Saint Louise Hospital silence hardly golden

1. Wishing the troubling report to vanish just won’t make it so

With a second report from a state oversight agency threatening to halt Medicare funding to our local hospital on a specific date – Oct. 19, 2012 – the silence from Saint Louise Hospital has become deafening. And, frankly, it’s embarrassing. It’s almost as if the hospital administration is just wishing these troubles would vanish.
But that’s not the case, and though some claim this is just routine bureaucracy, the people issuing the warning say that isn’t so. Furthermore the wording of the letter sent by the California Department of Public Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federally funded agency that provides oversight to hospitals and health care providers, to Saint Louise Chief Executive Officer Joanne Allen is frightening given that roughly 40 percent of OUR hospital’s revenues come from Medicare.

2. A resilient and robust Saint Louise can meet its marvelous mission
Make no mistake, it’s OUR hospital. And the reason why this news is so alarming is because we don’t want it to be shuttered or crippled. A resilient Saint Louise – a Saint Louise Regional Hospital that can meet its marvelous mission statement – is a key component to the quality of life in South County.
That’s why this community deserves complete transparency and straight answers. Unfortunately, that’s eons away from the current reality. Instead, a general “feel good” PR statement is released that does not address what are now ongoing issues.
The situation has been elevated to an extremely high level with the latest CMS notice, and the truth is that operational issues are, of course, paramount in health care.
The first paragraph of the letter reads:
Dear Ms. Allen:
This is to inform you that based on a careful review of the findings of an authorized Medicare survey, completed June 14 … by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has concluded that Saint Louise Regional Hospital is not in compliance with the applicable Conditions of Participation for a provider of hospital services in the Medicare program, established by Title XVIII of the Social Security Act. Accordingly, with this notice we are initiating a process, which could result in termination of the hospital’s Medicare provider agreement on or before October 19, 2012, under 42 C.F.R. 489.53.

3. Blasé response only lowers the community confidence level
Saint Louise declined to share the CMS report which will become public shortly anyway, as soon as the hospital formally responds.
Meanwhile, the hospital’s blasé public portrayal lowers the community’s confidence level, heightens concerns about competence and endangers the relationships with the medical and donor communities.
That’s terrible news for OUR hospital.