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Astria Health responds to possible disciplinary action by the Department of Health
(SUNNYSIDE, Wash., February 27, 2022) – Astria Health officials informed its staff that they are diligently working with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH)’s Certificate of Need (CN) office regarding Astria Toppenish Hospital (ATH)’s closure of its Family Maternity Center in December 2022.
“You may have read a recent article that stated the DOH is considering possible disciplinary action against ATH over the December closure of the Family Maternity Center,” said Astria Health President & Chief Executive Officer Brian Gibbons during a staff leadership meeting on February 15. “I understand that this sounds like cause to be concerned, but it is not. While the article is factually correct, it lacks context and detail.”
In an effort to provide more detailed information, Mr. Gibbons and his executive leadership team presented the following information:
Mr. Gibbons; Cathy Bambrick, ATH Administrator; and Eric Jensen, Astria Health System Executive Director of Government Affairs, have relentlessly worked with the state to ensure the viability of both of Astria Health’s hospitals, specifically its hospital in Toppenish.
“When we made the difficult decision to close the Family Maternity Center in Toppenish, we needed to act quickly to ensure patient safety and financial stability,” said Mr. Gibbons. “Changing a certificate of need is a very lengthy process. If we had waited for the certificate of need process to be finalized, the financial stability of the entire hospital would’ve been at risk. When we made the decision to close the maternity center, our first call was to the CN office. We followed their advice and did exactly as they advised us to do.”
After the closure of the Family Maternity Center, ATH’s financial stability is more secure, and Astria Health officials are advocating for more support from the state and federal government to bolster the community hospital’s operations and capacity. Mr. Gibbons, Ms. Bambrick and Mr. Jensen are actively working with local legislature to ensure the financial viability of Astria Toppenish Hospital.
In April, the three executive team members plan to travel to Washington D.C., to meet with federal legislators to advocate for re-submitting the Behavioral Health Unit funding application to support 14 additional beds to expand ATH’s current unit. Earlier this month, the three members also traveled to Olympia, Wash., to meet with state senators and house representatives to discuss Medicaid reimbursement and other key hospital legislation matters. Officials are optimistic that it will receive the support needed to continue providing safe and timely care to its patients and community members throughout Yakima Valley.
“When we create and maintain financially healthy and patient-focused hospitals in our communities, our communities become healthier – physically, mentally and economically,” said Mr. Gibbons. “We plan to keep both hospitals in Sunnyside and Toppenish open and thriving for years to come. There will always be growing pains during times of change and uncertainty. We understand that completely. We’re working tirelessly to offer services that our communities need, and keep our hospitals open and staffed, ready to serve our patients.”
Astria Health is a non-profit healthcare system based in Eastern Washington. Astria Health is the parent organization of Astria Sunnyside Hospital and Astria Toppenish Hospital, along with 10 Rural Health Clinics and 12 outpatient clinics offering primary care and specialty services, including but not limited to behavioral health, dental services, home health and hospice, neurosurgery, oncology, podiatry, rehabilitation therapy and sleep medicine. For more information, please visit www.astria.health.
Posted February 27, 2023