After months of advocacy from Harborview nurses and healthcare workers along with WFSE members, local elected leaders and healthcare group Washington CAN!, Harborview’s Interim CEO Johnese Spisso announced on February 26 that Harborview will not be closing or relocating clinics.
Since the moment the closures were announced in mid-December, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW clinic and hospital members, along with patient and advocacy groups, have been actively pursuing a reversal of the closures citing the impact the loss of culturally competent and accessible care would have on the community. The closures were slated to take place on July 1, 2014.
On the eve of a Board of Trustees meeting where nurses, healthcare workers, and patients were slated to again testify about the closures, Harborview for the first time today publicly recanted its closure announcement.
An email statement by Spisso today reads, “We are writing to again confirm that Harborview Medical Center is not closing or relocating any of the existing Harborview primary care clinics.” Harborview’s previous position had been that it wasn’t “closing services;” this is the first written confirmation that clinics will not close or relocate.
“Our patients and our community take heart in knowing that care will continue to be there for them when they need it,” said Scott Canaday, an Angio Tech at Harborview Medical Center and member of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “This is the right decision.”
“Since the initial announcement in December, our staff at the clinics has been anxious about how we best deliver the care and services our patients need. Staff welcomed this public statement from Ms. Spisso. Now we can reassure our patients that our specialized services will continue along with their medical care. Our work is not done yet. Staffing was affected and morale was eroded during the three months of uncertainty created by administration in the clinics. The next step is to fill the positions that staff vacated and reassure our patients that we are open and here to serve them.” – Kimela Vigil, SW Women’s Clinic