The Stand

WSNA urges UWMC to reopen ‘critical lifeline’ psychiatric unit

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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.

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