Beleaguered Greater Southeast Community Hospital in Washington could lose its accreditation this week.
The hospital, already on the brink of bankruptcy, was denied accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations last week, moving the 303-bed facility one step closer to possibly closing.
Greater Southeast was given until July 1 to appeal the decision. A JCAHO review board then will be formed and will render a final decision. If the hospital doesn't appeal, the denial becomes final, translating to a potential loss of its Medicare and Medicaid revenue, which accounts for at least 70% of its total revenue.
In the last three years, only three hospitals, or 1% of those that were reviewed, were denied accreditation, said JCAHO spokeswoman Charlene Hill.
Typically, a facility receives federal reimbursement only if it has JCAHO accreditation. When a facility loses accreditation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will take over inspection of the site to determine if it still qualifies for Medicare and Medicaid payments.
At deadline, officials from neither Greater Southeast nor its owner, Doctors Community Healthcare Corp., Scottsdale, Ariz., had returned messages seeking comment. Doctors Community declared bankruptcy last November, jeopardizing Greater Southeast and five other hospitals in three states.
However, in written testimony submitted June 25 to the Washington City Council, Karen Dale, chief executive officer of Greater Southeast, said the hospital plans to appeal. The facility has secured short-term financing and recently signed a five-year contract with Aetna, Dale said, which will provide funding to address the accreditation issue.
The JCAHO denial follows a flurry of activity over the past four months at Greater Southeast, beginning with a surprise inspection in January in which the hospital was cited for ongoing violations that included problems with assessment of staff competence, infection control and staff orientation. Greater Southeast was found not to be in compliance with 11 of the 45 measures used by the JCAHO for accreditation.
Washington Mayor Anthony Williams' office has met with JCAHO officials to discuss Greater Southeast's problems. At this point the mayor is not ready to involve the district financially with the hospital, said spokesman Tony Bullock, but he did not rule out the possibility.%