Walla Walla General Hospital closes its doors - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Walla Walla General Hospital closes its doors

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WALLA WALLA, WA - The day has come and Walla Walla General Hospital has closed its doors, with patients being transferred to other hospitals and employees looking for work.

Signs have been posted around the campus, pointing people across town for their hospital needs to Providence Saint Mary's.

Walla Walla resident Mark Franklin's family has history at both the old and new Walla Walla General Hospital buildings.

"My two children were born here a long time ago; they're both in their thirties now," Franklin said. "And my father was one of the last patients at the old General Hospital, which is now a dormitory at Whitman College."

And this morning, as he was driving by the hospital, Franklin decided to stop and save a memory of the place his family has visited time and time again.

"A little melancholia, I was just thinking about it again when I drove past here," he said. "A little melancholia when I saw them lifting the sign away, and brought back some memories."

Memories from a Walla Walla institution around since 1899...across three centuries of healthcare in the Walla Walla Valley.

The hospital may be closed, but employees are still working; coming in and out, moving things out and tying up some loose ends.

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7-23-17 UPDATE:

WALLA WALLA, WA - Walla Walla General Hospital is emptying out as it prepares to officially close its doors tomorrow. The hospital has been working to transfer patients to other area hospitals for about a week now. We spoke with a former patient who says the community is already seeing the ripple effects from this closure.

"I don't know if people are really grasping what it's going to do to us," said Felicia Peterson, former patient.

Patients and employees from the Walla Walla hospital are in a state of limbo.

"I'm losing my primary care giver, I'm losing my cardiologist, my Sleep Apnea doctor," said Peterson.

Adventist Health announced the closure on June 19th. A little more than a month later, the city of Walla Walla is left with just one emergency room. Stacie Phillips works at St. Mary Medical Center and tells us, they're filling up, and fast.

"Our ER is busy all the time anyway, let alone adding a whole other hospital's patients," said Phillips.

The hospital had a $16 million remodel just four years ago. As for what's going to happen to the building, a hospital representative tells us they're focusing on transferring patients and helping employees find jobs elsewhere. Walla Walla General Hospital's ER will be taking patients until 11:30 tonight.

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6-20-17 UPDATE:

WALLA WALLA, WA -  Today, reporter Jaclyn Selesky spoke with Marlene Holland, who has been an employee at Walla Walla General Hospital for the past 35 years.

Holland says she was shocked to hear the news that the hospital is closing just four years after a $16 million remodel.

"Employees are devastated to say the least, and we're all concerned about the patients of course," Holland said.

We reached out to the vice president of communications at the hospital to find out exactly what the future holds for their patients. Judy Leach tells us "no patients are being transferred at this time and we will continue to treat patients with exceptional quality care at the hospital until it closes."

But Holland says with one of the two hospitals in Walla Walla closing down, she's concerned about where all of the patients will go.

"It's going to be hard for patients because I'm sure that the doctors probably can't absorb all of our patients," she said.

Adventist Health had been making plans to absorb the more than 100-year-old institution. 

The hospital, Adventist Health home care services, and Adventist Health Medical Group are all closing by Monday, July 24th.

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6-19-17 ORIGINAL STORY:

WALLA WALLA, WA - A new development has brought an end to Adventist Health’s efforts to transfer control of Walla Walla General Hospital’s services to Providence Health & Services—an initiative they jointly announced on April 3 and that both organizations had hoped to achieve by midsummer. Adventist Health received word that unexpected regulatory challenges have arisen which could linger for an undetermined duration of time and could ultimately prohibit the anticipated transfer of membership.

Because of this new development, Adventist Health and Providence Health & Services have ceased planning for the transfer of membership and Adventist Health has announced its intention to instead close facilities effective Monday, July 24.

Walla Walla General Hospital has faced mounting financial challenges over the last decade, during which time Adventist Health has explored multiple options to provide a sustainable model for the hospital. This included facility upgrades, exploring new services, and seeking out other partners and alliances that would help make the hospital financially viable.

“Adventist Health has invested more than $68 million into Walla Walla General Hospital during recent years in the hopes of securing its future as a healthcare resource in Walla Walla,” said Joyce Newmyer, President of Adventist Health Pacific Northwest Region and Board Chair of Walla Walla General Hospital. “We respect the legacy of this hospital, its place in the heart of our community, and the investments we have all made to sustain it for more than a century. Unfortunately, we must now acknowledge the current healthcare environment creates an unsustainable future for the local hospital.”

The closure will include all Adventist Health services in Walla Walla: Walla Walla General Hospital, Adventist Health Home Care Services and Adventist Health Medical Group. It will not impact the Wheatland Village Retirement Center.

“Knowing how our Walla Walla General Hospital’s physicians and staff have faithfully and selflessly served this community for more than a century has made this one of the most heart-breaking decisions we have had to make as a company. There is no way to adequately articulate the value of their contribution over the years,” states Newmyer.

Since demand for medical services in Walla Walla won’t decrease, it is anticipated that many employees and physicians will pursue other opportunities locally. Additionally, Adventist Health has positions open at 19 other Adventist Health hospitals in the Western United States for those interested in relocating. Physicians and staff were notified of the decision earlier today. AH will begin work immediately to create an orderly process for ensuring quality, safety and continuity of care while preparing for the closure. Information will also be provided to patients regarding access to their medical information.

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