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    Sunday, October 20, 2019-5:50:53A.M.






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Guam hospital still at risk of losing CMS certification

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It administers Medicare and Medicaid.

Months after a March deadline to reassure federal health officials that Guam Memorial Hospital meets standards of care, the local public hospital is still at risk of losing access to federal funds.

GMH Chief Executive Officer Lillian Perez-Posadas said CMS officials still have some concerns after the last corrective action plan was submitted to them.

“We are still participants of CMS and we still have our certification, so we still will continue (to receive) federal funds,” Perez-Posadas said.

She confirmed that the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority received feedback last week on its latest efforts to address the final two deficiencies. She couldn’t discuss the specifics of the deficiencies per the instructions of CMS officials, she said.

Failure to meet CMS standards of care means GMH will no longer receive CMS funds for Medicare and Medicaid. Previously, GMHA has sent annual billings of up to $40 million to CMS and received about half of that amount.

Losing that ability to collect from the federal agency would be a financial blow to GMH, which deals with a perennial $30 million shortfall on average.

The shortfall has meant GMH officials have had to choose between maintaining the building, paying for medication and supplies for patients, or paying its staff to help patients — typically the latter two win out. Doctors, nurses and staff continue to work in an aged facility with an entire wing condemned, a leaking roof, temperamental elevators and a 45-year-old electric panel that hasn’t been updated. Hospital maintenance officials have said the electric panel and grid are in danger of shutting down.

In 2018, CMS officials cited 22 deficiencies — areas of concern in which the island’s only public hospital failed to meet federal standards of care. Since then, the local hospital has been working to address those concerns and managed to whittle the 22 down to two.

A March 27 deadline to submit corrective measures to CMS was met. However, CMS extended that deadline to April 12, saying, “We’re not accepting this because it doesn’t address everything you’re supposed to address,” according to the governor’s office.

On Wednesday, Perez-Posadas reiterated GMH continues to work with CMS, saying CMS doesn’t just “turn off the light switch and say you’re terminated.”

“They give us time, they give us notice and they give us due process,” she said. “But I can’t speak to the details. ... They give us the opportunity to make the improvements (and) corrections.”

The two remaining deficiencies were anesthesia services, and quality assessment and performance improvement — the latter being an overarching issue at the hospital.

Perez-Posadas didn’t say what the next step is or whether there was another deadline that needed to be met.