Luis board expects deadline to be extended
Published: January 14, 2013
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ST. CROIX - Luis Hospital board chairwoman Kye Walker told board members that federal regulators seem open to extending the February deadline for the hospital to comply with a settlement agreement, provided that some conditions are met.
Board members last month requested an extension on the Feb. 13 deadline for the hospital to correct a multitude of deficiencies and meet mandates it agreed to in a settlement with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.
The agreement is designed to fix problems CMS inspectors uncovered at the hospital and improve patient care.
During her report at a Luis Hospital board meeting on Friday night, Walker said that the board had received a "scathing" letter from CMS last month pertaining to the settlement agreement.
An emergency board meeting took place, and meetings with meetings with CMS and with Premier, the company the board chose to be the independent expert overseeing the hospital's implementation of the settlement agreement, also took place, Walker said.
CMS was concerned about the hospital's ability to meet the Feb. 13 deadline for correcting deficiencies, she said.
The federal agency had suggested that the hospital hire an interim manager, but the board wanted to change the organizational structure of the hospital, and CMS was open to that, Walker said.
The board has created a chief operating officer position that will be filled by someone with a clinical background who will oversee implementation of the settlement agreement in patient care areas. The chief operating officer will report directly to the board, not to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Nelson.
Walker said Friday that the board, which is doing an in-house search for the chief operating officer, hopes to have the position filled by the end of the month.
Although CMS has rejected two plans of correction the hospital has submitted, another revised plan of correction to fix deficiencies will be submitted to the federal agency by Jan. 31, Walker said.
She also said that federal regulators had not been pleased with the hospital's use of Premier before getting CMS approval for the choice.
CMS now has approved Premier, Walker said.
Now that the company has been approved, Walker said her impression is that once a plan of correction is approved and the chief operating officer position is filled, the federal agency is "very open to extending the Feb. 13 deadline."
Officials repeatedly have warned that if the problems aren't fixed by the deadline, the hospital could lose the ability to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. That means the federal agency would not pay the hospital for services provided to patients in those programs, which comprises a large portion of the hospital's business.
Even though extending the deadline may be feasible, the hospital must continue to strive to meet the settlement agreement's mandates, Walker said.
"The hospital cannot afford to lose accreditation. The patients cannot afford for us to lose accreditation," she said.
In other action at the Friday meeting, the board approved revisions to certain policies and protocols, OK'd some contracts and approved increases to certain charges that were not adjusted during the most recent adjustment to the chargemaster.
The board also elected officers. Walker will remain the board chairwoman, Dr. Anthony Ricketts will be vice chairman, Wallace Phaire will be treasurer and Joyce Heyliger will be secretary.
After an executive session at Friday's meeting, Walker said the board had discussed negotiations of a lease agreement for certain equipment with a finance company, the strain on the emergency department because of the shortage of nurses and incidents that may need to be reported to CMS, and the search for an interim chief operating officer.
A no-confidence vote in Nelson by the medical staff was not discussed, Walker said.
- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email email@example.com.