This story has been updated.
YAKIMA — “Emergency Department Services at Astria Regional Medical Center (ARMC) cease on Monday, Jan. 13, at 12:01 a.m. with all Astria Regional Medical Center hospital services winding down effective immediately.
ARMC received authorization from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Washington to begin the process of closing ARMC in a news release issued after paper deadline on Tuesday, Jan. 7.
ARMC is managing current inpatient hospital patients to ensure their ongoing care,” ARMC Communications Executive Dawn O’Polka announced Monday, Jan. 13.
Most of ARMC hospital inpatients will be discharged under normal course and any difficult discharge patients will be transitioned to either other Astria Health Hospitals or other facilities as appropriate, O’Polka reiterated.
Patients and people living and working in the Upper Yakima Valley and throughout the Yakima Valley will be able to continue to access care within the Astria Health system, including neurosurgical and cardiac care, through Astria Health’s ambulatory surgical center locations, Astria Health Center primary care and specialty care locations, and through Astria Sunnyside Hospital and Astria Toppenish Hospital, she further explained.
“Astria Health has put in place a transition team who is working with providers and patients to ensure existing scheduled services are transferred to other Astria Health facilities for continued care as appropriate for patients,” she explained.
“ARMC employees will be given consideration for positions within existing Astria Health Hospitals or other Astria Health facilities,” she added.
Inpatient services at ARMC located at 110 S. Ninth Ave., Yakima, will begin winding down immediately, and it is anticipated that within approximately the next two weeks, patient services will cease at the hospital.
Astria’s two other hospitals in Sunnyside and Toppenish will remain open. As a result, Astria Health will continue to deliver both inpatient hospital care and ambulatory care, outpatient and emergency care to the both facilities.
“We have worked diligently to sustain the ARMC hospital and to avoid closing it, but healthcare industry delivery models continue to shift from inpatient care to outpatient models and due to its continued operating losses, lenders have no interest in refinancing the debt associated with ARMC. Closure is, therefore, necessary as no other feasible option is available,” John M. Gallagher, President and CEO said in a news release on Wednesday.
According to officials, they sought lenders that would provide additional liquidity to ARMC but were ultimately unsuccessful. Similarly, Astria Health attempted to sell ARMC or partner with nearby hospitals to continue providing healthcare to the community, and these paths were also not successful. Lastly, Astria Health requested government assistance from the State, including intervention to save the hospital, but failed.
Astria reports they have lost over $40 million since purchasing the ARMC in late August 2017. The hospital’s continued funding proved to be unsustainable and jeopardized the long-term sustainability of Astria Health and the region’s other healthcare facilities, including Astria Sunnyside Hospital and Astria Toppenish Hospital.
Representatives for Astria Health indicated they have received interest from investors who acknowledge that Astria Sunnyside Hospital and Astria Toppenish Hospital are both valuable community and financial assets and are willing to refinance the debt associated with the hospitals.
“We want to assure our patients that Astria Health’s highest priority remains their care and we are working closely with other Astria Health Hospitals and with other local providers on their behalf,” Gallagher added.
Astria Health confirmed they will continue to provide outpatient care to the Yakima area. As such, patients in the Upper Valley will be able to continue to access care in their network through its ambulatory surgical center locations and Astria Health Centers.
Both primary care and specialty care will be available and delivered through the Astria Ambulatory Surgical Center and Astria Health Medical Plaza in Yakima, along with other outpatient ambulatory services including laboratory services, therapy services, and advanced imaging services.
ARMC patients’ medical records will be made available by calling 509-576-3749, or faxing a request to 509-575-5244 or, over the next 30 days, through the Medical Records Department at the hospital.