with the hours that he is in the office, so we often see
other doctors in the practice. He has a wonderful manner with my son
and takes the time to ensure that all my questions are answered too.
We particularly appreciate the Sat am drop-in times for sick kids
offered by the practice.
We see Dr. Saldivar at Primary Pediatrics and have been very happy with her
and overall with the whole group. We've had occasion to see Dr. Usem, he
came to the hospital and gave my youngest daughter her first exam, as well as some of her shots. We like him alot, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him as well as the other doctors there who we've also seen on occasion when we couldn't see Dr. Saldivar. I've recommended the group to several friends who have also been pleased. Also, the staff is quite helpful and always on hand for questions--this was very important to me when choosing a pediatrician.
Primary Pediatrics is the most wonderful place! My 11month old daughter sees
Dr. Horwitz (who was my doctor as a kid too!). Dr. Usem has been with the
practice for many years. He is a wonderful man. I love all the Dr.'s there.
They come highly recommended by me!
I would love to hear about your good and bad experiences with pediatrician
Patricia Chiang. She has an office in Alameda and Oakland and we will be going to her Oakland office.
Patricia Chiang is my 2 year old daughter's pediatrician and I think she's
great, but I'm a little biased because I've known Patti for 15 years -- we
went to college (undergrad at Cal) together. She's smart and a good person.
We've never had any major trauma's (during office hours), but she's always
given good sound advice during all her regular visits and calmed my maternal
anxieties and asked and answered lots of developmental questions. And, I
like her nurse. Also, a woman in my playgroup was commenting about having a
great pediatrician and it turned out to be Patti.
The only problem I have with her practice is the after hours emergency care.
If you have an after hours emergency the phone message tells you to call
another number which connects you with children's hospital advice line
nurses. They then call a Dr. and call you back and tell you whether you
need urgent care. If you need urgent care they send you to Children's
Hospital emergency room. We waited one night from 8pm til 2am when my
daughter bonked her head and needed stitches -- it was a nightmare. I'm not
sure if any other pediatricians have any better solutions for after hours
urgent care, but if you go with Dr. Chiang you may want to research options
for urgent care.
My daughter's pediatrition is Dr. Bruce Horwitz...but we have seen Dr. Chiang quite a few times. She is a wonderfully caring person who always has a smile on her face. She greets my daughter sweetly and is very down to earth with me. She come highly recommended by me!
I've been seeing Dr. Patty for the past six months with my son and have been very pleased. She has an excellent way with him, always bright and upbeat and excited to see him. She seems very knowledgeable about current pediatric issues and has always been able to answer my questions in detail. Even when I've been there on a particularly hectic day, she makes time for our appointment so we don't feel rushed.
We were recommended to her by several friends with stories about how her knowledge and abilities made potentially difficult health-related issues relatively painless.
The office staff at Primary Pediatrics has also been a pleasure to work with.
Re: Need a new pediatrician
I recommend my pediatrician, Dr. Bruce Horwitz of the Primary Pediatric
near Summit Hospital. 411 30th Street, #3212, Oakland, CA 94609. Phone
I'd like to recommend PPMG (I think it's the Primary Pediatrics Medical
Group) on Pill Hill in Oakland (phone is 433-1040). My kids have been going
since birth (22 months & 3 months). My primary pediatrician is Kathleen
Smith & she is really wonderful - enthusiastic, a good listener & very
analytical. Because of "drop in" I have been to about 4 other doctors in the
group & would recommend them all highly. I am not sure what they think of
I also think that the office is really well run - I have never had to wait
for an appointment & have always been able to either do "drop in" or get an
appointment when needed on short notice. They are also very patient &
helpful whenever I call with questions.
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