Why did you put Astria Toppenish Hospital on Emergent Divert Status for Labor & Delivery services?
- Due to a loss of contract staff, we were no longer able to staff the unit safely as of Saturday, December 24.
- We made the difficult decision on December 22 to go on Emergent Divert for Labor and Delivery.
What does Emergent Divert Status mean?
- Hospitals need to go on divert status from time to time for various reasons.
- When we say to divert labor and delivery patients, that means that we request emergency medical services (EMS) to consider taking its labor and delivery patients to a different hospital.
- Astria Sunnyside Hospital and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital are available for mothers-to-be to deliver their babies.
- Suppose a patient in active labor comes to the emergency room at Astria Toppenish Hospital. In that case, we will assess the patient and determine whether we need to deliver the baby in the emergency room. If we deliver the baby in the emergency room, we will stabilize the patient and the baby and transfer them.
Why did you decide to move up the closure date for the Family Maternity Center in Toppenish?
- On December 14, we announced the closure of our labor and delivery services at Astria Toppenish Hospital.
- The last day of labor and delivery services in Toppenish was planned for midnight on January 14.
- Due to a loss of contract staff, we were no longer able to staff the unit safely as of Saturday, December 24. We made the difficult decision on December 22 to go on Emergent Divert for Labor and Delivery.
- The unit will permanently close early as soon as the last patient is discharged.
How did you let patients planning to deliver at Astria Toppenish Hospital know about the divert status and the new closure date?
- Once we decided to divert labor and delivery services and close the Family Maternity Center, we contacted all of our local healthcare partners with the information.
- We trust that our healthcare partners communicated the information to their healthcare providers and staff, who, in turn, shared it with their patients.
Did Labor & Delivery Staff at Toppenish get fired or quit their jobs?
- This is an ongoing situation, and we do not have those details at this time.
When did you realize you didn’t have enough staff to cover the holiday weekend?
- We had been working on getting more staff to cover the weekend, but due to contract staff shortages and the holiday weekend, the supplemental staff is not available to support the current staffing needs of the department.
Have you heard about the Toppenish Town Hall meeting called next month?
Will Astria Health officials be attending the Town Hall meeting?
- We have made the difficult decision to close the labor and delivery unit at Astria Toppenish Hospital to preserve the needed acute care services for the Toppenish community.
- We have provided our staff and the media with all of the reasons why we had to make this decision to close the unit.
Here’s a little background about the Astria Toppenish Hospital Labor & Delivery Services Closure announcement:
- In the Yakima Valley, the Astria Health System is unique because we operate two different types of hospitals and several outpatient clinics. Astria Sunnyside Hospital is a federally designated critical-access hospital (CAH), and Astria Toppenish Hospital is a 63-bed community hospital. We also have 22 outpatient clinics, nine of which are rural health clinics (RHCs).
- Each one of these entities' classifications is seen and treated differently by federal and state government agencies and insurance companies. The reimbursement structures for these entities are different and are set by the government and insurance companies.
- We’re also experiencing the highest inflation rate (9.1%) that we’ve seen in the U.S. since November 1981. We’ve all felt the effects of inflation at work and at home, and we’ve all had to adjust our work and personal budgets. Unlike other industries and businesses that can raise their prices when costs increase, our reimbursements for services are set by the government and thus remain unchanged.
- In 2022, we’ve seen an increase in our contract labor by 199% over the past year, supply costs have increased, and we have been unable to recruit staff, especially pediatricians in Toppenish, permanently. These elements created a perfect storm that resulted in the closing of labor and delivery services.
- Financially, labor and delivery services do not cover their costs for most hospitals, including Astria Toppenish Hospital, no matter the volumes.
- The costs of contract labor and supplies, in addition to the decrease in Medicaid reimbursement, at Astria Toppenish Hospital, have rendered the continuation of the service impossible.
- For labor and delivery services to be successful, hospitals need strong financial support from community health organizations; local, state, and federal governments; providers; and patients. We’ve performed herculean efforts to keep this important community service available, but unfortunately, we have determined that we must close for the following reasons:
- We expended tremendous resources to protect labor and delivery services for the Toppenish community, losing $3.2 million over the past year.
- In July 2021, our Medicaid rate at Astria Toppenish Hospital was reduced from 150% to 100%, significantly impacting our finances. Since notice of this change, we’ve worked diligently with our Washington State Legislators to pursue reinstatement of at least a 150% reimbursement rate, but as of yet, these efforts have not resulted in the acquisition of adequate financial support for the program or the hospital.
- Due to rising costs of labor and supplies as well as the reduced reimbursement rate for Medicaid, it is no longer sustainable to keep labor and delivery services open in Toppenish.
- In the early Fall of 2021, the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (YVFWC) made the difficult decision to no longer provide OB/GYN and pediatric physicians to support Astria Toppenish Hospital by providing services including call coverage, obstetrics, labor and delivery, or pediatrics. This decision significantly impacted our Family Maternity Center.
- After the YVFWC pulled their providers, we began heavily recruiting permanent staff and staff physicians to fill the gap. Unfortunately, we were unable to recruit the staff needed.
- In March of 2022, two of the three YVFWC OB/GYNs returned to provide labor and delivery services at Astria Toppenish Hospital, but their pediatricians did not return.
- We also had support from two private OB/GYN providers to offer services in Toppenish; however, due to the above reasons and the need to still provide lifesaving, acute-care services to the Toppenish community, we need to close the unit.
- The Astria Health team has fought long and hard to keep these services as long as we have, and we’re incredibly proud of our team’s efforts.
Posted December 23, 2022