New violations found at UnityPoint-Meriter; hospital has until June 24 to fix issues

CMS: Problems found with fire, life safety codes
New violations found at UnityPoint-Meriter; hospital has until June 24 to fix issues

UnityPoint Health-Meriter has been given an extension to comply with standards for the Medicare program after additional violations were found at Madison facilities.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent a letter to UnityPoint Health-Meriter on Wednesday, notifying the organization that it has “determined that the deficiencies limit the capacity of your hospital to render adequate care and ensure the health and safety of your patients.”

Breaking: new violations issued for Unity Point Meriter following a federal investigation #News3 pic.twitter.com/Tm82u6XxVV

— Keely Arthur (@news3keely) May 18, 2018

This followed an investigation by CMS in February that found the hospital did not do enough to protect patients and prevent suspected abuse in the hospital’s newborn intensive care unit .

As a follow-up to the CMS investigation, which turned up seven additional deficiencies that Meriter said it planned to correct, federal officials conducted a visit on March 21. Those issues included improper tracking of unexplained injuries, or not having a “quality assessment and performance improvement program.”

The letter from CMS to Meriter on Tuesday indicated that a survey by investigators turned up new deficiencies in the physical environment, including fire and life safety code violations at UnityPoint facilities, as well as issues with patient rights.

Unity Point Meriter has until 6/24 to fix life safety and building code violations or it risks losing Medicare funding #News3 pic.twitter.com/yhKV4iLT9G

— Keely Arthur (@news3keely) May 18, 2018

In a report detailing the investigation in March, CMS found more than 30 violations, including issues with sprinkler maintenance, food safety practices and medicine storage.

Investigators also reported rooms in both the adult and children/adolescent psychiatric units weren’t completely safe for suicidal patients and that staff didn’t follow protocol with regard to restraints.

In addition, the report indicated that staff didn’t properly offer patients advanced directive options or their discharge appeal rights, and that the hospital didn’t meet standards while protecting patient records.

Meriter has a plan in place to address the issues, including removing risks in psychiatric rooms and improving staff training in a number of areas.

CMS said it has extended a termination of the hospital’s participation in the Medicare program until June 24. The letter noted that a termination notice was initially issued Feb. 23, and extended twice from March into May.

Investigators also noted that a follow-up survey was done at Meriter on May 10 and that “noncompliance remained” with some of the “physical environment” issues, for which UnityPoint will still need to create a plan of correction.

Leah Huibregtse, spokeswoman for UnityPoint-Meriter, noted that this was not a new termination notice, but an extension to deal with “outstanding items.”

“We are confident that all action plans will be satisfactorily implemented,” said Huibregtse. “Through all of this, we remain keenly focused on nurturing and protecting the health of all our patients and delivering the high-quality care we have provided to our community for the last 120 years.”