SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — In a little more than two weeks, Astria Health will stop offering invasive and minimally invasive heart procedures and interventional cardiology services at its clinics and its Sunnyside hospital and clinics in Sunnyside.
Hospital officials told KAPP-KVEW the change — which will take effect Dec. 16 — is due to staffing challenges and the rising costs of supplies and labor. Existing heart patients will need to be referred to cardiologists in Yakima or the TriCities to continue their care.
“Closing a service line is always a last resort, but part of being a good financial steward of our organization is to be responsible to our staff and the communities that depend on us,” Astria Health President and CEO Brian Gibbons said in a news release.
KAPP-KVEW’s Emily Goodell reached out to Astria Health officials, who were unable to do an interview Monday, but did agree to answer questions sent via email.
Is there a way to get a list of what specific cardiology/cardiac services will no longer be offered? And are there any heart health services that will still be offered?
We will no longer provide invasive and minimally-invasive heart procedures at Astria Sunnyside Hospital. These services include elective percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs); cardiac catheterization; angioplasty; stent placement; and coronary angiography. We will still provide inpatient heart diagnostic imaging services via telecardiology.
What does this mean for patients? Do they need to contact other hospitals/clinics? Will they be referred to another doctor for the services they currently access at Astria locations?
Patients seeking cardiology services need to work with their primary care provider (PCP) to send a referral to another cardiologist in Yakima or the Tri-Cities to receive ongoing heart care. We’ve informed our PCPs and the ones we work with about these changes to ensure our current patients have heart care without interruption.
If patients have a heart attack, can Astria hospitals still treat them?
Yes. We will treat and stabilize patients experiencing a heart attack and then transfer them to a facility where they can receive ongoing heart care.
Does this mean Astria will be letting its cardiac/cardiology staff go?
We are ending our contract with CardioSolution, which staffed a contracted cardiologist. We do not anticipate changes to our permanent cardiac staff members’ employment status. We’re working with them on transitioning to different areas within the health system. If cardiac staff choose to leave, we’re collaborating with area hospitals for placement to ensure their employment needs are met.
Will Astria be offering any assistance to low-income patients who will now need to travel to Yakima or the Tri-Cities for care?
Astria Health staff will provide referrals to transportation services as needed. This is a standard practice we provide.
In response to this quote from Brian Gibbons, what support will you be offering to other health care entities to deal with the influx of patients who will no longer be able to receive cardiology services at Astria locations? “Due to current staffing challenges and rising costs of supplies and labor, it makes sense to support healthcare entities that offer more-robust cardiology services,” said Brian Gibbons, Astria Health President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our community members deserve sustainable heart health care; we’re ensuring this happens by supporting our healthcare partners in Yakima and the Tri-Cities.”
Cardiology is an extremely expensive and medically complex service to have for hospitals. It makes more sense to collaborate with our larger healthcare partners, like Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and Kadlec, so patients can access more-robust cardiology services.
What information are you providing patients about this change in services?
We sent our current cardiology patients a letter informing them of closing this service, with a list of organizations that they can work with to find a new cardiologist, and also recommended they work with their PCPs to get a new referral to organizations in Yakima and the Tri-Cities who are providing heart care.
Patients can contact the Yakima County Medical Society, Washington State Medical Association, their managed care plan or their PCP for a referral. Once they’ve established care with a new cardiologist, they can contact us for their medical records, and we’ll transfer those records to their new cardiology provider’s office. If patients have questions regarding their care, they can contact our Astria Health Centers in Sunnyside at 509-836-4825 or Toppenish at 509-865-2500.
This is a developing story and we will follow up with additional information as it becomes available.
***This article has been updated to use the term “procedure” instead of “surgery” for medical accuracy.
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