In the Frame: Toppenish

The Washington Nurse magazine showcases hospitals in the state and their communities. In this issue: Astria Toppenish Hospital.

This story was published in the Spring-Summer 2023 issue of The Washington Nurse.

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The hospital is located on tribal lands and plays a critical role in the health of the Yakama Nation.
Credit: Bobbi Nodell

Astria Toppenish Hospital is a 63-bed hospital located in Toppenish, a town of 8,800 in Yakima County.

The small hospital has been in the news headlines lately because of the sudden closure in December 2022 of the Family Medical Center. The hospital said the center was not financially sustainable, and public hearings on the closure were filled with angry residents and staff.

The hospital is located on the land of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and provides critical services to the Yakama people. The hospital’s Medicaid inpatient days exceed 50%. Many in the community are Native American, Hispanic, and Filipino with little access to preventative care.

The 1855 treaty created a reservation of approximately 1.2 million acres of land, forests, streams, and lakes for the 14 original tribes or bands of the Yakama Nation for “as long as the mountain stands and the river flows.”
Credit: Bobbi Nodell

Toppenish is a town known for its 75 murals, many portraying the early days of settlers and Native Americans.

The hospital was the dream of residents in 1944 to attract physicians to the area to serve the men and women who served in World War II. The hospital opened its doors on July 2, 1951.

Toppenish is a historical town of 8,800 in Yakima County.
Credit: Bobbi Nodell

For nurses, working here is a mission because of the diverse clientele. In fact, the hospital was named one of the 2022 Top 20 Most Racially Inclusive Hospitals in the United States and the No. 1 in Washington state, according to the Lown Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

Despite the high stress because of financial uncertainty and the wave of patients during the pandemic, many nurses say Astria Toppenish Hospital is a wonderful place to work because of the people. A new contract signed in 2022 offering record raises kept nurses from leaving and is attracting new nurses. Nurses talk of the bond with each other and the patients and a strong sense of community.

Credit: Bobbi Nodell

The hospital is part of a three-hospital system bought by Regional Health in September 2017 and a month later rebranded as Astria Health.

The nonprofit health system was facing huge financial issues and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2019. In early 2020, the health system closed its 214-bed hospital in Yakima.

Toppenish is known as the city of murals.
Credit: Bobbi Nodell

What will happen next to this hospital is unknown. But we share some images of the area and perspectives of nurses who have worked there.