CMS notifies HCA Mission Hospital of immediate jeopardy status

CMS has sent a letter to HCA's Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., to notify leadership that the hospital is in immediate jeopardy and must take action to avert the loss of federal funding, according to letters obtained by the Asheville Watchdog.

In a Feb. 1 letter addressed to Chad Patrick, CEO of Memorial Mission Hospital and Asheville Surgery Center, CMS set a Feb. 6 deadline for the hospital to submit a plan of correction to address deficiencies and avoid losing Medicare and Medicaid funding. 

"You may avert the termination by removing the immediate jeopardy conditions or coming into compliance with the hospital Conditions of Participation within 23 days from the date of this notice (February 24, 2024)," CMS said in its letter.

Late last year, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services conducted inspections at the hospital on behalf of CMS and, in its initial findings, recommended the hospital be placed in immediate jeopardy. Inspectors with the NCDHHS noted nine deficiencies related to incidents that happened at the hospital between April 2022 and November 2023, which resulted in immediate jeopardy identifications on Dec. 1 and Dec. 9.  

Details on what led to the immediate jeopardy identifications are limited, but in its Feb. 1 letter to hospital leaders, CMS said Mission failed to meet standards for the following conditions of participation: governing body, emergency services, nursing services, patients' rights, quality assurance and laboratory services. 

Hospital officials have indicated they intend on submitting the plan of correction by the Feb. 6 deadline and that they had started taking steps to address issues when they received the initial findings from the health department.

"There are no excuses for our patients receiving anything other than exceptional care, and Mission Health has already taken action based on the preliminary findings shared last month," Nancy Lindell, a spokesperson for the hospital, said in a statement sent to Becker's Feb. 6. "We are pleased to hear from our EMS partners and patients that those actions are yielding positive results, including decreased wait times for care. We respect the process of these surveys and will submit our corrective action plan to CMS by their deadline. Again, these findings are not the standard of care we expect, nor that our patients deserve, and we are working diligently to improve."

The Ashville Watchdog also obtained an internal email HCA Healthcare North Carolina Division President Greg Lowe sent to staff notifying them of the immediate jeopardy status. In that email, Mr. Lowe wrote that "significant HCA Healthcare resources were deployed to assist with our response" and that additional staff had been brought in to work in the emergency department after the hospital received the initial findings. 

On Dec. 14, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced his office had filed a lawsuit against HCA, alleging the Nashville, Tenn.-based for-profit hospital operator violated the asset purchase agreement for Mission Health by cutting certain emergency and cancer services. HCA bought Mission Health for $1.5 billion in 2019.

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