Years ago, a Washington Post staffer proposed a nap room on the premises for stressed-out reporters. Not much came of that proposal.

But the paper’s workers are losing the next best thing. Effective beginning in the new year, the Post‘s health center is shutting down. Pregnant staffers, flu-ridden reporters on deadline, and otherwise tired and stressed-out Posties will have to find another soft space to recuperate.

As the memo after the jump makes clear, the motivating factor behind the move is not underuse. Not the shortage of good nursing talent to staff the center. Not the outsourcing of health-center services to developing countries. Not the availability of flu shots at supermarkets and office buildings. Not a new company policy that employees should simply toughen up and do their damn work.

No, the culprit is more familiar than that. See memo—-and culprit—-after the jump.

To: All Post Employees

From: Peggy Schiff

After making several changes over the years to our NW Health Center, we have concluded that continuing its operation is no longer viable in the current business climate. We wanted to let employees know that we are planning to close the NW Health Center effective January 1, 2009, and explain how we plan to handle some of the Health Center’s functions after that date.

As many of you know, the role of the NW Health Center has changed over the years. Prior to 1999, the NW location housed a large production facility—with presses and hundreds of production employees—justifying an on-site Health Center to handle injuries during the production process. Since NW production operations ended in 1999, The Post has incrementally cut back on the NW Health Center’s operations, and we eliminated weekend and evening hours in 2007. With the difficult business challenges facing the newspaper today, it is increasingly difficult to justify the expense of an on-site Health Center, particularly in the absence of production operations here.

We plan to continue the NW Health Center’s operations through the end of 2008. After that time, The Post’s Security Department will handle responses to medical emergencies—just as they do today during those hours when the Health Center is closed. In addition, we plan to continue some of the programs currently run through the Health Center, such as onsite EAP counseling, ergonomics, flu shot administration, and blood drives.

We appreciate your understanding as we make difficult decisions about our non-core operations in this business environment. We also want to recognize, and express our sincere gratitude for, the remarkable work that Phyllis Waslo, our retiring Health Center Manager, and her outstanding team of nursing professionals have performed over the years.

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