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Speaking up for mental health services at UWMC — Montlake

UWMC — Montlake nurses from the 7N psychi­atric unit, mental health advocates, and commu­nity supporters showed up last Friday for an action aimed at raising aware­ness of the dire need to increase, not decrease access to mental health care in our state. In addition to this commu­nity event, WSNA continues to work with the UWMC ‑Montlake local unit leaders and 7N nurses to find a solution in the best interest of our commu­nity and our members.

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WSNA calls for reopening of UWMC — Montlake inpatient psych unit

WSNA released the following state­ment on the closure of 7N

The Univer­sity of Washington Medical Center has shut down the in-patient psychi­atric unit at Montlake, without commit­ting to a timeline to reopen it. At a time when the coron­avirus pandemic is raising concerns about the psycho­log­ical well-being of so many of our residents, during the month set aside for Mental Health Aware­ness, the UW is denying needed care by shutting down this unit. 

In addition to serving the needs of all persons needing mental health assis­tance in our commu­nity, this unit also serves women with high-risk pregnan­cies, trans­plant patients and Univer­sity of Washington students strug­gling with mental health issues. No other inpatient psychi­atric unit in the state offers these services to inpatient pregnant women. The unit supports UWMC — Montlake trans­plant patients on site. And it offers supportive, volun­tary inpatient services to students steps away from UW dormitories.

This closure has reignited concerns that UWMC — Montlake will close the inpatient psychi­atric unit perma­nently. These fears are not unfounded. In April 2018, the UW Medical Center threat­ened to shut this psychi­atric unit down, citing the drain of resources needed to make upgrades required by regula­tory agencies. In delaying the closure, UW Medicine said that it would be opening 12 new beds at the North­west campus – a transi­tional step that did not fully address nurses’ concerns that the new beds would not be as acces­sible for UW students and concerns that new beds wouldn’t address the needs of the patient popula­tions currently served.

WSNA calls on the Univer­sity of Washington Medical Center to reopen the inpatient psychi­atric unit, 7 North at Montlake, as soon as possible. Shutting down inpatient psychi­atric services at this moment in time repre­sents a short-term cost cut that would deny much needed psychi­atric care to some of our most vulner­able commu­nity members – pregnant women, trans­plant patients and students – at a time when the mental health strain of the coron­avirus pandemic makes it even more necessary.

Questions? Contact your WSNA Nurse Repre­sen­ta­tives Ed Zercher (ezercher@wsna.org) for UWMC — Montlake and Brenda Balogh (bbalogh@wsna.org) for UWMC — North­west. For more infor­ma­tion and other news updates, please check this page frequently.