05/02/10 — Cherry Hospital alerted on quality of care

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Cherry Hospital alerted on quality of care

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 2, 2010 1:50 AM

Cherry Hospital is being investigated again, after a visit by surveyors earlier this week resulted in a recommendation of "immediate jeopardy" for what they say was the hospital's failure to provide patient care in a safe setting.

According to state officials, following a visit April 27-28, CMS surveyors informed hospital staff of the finding. They also cited the hospital for a "lack of monitoring of time frames" after an initial investigation for a reported case of abuse, specifically the length of time between when the allegation was made and when the hospital substantiated the allegation.

Cherry Hospital is continuing its investigation, officials said.

In a written statement, Renee McCoy in the DHHS Office of Public Affairs said late Friday that the hospital was prepared to deal with the concern expressed in the report.

"Administrators at Cherry will work with CMS to provide a thorough plan of correction, the large part of that plan will include an outline and timeline for enhanced training of staff in the area of restrictive intervention with patients. Starting May 11, the 500-plus staff at Cherry will begin participating in an advanced level of training and techniques to de-escalate potentially violent situations with patients.

"This all comes at a time that the governor has included in her proposed budget more than $500,000 for enhanced training at the state's mental health facilities. With this additional training, those need areas identified by CMS can be addressed."

State officials also reported that the hospital is developing a plan of correction that will be submitted as soon as it is completed, to the CMS offices in Atlanta. CMS must have an approved plan of correction and, if accepted, investigators will return for an unannounced visit to determine if it has been implemented and complies with CMS regulations.

Cherry Director Philip Cook could not be reached for comment.

This is the second time in nearly two years that the state psychiatric facility has faced "immediate jeopardy" status.

On Aug. 13, 2008, a survey team determined the hospital was not in compliance with CMS standards after investigating two April incidents, one of which ultimately resulted in the death of a patient who had been left unattended for more than 20 hours.

Effective Sept. 1 of that year, the hospital lost its certification status with CMS, which meant the loss of approximately $800,000 per month in funding.

In December 2008, Cherry's director of five years, Dr. Jack St. Clair, announced his resignation. He was transferred to Black Mount Neuro-Medical Treatment Center.

In the interim, daily management was handled by The Compass Group, based in Ohio, an independent management team retained by the state.

Cook was hired as director in April 2009.