Sanitation, safety complaints spur CMS probe of Michigan hospital

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Following patient and staff complaints against Mount Clemens, Mich.-based McLaren Macomb Hospital, CMS has asked a licensing agency to investigate the hospital, state officials confirm to WXYZ.

The complaints allege unsanitary conditions and a lack of COVID-19 precautions at the 288-bed facility. 

Since the pandemic began, the Bureau of Community and Health Services has received 35 complaints about McLaren Macomb, a Licensing and Regulatory Affairs spokesperson told WXYZ. Twenty-six were either closed or referred to another agency for further investigation. Six of the complaints were filed after WXYZ's initial investigation aired in May, including one by CMS.

In May, nurses from the hospital's newly remodeled emergency department spoke to WXYZ under the condition of anonymity, alleging COVID-19 protocols weren't being followed and that the waiting room was rarely cleaned. 

"I even tell my friends not to go there because I know they're not taking the precautions that are necessary to keep the patients safe," one nurse told WXYZ. Patients have filed complaints as well, according to WXYZ.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has investigated nine different complaints about McLaren Macomb since the pandemic began, WXYZ reports. While some of the investigations are ongoing, WXYZ procured the closed complaints via the Freedom of Information Act. In all completed complaints provided by the state, MIOSHA closed the investigation after receiving written documentation from the hospital. Each time, the state considered the hospital's response satisfactory, though no MIOSHA official ever went onsite to inspect the conditions, according to WXYZ.

The Joint Commission's Office of Quality and Patient Safety is set to review the hospital's conditions.   

"McLaren Macomb has been made aware of only two complaints in the past year that were investigated by LARA," Tom Brisse, president and CEO of McLaren Macomb, wrote in a June 7 statement to WXYZ. "For those two complaints, no further action has been requested or required of McLaren Macomb. We question the accuracy of anyone suggesting that additional complaints have been submitted to LARA, since the agency does not make that information available to any individual or organization."

"Our team continues to clean and sanitize our facility to ensure safe care for our patients. Our emergency department is staffed by our environmental services (housekeeping) team 24 hours a day. ER patient rooms are deep cleaned daily and cleaned between each patient. Our ER waiting room is deep-cleaned daily, with a goal of three times each day, and it's monitored throughout the day for ongoing cleaning.

"Our housekeeping team checks/cleans the ER every three hours overnight. After the space is cleaned, our housekeeping leadership gets the work approved/signed off by the ER charge nurse. We maintain those logs for auditing purposes.

"Our housekeeping team checks/cleans the ER waiting rooms several times each day (typically three to five times per day). Our housekeeping team is responsible for signing a log after each cleaning. We also maintain those logs for auditing purposes.

"In addition to the housekeeping details above, we conduct impromptu housekeeping rounds. During these unannounced rounds the areas of focus are selected by an ER nurse."

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