Washington hospital closes ER, lays off 463 employees

Astria Regional Medical Center in Yakima, Wash., closed its emergency room Jan. 13 and plans to completely shut down within the next few weeks. When the hospital closes, 463 employees will lose their jobs, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice.

Astria Health, a three-hospital system, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. The health system is preparing to emerge from bankruptcy, and investors and lenders have shown interest in supporting Astria Sunnyside (Wash.) Hospital and Astria Toppenish (Wash.) Hospital. However, Astria Regional Medical Center in Yakima has not received the same level of interest.

The health system received approval from the bankruptcy court on Jan. 8 to close Astria Regional Medical Center and immediately began winding down inpatient services. Astria Regional Medical Center shut down its ER Jan. 13 and is transferring patients to other local hospitals.

In a Jan. 8 news release, officials said some of the 463 employees affected by the closure may be transitioned to other hospitals owned by Astria.

"Astria Regional Medical Center employees have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to patient care during this difficult time and are valued members of the Astria Health family," reads the release. "As often as possible, Astria Regional Medical Center employees will be given consideration for positions within existing Astria Health Hospitals or other Astria Health facilities or assisted in finding new positions."

The Washington State Nurses Association, which represents 140 nurses at Astria Regional Medical Center, filed an emergency motion Jan. 10 urging the bankruptcy court to reconsider the order allowing the hospital to close. A hearing on the motion is set for Jan. 14.

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