Astria Health officials informed its staff that they are diligently working with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH)’s Certificate of Need (CN) office regarding Astria Toppenish Hospital (ATH)’s closure of its Family Maternity Center in December 2022.
“You may have read a recent article that stated the DOH is considering possible disciplinary action against ATH over the December closure of the Family Maternity Center,” said Astria Health President & Chief Executive Officer Brian Gibbons during a staff leadership meeting on February 15. “I understand that this sounds like cause to be concerned, but it is not. While the article is factually correct, it lacks context and detail.”
On December 13, 2022, Mr. Gibbons personally spoke with the DOH CN Office. He told them that Astria Health would immediately file a Letter of Intent to Amend the Certificate of Need for ATH with them understanding that by closing the family maternity center they would be out of compliance with the CN.
The CN office informed Mr. Gibbons that being out of compliance triggers an “enforcement status” with the requirement of it being removed is to come back into compliance, Astria Health is currently in the process of amending the CN.
Astria Health filed the official letter of intent to change the CN and remove all conditions on January 30, 202 with the process still ongoing.
“When we made the difficult decision to close the Family Maternity Center in Toppenish, we needed to act quickly to ensure patient safety and financial stability,” said Mr. Gibbons. “Changing a certificate of need is a very lengthy process. If we had waited for the certificate of need process to be finalized, the financial stability of the entire hospital would’ve been at risk. When we made the decision to close the maternity center, our first call was to the CN office. We followed their advice and did exactly as they advised us to do.”
After the closure of the Family Maternity Center, ATH’s financial stability is more secure, and Astria Health officials are advocating for more support from the state and federal government to bolster the community hospital’s operations and capacity. Mr. Gibbons, Cathy Bambrick and Eric Jensen are actively working with local legislature to ensure the financial viability of Astria Toppenish Hospital.
Kennia Perez can be contacted at 509-837-4500 ext. 110 or at KPerez@sunnysidesun.com
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