The Joint Commission said it is conducting an unannounced, for-cause survey today at 303-bed Greater Southeast Community Hospital in Washington, D.C., after city health inspectors last week found broken equipment in the operating room and overall staffing shortages that have allegedly created unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
A Joint Commission spokeswoman confirmed that surveyors were onsite at the beleaguered hospital, which serves some of the districts poorest neighborhoods.
The survey comes on the same day that D.C. Department of Health officials sent hospital administrators there a statement of deficiencies found during the emergency inspection. A spokeswoman for the department said she could not go into detail about the deficiencies, nor could she say how many there were. She did say that the focus will be on nursing and medical staff shortages and medical equipment that had not been adequately serviced or is inoperable.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that health inspectors found broken monitors, faulty IV pumps and broken stretchers in a part-time operating room. City inspectors also documented staffing shortagesespecially in the housekeeping and maintenance ranksthat have contributed to what they deemed as unsafe and unsanitary conditions, the newspaper said.
The hospital will have 10 days to submit to the city a corrective action plan that addresses each of the cited deficiencies.
Staffing shortages have been a recurring problem for the hospital, where on any given day only one-third of its beds are in use. And so has its spotty records with the Joint Commission. In 2003, the hospital lost its accreditation after it scored poorly in a number of patient-care categories.
Its latest woes could come with a heavy price tag. City officials said it would revoke a special property tax abatement that the hospital currently receives. Envision Hospital Corp., the hospitals parent company, said it would have used the tax dollars to help defray the costs for capital improvements and the purchase of electronic equipment, the Post reported. The provision had allowed the hospital to save about $30 million over the past six years.
A hospital official defended the facility, telling the Post that he disagreed with the citys report and called conditions at the facility a safe environment. -- by Matthew DoBias