The CMS will give Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in Los Angeles 23 days to clean up its act or lose Medicare certification. Michael Wilson, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said the clock likely will start ticking on June 11, when a written report is expected to be delivered based on inspections of teams from the CMS and the California State Department of Health Services that concluded their work at the hospital on June 7. We did have a verbal exit review at the hospital yesterday, Wilson said. Until we have a written summary of that meeting, its somewhat premature to talk about specifics. According to a Los Angeles Times account, a female patient last month writhed in pain on the floor of the emergency room lobby for 45 minutes. The woman later died. In a written statement issued last week attributed to Bruce Chernof, director and chief medical officer of the L.A. County Department of Health Services, the inspection team focused on ER activities. The regulators identified a number of serious issues leading to a finding of immediate jeopardy, Chernof said. While this is a serious and troubling finding, CMS and state officials have provided the hospital guidance and the opportunity to submit a plan of correction, which demonstrates changes and improvements so that the hospital meets national standards within the next 23 days.
The House voted 247-176 to effectively lift the presidents 2001 ban on federal funding for stem-cell research. The bill, originally sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), was approved 63-34 by the Senate on
April 11, but fell short of the 67 required votes to override a presidential veto. Scientists say that embryonic stem-cell research opens doors to treatment to cancers, Alzheimers disease, multiple sclerosis and other diseases, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on the House floor. The Bush administrations current policy permits federal funding only for adult stem-cell research and research using embryonic cell lines created prior to Aug. 9, 2001. Bush last year effectively vetoed the same bill, but congressional Democrats on the House floor called on the president to change his mind. This legislation doesnt destroy life, it seeks to preserve life, as it would only support research of stem cells taken from embryos discarded by fertility clinics, said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on the floor. But others, such as Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), a physician, said the bill would effectively be funding the destruction of human life. In addition, there have been no adequate clinical trials on embryonic stem cells, which have been known to cause tumors in animals, Weldon said. An alternative plan was also approved by the Senate on April 11 that would permit federal funding of scientific research that does not harm embryos, such as deriving cells from amniotic fluid and placentas, and from embryos that have died naturally.
The House Appropriations Committee has approved a bill that would fund Veterans Affairs Department healthcare services through fiscal 2008 at $37.1 billion, a full $2.5 billion more than the Bush administrations request and $4.4 billion more than last year. The bill earmarks $600 million for new initiatives for mental health and for improved treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, including five Level I polytrauma centers and three centers of excellence for mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder. Such facilities treat the most common injuries faced by the U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, including traumatic brain injury. The bill would also fund $4.1 billion for the continued maintenance and renovations to existing facilities.
A Joint Commission spokeswoman confirmed that surveyors were onsite at the beleaguered 303-bed Greater Southeast Community Hospital in Washington, D.C., which serves some of the Districts poorest neighborhoods. The survey came on June 8, the same day that D.C. Department of Health officials sent hospital administrators a statement of deficiencies found during the emergency inspection last week. 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 last 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. The facility also has had a spotty record 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 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.
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