Luis Hospital still hasn't seen report from CMS inspection


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More than three months after federal regulators conducted a crucial inspection at Luis Hospital, hospital officials still have not seen a report detailing the inspection's findings, they said.

"Up to now, we have not gotten an official report," Luis Hospital Interim Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kendall Griffith said on Wednesday during a territorial hospital board meeting at Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas.

Griffith said officials spoke to the lead surveyor with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, in a conference call last week, and she indicated that the report has been forwarded for approvals from others in the federal agency.

Luis hospital's CMS certification hangs in the balance.

The St. Croix hospital also is undergoing a mock survey by Premier Consultants, the company that was hired by the hospital to help it reach compliance with CMS mandates.

Such a survey allows hospital staff to evaluate their state of readiness for a real CMS survey and allows them to see where improvements need to be made, Griffith said.

Schneider Hospital

Meanwhile, Schneider Regional Medical Center is undergoing the real thing, with an unannounced three-day Joint Commission inspection of its laboratory under way since Tuesday, Schneider Regional CEO Bernard Wheatley told the board.

Among the topics he spoke of in his report to the territorial board were a possible "business retreat" for the Schneider Regional board, upper level hospital managers and physicians, scheduled tentatively for April.

Wheatley also talked about the positions he recently filled, including James Muzzarelli as chief information officer, and two candidates who are moving forward in the hiring process: Linda Bigelow for interim chief nursing officer and Delphine Olivacce as vice-president of quality and performance improvement.

Cornel Williams, who is a member of the territorial hospital board and is chairman of the Schneider Regional board, praised Wheatley for "the rebuilding" of the hospital's senior leadership team.

"I commend him for making the bold moves," Williams said.

Wheatley spoke about a variety of initiatives he is looking at as he tries to improve the hospital's bottom line.

The hospitals' finances

Both hospitals are continuing to struggle financially, with Schneider Regional currently in better shape than Luis.

In his report, Luis Hospital Interim Chief Financial Officer Nellon Bowry said that for the four months ending Jan. 31, Luis Hospital's expenses far outpaced its revenues for a net loss of $3.2 million.

Bowry said net patient revenue came in 26 percent below the amount anticipated in the budget and 24 percent below the same period last year. Operating expenses, though, also were down, staying at 8 percent below budget.

"The reasons for the revenue decrease will shortly be intensely investigated," he said.

Hospital officials have chosen a company, the Advisory Board Company, to do analysis and re-engineering of its revenue cycle processes to improve performance, Bowry said.

Schneider Regional currently is working with the same company.

The territorial board has not yet approved a contract for the Advisory Board Company with Luis Hospital, and may take up the matter in its April meeting.

The territorial hospital board currently is acting for the Luis Hospital board, which has only three of its nine seats filled and cannot muster a quorum to conduct business.

In that capacity, the territorial hospital board took action on Wednesday, approving physician credentials for Luis Hospital.

In discussion at the meeting, Taetia Phillips-Dorsett, policy adviser to the governor, told board members that two potential board candidates are being vetted by the Governor's Office.

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

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