Faced with the possible loss of Medicare compensation, Mercy yesterday installed an interim leadership team tasked with improving safety conditions at its Springfield hospital.
Under the interim plan, Mercy Central Communities Regional President Jon Swope took over for Dr. Alan Scarrow as the leader of Mercy Springfield Communities and the local hospital. Five other Mercy executives from its four-state territory also came on board in various roles. They are Jeff Johnston, president of Mercy’s communities in the greater St. Louis area; Di Smalley, president of Mercy’s communities in Oklahoma; Cynthia Mercer, chief administrative officer for Mercy; Dr. Marc Gunter, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Mercy Clinic; and Dr. Keith Starke, Mercy’s chief quality officer, according to a news release.
“They bring a fresh perspective and will help bolster local resources,” Swope said in the release.
It’s unclear if Scarrow will return to his role as president of Mercy Springfield Communities after being chosen for the position in early 2015. The release said he’ll take on “other responsibilities for the time being.” Spokeswoman Sonya Kullmann could not be reached for comment by deadline.
The implementation of the interim leadership team follows the recent firings of a dozen Mercy Hospital Springfield employees over safety issues. Officials have not disclosed the exact nature of the incident, but alluded to care providers’ lack of treating “patients and visitors with dignity and compassion, even in highly tense situations.”
Julie Brookhart, public affairs specialist for the Kansas City regional office of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said Mercy Hospital Springfield was notified its Medicare agreement would be terminated on Sept. 22 if “the condition-level deficiencies were not corrected.” If the agreement is terminated, CMS will no longer compensate the hospital for Medicare patients, and Mercy then would have to go through a lengthy readmission process, Brookhart said via email.
“It is important to note that most facilities take the necessary steps to correct deficiencies prior to termination,” she said.
Brookhart said the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services on Aug. 25 conducted a complaint survey at Mercy Hospital Springfield that “resulted in a determination of immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of a few patients.”
“Immediate jeopardy was found within the regulatory requirements of patient rights and nursing services,” she said. “Currently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has not received an acceptable plan of correction from the hospital.
“Until we do, and until the information is able to be released, under federal regulations we cannot release any specifics about the most recent complaint survey investigation.”
At Mercy, the interim leadership team is overseeing efforts to implement higher patient care and safety standards. Following the firings, the hospital implemented an expanded training program to work on de-escalation techniques, as well as abuse and neglect prevention, according to the release.
“I want our community to know that we will do whatever it takes to provide the care they deserve and expect,” Swope said in the release. “With drug addiction and mental health issues at an all-time high, especially in our part of the state, our co-workers are managing increasingly difficult patient needs.
“Even so, we are committed to providing a safe environment for our patients and our co-workers.”
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