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Astria Regional Medical Center Among Nation’s Top Performing Hospitals for Treatment of Heart Attack Patients

Yakima, WA (July 3, 2018) — Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute have received the ACTION Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award from The American College of Cardiology for 2018. Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute are one of only 203 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor and is tangible evidence of their hard work and commitment to delivering the highest quality in cardiovascular care to transform heart health in Central Washington.


“We are proud to have been listed among the best hospitals in America for the care of patients presenting chest pain or experiencing a heart attack. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) are recognized internationally as leaders in cardiovascular patient care and research. Accreditation by these organizations requires a well-designed, high-quality hospital care process to rapidly identify and treat patients with coronary heart disease,” said Dr. Bradley Titus, Medical Director for the Astria Heart Institute Chest Pain Center and Interventional Cardiologist. “This process originates from evidence-based research and the nationally recognized ACC/AHA guidelines in order to provide the highest quality standard of cardiac care.”

“This award recognizes Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients and signifies that they have reached an aggressive goal of treating these patients to standard levels of care as outlined by the ACC/AHA clinical guidelines and recommendations. I am proud of the hard work and dedication our team has made to our cardiac program. Our goal is always to achieve the highest level of excellence, this is another great example of that commitment,” said Rich Robinson, CEO Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute.

To receive the ACTION Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award, Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute have demonstrated sustained achievement in the ACTION Registry for eight consecutive quarters and has performed at the top level of standards for specific performance measures. Full participation in the registry engages hospitals in a robust quality improvement process using data to drive improvements in adherence to guideline recommendations and overall quality of care provided to heart attack patients.

“As a Platinum Performance Award recipient, Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute have shown to be a leader in implementing standards of care and protocols for its patients,” said Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, FACC, Chair, ACTION Registry. “By meeting the requirements set forth in the registry and establishing a culture of providing guideline-recommended therapy, Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute are saving lives and improving outcomes of heart attack patients.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 700,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. A heart attack occurs when a blood clot in a coronary artery partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart muscle. Treatment guidelines include administering aspirin upon arrival and discharge, timely restoration of blood flow to the blocked artery, smoking cessation counseling and cardiac rehabilitation, among others.

John Gallagher, President and Chief Executive Officer of Astria Health said, “Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute continue to be the leader in the treatment of heart related medical issues in the Yakima Valley. From emergent situations that require our highly skilled teams in the Emergency Department to open heart surgery and all areas of care in between, this recognition signifies our commitment to a higher standard of care for heart attack patients.”

“To be one of only 203 hospitals to receive the Platinum Performance Achievement Award by the American College of Cardiology is a reflection of the exceptional team of physicians and staff committed to consistent, high quality processes across the continuum of care. The Accreditation demonstrates reduced variations in patient care and lower lengths of stay while decreasing readmission rates while maintaining systematic process improvements and maximizing patient satisfaction,” said Gallagher.

ACTION Registry empowers health care provider teams to consistently treat heart attack patients according to the most current, science-based guidelines and establishes a national standard for understanding and improving the quality, safety and outcomes of care provided for patients with coronary artery disease, specifically high-risk heart attack patients.

Astria Sunnyside Hospital Invites the Public to an Open House Announcing Its New Intensive Outpatient Therapy Program Designed to Help Older Adults

(Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - Sunnyside, WA) – Astria Sunnyside Hospital will be hosting an Open House event this Thursday, May 24 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. to announce the new Intensive Outpatient Program located on the Astria Sunnyside Hospital campus at 1017 Tacoma Ave., Sunnyside, WA. Light refreshments will be served. The Life Transitions Intensive Outpatient Program is a flexible service designed to support older adults who might be experiencing emotional difficulties or late-life depression.

All members of the community are invited to attend and learn more about the Program. This open house gives attendees the opportunity to meet the physicians, staff and other care providers.

“We are very pleased to offer this new program. The program is designed to help older adults living in the Yakima Valley. It connects them with the medical, emotional and social support they need and deserve at every phase of life. We are pleased that the Life Transitions Center will be staffed by an experienced team of caring professionals who understand the culturally rich area Yakima Valley provides. We welcome families too. Multi-generational support is a significant component of the program and all members of the family can benefit from it,” said Brian Gibbons, CEO of Astria Sunnyside Hospital.

The Life Transitions Intensive Outpatient Program focuses on restoring daily functioning, increasing one’s overall sense of wellbeing and improving quality of life. Life Transitions involves structured, short-term treatment options that may include group therapy, individual counseling or family therapy led by a Board Certified Psychiatrist, Dr. Pedro Fernandez.

The onset of late-life depression can be prompted by the changes and life challenges experienced later on in life such as decreased mobility, persistent aches and pains and loss of friends and loved ones. Those suffering from late-life depression can experience physical changes. They might also feel sad, have a tendency to worry, or socially withdraw and find themselves isolated from family and friends.

For more information about Astria Sunnyside Hospital’s Life Transitions Intensive Outpatient Program or to sign up for the program, please call 509.837.1387. The Program is located at 1017 Tacoma Ave., Sunnyside, WA.

Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute Announce Spring 2018 Daisy Award Nominees and Honoree

Thursday, May 3, Yakima, WA – Nurses at Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute are being honored with The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s program to recognize the super-human efforts nurses perform every day. The celebration will take place on Monday, May 7 at noon in the Café at Astria Regional Medical Center located at 110 S. 9th Avenue, Yakima as part of our week long Hospital Week celebration.

Nurses may be nominated by patients, families, and colleagues and they are chosen by a committee at Astria Regional Medical Center to receive The DAISY Award. Awards are given twice a year at presentations given in front of the nurse’s colleagues, physicians, patients, and visitors. Each nominee will receive a certificate commending her or him for being an "Extraordinary Nurse” as well as a Daisy pin to proudly display on their name tag or scrubs. The Honoree will also be given a certificate that reads: "In deep appreciation of all you do, who you are, and the incredibly meaningful difference you make in the lives of so many people”, as well as a beautiful and meaningful sculpture called A Healer’s Touch, hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Africa.

Said Bonnie Barnes, FAAN, President and Co-Founder of The DAISY Foundation, "When Patrick was critically ill, our family experienced first-hand the remarkable skill and care nurses provide patients every day and night. Yet these unsung heroes are seldom recognized for the super-human work they do. The kind of work the nurses at Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute are called on to do every day epitomizes the purpose of The DAISY Award.”

“The Daisy Award provides us an amazing opportunity to pay tribute to nursing at its best! This spring, 25 extraordinary Astria Regional Medical Center nurses were recognized by patients and families for the difference these nurses made. Depending on what their patients require, nurses care, comfort, humor, cajole, gently (and sometimes maybe not so gently) badger and, in the end, nurses save lives. I’m so proud of these nominees and their representation of nursing excellence at Astria Regional Medical Center! “ said Sara Williamson, Chief Nursing Officer, Astria Regional Medical Center.

Astria Health Introduces New Family Nurse Practitioner to Zillah, WA

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - Toppenish, WA – April Dawn Hood, certified family nurse practitioner will now be seeing patients at the Astria Health Center in Zillah, WA.

April Dawn Hood, FNP-C recently moved to the Yakima Valley from Augusta, GA and began working with Astria Health in April 2018. April brings valuable knowledge and expertise in family medicine greatly needed in the Yakima Valley, as there is a great need for primary care providers in the Zillah community.

Together, Astria Health, Dr. Lincoln Westfall and April look forward to treating the people who live and work in Zillah and the surrounding area. Eric Jensen, CEO of Astria Toppenish Hospital said, “We are so pleased to have April join our staff at Astria Toppenish Hospital. With her help, we will be able to provide the community with greater access to primary care services that have been lacking in the community. We look forward to the expertise and high level care that she will be bring to the Valley."

April Dawn Hood FNP-C has over ten years of nursing experience, and she received her Masters of Science in Nursing from South University in Savannah, GA. She is passionate about the health of her patients and the level of care that she provides. April wanted to be a nurse from a very young age and spent most of her nursing career in a hospital setting. She was motivated to continue her nursing education and become a family nurse practitioner which allows her to provide a higher level of care for her patients. “I chose to become a family nurse practitioner because I wanted to be able to be a part of the patients entire course of care and not just when they were sick in the hospital. As a family medicine provider, I am able to treat both the individual and their entire family. This way, I am able to get a better understanding of the needs of the family as a whole,” said April.

As an Astria Health provider, April Dawn Hood FNP-C sees patients at the Astria Health Center in Zillah located at 915 Vintage Valley Pkwy, Suite 200 Zillah, WA. Appointments can be made by calling 509.314.6565.

Astria Health Welcomes Cardiac Anesthesiologist and Anesthesiology Nurse to Astria Heart Institute

Monday, April 30, Yakima, WA – Dr. Jason Hanson, MD and and Andrea Valicoff, CRNA have joined the Astria Regional Medical Center Surgery Department.

Dr. Hanson is a cardio-pulmonary anesthesiologist and completed his Internship and Residency at University Hospitals Cleveland, OH. He received his Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Hanson is board certified in Anesthesiology(?) by the American Board of Anesthesiologists. He holds certifications in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and a National Board of Echocardiography Examinations of Special Competence in Advanced Perioperative Transesophageal Echocardiography.

Dr. Hanson joins Dr. Hemstad as the second cardiac-pulmonary anesthesiologist working with the outstanding team at Astria Heart Institute.

Andrea Valicoff, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, has a Master of Science Cum Laude from Georgetown University School of Nursing, Washington DC. She received her anesthesia clinical training from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington DC and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Portland, Portland, OR.

Ms. Valicoff joins our anesthesia team in the General OR Department.

We look forward to having their knowledge and medical expertise in providing healthcare services to the communities we serve.

Astria Health Welcomes Cardiologist to Astria Heart Institute

Friday, March 30 - Yakima, WA - Oscar Bailon, MD, FACC, a General Cardiologist, has rejoined Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute.

Dr. Oscar Bailon completed his cardiology Fellowship at the University of Texas Health in San Antonio, completed his Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins University/Sinai Hospital Program. He received his Doctor of Medicine from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima Peru.

Dr. Bailon is board certified in Nuclear Cardiology and Echocardiography. He will provide a full range of comprehensive outpatient and inpatient cardiac services.

Dr. Bailon joins our outstanding cardiology team of Dr. Titus, Dr. Kneller and Dr. Owens at Astria Health Center Cardiology located in the Medical Office Plaza suite 120 in Yakima and at the Astria Health Center in Toppenish. Dr. Bailon is accepting new patient, and is bilingual.

We look forward to having his knowledge and medical expertise in providing healthcare services to the communities we serve.

Astria Health Welcomes New Neurosurgeon and Cardiac Thoracic Surgeon

Tuesday, March 13 - Yakima, WA - Doniel Drazin, MD – Neurosurgeon and Roberto Amado-Cattaneo, MD, FACS Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeon have joined Astria Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Doniel Drazin graduated magna cum laude from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and earned a masters degree in psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He specialized in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders before receiving his medical degree from Albany Medical College in Albany, New York, and completed his Fellowship in Complex and Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery at Swedish Medical Center. Dr. Drazin completed Residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Dr. Drazin will see patients at the Astria Health Center at 6101 Summitview Ave., in Yakima and will perform surgeries at Astria Sunnyside Hospital and Astria Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Roberto Amado-Cattaneo is a board certified cardio and thoracic surgeon. He has extensive training and clinical expertise to provide care in all areas of cardio and thoracic surgery. Dr. Cattaneo completed his Residency in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Oregon Health Sciences University, his General Surgery Residency at Boston University Medical Center, and his Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Buenos Aires.

Dr. Cattaneo joins our outstanding CVTU / CVOR teams and will do procedures that include coronary artery by-pass surgery, aortic valve surgery, mitral valve repair and replacement, aortic aneurysm surgery, thoracic valve surgery, vascular surgery and atrial fibrillation surgery.

Dr. Cattaneo will see patients in the Medical Office Plaza, located at 111 S. 11th St. Suite 220 with vascular surgeons Dr. Michael Zammit and Dr. Mitchell Cahn.

Astria Health Center in Grandview Ranked Top 1% in State of Washington For Patient Experience

Sunnyside, WA - March 2, 2018 – A new report from the Washington Health Alliance shows that there is tremendous variation in how patients rate primary care clinics on their experience of care.

The report, “Your Voice Matters: Patient Experience with Primary Care Providers in Washington State” is based on the Washington Health Alliance Patient Experience Survey, which was sent to 250,000 people across Washington state between August and November 2017. Patient experience refers to what happens to an individual when they are interacting with the health care system, based on their perceptions of those interactions. Survey questions focus on whether or not or how often certain events or behaviors happened during care, rather than on how satisfied patients feel.

The analysis identified six key drivers that distinguish practices that are highly rated. Five of the six relate to provider communication and coordination of care.

The six key drivers of overall patient satisfaction are:

  • How often did your provider listen carefully to you?
  • How often did your provider show respect for what you had to say?
  • How often did your provider seem to know the important information about your medical history?
  • How often did your provider explain things in a way that was easy to understand?
  • How often did your provider spend enough time with you?
  • How often did your provider seem informed and up-to-date about the care you got from specialists?

While many medical groups take steps to periodically assess their patients’ experience using a variety of survey tools, the Alliance’s initiative is the only one of its kind to produce comparable, publicly available patient experience results for primary care providers in Washington state. The patient experience results for 114 primary care medical groups and 351 clinics are available at www.wacommunitycheckup.org.

Astria Health Center in Grandview would like to thank its patients for voting them the Top 1% in Washington. Patients and the community are invited to join them in a March 6 celebration from 4:30-6:30pm at Astria Health Center located at 208 N. Euclid Ave., Grandview. Light refreshments will be served.

Many people in Yakima at-risk of developing heart disease

by Tristan Balagtas, KIMA

YAKIMA, Wash - Smoking. Obesity. Diabetes. All these things can lead to heart disease or a heart attack.

“There's a tremendous burden of cardiovascular disease in the Yakima Valley. Cardiologists moving into this area have been very surprised by the burden of coronary artery disease in our population," said Dr. James Kneller.

Dr. Kneller at the Astria Heart Institute says many people in Yakima are at risk of developing this serious condition.

“We behave very much like a hard-living mid-west population. Lots of McDonalds. Lots of poor risk factor management. Lots of diabetes, obesity, things like that are more concentrated in the Yakima Valley,” he said.

Over 600 thousand people die each year from heart disease in the United States. That's 1 in every 4 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Dr. Kneller says there's a lot that can be done to prevent this epidemic.

“Mainly that is controlling risk factors - so stop smoking if you’re smoking. We have to control your high blood pressure if you have high blood pressure. We have to manage your diabetes as meticulously as possible, and then diet. Heart healthy diets,” said Dr. Kneller.

Other ways to prevent yourself from developing heart disease, is to stay physically active and to manage conditions such as high cholesterol.

Bruce Whitmore is a retired school teacher. He recommends if you ever suspect even the slightest thing wrong with your health, it's better to be safe than sorry.

“I had many little symptoms that are typical with dangerous heart health, and I went to see a doctor, and within ten days, I had major surgery, and if I hadn't, I would've been a 100 percent candidate for a drop-dead heart attack,” said Whitmore.

Heart attack symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and nausea, among other things.

Dr. Kneller says to seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these.

Astria Health Announces New ACO Funding Program

Sunnyside, WA. - February 9, 2018 – Astria Health is pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with Caravan Health. Astria Health and Caravan Health will join forces in the creation of the Astria Health Clinically Integrated Network (CIN). As the nation’s leader in accountable care organizations (ACOs), Caravan Health is an excellent choice for Astria Health as it brings its leadership and experience in providing healthcare solutions to Washington State’s changing healthcare landscape.
John Gallagher, president and chief executive officer of Astria Health, is enthusiastic about the new partnership. “Finding the right partner to bring our Clinically Integrated Network to fruition is vital to the success of our hospitals and providers. We have had amazing results in our Caravan Health-partner ACO,” said Gallagher. “They have a proven track record in the ACO space with 38 successful Medicare Shared Savings Programs in 41 states. This partnership pairs Astria Health, as the largest healthcare provider based in Eastern Washington and its experience in building successful community-based operations with Caravan Health’s experience promoting population health and building successful ACOs. Our new partnership allows us to address the specific needs community-based providers throughout the region face as they begin their transition to value-based care.”
Caravan Health’s chief executive officer, Lynn Barr, sees the benefits of Astria Health’s approach to clinical integration. “Astria Health has an experienced and seasoned leadership team, and understands the sense of personal pride a community has in its hospital,” said Barr. “They know the unique challenges that many community-based hospitals and other providers must overcome on their path to offering value-based care. We are proud to be partnering with Astria Health to bring this unique opportunity to their region.”
In 2016, Caravan Health-partner ACOs achieved average net savings of nearly $1.1 million per ACO and an average projected MIPS score of 93 percent, with the highest being 100 percent. Caravan Health ACOs accounted for 38 percent of all shared savings among new ACOs in 2016 despite covering only 17 percent of member lives. The Caravan Health program allows physicians to spend more time treating patients by alleviating administrative burden.
When combined with the experience of Astria Health’s leadership team and the quality services offered by Astria Health, the two organizations will leverage their collective strengths to support providers throughout Washington communities to build sustainable, local health care organizations that improve residents’ ability to live healthier, more vibrant lives.

About Astria Health
Astria Health, headquartered in the heart of the Yakima Valley in the state of Washington, is the largest non-profit health care system based in Eastern Washington. Astria Health is the parent non-profit organization of Astria Sunnyside Hospital in Sunnyside, Washington, Astria Regional Medical Center, Yakima, Washington and Astria Toppenish Hospital, Toppenish, Washington along with outpatient Astria Health Centers (14 medical clinics and 24 specialty clinics) conveniently located in towns and cities throughout the Region. Committed to investing in a continuum of care for the people who live and work throughout Eastern Washington, Astria Health’s goal is to build sustainable health care organizations that improve health in the communities we serve.

Astria Heart Institute Celebrates Go Red for Women Day This Friday

January 31, 2018 – (Yakima, WA) – Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined? This Friday, February 2 Astria Heart Institute is celebrating women’s cardiac health and the national Go Red for Women Day with a luncheon and cardiac panel discussion.

The panel discussion will feature Amae Merrill, a 34 year old woman, fourth grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School, wife and mother of twin 13 year-old boys who suffered from acute coronary syndrome. Ms. Merrill began experiencing chest pain this summer and promptly went to see her primary care provider who referred her to Astria Heart Institute cardiologist Dr. James Kneller. After further consultations and stress testing Dr. Kneller found abnormalities. Dr. Bradley Titus, an Interventional Cardiologist with Astria Heart Institute performed an angiogram, found the blockage and put a stent in, opening the valve.

When asked about her recovery Ms. Merrill replied, “When I woke up I felt like a new person. I didn’t realize how sick I was until I had blood and oxygen flowing again. The pain I was experiencing is gone. I think it’s really important for women to listen to their bodies and advocate for their healthcare. If something doesn’t feel right you need to tell your doctor and don’t take no for an answer. I’m only 34 years old, I’m not your typical heart disease patient but I knew something didn’t feel right. Dr. Bremjit, my primary care doctor, Dr. Kneller and Dr. Titus saved my life.”

Additional speakers include Richard Lundgren, RN, Chest Pain Coordinator who will speak on early heart attack warning signs, A-typical signs in women and what to do if you experience any of these symptoms, Shannon Young, RN, Manager of the Cardiac Rehab gym at Astria Heart Institute and Lori Bethay, RN, who oversees the Astria Heart Institute Diagnostic Center.

“This is an important event for Astria Heart Institute. We need to take action and shine a light on heart disease through awareness, education, and prevention. With one in three women dying of heart disease and stroke each year we can’t afford to sit back and remain silent on this issue. As an accredited chest pain and stroke center I feel that it is our responsibility to lead the way on education, prevention, treatment and care,” said Rich Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute.

Please note the event is sold out.

Astria Health, headquartered in the heart of the Yakima Valley in the state of Washington, is the largest non-profit healthcare system based in Eastern Washington. Astria Health is the parent non-profit organization of Astria Sunnyside Hospital in Sunnyside, Washington, Astria Regional Medical Center, Yakima, Washington and Astria Toppenish Hospital, Toppenish, Washington along with outpatient Astria Health Centers (14 medical clinics and 23 specialty clinics) conveniently located in towns and cities throughout the Region. Committed to investing in a continuum of care for the people who live and work throughout Eastern Washington, Astria Health’s goal is to build sustainable healthcare organizations that improve health in the communities we serve.

Media Contacts:

Shannon Hitchcock

Director of Marketing & Planning

509.853-8486

shannon.hitchcock@astria.health

Astria Regional Medical Center Receives ACC Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation

Yakima, WA (February 1, 2018) — The American College of Cardiology has recognized Astria Regional Medical Center for its demonstrated expertise and commitment in treating patients with chest pain. Astria Regional Medical Center was awarded Chest Pain Center Accreditation with Primary PCI in November based on rigorous onsite evaluation of the staff’s ability to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.

“We are proud to have been listed among the best hospitals in America for the care of patients presenting with chest pain or heart attack. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) are recognized internationally as leaders in cardiovascular patient care and research. Accreditation by these organizations requires a well-designed and high quality hospital care process to rapidly identify and treat the patient with coronary heart disease. This process originates from evidence-based research and the nationally recognized ACC/AHA guidelines in order to provide the highest quality standard of cardiac care,” said Dr. Bradley Titus, Medical Director for the Astria Heart Institute Chest Pain Center and Interventional Cardiologist.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 730,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. The most common symptom of a heart attack for both men and women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely to have atypical symptoms. Other heart attack symptoms include, but are not limited to, tingling or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck or jaw, shortness of breath, cold sweat, unusual tiredness, heartburn-like feeling, nausea or vomiting, sudden dizziness and fainting.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is also known as coronary angioplasty. It is a non-surgical procedure that opens narrowed or blocked coronary arteries with a balloon to relieve symptoms of heart disease or reduce heart damage during or after a heart attack.

Hospitals that have earned ACC Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation have proven exceptional competency in treating patients with heart attack symptoms and have primary PCI available 24/7 every day of the year. As required to meet the criteria of the accreditation designation, they have streamlined their systems from admission to evaluation to diagnosis and treatment all the way through to appropriate post-discharge care and recommendations and assistance in patient lifestyle changes. In addition, they have formal agreements with other facilities that regularly refer heart attack patients to their facility for primary PCI.

“ACC Accreditation Services is proud to bestow Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation on Astria Regional Medical Center,” said Abraham Joseph, vice president of ACC Accreditation Services. “We commend Astria Regional Medical Center for its demonstrated commitment to providing the Yakima Valley with excellent cardiac care.”

Hospitals receiving Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation from the ACC must take part in a multi-faceted clinical process that involves: completing a gap analysis; examining variances of care, developing an action plan; a rigorous onsite review; and monitoring for sustained success. Improved methods and strategies of caring for patients include streamlining processes, implementing of guidelines and standards, and adopting best practices in the care of patients experiencing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Facilities that achieve accreditation meet or exceed an array of stringent criteria and have organized a team of doctors, nurses, clinicians, and other administrative staff that earnestly support the efforts leading to better patient education and improved patient outcomes.

“Astria Regional Medical Center’s achievement of the American College of Cardiology’s prestigious Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation for the fourth consecutive 3 year cycle is a reflection of the exceptional team of physicians and staff committed to consistent, high quality processes across the continuum of care. Over these last 12 years, as Central Washington’s only full service cardiovascular care center they have shown and continue to show their commitment to efficient and effective care of Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) patients. The Accreditation demonstrates reduced variations in patient care, lower lengths of stay while decreasing readmission rates while maintaining systematic process improvements and maximizing patient satisfaction. I am proud of all that Rich Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of Astria Regional Medical Center and his team have done to once again accomplish this Accreditation,” said John Gallagher, President and Chief Executive Officer, Astria Health.

The ACC and American Heart Association are collaborating to offer U.S. hospitals like Astria Regional Medical Center access to a comprehensive suite of cardiac accreditation services designed to optimize patient outcomes. These services are focused on all aspects of cardiac care, including emergency treatment of heart attacks.

About the American College of Cardiology

The American College of Cardiology is the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team. The mission of the College and its more than 52,000 members is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College operates national registries to measure and improve care, offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications.

For more information about ACC Accreditation Services, visit accreditation.acc.org, or call toll-free 1-877-271-4176.

About Astria Health

Astria Health, headquartered in the heart of the Yakima Valley in the state of Washington, is the largest non-profit healthcare system based in Eastern Washington. Astria Health is the parent non-profit organization of Astria Sunnyside Hospital in Sunnyside, Washington, Astria Regional Medical Center, Yakima, Washington and Astria Toppenish Hospital, Toppenish, Washington along with outpatient Astria Health Centers (14 medical clinics and 23 specialty clinics) conveniently located in towns and cities throughout the Region. Committed to investing in a continuum of care for the people who live and work throughout Eastern Washington, Astria Health’s goal is to build sustainable healthcare organizations that improve health in the communities we serve.

Media Contacts:

Astria Health

Chief Communication Officer

Dawn O’Polka

509.837.1543

Dawn.opolka@astria.health

American College of Cardiology

Katie Glenn, kglenn@acc.org, 202-375-6472

Astria Health Joins the Cerner CommunityWorks Family

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. (Jan. 19, 2018) — Astria Health has selected Cerner, a global leader in health care technology, to implement an integrated electronic health record (EHR) across its organization, which spans the Yakima Valley in the state of Washington.

"Working closely with Cerner will help advance Astria Health’s vision to deliver comprehensive, quality care to improve health in the communities we serve,” said Mark Lauteren, CIO, Astria Health. “As a nonprofit, every dollar we earn is reinvested into providing high-quality health care and services; it is reassuring to know that Cerner will support this mission and their health care solutions will aid in the efficiency of our health system.”

Astria Health will transition to the Cerner Millennium® EHR, a health care IT platform designed to support an individual’s journey across the continuum – from the doctor’s office to the hospital and outpatient clinics – with consistent patient engagement. The Cerner Millennium system will provide Astria Health physicians with a platform to support the digital record of their patients’ health history, including clinical and financial data. Through the new online patient portal, patients will be able to securely message physicians, schedule appointments, view and settle balances and access their health history.

“We are proud to offer health IT solutions to support Astria Health’s mission to build sustainable health care organizations that deliver comprehensive quality care to improve the health of their community,” said Zane Burke, president, Cerner. “An integrated health record will help Astria Health physicians and staff improve health outcomes for the people they serve.”

The Cerner CommunityWorks cloud-based deployment model for Cerner Millennium is tailored to support the unique needs of community health care organizations. The model will provide an integrated EHR to Astria Health’s three organizations in the Yakima Valley: Astria Sunnyside Hospital, Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Toppenish Hospital.

“Astria Health has a strong vision to continue growth and provide high-quality care,” said Michael Farrell, vice president, CommunityWorks, Cerner. “Supported by an integrated EHR from Cerner, all of Astria Health’s facilities and venues of care will communicate unlike before, providing the foundation for improved health services for the communities they serve.”

Astria Health will now be able to integrate clinical and financial information into one patient record with revenue cycle management solutions in Cerner Millennium. Cerner’s Clinically Driven Revenue Cycle™ supports clinicians and staff with the resources to update the billing process throughout a patient’s visit and enhance clinical documentation to help improve reimbursement and limit claims errors.

“Astria Health is committed to growth and innovation of health services throughout the region,” said John Gallagher, president and CEO, Astria Health. “Cerner is a leader in health care technology and will support Astria Health in continuing this innovation into the future, helping connect all of our organizations into a unified health system to provide our patients with the health care services they deserve.”

About Cerner

Cerner’s health information technologies connect people, information and systems at more than 27,000 provider facilities worldwide. Recognized for innovation, Cerner solutions assist clinicians in making care decisions and enable organizations to manage the health of populations. The company also offers an integrated clinical and financial system to help health care organizations manage revenue, as well as a wide range of services to support clients’ clinical, financial and operational needs. Cerner’s mission is to contribute to the systemic improvement of health care delivery and the health of communities. Nasdaq: CERN. For more information about Cerner, visit cerner.com, read our blog at blogs.cerner.com, connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/cerner and on Facebook at facebook.com/cerner. Our website, blog, Twitter account andFacebook page contain a significant amount of information about Cerner, including financial and other information for investors.

About Astria Health

Astria Health, headquartered in the heart of the Yakima Valley in the state of Washington, is the largest non-profit healthcare system based in Eastern Washington. Astria Health is the parent non-profit organization of Astria Sunnyside Hospital in Sunnyside, Washington, Astria Regional Medical Center, Yakima, Washington and Astria Toppenish Hospital, Toppenish, Washington along with outpatient Astria Health Centers (14 medical clinics and 23 specialty clinics) conveniently located in towns and cities throughout the Region. Committed to investing in a continuum of care for the people who live and work throughout Eastern Washington, Astria Health’s goal is to build sustainable healthcare organizations that improve health in the communities we serve.

Media Contact:

Name: Dawn R. O’Polka, MBA

Title: Chief Marketing and Communication Executive

Phone: 509.837.1543 O | 509.391.5072 C

Email address: dawn.opolka@astria.health

Astria Health Center Orthopedic Surgeon Appointed to University of Washington Faculty

January 18, 2018 – (Yakima, WA) - Dr. Alan Greenwald, a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon at Astria Health Center was re-appointed as a Courtesy Clinical Instructor in the Department of Orthopedics & Sports Medicine at the University of Washington.
A courtesy clinical appointment is made to those who make substantial contributions to the Department of Orthopedics & Sports Medicine through their expertise, interest and motivation to work with the faculty in preparing and assisting with instruction of students in practicum setting.
“I have been involved in training orthopedic residents since finishing training in 1984 in San Francisco CA. I held faculty positions at the Combined Orthopedic Program and UCSF before moving to Washington State. I believe that it is important for new physicians to be given hands on training under direct supervision by graduate physicians. We are responsible for transferring our knowledge and experience for future generations of doctors so that they can practice successful and safe medicine,” said Dr. Greenwald.
Dr. Greenwald has been studying and practicing orthopedic surgery for 40 years. His clinical interests are joint replacement and arthroscopic shoulder surgery. His passion is to provide the highest quality care with state-of- the-art technologies.
Dr. Greenwald practices at Astria Health Center with Dr. Roy Pierson. Their clinic is located in the Medical Office Plaza at 1005 W. Walnut Suite 320, Yakima.
Media Contact:
Name: Dawn R. O’Polka, MBA
Title: Chief Marketing and Communication Executive

Astria Health Introduces New General Surgeon to the Valley

Toppenish, WA, January 16, 2018 - Astria Health welcomes Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord MD, Board Certified General Surgeon, to Astria Toppenish Hospital and Astria Sunnyside Hospital.
Dr. Alvord comes to the Yakima Valley from Page, AZ and with 30 years of experience as a general surgeon. She attended medical school at Stanford University School of Medicine in California where she also completed her residency in General Surgery as Chief Resident.
As a member of the Navajo Tribe, Dr. Alvord grew up in a small, remote town on a reservation near the Four Corners in New Mexico. Despite a humble background, Dr. Alvord is the first Navajo woman to become a General Surgeon. She was also nominated by the National Indian Health Board and the National Congress of American Indians to be Surgeon General of the United States.
Her past medical experience includes six years of working with Native American patients with Indian Health Services, as well as academic medicine experience. Dr. Alvord has served as a professor and assistant professor for medical students at Dartmouth Medical School, Central Michigan University, the University of Arizona and John Hopkins School of Public Health.
“I can offer an understanding of diverse cultures and religious practices, with a personal touch” said Dr. Alvord.
Dr. Alvord looks forward to being able to continue following her passion by serving patients here in the Yakima Valley. I chose Astria Health because the people that provide care here have very strong training, excellent experience, and not just in healthcare, but experience working with people from rural backgrounds. Sometimes people who work in rural areas have a sense of caring that has more depth,” said Dr. Alvord. “The care here is very good, but the caring is even better.”
Dr. Alvord will practice at the Astria Health Center in Toppenish and Sunnyside and will perform surgeries at Astria Toppenish Hospital and Astria Sunnyside Hospital.
Eric Jensen, CEO of Astria Toppenish Hospital said, “We are so pleased to have Dr. Alvord join our staff at Astria Toppenish Hospital and look forward to the expertise that she will be bring to the Valley."
Dr. Alvord, along with her spouse Jonathan Alvord, who is a Physician Assistant, are both dedicated healthcare providers and look forward to helping improve the health of both Toppenish and Sunnyside communities.
Media Contact:
Name: Dawn R. O’Polka, MBA
Title: Chief Marketing and Communication Executive

2017 Festival of Trees is Hosted by Astria Sunnyside Hospital on December 1 and December 2, 2017 at Sunnyside Community Center

  • Friday Dec. 1 “FESTIVAL OF TREES” 5-10pm
  • Saturday Dec. 2 “FESTIVAL OF TREES COMMUNITY OPEN HOUSE” 10am to 3pm

The Yakima Valley community is invited to Astria Sunnyside Hospital’s 2017 Festival of Trees on Friday, December 1 from 5-10pm and on December 2 from 10am-3pm. The Sunnyside Community Center is located at 1521 S. 1 st Street, Sunnyside, WA. Guests will be greeted with sparkling winter scenes and over 60 beautifully decorated trees and holiday music.

The Festival of Trees is an annual holiday fundraiser hosted by Astria Sunnyside Hospital. This two day event will benefit the Astria Sunnyside Hospital replacement project, enabling us to continue to deliver excellent care to our patients throughout the Valley.

  • December 1, 2017: Festival of Trees Holiday Reception from 5-10pm is open to guests, 21 years and older and will feature beautifully-decorated trees, music, buffet dinner, local wines and beer, and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • December 2, 2017: Children’s Peppermint Express tour and the Senior’s Silver Star tour from 10am-3pm is open to all ages and will feature the same beautifully decorated trees, musical performances, holiday crafts, a reading circle and lite refreshments.

Tickets for the Festival of Trees evening event on December 1 are $50 per person and can be purchased ahead of time or at the door. Contact Nancy Leahy at 509.837.1310 for more information or visit our website astria.health.

Media Contact:

Kristine Parker

Business Development Lead, Astria Sunnyside Hospital

Phone: 509-837-1621

Email address: kristine.parker@astria.health

Astria Heart Institute Announces Administrator

(Yakima, WA - November 20, 2017) - Astria Heart Institute is pleased to announce that Corinne Murphy-Hines has been selected as the Administrator of Astria Heart Institute.
“Corinne’s proven herself to be an exceptional leader with the strategic thinking and leadership skills required to introduce the Astria Heart Institute service line to the Yakima Valley. Having worked with Corinne prior to this appointment, I can say with certainty, she is the best person for this position and is committed to bringing the highest level of cardiac care to our community,” said Rich Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute.
Ms. Hines brings more than 30 years in healthcare administration specific to cardiovascular services. She was previously a Cardiovascular Consultant for Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center (YRMCC) and the Executive Director of Cardiovascular and Respiratory Service for YRMCC from 2006-2013. Prior experience included Senior Director of Cardiovascular and Respiratory Services at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago before coming to YRMCC in 2006. Ms. Hines holds Master of Science degrees in Management and Business and Clinical Exercise Physiology/Cardiac Rehabilitation. She is a member of Northwest Cardiology Administrators, Reviewer for the Journal of American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Fellow of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and a Member of the American College of Cardiovascular Administrators.
“It is a challenge and a great opportunity to introduce Astria Heart Institute to the Yakima Valley,” said Murphy-Hines. “Our goal is to deliver exceptional cardiac care to patients in the Yakima Valley from the onset of chest pain through their treatment, and followed by outstanding rehabilitation services right here at home. This is a critical service line to offer to our community as research illustrates that patient recovery is not as strong when they must travel away from their home and family to receive medical care.”
Ms. Hines community involvement includes the Yakima Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors and past president of the the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. She currently participates in the Yakima Symphony Chorus and the United Way Finance Committee.
Media Contact:
Name: Dawn R. O’Polka, MBA
Title: Chief Marketing and Communication Executive
Email address: dawn.opolka@astria.health

Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute Announce First Daisy Award Nominees and Honoree

(Yakima, WA) – Nurses at Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute are being honored with The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s program to recognize the super-human efforts nurses perform every day. The celebration will take place on Wednesday, November 8 at noon in the Café at Astria Regional Medical Center located at 110 S. 9 th Avenue, Yakima.

Nurses may be nominated by patients, families, and colleagues and they are chosen by a committee at Astria Regional Medical Center to receive The DAISY Award. Awards are given twice a year at presentations given in front of the nurse’s colleagues, physicians, patients, and visitors. Each nominee will receive a certificate commending her or him for being an "Extraordinary Nurse” as well as a Daisy pin to proudly display on their name tag or scrubs. The Honoree will also be given a certificate that reads: "In deep appreciation of all you do, who you are, and the incredibly meaningful difference you make in the lives of so many people”, as well as a beautiful and meaningful sculpture called A Healer’s Touch, hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Africa.

Said Bonnie Barnes, FAAN, President and Co-Founder of The DAISY Foundation, "When Patrick was critically ill, our family experienced first-hand the remarkable skill and care nurses provide patients every day and night. Yet these unsung heroes are seldom recognized for the super-human work they do. The kind of work the nurses at Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute are called on to do every day epitomizes the purpose of The DAISY Award.”

“We are proud to be among the healthcare organizations participating in the DAISY Award program. Nurses are heroes every day. It’s important that our nurses know their work is highly valued and that the difference they make each day every day, is recognized and appreciated. The DAISY Foundation provides a way for our patients, families, and staff to recognize the difference these nurses make,” said Sara Williamson, Chief Nurse Executive, Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute.

The DAISY Award was established by the DAISY Foundation in memory of J. Patrick Barnes who died at 33 of ITP, an auto-immune disease. The Barnes Family was awestruck by the clinical skills, caring and compassion of the nurses who cared for Patrick, so they created this national award to say thank you to nurses everywhere. To learn more about The DAISY Foundation visit their website at: www.daisyfoundation.org

Media Contact:

Name: Dawn R. O’Polka, MBA

Title: Chief Marketing and Communication Executive

Phone: 509.837.1543 O | 509.391.5072 C

Email address: dawn.opolka@astria.health

Astria Health Holding Career Fairs November 2 and November 7, 2017

(Yakima, WA – November 1, 2017) Astria Health, formerly Regional Health, is growing to better serve our patients and our communities. This fast growing, innovative, non-profit organization has over 50 openings in both direct patient care and medical support services at our three hospital campuses--Sunnyside, Toppenish, and Yakima. Employment opportunities include nursing, pharmacy, dietary, administrative support, imaging, and many others.

Astria Health will host two healthcare career fairs on the Astria Regional Medical Center campus in the coming weeks to assist in filling these positions. They will be held as follows.

Thursday, November 2nd and Tuesday, November 7th both will be held from 3 pm – 7 pm. They will be in the Medical Office Plaza located behind Astria Regional Medical Center at

111 S. 11th Avenue, Yakima. Representatives from many different departments at Astria’s Sunnyside, Toppenish and Yakima hospitals and clinics will be on site to answer questions, assist with the application process and conduct interviews.

“Astria Health continues to grow and thrive. We have added and enhanced over 40 service lines needed to care for patients who live and work throughout the Valley and hired 74 new physicians, specialists and healthcare providers over the past few years and 16 for Yakima and Toppenish since January 2017. As a result, we are offering a number of career options at all three hospitals and our clinics. If you want to make a difference in the lives of patients and families in our communities, I would encourage you to attend one of the career fairs,” said John Gallagher, President and Chief Executive Officer for Astria Health.

For more information on careers with Astria Health visit our website at www.astria.health/careers.

Media Contact:

Name: Dawn R. O’Polka, MBA

Title: Chief Marketing and Communication Executive

Phone: 509.837.1543 O | 509.391.5072 C

Email address: dawn.opolka@astria.health

Astria Regional Medical Center Announces New Chief Operating Officer

(Yakima, WA) - Astria Regional Medical Center is pleased to announce that Darrin Cook, MHA, has been selected as the Chief Operating Officer for the hospital effective November 1, 2017. He has been with Astria Regional Medical Center since 2015 as the Director of Physician Outreach and Recruitment and mostly recently as the Administrative Director of Operations.

“Darrin is a dynamic leader who has demonstrated over his two and a half years here a comprehensive knowledge of our hospital and the commitment and dedication I’m looking for to move Astria Regional Medical Center forward delivering the best care possible in the Yakima Valley,” said Rich Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Institute.

Mr. Cook brings more than 16 years in healthcare administration to his new role. Prior to joining Astria Regional Medical Center in 2015, Mr. Cook was the CEO for Oregon Surgical Specialist, LLC a private practice surgical group specializing in general, vascular, and bariatric surgery. Before relocating to Yakima in 2007, from 2001- 2007, Mr. Cook was the Chief Clinic Coordinator for Southwest Medical Group’s multiple family practices (now PeaceHealth Medical Group). From 2007 – 2014, Mr. Cook worked with multiple physician practices with Memorial Physicians, LLC and was the Executive Director for Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital’s – North Star Lodge Cancer Center.

“I’m excited to continue to be a part of the Astria Regional Medical Center team and enthusiastic about what Astria Health is going to be able to bring to the entire Yakima Valley. After a decade in Yakima, our family considers the Yakima Valley our home and I look forward to the next several years being a part of a full-service health system that provides options and the continuity of care our community deserves,” said Cook.

Mr. Cook’s community involvement has included Leadership Yakima class of 2011, was a Friend of the Village at Children’s Village, Youthworks, past Loaned Executive with United Way, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Wellness House.

Mr. Cook spent six years Active Duty in the U.S Army as a medical specialist with one tour to Kuwait in 1997 as well as one year in the Army National Guard receiving two Honorable Discharges. Prior to Mr. Cook’s military service he worked for Washington State DSHS with their Department of Developmental Disabilities. Mr. Cook also holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Human Services, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration of Healthcare Management/Administration.

Media Contact:
Dawn O'Polka
Chief Marketing & Communication Executive
Regional Health
dawn@regional-health.org

Regional Health launches new go-to-market brand identity

YAKIMA, WA - Tuesday, October 17, 2017 – Regional Health, the parent company of Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center, Toppenish Community Hospital, and Sunnyside Community Hospital & Clinics is launching a new brand identity under which the organization will operate. The new entity, Astria Health, (pronounced az- tree -uh) reflects the organization's commitment to growth, excellence, and innovation in services throughout the region.

Originating from the Latin word for "star" and Greek for "truth and justice", the name Astria embodies the vision of the organization and elevates the brand promise. The illustrated, layered star logo symbolizes that the organization is in motion—moving forward—and helping individuals navigate today's changing healthcare environment.

Astria Health President and Chief Executive Officer John Gallagher says rolling out the new identity signals more than just adopting a new name. He says it's an indication of how the organization is transforming every aspect of how they approach patient care. As the largest healthcare system based in Eastern Washington, Astria Health looks forward to a bright future.

"The launch of our new brand is just the beginning of our story," says Gallagher. "It's what we are doing inside our hospitals and clinics—increasing availability of services, attracting the most-qualified physicians, and offering the latest technological advances—that this new brand symbolizes."

Gallagher points out that Astria Health is not-for-profit with a clear vision of building sustainable healthcare organizations that deliver comprehensive quality care to improve health in the communities we serve. As a non-profit, we invest in local healthcare and ensure patients of receiving the quality care they need close to home.

Astria Health exists to provide healthcare services to the communities we serve. Every dollar we earn is reinvested into providing quality healthcare through investing in technology, new or expanded patient care services, improved access to care, new physician services, and attracting and retaining engaged professionals who share our vision. Astria Health is currently comprised of over 38 clinics and three hospitals caring for patients seeking care from throughout Eastern Washington and Oregon.

The hospitals will adopt the Astria name with their existing names.

  • Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center is now Astria Regional Medical Center
  • Its cardiac program is highlighted as Astria Heart Institute.
  • Astria Heart Institute is the region’s only open-heart surgery and elective interventional cardiology program.
  • Toppenish Community Hospital is now Astria Toppenish Hospital.
  • Sunnyside Community Hospital is now Astria Sunnyside Hospital.

All of the clinics associated with the hospitals will be easier to identify and find:

  • All primary care and multi-specialty clinics are now Astria Health Center.
  • All urgent care locations (such the Medi-Centers in Yakima) are now Astria Urgent Care.
  • Yakima Valley Hearing and Speech is now Astria Hearing and Speech Center.
  • Yakima Ambulatory Surgical Center is now Astria Ambulatory Surgery Center.
  • Plastic Surgery Center is now Astria Plastic Surgery Center.
  • Home health and hospices services are now Astria Home Health

The hospitals and the clinics will now proudly display the Astria brand name at all locations. Signage and other identification updates will make it easier for patients and residents to identify and find Astria Health locations, services and physicians throughout the Valley. This will assist them if finding the care they need and deserve regardless of where they live or work throughout the region.

Gallagher says because the hospitals and clinics are operated at the local level,

Astria Health is able to be responsive to the needs of each individual community, while offering the strength, expertise, and resources of the organization as a whole.

"Seasoned leadership, with ties to the region are making decisions that serve their friends, neighbors—even family members," says Gallagher. "We are able to pair institutional knowledge with new ideas and technology to really bring innovation to our healthcare services."

Those seasoned leaders include Gallagher, MBA, FACHE, who has over 20 years experience in hospital administration. Gallagher operated Sunnyside Community Hospital for four years prior to becoming President and CEO of Astria Health (formerly known as Regional Health) in September 2016. While CEO of Sunnyside Community Hospital, he brought nearly 40 new physicians and over 60 new or updated services to the lower valley. Gallagher received his bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and both his Master of Healthcare Administration and Master of Business Administration from University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Brian Gibbons will continue as chief executive officer of Astria Sunnyside Hospital. Gibbons has served as Sunnyside Community Hospital and Clinics CEO since April 2017, following his tenure as Sunnyside's chief operating officer since 2013. He was instrumental in helping the hospital reach fiscal and financial stability. Gibbons received his bachelor's degree in Public Administration specializing in Economics, Finance, and Management from Loyola University in New Orleans and his Master of Business Administration and Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Florida.

Rich Robinson has taken the helm as CEO of Astria Regional Medical Center, including its comprehensive cardiac program. Robinson has more than 30 years experience as a CEO, building and expanding hospitals and health systems. Robinson has extensive knowledge of the Yakima market as he served as chief executive officer of Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center as well as Toppenish Community Hospital from 2010 to 2014. He received his bachelor's degree in business from California State University and his Master of Business Administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Eric Jensen was appointed as chief executive officer of Toppenish Community Hospital. Jensen brings more than 28 years of chief executive officer experience to his new role. Prior to joining Regional Health, he served as CEO of Valley General Hospital in Monroe, WA. Jensen received his bachelor's degree from the University of Washington and his Master of Healthcare Administration from Tulane University in New Orleans.

Media Contact:
Dawn O'Polka
Chief Marketing & Communication Executive
Regional Health
dawn@regional-health.org

Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center Announces New Chief Nursing Officer

(Yakima, WA) - Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center (YRMCC), a Regional Health Affiliate is pleased to announce that Sara Williamson, MSN, NEA-BC, FACHE, will join our executive team as the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) October 2, 2017.

Ms. Williamson most recently worked for Community Health of Central Washington as the Chief Quality and Privacy Officer where her team’s highlights included NCQA Patient Centered Medical Home Level 3 Recognition for five clinics, HRSA Operational Site Visit w/no conditions in Quality/Peer Review, Risk or Credentialing, and three HRSA Quality Grants from $77,257 – $122,988 along with & Colorectal Cancer Screening and Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative – Pediatrics grants. Additionally, she facilitated Quality Improvement/Patient Safety initiative and rotations for Family Practice Residency program and was a member to the Graduate Medical Education committee.

Ms. Williamson previously worked as the CNO for YRMCC from 2010-2014 with impressive accomplishments that include; the implementation of a Single Stay Open Heart Unit, Achieved Mission Lifeline STEMI accreditation (one of only fifty hospitals in the nation to receive this), direct oversight and leadership for all nursing services, education, the Cath Lab, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Anesthesia, and the Therapy Departments, and the hospital’s Trauma, Cardiac, Open Heart and Stroke certifications and accreditations.

“To say I am thrilled to be joining the staff at Yakima Regional is an understatement! Whether one thinks of this hospital as Saint Elizabeth’s, Providence, or Yakima Regional, one is always reminded of its prestigious history as having Yakima’s finest medical and nursing staff, working together to provide excellence in patient care. With this 126 year legacy as the foundation, I am excited to be part of a team that will bring that same excellence back to Yakima again. It really is a new day and a fresh start. I am eager to be a part of it!” said Sara Williamson.

Ms. Williamson received her Masters of Science, Nursing Administration degree from the University of Texas, Health Science Center at San Antonio. She received her Bachelor of Science, Nursing, from the University of Texas at Austin with high honors, and her Hospital Administration Certification from the University of Dallas.

“It’s great news to announce Sara is rejoining our team at Yakima Regional. I’ve worked with Sara for many years and I’ve witnessed firsthand her proven track record in acute care operations, risk, quality and regulatory compliance in the medical services industry. She has strong analytical strengths and supervisory skills that will be a tremendous asset for us as we strengthen and grow our service lines and medical facility,” said Rich Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center.

Ms. Williamson holds many honors and distinctions including; a finalist New Mexico Distinguished Nurse Award, 2010, NMONE Faust Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership, 2004, New Mexico Nurse of the Year Award in Nursing Management, 2003, Nurse Executive, Advanced – ANCC Board Certified , and Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives.

Media Contact:

Contact: Dawn O’Polka

Regional Health

Chief Marketing & Communications Executive

Office Phone: 509.837.1543

Email: dawn@regional-health.org

Regional Health Appoints New CEO for Toppenish Community Hospital

Sunnyside, WA (September 6, 2017) – John Gallagher, President and CEO of Regional Health announced the appointment of Eric Jensen as Chief Executive Officer at Toppenish Community Hospital, a Regional Health affiliate, effective Friday, September 1, 2017. On September 1, Regional Health acquired both Toppenish Community Hospital and Yakima Community Hospital returning them to local non-profit status.

Eric Jensen is a seasoned healthcare executive bringing over 28 years of Chief Executive Officer experience to his new role. Mr. Jensen has a deep understanding of the Toppenish community, the Yakima Valley and the State of Washington healthcare delivery system.

Prior to joining Regional Health, Mr. Jensen served as CEO of Valley General Hospital in Monroe, Washington. The hospital was renamed EvergreenHealth Monroe in 2015. Prior to EvergreenHealth, he served as CEO at Regional Hospital for Respiratory and Complex Care, a specialty hospital located in Seattle. Mr. Jensen also served as CEO of Kittitas Valley Healthcare in Ellensburg and CEO of Forks Community Hospital in Forks, Washington.

Mr. Jensen has been very active for many years in the Washington State Hospital Association and Association of Public Hospital Districts (AWPHD). He recently served as AWPHD Board President.

Mr. Jensen received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Washington and his Master of Healthcare Administration from Tulane University in New Orleans. He is also a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

"Toppenish Community Hospital is an important community asset, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with a passionate local board, associates and physicians as we return it to local, non-profit status as a member of Regional Health," said Mr. Jensen. "The Toppenish area, including Toppenish, Granger, Zillah, Wapato and the towns and cities nearby, is rich in history and culture. I look forward to working with Regional Health to strengthen the hospital and reinvest back into the hospital and its services as well as the community."

Media Contact:
Dawn O'Polka
Chief Marketing & Communication Executive
Regional Health
dawn@regional-health.org
509.837.1543 O
509.391.5072 C

Regional Health Appoints New CEO for Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center

Sunnyside, WA (September 5, 2017) – John Gallagher, President and CEO of Regional Health announced the appointment of Rich Robinson as Chief Executive Officer of Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center, a Regional Health affiliate, effective Friday, September 1, 2017. On September 1, Regional Health acquired both Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center and Toppenish Community Hospital returning them to local non-profit status.

Rich Robinson is a seasoned healthcare executive with over 30 years of Chief Executive Officer experience building and growing hospitals and health systems. He has a deep understanding of the Yakima and Toppenish communities and of the Valley. Prior to joining Regional Health, Mr. Robinson served as CEO of Frontier Neurosurgery of Yakima, WA and as Area Chief Executive Officer of Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center as well as Toppenish Community Hospital. In that position, he oversaw the strategic operations of both hospitals and the affiliated Central Washington Medical Group.

Mr. Robinson's previous leadership experience includes serving as CEO Eastern New Mexico Medical Center Roswell, NM, CEO RHR Oil Center in Riverside, CA, CEO Irvine Medical Center Irvine CA, CEO Doctors Hospital of Manteca, Manteca, CA and associate administrator of Doctors Medical Center in Modesto CA.

Mr. Robinson received his Bachelor’s degree in Business from California State University, Turlock, CA and his Master of Business Administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, CA.

"I look forward to working with the Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center Board of Trustees, Medical Staff and Associates as we grow and expand services, improve facilities and technology, focus on stable and effective operations," said Mr. Robinson. "It is very exciting to be returning the hospital to local, non-profit status as a part of Regional Health."

"This is an important step for Regional Health as this acquisition helps fulfill Regional Health's mission of providing the region with comprehensive quality care and advances our vision of becoming the regional comprehensive healthcare provider of choice. The system helps us deliver healthcare all along I-82 ensuring people have the care they need, close to where they live and work," Gallagher said.

Media Contact:
Dawn O'Polka Chief Marketing & Communication Executive
Regional Health
dawn@regional-health.org
509.837.1543 O
509.391.5072 C

Save the Date for Golf! October 6, 2017 – 8:00 am Sunnyside Community Hospital Foundation Hosts Golf “Fore” Health

Sunnyside, WA (September 7, 2017) - Sunnyside Community Hospital Foundation hosts the sixth annual Golf “Fore” Health golf tournament on October 6, 2017, at Black Rock Creek Golf Course, 31 Ray Road, Sunnyside, WA 98944. Golf enthusiasts and hospital friends are invited to participate. The shot gun start is 8 AM. Golfers can register online or call 509-837-1310. The entry fee is $125 per golfer. There is a $20,000 award for a player hitting a Hole in One on the ninth hole. All proceeds go directly to the construction of the new Sunnyside Community Hospital replacement hospital. Attractive sponsorship opportunities are available for the Tournament.
The Golf “Fore” Health scramble tournament will include divisions for men and women and gifts for golfers. There will be longest drive and putting contest. A delicious barbecue lunch at the Black Rock Creek club house will cap off the tournament. Black Rock Creek Golf Course is 6,657 yards long, has a par 72 and is located between Sunnyside and Grandview off of Wine Country Road.
Sunnyside Community Hospital Foundation is a Regional Health Affiliate and the philanthropic support organization of the Sunnyside Community Hospital & Clinics. While the hospital prepares to meet the needs of the Lower Yakima Valley, the Foundation makes sure we work together to have sustainable healthcare for generations to come. We work together to protect the quality of life we enjoy today.
Sunnyside Community Hospital was founded in 1946 and is located in the heart of the beautiful wine country of Washington State. The 25 bed hospital also operates a series of six primary care clinics and seven provider-based specialty clinics in the Valley communities of Grandview, Prosser, Zillah and Sunnyside, Washington. The hospital offers Emergency Care, Intensive Care, Family Birth Center, complete surgical services, a MRI, laboratory, 3-D obstetrical ultrasound, digital mammography, oncology center, cardiopulmonary services, speech and hearing services and Registered Dietician and Diabetes Educator services to patients. More information about Sunnyside Community Hospital and the Sunnyside Community Hospital Foundation is available on the website:
www.sunnysidehospital.org/golf.

Regional Health Acquires Toppenish Community Hospital and Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center

Sunnyside, WA (August 31, 2017)—Regional Health welcomes Toppenish Community Hospital and Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center as they join Sunnyside Community Hospital to become members of Regional Health with the announcement of the closing of its long-awaited purchase of both hospitals.

"We're pleased to add these valuable local hospitals to the Regional Health family and return both to non-profit status. They, along with Sunnyside Community Hospital, join us in our commitment to serving the people and families living and working throughout the Yakima Valley. The hospitals' return to non-profit status will allow them to again directly reinvest back into both the communities and the healthcare infrastructure so needed in the region," said John Gallagher, President and CEO, Regional Health. "Both Toppenish Community Hospital and Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center have long and proud histories of serving their communities. We are pleased that, together, we will be able ensure that all three hospitals remain community focused and we are looking forward to a bright future for the Valley."

With the acquisition of Toppenish Community Hospital and Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center, Regional Health will have over 1,400 employees, 3 hospitals, 14 medical clinics and 24 specialty clinics located between the Tri-Cities and Yakima. It will be the largest healthcare delivery system based in Eastern Washington.

"The Yakima Valley is known for providing compassionate quality healthcare. Regional Health is committed to combining the knowledge and skill of our hospitals and clinics and strengthening them by ensuring they have the resources, technology and expertise they need," says Gallagher. "We feel strongly that it is our responsibility to provide all Regional Health hospitals with the resources they need while bringing in some of the most highly trained and experienced practitioners from throughout the world. Regional Health is constantly striving to find new and better ways to care for patients, and this acquisition reflects that care philosophy."

Patients will notice some changes in signage, websites and correspondence soon. But, they will continue to get the same great care from Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center, Toppenish Community Hospitals and Sunnyside Community Hospital locations that they have always trusted.

"This is an important step for Regional Health as this acquisition helps fulfill Regional Health's mission of providing the region with comprehensive quality care and advances our vision of becoming the regional comprehensive healthcare provider of choice. The system helps us deliver healthcare all along I-82 ensuring people have the care they need, close to where they live and work," Gallagher said.

Read the full release here

Regional Health Brings World–Class Cardiac Specialists to the Yakima Valley

YAKIMA – Yakima is known for the quality of its cardiac physicians and local cardiac care. Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center has long been hailed as Yakima’s “heart hospital”—the only local hospital offering both elective and emergency cardiac catheterization procedures and the region’s only open-heart surgery program. Now Regional Health is taking cardiac care in the Yakima Valley to new heights.

“We have excellent cardiologists here in the Yakima area,” says John Gallagher, President and CEO of Regional Health, the parent company of Sunnyside Community Hospital & Clinics and (pending acquisition) Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center and Toppenish Community Hospital. “But now we want to combine the knowledge and skill of our local providers with physicians who have trained in new innovative cardiac programs throughout the world”

The idea of building partnerships that balance new techniques and skills with tried and true training and procedures is one of the hallmarks of Regional Health’s new innovative model of care. This philosophy is demonstrated in cardiac services, with Regional Health recently hiring five new cardiac specialists. James Kneller, MD, is board certified in Cardiovascular Disease, Electrophysiology and Internal Medicine. He specializes in heart rhythm disorders and cardiac implant devices (pacemakers and AICDs)—working with both BIOTRONIK and Medtronic devices. Both educated and having completed his residency at the prestigious McGill University in Montreal QC, Canada, Dr. Kneller has received extensive training in the complexities of the heart and correcting rhythm disorders with both invasive and non-invasive surgical procedures.

Bradley Titus, MD, comes to Yakima with a medical degree from the University of Michigan School of Medicine and a residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital, in Dallas, TX. Dr. Titus specializes in the latest interventional cardiac procedures such as angioplasty, balloon valvuloplasty, and implanting stents. He trained extensively with top interventional specialists across the nation.

Dr. John Adan, MD, has been on staff Sunnyside Community Hospital, a Regional Health affiliate for three years. Dr. Adan graduated from the Queen’s University of Belfast in Northern Ireland and trained at both Boston and Yale Universities before making his way to Yakima. In his previous position, most recently with Vista Health in Fort Mohave, AZ, Dr. Adan conducted over 3600 cardiac interventions and placed over 750 pacemakers in his career.

Both Dr. Bradley Titus and Dr. John Adan are Board Certified in Interventional Cardiology, Cardiovascular Medicine, and Internal Medicine.

John P. Owens, MD, trained at the University of Utah, where he also completed his residency. Dr. Owens is board certified in Cardiovascular Disease and Internal Medicine. He provides a full range of outpatient and inpatient cardiac services for both adults and children. He is also the only cardiologist in the region who is fully focused on Yakima Valley as a board certified in Pediatric Cardiology—treating children and teens with heart disorders as well as adults with congenital anomalies. Prior to Dr. Owens joining Regional Health, children and teens often had to travel to Seattle or Portland to receive care for cardiovascular disease.

Finally, Michael D. Becker, MD, has been a member of the Sunnyside Community Hospital Cardiology team since 2015 and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Regional Health cardiology team. Graduating from Milwaukee’s Medical College of Wisconsin in 1979, Dr. Becker has been working in cardiovascular medicine for over 35 years. He is an interventional cardiologists board certified in Cardiovascular Disease, Nuclear Cardiology, and Internal Medicine. He is also certified as a National Board Medical Examiner, evaluating other cardiac physicians for board eligibility and certification.

All five cardiologists are currently accepting new patients and offering outpatient services at clinics in Yakima, Sunnyside, and Prosser. Inpatient services are provided at Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center, Sunnyside Community Hospital, and Toppenish Community Hospital.

“Our intention is to enhance our already excellent cardiovascular programs here in the Yakima Valley by recruiting physicians trained in specialties our patients often have to travel to see,” says Gallagher. “Our goal is to bring providers to the Yakima Valley, to treat patients from our local cities and towns and help them receive the life-saving cardiac care they need right here at home.” Learn more about Regional Health Cardiovascular programs and the new Regional Health Cardiologists at Regional-Health.org.

Regional Health Receives Washington Department of Health Certificate of Need Applications Decision

Sunnyside, WA – Regional Health has received the Washington Department of Health CON analysis of its applications for both Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center and Toppenish Community Hospital.

Pending Regional Health’s agreement to certain conditions, the Department of Health recommends approval of both the Toppenish Community Hospital and Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center applications.

Regional Health is in the process of reviewing the analysis and will respond within the 20-day timeline specified by the Department of Health. The conditions are as Regional Health expected, and we do not foresee any problems meeting them.

“We would like to again thank the many residents, patients, government and community leaders, physicians and staff members who sent letters of support to the Washington Department of Health and who attended the July 11, 2017 public hearings,” said John Gallagher, President and CEO, Regional Health. “Their input made a big difference in the process. They clearly communicated their strong support of both hospitals and their desire to return both to locally owned non-profit status as a part of Regional Health.”

Sunnyside Community Hospital, a Regional Health Affiliate, Recognized on ‘Most Wired’ List

Sunnyside, WA – For the tenth year, Sunnyside Community Hospital & Clinics, a Regional Health affiliate, has been recognized on Hospitals & Health Networks’ “Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems” list, as a Most Wired hospital. The list recognizes hospitals and healthcare systems that rely on increased clinical capabilities, telehealth and mobile technology.

Sunnyside Community Hospital & Clinics earned recognition participating in the 19th annual “Most Wired” survey, which measures the level of IT adoption in hospitals and health systems. The survey identifies progress in adoption, implementation, and use of information technology in four areas: infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety (hospital inpatient/outpatient), and clinical integration (ambulatory/physician/community). Health Forum, an American Hospital Association is responsible for analyzing and distributing the survey data, and for developing benchmarks that are becoming the industry standard for measuring IT adoption for operational, financial and clinical performance.

With today’s shift to Electronic Health Records (EHRs), it is increasingly important that hospitals and health systems store and utilize information effectively. Efficient health information technology (health IT) systems increase patient safety by reducing errors like unnecessary tests and prescribing errors. They increase speed and safety in delivery of care by allowing providers instant access to comprehensive records.

John Andersen, Director of IT at Sunnyside Community Hospital & Clinics says, “Health Care’s Most Wired award was designed to highlight U.S. hospitals who have shown a commitment to advanced IT adoption and improvements in operational, financial, and clinical systems. We are honored to have made the list. There is always more to accomplish and our upcoming focus is on deep integration of our entire patient care continuum, improved patient access, security, and mobility.”

Mark Lauteren, Chief Information Officer says, “Regional Health is proud to learn that Sunnyside Community Hospital has again won the Most Wired award. John Andersen and the team at Sunnyside Community Hospital & Clinics have done a great job. As Regional Health expands, we hope to continue to provide the highest quality, most cost-effective Information Services to our system.”

The pending acquisition of Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center and Toppenish Community Hospital will allow for even greater quality of care to the people and families of the region, as these healthcare organizations will integrate to form a system, sharing resources and networks.

Regional Health approaches final hurdle in acquisition of local hospitals

YAKIMA—The Washington State Department of Health will hear public comments today on Regional Health’s Certificate of Need application for the acquisition of Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center and Toppenish Community Hospital. Regional Health, the parent company of Sunnyside Community Hospital and Clinics, applied for a Certificate of Need to acquire the hospitals in late 2016, and this is the final step in that process. The acquisition will bring both hospitals back to their former not-for-profit status, increase access to health care throughout the Valley, and ensure local control over operations of the hospitals.

“Our communities in the Yakima Valley are struggling to find access to quality, affordable health care,” says John Gallagher, President and CEO of Regional Health. “This proposal would create access points all along the 1-82 corridor, so patients no longer need to leave their local communities to find care.”

This proposal would create a network of three hospitals, 15 medical clinics, and 23 specialty clinics between Ellensburg and Tri-Cities—allowing for collaboration, efficiencies, and shared services. More importantly, because this measure returns the hospitals to their not-for-profit status, Regional Health will be able to reinvest profits back into technology, staff, services, and programs in the Yakima Valley.

The negotiated purchase price, excluding working capital, for both hospitals is $37,000,000. In comparison, when CHS acquired the hospitals in 2014, the State CN Program’s approved capital expenditure was $208,000,000. The lower purchase price will make it easier for Regional Health to reinvest back into the community.

Public comments on the Certificates of Need (CN Application #17-25 Toppenish Community Hospital and CN Application #17-26 Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center) are accepted until close of business on July 11 and can be directed to Nancy Tyson, Executive Director, Health Facilities and Certificate of Need, at the WA State Department of Health nancy.tyson@doh.wa.gov and carbon copy Karen.Nidermayer@doh.wa.gov.

The Department of Health is expected to return a decision in August.

What would it mean for the Yakima Valley if Obamacare is repealed and replaced?

By Molly Rosbach

Yakima Herald Republic

Local and state health care leaders are alarmed by the Senate’s health care proposal, particularly the impact it would have on rural communities like the Yakima Valley.

Most troubling is the $834 billion cut facing Medicaid in the Senate’s health bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. “Overall, it’s not a good policy. … Right now, it’s a lot of takeaways and not so much on the give-back,” said John Gallagher, CEO of Sunnyside Community Hospital and Regional Health. “When it comes to the nitty gritty — we took care of patients beforehand; we’ll take care of patients after — but it will be a challenge for the families involved.”

In rural areas of Washington state, 53 percent of children and 21 percent of adults are covered by Medicaid, according to the Washington State Hospital Association. Both figures have increased since the Affordable Care Act was enacted and the state expanded Medicaid, giving new coverage to roughly 600,000 low-income adults and families.

The Senate bill also includes a provision that would lock patients out of health coverage for six months after their sign-up date if they’ve let their insurance lapse for 63 days or more. In theory, the lockout period is meant to encourage people to stay in the insurance market and not hop in and out of coverage, but providers fear it could mean life-threatening delays in care for people who drop their insurance because they can’t afford it or because they lose or change jobs.

That provision applies to everyone, not just those on Medicaid. It would replace the ACA’s individual mandate, which requires people to have health insurance or pay a penalty at the end of the year. (The penalty this year is the higher of either $2,085 per person or 2.5 percent of household income.)

Locally, hospital and health center directors say they will continue serving patients regardless of ability to pay. That’s what they were doing before the ACA: offering sliding-fee-scale discounts to the uninsured and eating the cost in charity care and uncompensated care. But the additional reimbursement from the expanded Medicaid population has allowed for the growth of services such as coordinated care, which help people receive more efficient, comprehensive health care by networking with different types of providers.

Across the country, community health centers saw their rates of uninsured, self-pay patients drop by approximately 50 percent, said Dr. Mike Maples, CEO of Community Health of Central Washington. The uninsured didn’t go away entirely, he said; there are still people falling through the cracks who are not eligible for Medicaid or subsidies on the exchange.

“But that was huge for us and other health centers, in terms of having a source of payment for their care so we could do things like expand integrated behavioral health services, for example,” Maples said. “We’ve grown those services substantially since the Affordable Care Act.” They haven’t yet looked at the “disaster scenario” of the Senate health bill actually going into effect, or what the rollback of those services would mean for patients, he said. They’re waiting to see what progresses in the Senate, where the bill was put on hold until after the Fourth of July recess because Republicans couldn’t get the necessary votes to pass it last week.

Prior to the ACA, Virginia Mason Memorial hospital in Yakima was spending 6 to 8 percent of its adjusted patient services revenue on charity care; it’s now between 2 and 3 percent, said Tim Reed, Memorial’s chief financial officer. “The communities with the poorest socio-economic folks are going to be those hardest hit, and that’s precisely what those (Medicaid) programs are for,” he said.

Reed predicts that if Medicaid payments go away, the cost shifting from uninsured patients still using the ER will result in higher premiums for commercial insurance customers. “When someone doesn’t have health insurance … Heaven help them if they need a gastroenterologist or a specialist, or if there’s gonna be a pharmaceutical regimen involved,” -Julie Petersen, KVH Hospital CEO “That will be the market or the system trying to equilibrate the shortfall in Medicaid,” he said.

The major changes to health insurance exchanges and deep cuts to Medicaid in the Senate bill wouldn’t go into effect until 2019 and later — after the 2018 midterm elections. The overhaul of the entire Medicaid formula wouldn’t happen until 2025, two presidential elections from now. While community health centers may offer discounts, emergency rooms are required by law to treat anyone who shows up.

“When someone doesn’t have health insurance … Heaven help them if they need a gastroenterologist or a specialist, or if there’s gonna be a pharmaceutical regimen involved,” said Julie Petersen, CEO of KVH Hospital in Ellensburg.

Petersen has served on a national panel on vulnerable populations with the American Hospital Association, representing rural hospitals. Hospitals may be forced to cut programs that helped reduce readmissions by ensuring safe housing, ensuring patients know how to take their medications and other factors that affect health after discharge from the hospital, she said. “Those programs are part of health care reform,” Petersen said. “But if (hospitals) go back to scraping by and working to keep their head above water, those are the sorts of things that we’ll be sacrificing.”

Expanded coverage has also allowed more people to find primary care providers, where they can go for preventive check-ups and screenings, as well as more everyday health care. Brisa Guajardo lives in the Tri-Cities but often works with Yakima patients, encouraging people — particularly in the Hispanic community — to seek preventive care now that they have access to insurance instead of waiting until they’re really sick or relying on home remedies.

She knows the value of preventive care firsthand: At age 24, she went to an urgent care center to figure out why she was feeling run-down all the time. The routine check turned serious when the doctor found a lump on her neck. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and scheduled for surgery within weeks.

“Since then, preventative care has been the focus, keeping up with my checkups,” she said. “My doctors always tell me: Cancer will never hurt until it’s too late.” The cancer came back in 2008, discovered during one of those regular checkups. “I often wonder, ‘What if I didn’t keep up with those checkups?’ Testing is so expensive; my medications today are expensive,” Guajardo said.

“I’m lucky to have insurance. ... What if my job was to ever go away? The first thing that I would think about is my health, because I have something that I have to take care of for the rest of my life.”

Under the ACA, insurers are not allowed to refuse coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions, but under both the Senate and House health care proposals, states would be able to opt out of the “essential health benefits” of the ACA, which include coverage for pre-existing conditions. One of the biggest concerns for hospitals around here is that, while the Affordable Care Act cut certain funds to hospitals, including disproportionate share (DSH) dollars that were initially given to make up for large number of Medicaid patients at those hospitals, the Senate bill both slashes Medicaid dollars and doesn’t replace the DSH payments.

“That’s really the double whammy you saw happen in a lot of the South that didn’t choose to expand Medicaid: They took the cuts but didn’t see any decrease in their uncompensated care,” said Jacqueline Barton True, director of rural health programs at the state Hospital Association.

“Many of our rural hospitals operate on very thin margins,” she said. If people’s insurance goes away, their health care costs don’t disappear; people often end up delaying care and showing up in the ER when they’re more severely ill. “Those costs have to be absorbed by the system. … Rural hospitals are less able to absorb that cost.”

Nationwide, nearly 80 rural hospitals have closed since 2010 and hundreds more are vulnerable, according to the National Rural Hospital Association. Cuts to hospitals under the Affordable Care Act have not helped. “But the things that are wrong with (the ACA) aren’t really addressed in this (Senate) bill,” Barton True said. “The forward-thinking things our hospitals are trying to do — this bill doesn’t help them do it.”

Construction of new Sunnyside hospital could start in fall, add more jobs

Ariella Tomlin, Reporter, KIMA

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- More than a year later, Sunnyside Community Hospital is finally bringing its vision of a new multi-million-dollar facility to life. Construction could start as early as this fall thanks to recent funding from the state and other sources.

Sunnyside joined Yakima Regional Center and Toppenish Community Hospital as part of the new Regional Health system earlier this year. Steady patient growth has been the biggest factor for a new facility that could transform healthcare in the valley.

“Regional Health is very excited about the progress that Sunnyside Community Hospital has made,” said Regional Health President John Gallagher. But with more than 560 employees landlocked on 2.8 acres, more space has been necessary to meet the needs of patients.

“The hospital acquired 50 acres out on the freeway at the Wanita exit for a master facility planned campus,” said Gallagher. A modern, open, and spacious campus design will be a reality funded by several sources.

Hospital officials said $120 million has been invested by the Sunnyside Community Hospital Association, as well as a $2 million loan from the state and money from the county and city. “It'll be really focused on out-patient services along with in-patient as well,” said Gallagher.

Despite 75 percent of services now trending toward out-patient care, hospital officials said quick accessibility is key. The new facility will have 58 patient beds - more than doubling the hospital's current capacity.

“Having someone who can just run across a walkway and be immediately available at our patients' bedsides is very important,” said Sunnyside’s Chief Nursing Officer Cynthia Lewis. New in-patient services will also come to the new facility, including behavioral health care and a rehab and detox unit, adding to more than a dozen specialized areas of healthcare already available at the hospital.

“It supports the care delivery process and our focus on the community, which is what we're all about in healthcare; that's why we're all here,” said Lewis. Job growth is another aspect of the new facility, with 32 positions being added, joining nearly 100 registered nurses at the hospital. Improving access and bringing more healthcare closer to home for families.

“We can continue to focus on the communities and reinvest back in those communities to improve the health and lives of the families,” said Gallagher. Regional Health employs more than 1,400 healthcare workers at its three hospitals. Regional Health officials said they are also seeking funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The hospital's design is currently being reviewed by the state Department of Health.

Community Health Systems Announces Definitive Agreement to Divest Two Washington Hospitals

Sunnyside Community Hospital & Clinics Signs Agreement to Acquire Yakima and Toppenish Hospitals

Sunnyside applying for $1M to support new hospital location

Yakima County’s economic development board soon will consider a city of Sunnyside application to spend $1 million on roads and infrastructure to support the new location of Sunnyside Community Hospital.

The Supporting Investments in Economic Development (SIED) Board will hear the application at its regular quarterly meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday. After the meeting, the board will make a recommendation to Yakima County commissioners, who make the final decision to approve or not.

Sunnyside Community Hospital is gearing up to build a much larger facility on 50 acres just off Interstate 82 near Waneta Road, about 2 miles from its current residential location.

Construction was slated for late 2016 or early 2017 but has not begun yet. The hospital has been busy; it also just bought Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center and Toppenish Community Hospital from corporate owner Community Health Systems in December.

Because the land where the new hospital will be built is undeveloped, the city must extend infrastructure to the area before the facility can be connected to sewer and water services. The city’s application also includes making road improvements to support the new location.

If approved, the $1 million request would come in two parts: a $500,000 loan, which the city would be required to pay back, in conjunction with the hospital; and a $500,000 grant, which would not be repaid.

That’s less than 1 percent of the approximately $120 million it will cost to build the new hospital, said Joe Schmitt, director of business recruitment with New Vision, Yakima County’s Development Association.

The city has also applied for $2 million from the state Department of Commerce Community Revitalization Board, $1.7 million of which would be a loan, with the remaining $300,000 given as a grant. The city of Sunnyside itself will contribute $1 million, and the hospital will pay roughly $3.9 million for a total cost of $7,940,462 for the various infrastructure improvements.

Right now, Sunnyside Community Hospital has only 25 beds; the new facility will have 58, including 10 inpatient psychiatric beds and 10 inpatient rehab beds. The design for the facility includes a five-story main hospital building along with a three-story medical office building.

Hospital directors have cited the Valley’s population growth and increased demand for medical services as the reason for expanding.

The new hospital is forecast to contribute significantly to the Sunnyside economy, Schmitt said: According to the SIED analysis, the hospital will add 32 new jobs, with an average wage of $34.07 an hour, which is more than twice the county’s median wage of $15.99 an hour.

Another 18 jobs are expected to be created as a “multiplier” of those 32 direct jobs, the analysis said, for a total of 50 new jobs.

In addition, by extending water and sewer lines and improving roads near the new location, Sunnyside will enable access to about 450 acres within the urban growth area, allowing for further development, Schmitt said.

“It is a boon as far as furthering more economic development growth out there,” he said. “A lot of it is undeveloped land. ... As you develop more urban growth out there, the amount of tax (the city) can collect goes up as well, so that has a positive impact all around.”

The cost breakdown of $1 of SIED money for every $120 of private money going into the hospital’s construction is “a really good investment,” Schmitt said, “especially for the amount of jobs and the income on those jobs.”

SIED’s analysis predicts a return on investment of $6.63 in annual economic activity for every $1 of SIED money invested.

The city of Sunnyside has been working with the hospital and other stakeholders on this application for more than a year.

County Commissioner Rand Elliott, who serves on the SIED Board, said he hasn’t yet reviewed the application. SIED’s investments are limited to infrastructure like roads and utilities that provide jobs and make land available for development, he said.

He did not speculate on the likelihood of the application’s approval. But from what he knows of the Sunnyside proposal, Elliott said, “It’s a big medical development; it would create a lot of professional jobs; and if it’s a feasible project, it would certainly be beneficial to the county’s economy.”

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