Tuesday, Walla Walla General Hospital officials announced that an unforseen issue that arose from a proposed merger of the facility with Providence Health Services will force the oldest hospital in Southeastern Washington to close it's doors in July.

The shocking news came on the heels of a proposed merger that would join Providence Health Services St. Mary Medical Center and WW General (Adventist Health).

According to the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, Spokesman Judy Leach said "unexpected regulatory challenges have arisen which could linger for an undetermined amount of time, and ultimately prohibit the anticipated transfer of membership."

Walla Walla General workers were informed Monday, the hospital will close July 24th. It means the loss of some 72 beds, and will leave Providence St. Mary's as the only acute (serious and ER care) facility in the entire Walla Walla Valley area. Walla Walla General was first opened in 1899, making it almost 118 years old.

Officials say Adventist Healthcare, the hospital's parent company, had made numerous investments over the last decade but say it had faced mounting financial challenges as well.

Sources, including KEPR-TV, say the closure will also affect other Adventist Health Services in the area. Adventist Home Health Care and Adventist Health Medical Group. However, the Wheatland Village Retirement Center will not be affected.

Officials did not release any information as to how many total jobs will be lost by the closures.

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