Updated 10:15 a.m.: As of this morning, Astria Health attorney Samuel Maizel said there are no patients at Regional Medical Center in Yakima and Astria has relinquished Regional's license to the state.
Maizel made the point at the start of a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, saying a request from the Washington State Nurses Association to reconsider the hospital’s closure was moot.
Judge Whitman Holt said he would consider that argument, but first wanted to hear from witnesses and allow the public to listen. Sister Fe Sumalde, Regional's longtime chaplain, was the first witness called.
Updated 9 a.m.: Astria Regional Medical Center's nursing staff will make a last-minute pitch to keep the hospital open this morning in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
The Washington State Nurses Association filed an emergency motion Friday asking the federal judge in charge of Astria Health's bankruptcy case to rescind the order allowing management to close the hospital.
The union said there was no reason to rush the shutdown, and that Astria Health deliberately tried to keep the public from weighing in. In the motion requesting Tuesday's hearing, the union justifies returning to the decision allowing the shut down by arguing that Astria "filed their motion under seal precisely in order to keep the employees, patients and the members of the local community in the dark about its plan, and to prevent them from raising any opposition to it in this Court."
Attorneys for Astria Health responded by saying the nurses' union doesn't have standing, and doesn't meet the burden for reconsideration. A court filing said Astria has already taken substantial steps to close the medical center, and officials anticipated that between seven and nine patients were remaining as of Monday, with plans to transfer them to other facilities.
Tuesday's hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. in Yakima.