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    Wednesday, May 22, 2019-8:00:38P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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No federal approval yet; Guam hospital ‘not out of the woods’

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Guam Memorial Hospital received and met an extended deadline to submit a response to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

GMHA officials said they met the original March 29 deadline. However, their response didn’t quite include everything that CMS officials wanted to hear.

“They said, ‘We’re not accepting this because it doesn’t address everything you’re supposed to address,’” governor’s Communications Director Janela Carrera said. “They wanted more concrete evidence of actions and not necessarily future actions … on the anesthesia side.”

At that point, federal officials gave GMHA until April 12 to revise and resubmit their response to the two remaining deficiencies noted by a federal team earlier this year.

Federal officials have said that if GMH’s responses are sufficient, then a resurvey will be authorized.

Carrera confirmed that GMH is now awaiting the resurvey team. Typically, CMS doesn’t announce a survey visit.

In a March 19 letter addressed to Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Lillian Perez-Posadas, CMS officials stated: “At a minimum, such submittal must include documentation detailing the actions taken that resulted in the alleged correction of each deficiency; the title of position of the person responsible for the correction; and a description of the monitoring process established to prevent recurrence of the deficiency. Please note that mere plans of future correction or evidence of progress toward correction will not be sufficient.”

Not out of the woods

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, who herself was a nurse at GMH and a former board member, said she’s optimistic about CMS’ acceptance of the response sent.

However, she reminds residents that more work is needed: “This does not mean we are in the clear.”

“What it does show is that our team is making progress, and it also shows a willingness by our federal partners to work with us,” the governor stated. “We must not lose sight of our overarching goal — to provide quality healthcare to our people by ensuring compliance with our partners.”

Perez-Posadas, who has remained optimistic in this nearly year-long process, said she remains confident in the professionals at the hospital.

“We will continue to work unceasingly to make sure that when CMS returns for another survey, they will find that we have maintained compliance with CMS standards,” Perez-Posadas said.

Funding at stake

The federal agency gave local health officials the original deadline to explain the actions being taken to correct the two remaining deficiencies. When CMS first noted concerns with GMH, the island’s only public hospital faced about 22 deficiencies.

The two remaining deficiencies are the quality assessment and performance improvement — an overarching issue at the hospital. It also impacts anesthesia services — the second federal officials were concerned with.

The plan of correction explains not just how the hospital will meet all of the federal standards required to be a participant in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, but it also will show what they have done and what they are doing, GMH officials have said.

If GMH fails to satisfy the federal agency that they are meeting standards, the hospital risks losing millions in federal dollars. GMH bills about $43.9 million for services to Medicare patients, but receives only about half of that amount.