Luis has yet to receive report from federal audit in December


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ST. CROIX - Six weeks after federal regulators completed a weeklong inspection at Luis Hospital, the hospital has not yet received final results or a written report on the survey, officials said.

With the hospital's certification on the line, the inspection by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, grabbed headlines and was a topic for discussion in the community.

Luis Hospital Interim Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kendall Griffith said on Thursday that he had spoken with someone at CMS last week about the report.

"She just said that they've been working on it, that the report will be coming soon," he said. "She apologized to everyone. She said it's a lot of coordination between the surveyors that had to occur and that it's taken longer than expected."

CMS conducted the survey from Dec. 2-6.

Luis Hospital released a statement shortly thereafter indicating the survey had turned up some improvements and some deficiencies, based on information presented during an exit meeting between the surveyors and hospital staff.

No decision had been made on certification at that point, according to the hospital's press release.

That release said that surveyors told hospital officials they could expect a final report in two to three weeks.

However, CMS still is compiling and preparing the report, according to CMS spokeswoman Courtney Jenkins.

CMS made the unannounced visit to conduct a full inspection of the hospital, following up on previous surveys and also looking into a complaint about the hospital that the federal agency received. Information about the complaint was not made public.

Three surveyors arrived on Dec. 2 and a fourth arrived on Dec. 3, according to Luis officials.

The hospital has been under the regulatory microscope and intense scrutiny by CMS in recent years.

After past CMS surveys uncovered a multitude of deficiencies, hospital officials in November 2011 signed a systems improvement agreement with CMS, agreeing to make changes that would fix the deficiencies and bring the hospital up to CMS standards.

So far, that has not happened.

Before the latest inspection, CMS had reached out to local elected officials, who reported they were told that there was a possibility the hospital could be decertified. Decertification would mean that the hospital would not be eligible for reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid.

"Everybody knows that everything is riding on whether CMS continues the certification," Griffith said Thursday night. The hospital has improved since the previous CMS inspection, which occurred a year ago, he said.

"I'm hoping they see in our improvement that we are serious about making positive change, about improving the care to our patients," Griffith said.

To make some of the changes that are required, the hospital will need additional funding.

Although public officials have spoken since at least July about trying to find extra money in the government's coffers for the hospital to make the changes, the hospital has only received cash advances needed to meet its payroll.

Griffith said he was told by CMS officials that the report would be coming soon, but he did not want to speculate on when it might arrive.

"I don't know what challenges they're having," he said. "We just have to be patient and wait."

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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