Health department clears Tenet hospital amid 600+ staffing, safety reports

Worcester, Mass.-based Saint Vincent Hospital has been cleared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health after nurses filed more than 600 staffing and safety reports with state and federal agencies. 

The public health department conducted a five-day on-site survey in response to the nurses' concerns, and ruled that five of the six complaints investigated were "unsubstantiated," according to a March 12 news release the hospital shared with Becker's. It did not uncover any issues related to staffing or care quality. 

The survey did reveal that the hospital's telemetry monitoring equipment could be improved; the hospital was already in the process of correcting the issue and has now fully corrected it, per the release. 

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents more than 500 registered nurses at the hospital, alleges that union-associated nurses were denied the opportunity to meet with DPH investigators privately. The nurses allege that managers with Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare — Saint Vincent's parent company — selected others to speak with investigators, and that some, fearing retaliation, did not speak honestly. 

Marlena Pellegrino, RN, co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit with the MNA, said via news release that the union and its nurses stand by "every claim made in their complaints." The union says it has been in contact with Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healy's administration to urge the placement of DPH monitors on-site at the hospital. 

DPH's findings contrast those of another recent review. In mid-February, The Joint Commission visited Saint Vincent Hospital and found it "non-compliant with applicable Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Conditions," according to an email correspondence obtained by Becker's

The Joint Commission's public information policy prohibits it from sharing specific findings or the complete report. However, the email said that Saint Vincent Hospital "will need to demonstrate evidence of standards compliance to maintain accreditation by The Joint Commission."

Tenet did not return Becker's request for comment on The Joint Commission's review. However, Carolyn Jackson, CEO of Saint Vincent Hospital and Tenet's Massachusetts Market, provided a statement on DPH's findings via news release. 

"To have no negative findings for staffing and quality of care from the DPH is a reflection of the consistent collaboration and dedication to patient care that our staff and physicians demonstrate every day," Ms. Jackson said. "We appreciate DPH's thoughtful approach to the detailed survey that was completed. Our team was proud to show them the inner workings of our high-quality organization."

The MNA said it will "exercise any and all means" to hold Tenet and Ms. Jackson accountable for alleged oppressive policies and neglect of care quality. Read more about the grievances here

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