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Letter to Our Walla Walla Community

July 06, 2017
WallaWalla_ExecBio_SusanBlackburn
Susan Blackburn
Chief Administrative Officer

We have all been saddened by the news that Adventist Health is closing its facilities in Walla Walla. Our hearts go out to everyone at Walla Walla General Hospital and the medical clinics, as well as their families and patients.

Facing such a loss, the most important thing the medical community can do now is ensure the medical needs of the community are met going forward. I would like to share with you the actions we are taking at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

To retain as many health care professionals in the community as possible, we are fast-tracking job postings across numerous areas. We have reached out to many Adventist Health physicians, physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners and asked them to consider employment with us. We soon will announce the names of those who have chosen to join Providence. In our conversations with the providers, their primary concern is for their patients, and ensuring their care continues during this transition.

If your provider is currently with the Adventist Health Group, you may wish to consider holding off on seeking a new provider until it’s been determined who will remain practicing in the community. We hope to have this information within the next few weeks.

For those whose providers leave, we would like to assure you that Providence is committed to meeting the needs of the community, including in primary care. We are working to expand access by increasing the hours in our Urgent Care, as well as recruiting for providers where needed.

Providence also is reaching out to the medical insurance companies that currently have contracts with Adventist Health, but not with Providence. Our goal is to have contracts with these companies in place before Walla Walla General Hospital closes, so that Providence St. Mary and Providence Medical Group will be in-network for patients holding these plans.

We have heard concerns about whether the Emergency Department at Providence St. Mary has enough capacity to serve the community. I acknowledge that as the community transitions to one Emergency Department, the wait times may lengthen somewhat. We are increasing staffing and physician coverage to address this. In the meantime, we would like to ask for the community’s help in reducing wait times by using the ED only in emergencies. For non-emergencies that need treatment quickly, please consider Urgent Care, Express Care or other community options.

While there remains a great deal of work to be done, it is encouraging how in such a short time the medical community has pulled together to address the challenges.

As we work through this transition, Providence St. Mary would like to invite your suggestions and questions at providence.org/wallawalla. You also can find regular updates and information on the site.

Susan Blackburn
Chief Administrative Officer