One week after Medicare announced that it will stop reimbursing two Riverside hospitals for care, state public health officials sent a letter yesterday telling executives that they plan to take the hospitals’ license away (in this case, two hospitals operate under one state license).
Flickr photo by Arantxata
This compounds the Southwest Healthcare System’s problems, as the state action is a separate matter from the Medicare decision.
State regulators have assembled a new website documenting a timeline of the hospitals' problems with links to lengthy inspection reports that were the basis for the drastic actions.
The timeline documents the events during a very long “survey cycle,” as health regulators call it. That’s basically the term for a process that started in June 2007 that could have come to an end if the hospitals submitted a good plan explaining how they’d correct problems and passed an inspection without any big problems.
That didn’t happen, though, and here are some of the events the state lists in its timeline, in its own words:
- June 2008 – California Department of Public Health (CDPH) surveyors found during a complaint investigation that Intensive Care Unit patients were being placed in an illegal “satellite” unit and not properly staffed. Patients were placed in immediate jeopardy and the hospital was issued a cease and desist order. An administrative penalty would later be issued based upon this complaint investigation.
- May 2009 – CDPH surveyors attempted to help Southwest by performing a courtesy survey on the unlicensed Woman’s Center and Emergency Departments. Surveyors discovered a lack of temperature monitoring system in the surgery area, which was placing patients in immediate jeopardy. CMS ordered CDPH surveyors to conduct a complaint survey which resulted in the temporary closure of the surgery area.
- December 2009 – CMS sent a letter to the Board of Directors and President of Universal Healthcare, Inc. (Southwest Healthcare’s parent company), to express concern with the hospitals’ ability to pass the upcoming full validation survey. The survey was billed as a “make-or-break” inspection.
That survey, we now know, did not go so well for the hospitals. It will be released within the next 30 days, and I’ll summarize the contents when I get them.
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