Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital in Manistique, Mich., is fighting state officials in federal court over $500,000 in fines levied for misuse of its swing beds and says the penalty could tank its plans for a replacement hospital.
The 25-bed critical-access hospital, which serves rural towns on the Upper Peninsula, filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Community Health in U.S. District Court in Rapid City.
State licensing rules demand that a patient occupying a swing bed must be transferred to a nursing home within five days after the hospital is notified a nursing home bed is available, department spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher said.
The hospital argues that the policy contradicts Medicare rules and therefore contradicts itself. The same statute tells us we have to at all times be in compliance with Medicare regulations, Schoolcraft Chief Executive Officer Frederick Makowski said in an interview. Medicare, he said, allows patients to choose where they go.
In a four-month review period, officials identified 196 patient days they said violated the terms of the hospitals CON for its 10 swing beds. Makowski said 93 of the days were accounted for by a hospital board member who was terminally ill and wanted to stay there and whose doctor approved the decision.
Schoolcraft has asked the court for fast-track treatment, noting that the dispute jeopardizes its financing for a $35 million replacement hospital scheduled to break ground in April. -- by Gregg Blesch
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