Medicare funding for South County’s only hospital is no longer in jeopardy of being cut off, since Saint Louise Regional Hospital received a green light from the organization that oversees compliance with health and safety standards for patients.
After two in-person surveys conducted in January and June by the California Department of Public Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – a federally funded agency that provides oversight to hospitals and health care providers – Saint Louise is deemed to meet the Conditions of Participation as a Medicare provider.
CMS “will not proceed with a termination action” according to an official notice dated Oct. 1.
The Aug. 30 resurvey conducted by the California Department of Public Health confirms that “no deficiencies were cited and that the hospital has demonstrated compliance with all Medicare Conditions of Participation,” the letter reads.
The third response from CMS marks the wrapping up of a hectic saga for the hospital.
The Aug. 20 inspection rides the wake of “serious” and “critical” deficiencies identified by CMS, which launched a survey at Saint Louise from Dec. 22, 2011 to Jan. 18, 2012 in response to complaints that a contracted dialysis nurse was talking on a cell phone while caring for a patient.
During that first survey, the hospital was found to be “out of compliance” with a dozen Medicare regulations.
A follow-up resurvey conducted June 14 “identified instead numerous serious instances of noncompliance including violations that posed immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of patients,” according to the letter sent to hospital CEO Joanne Allen from CMS.
Allen interprets the rigors of a CMS survey as a difficult but beneficial process that helps educate hospital staff, identify areas that need improvement and guide Saint Louise in establishing the best possible practices. CMS surveys are routine and part of day-to-day operations for any hospital, she explained.
“We’re happy that we passed the survey,” said Allen Thursday. “I’ve been meeting with seniors and senior centers and assuring them that we have our full Medicare accreditation. Our highest priority is safe, quality patient care. It’s been an experience going through this and it’s something that at the end of the day, we are a better hospital.”