JFL Continues Working Towards CMS Compliance

A new plan to bring the Juan Luis Hospital into compliance with the federal licensing agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, will be submitted before the end of the week, the hospital’s governing board learned Tuesday.

At the board’s monthly meeting, Ken Okolo, chief executive officer, reported the plan of correction submitted to CMS last month was not acceptable.

On Jan. 4, CMS advised the hospital it had retained certification but still needs to make changes. Several physician errors were noted, as well as missing signatures on patient consent forms, the use of restraints and serving unsuitable meals to patients.

Okolo did not outline the specific areas that still concern the federal agency.

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According to Okolo, new guidelines have been established for patient forms, administering medications brought by patients from home (another CMS deficiency) and physician peer review format.

The finances of the health care center continue to improve slowly, according to Tim Lessing, chief financial officer. He reported gross charges for December were $15.2 million – $2.4 million more than budgeted – and the year-to-date gross charges improved by almost three percent.

“The fourth quarter continues to see improvements,” Lessing summarized.

Philip Arcidi, finance chairman, reported that hospital personnel collected a record $5.2 million last month, without the help of a collection agency. However, there remains a $52 million long-term deficit that will be addressed during a special board meeting later this month.

Efforts to increase CMS contributions continue, according to Arcidi. Other insurers cover 62 cents (Blue Cross) and 82 cents (Cigna) while the federal insurer only pays 38 cents for every dollar charged.

“Expenses continue to be addressed by the management team. Staffing models have been developed by department, based on census, to establish a baseline that will be used for the fiscal year 2016, full-time employee budget baseline,” Okolo said.

Reconstruction of an inpatient behavioral unit and emergency holding area is still on hold, pending funding, according to Troy de Chabert-Schuster, board chair. He asked board members to donate towards the $1 million needed to begin the project.

One of the deficiencies routinely cited by CMS has been the lack of a full board with nine members. In 2014, the board hadn’t met regularly for a year because there were not enough members to constitute a quorum.

For the last year, five or six members have conducted hospital business and on Tuesday, the newest trustee, Aracelis Bermudez-Walcott, attended her first meeting. The board learned Theresa Frorup-Ali has been nominated by Gov. Kenneth Mapp and is awaiting Senate confirmation. However, Kimberly Jones submitted her resignation citing conflict of interest as a newly appointed assistant Health commissioner, leaving four vacancies.

During the meeting, the board approved the employment of five physicians with specialties in surgery, anesthesiology, family practice, obstetrics/gynecology and ears, nose and throat. They also voted to extend privileges to six medical personnel in the areas of neonatology, psychology, emergency medicine, pulmonology, psychiatry and pediatrics.

Okolo reported the hospital also has been recruiting nurses and other clinical staff, such as midwives, a speech pathologist and a pharmacist.

Board members de Chabert-Schuster, Arcidi, Vera Falu, Bermudez-Walcott and Joyce Heyliger attended the meeting. 

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