Greenville Memorial unlikely to lose Medicare money following warning

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Neither the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services nor the Greenville Health System expect Greenville Memorial Hospital to lose Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Yesterday, CMS published a legal notice in the Greenville News, stating that Greenville Memorial was not in compliance with regulations and CMS would no longer make payments to the hospital for Medicare patients admitted after April 16, 2017. Greenville Memorial also could lose its Medicaid funding.

The notice applies only to Greenville Memorial and not to the other health care entities that comprise the Greenville Health System (GHS), the Upstate’s largest such organization.

“We do not believe there will be any interruption in services to Medicare patients at Greenville Memorial,” says Dr. Scott M. Sasser, chair of emergency medicine for GHS. “We’re absolutely confident we can do the plan of action in time for the deadline. We’ll look for anything we can to serve our patients.”

Sasser added, “I’m very confident in our team.”

April Washington, CMS public affairs officer for Region IV, points out that it’s unlikely Greenville Memorial will lose future Medicare money. “In most cases, hospitals take the necessary steps to correct their deficiencies,” Washington says.

It is exceedingly rare for CMS to pull Medicare/Medicaid funding from a hospital, Washington says. More commonly, hospitals receive an “immediate jeopardy” compliance finding, which is what Greenville Memorial received in three general areas: governance, nursing services, and patient rights.

Greenville Memorial has until April 3 to submit a plan explaining how the hospital will correct the problems. “The hospital has an opportunity to file their plan with us and tell us how they’ll correct their process or deficiencies,” Washington says.

According to Sasser, the hospital has already developed an appropriate action plan and initiated most parts, a move which includes strengthening clinical documentation processes related to patient care, increasing staffing, and providing employees with more intensive training.

Following the recent asphyxiation death of a man in the emergency room of Greenville Memorial Hospital, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) visited and surveyed the hospital’s emergency room. CMS reportedly found compliance problems.

CMS cited Greenville Memorial for its “failure to perform a safe takedown hold while applying four-point restraints and administering an injection,” says Washington, who did not know what medication was injected.

Washington and Sasser could not confirm earlier news reports that the survey was a response to the death of 48-year-old Donald Keith Smith of Greenville, a man who died at Greenville Memorial Hospital from asphyxiation following a struggle with guards. Keith’s death was ruled a homicide by the Greenville County Coroner’s office, according to reports.

Greenville Memorial voluntarily filed a report with CMS and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), a move which led to the survey.

Hospitals are routinely cited by CMS for failing to comply with regulations. For the fourth quarter of 2016, there were 170 hospitals that had findings related to governance, 298 with patient rights findings, and 169 with nursing services findings,

Other hospitals that recently were given an immediate jeopardy status by CMS include the University of Minnesota Medical Center, where a 13-year-old patient ran away from a psychiatric ward, and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minn. Abbott Northwestern was cited because of a nurse’s medication error that sent an asthmatic patient to the intensive care unit.

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