SEATTLE (June 15, 2020) — Following the University of Washington Medical Center’s announcement of plans to permanently close the in-patient psychiatric unit, Washington State Nurses Association released the following statement on Friday:
This move has the potential to harm patients, their loved ones, and the nurses who serve them. As our nation grapples with the mental toll from the coronavirus pandemic, an economic recession and long-overdue reckoning on race relations, we need more options to support psychological well-being, not fewer.
The UW in-patient facility is a critical lifeline to all residents experiencing psychological distress, but it is especially important for women with high-risk pregnancies, transplant patients and UW students. No other facility in the state offers these supports for inpatient pregnant women. Transplant patients can receive on-site care for distress following procedures. And UW students in distress have a facility within walking distance.
Since this unit was temporarily closed, the nurses who dedicate themselves to serving these vulnerable patients have advocated for reopening and supporting this unit. Now, UW plans to close the facility entirely. While it may save money, it means many will be cut off from care — especially the UW students and local populations who cannot easily access the Northwest campus.
In the face of the layoff notices that went out, WSNA has demanded to bargain the effects of that decision with UW Medicine as we fight to protect our members’ employment and maintain much needed psychiatric beds.
WSNA calls on UW Medical Center to reverse course and re-open this facility to continue serving these vulnerable patients. Now is no time to make it harder for those in psychiatric distress to get the care they need, or to disrupt the lives of the nurses who dedicate themselves to serving these patients.
► From the Seattle Times — UW Medicine shuts down psychiatric unit amid financial shortfall — UW Medicine will close Seven North, a psychiatric facility at UW Medicine — Montlake, laying off staffers and reducing the number of inpatient beds available to those in need of care amid the state’s mental health crisis. The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA), which represents Seven North nurses, issued a statement calling for UW Medicine to “reverse course and re-open this facility.” Negotiations over layoffs will begin Monday, said Heather Vargas-Lyon, a nurse who will participate in bargaining.