Virginia Mason Memorial

Letter from CEO Russ Myers

Dear Friends,

We have always worked to provide greater access to care for our patients in the Yakima Valley. In fact, access to care is Virginia Mason Memorial’s top priority in our current Community Health Needs Assessment report. It is the framework that guides our efforts to improve health care in Central Washington.

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Our work to increase access goes hand in hand with the vast changes we have seen over the past few years in the health-care landscape of our country. Both issues were, in fact, important factors in our decision to seek out a quality health care partner, which we found in Virginia Mason Health System. Our partnership makes each of us, on both sides of the Cascades, stronger together.

I will always remember and appreciate the dedication and enthusiasm of the wonderful health care team here at Virginia Mason Memorial, and the many community members who dedicated their time and resources to help us succeed.

In May 2019, the wisdom of our decision became startlingly clear when Astria Health filed for bankruptcy, putting the future of Yakima’s only other hospital, Astria Regional, in jeopardy. It was then that we doubled our efforts to open avenues to care across our entire spectrum of services. Should Astria Regional close its doors, we needed to assure our community that we were prepared to serve every patient who came through ours.

Throughout 2019, Virginia Mason Memorial leaders gathered daily and weekly for status and planning updates. Access to care was always top of mind, whether that care was provided in our emergency department, our primary care clinics or at specialty centers.

Early in 2020, that work paid off. On Jan. 8, Astria announced it was closing the hospital. Leaders from Virginia Mason Memorial (VMM) and Virginia Mason put plans into action. Immediately we reached out to our community partners to ensure essential services would continue and that we were doing what’s best for our community.

Within two weeks, VMM opened a third HealthyNow convenient-care clinic. This one on the Memorial hospital campus. The new clinic is open evenings until 10 p.m., three days each week (to start) to offer patients coming to our Emergency Department a faster, less-expensive option. We have also created 60 to 90 openings per day at our primary care offices.

Meanwhile, teams from our Human Resources department worked diligently to add staff, many from the newly closed hospital. To do so, we streamlined our hiring process and increased access to our onboarding for new team members.

Our work continues on many fronts. But one thing remains unchanged — our commitment to our Mission, Vision and Values:

  • To create healthy communities one person at a time.
  • To achieve health with you in new ways.
  • With respect, accountability, teamwork, stewardship and innovation.

On another note, change is a constant in health care and in our personal lives. Earlier in 2019, I decided that it was time for me to transition to retirement, and so I leave now, knowing Virginia Mason Memorial is in good hands. We are privileged to welcome Carole Peet, MSN, MBA, FACHE, as our new Chief Executive Officer. Carole is a proven leader who has an extensive operations background with demonstrated results in improving the patient experience, while increasing both staff and patient satisfaction.

I will always remember and appreciate the dedication and enthusiasm of the wonderful health care team here at Virginia Mason Memorial, and the many community members who dedicated their time and resources to help us succeed.

I wish each of you good health and continued success. I know that my life is richer because of you.

Russ Myers

President and CEO
Virginia Mason Memorial