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Primary Pediatric Medical Group

(Alameda, Castro Valley & Oakland, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Health & Medical > Pediatricians > Primary Pediatric Medical Group



Jan 2013

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 locations. 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. Good luck! Kathleen


Oct 2012

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). http://primarypediatric.com/ I anticipate you'll get lots of great suggestions. Good luck! prefers the whole package


July 2011

Re: Lactation Services at Pediatric Practices
Hi- 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: http://primarypediatric.com/clinicians.html Cara


May 2011

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! t.


Dec 2010

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. thanks! a mom


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 Wineman).

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 busy schedule.

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. http://ppmg.homestead.com/schedules.html Alameda Mom


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


Aug 2009

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! Denise


April 2009

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 right. Best of luck with your babies! katy


Jan 2009

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. Good luck Claire


Jan 2007

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 the building. happy alameda mom


January 2005

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. Ruth
Re: Pediatrician in Alameda
We love primary pediatrics. Michael Usem and Kathleen Smith are my favorites, but I've heard great things about dr. saldivar, too. DL
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 beautifully! Ariel
November 2004

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 through appointments. Ariel


August 2004

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) Good Luck. Susannah


February 2004

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! AA


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 luck! Tracy
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! slykahn
May 2002

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. Abby


October 2001

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. Hilary
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. Nancy
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. Jody


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 and thorough. Elaine


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. Cristin


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. Hileslie1
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! Jennifer
July 2001

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. thanks much


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. Elizabeth
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! Jennifer
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. Elaine
Oct 2000

Re: Need a new pediatrician
I recommend my pediatrician, Dr. Bruce Horwitz of the Primary Pediatric medical group near Summit Hospital. 411 30th Street, #3212, Oakland, CA 94609. Phone 433-1045 Amy


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 homeopathy, though. 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. Roz
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