March 8, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.
There is a notice in this week’s paper in the legals section, alerting readers to the potential for Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming to lose participation in Medicare and Medicaid.
Fairview President Steve Housh said this publication is a required notice, but Fairview officials and staff have taken steps that they believe will eliminate the federal regulators’ follow-through on this serious sanction.
A recent fire in a Fairview Lakes operating room triggered a review by state and federal compliance officials. The next step in the process requires the federal government issuing the public notice of potential for safety concerns at the facility, and warning of loss of reimbursement under the two main healthcare programs in this country.
The legal notice states any person admitted on or after March 25, can no longer qualify for Medicare or Medicaid payments for services. Fairview fully expects Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements will be re-instated before they are even lost. This group of patients, said Housh, is “...a very important part of our patient population.”
A follow-up visit by federal regulators is slated for March 12.
Housh said he is confident that new plans and policies in place and being acted upon will meet standards and address the cited “deficiencies” in incident management and planning.
Housh continued, “We are taking this very seriously...it was a regrettable incident and there is a full set of steps in place now to assess risk and manage for that risk.”
Fairview’s response to the concerns identified by regulators has already been accepted by U.S. Health & Human Services officials, Housh stated. When compliance officials return to the Wyoming acute care facility they will see that Fairview is educating staff and ensuring there is compliance. Presumably, there would be a second notice published (possibly March 22) in this paper declaring the Medicare and Medicaid funding remains in-tact.
Fires in operating rooms are extremely unusual occurrences.
Perhaps because federal authorities take such harsh measures, such as pulling eligibility for Medicare reimbursements, is why these incidents are so rare, observed Housh.
This is the only incident of fire in a Wyoming-Fairview Lakes’ operating room.
The regulators’ concerns are not based on any malfunctioning equipment or failure of equipment, but focus on Fairview’s incident planning, procedures, and practices.
Housh also reports that the adult patient in the operating suite at the time of the fire, was having an outpatient procedure done. The patient was stabilized and was transferred to another facility, and released home that same day. No staff or other providers were hurt.