This story has been updated.
YAKIMA – “Astria Regional’s closure will wreak havoc in our region,” Laurie Robinson a nurse in the hospital’s emergency department stated.
Her comments were made Friday, Jan. 10, following the Washington State Nurses Association’s announcement that it has filed an emergency motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Washington against Astria Health requesting reconsideration of the abrupt closure of Astria Regional Medical Center.
The Association will hold its hearing before the Court Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 9:30 a.m., contending that Astria failed to give WSNA and other interested parties adequate notice or the opportunity to present arguments in its secret decision, giving nurses and other staff at Astria Regional only five days’ notice of their immediate termination.
“It (the closure announcement) was a huge shock and still is,” ARMC nurse Lisa Bulleck said of the eminent closure.
“I haven’t heard of there being any help to get us other jobs,” she added.
WSNA officials contend that a week’s notice is not enough time for Virginia Mason Memorial and other local resources to absorb the increased demand for health care caused by the court’s decision to expedite the loss of health care services that Regional provided to the community.
Astria Health officials said their physicians, caregivers and staff are among the best in the industry. “Their dedication and the quality of the care they deliver to its patients and communities is invaluable to healthcare in the Yakima Valley,” company president and CEO John Gallagher said.
“As many Astria Regional Medical Center caregivers and staff as possible will be given consideration for positions within existing Astria Health Hospitals or other Astria Health facilities or assisted in finding new positions,” he stressed.
Astria Health plans to meet with representatives from SEIU 1199NW on Tuesday, Jan. 14, and with representatives from the WSNA on Wednesday, Jan. 15, to discuss how the company can assist employees as a result of the closure.
With the loss of Yakima Regional’s emergency room as of 12:01 a.m. Monday, Jan. 13, Memorial can expect to see a nearly 40 percent increase in volume, according to Medicare.gov data.
“Astria Regional is the only hospital in this city that provided open heart surgery, and we saw approximately 150 trauma patients yearly. I worry about patients in the Yakima Valley who need cardiothoracic, neurosurgical and emergency care,” Robinson stated.