CHCC getting technical help

IN preparation for the next survey that will be conducted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation is using a technical assistance company to help monitor its compliance.

CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna, said they now have technical assistants “working on the ground to oversee conditions at the hospital.”

She added, “A lot of hospitals in the United States reach out for technical assistance. We have federal grants from the Department of the Interior and decided that the best way to use the funding would be to get experts that could monitor compliance with CMS rules.”

Esther Muna

Muna said their technical assistants are individuals who served as hospital administrators or CEOs in the past.

“The technical assistants recently visited the hospital and did a mock survey. They were also introduced to the CHCC board members,” she added.

Based on the mock survey results, Muna said, there are certain things that still need improvement. “And some of them require a lot of money. It is hard to run a hospital without money — without a funding source. When you are given a minimal amount of money, you have to start prioritizing. You have to look at your priorities.”

She said CHCC’s highest priority is patient care and safety.

But if funding is inadequate, she added, it negatively affects performance and the work culture at the hospital which makes effectively complying with CMS standards more difficult.

“You have to make sure that you have the technology and the people. That is the problem with CHCC — it is not provided with enough money.”

She said CHCC has a list of equipment that could address safety issues for patients. But even if the hospital were to acquire the equipment it needs, maintaining it would also be a large expense, she added.

When the CHCC laboratory was cited for not having available tests, Muna said the main problem was that the hospital couldn’t afford to pay for reagents.

“We had to delay the tests…but this was before, and it is not happening now,” she added.

“The citation was not only about not having reagents. The citation also noted that the doctor was diagnosing a patient without the appropriate tests. You were making decisions blindly because you didn’t have the test. It was about patient safety, and it was because CHCC had no money.”

She said CNMI leaders need to understand that providing quality health services is not cheap.

On July 28, the CMS granted CHCC a five-month extension to comply with all the conditions.

Muna, in an earlier interview, said CMS recognized that it is hard to change the system and it takes time to see significant progress.

“What they saw was that the system was collapsing because we didn’t have the money to pay for the lab tests. We also couldn’t pay for many of the things needed to provide services at the hospital. They came back and said either fix the problem or we terminate you.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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