DMC Harper Hospital avoids Medicare aid cutoff
The Detroit Medical Center's Harper University Hospital was deemed eligible to participate in Medicare on Wednesday, five days before it was scheduled to be cut off from the federal program.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services notified the hospital in January that its participation in the federal Medicare health care program for seniors would end April 15 if problems with infection control weren't corrected by then.
CMS cancelled Harper's termination following an April 3 inspection that found the hospital back in compliance with federal standards.
"The revisit survey revealed that your hospital is now in compliance with the Conditions of Participation," CMS informed Harper in an April 10 letter. "Therefore, we are rescinding our decision to terminate your participation in the Medicare program."
The DMC, which is part of privately owned, Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp., said its action plan has been effective at "resolving all issues" identified during a prior inspection.
"We are pleased to have demonstrated to the surveyors that our actions were effective, and we remain committed to continuous quality improvement across the DMC and to maintaining the confidence of our community," said Tonita Cheatham, a DMC spokeswoman.
It is among three Detroit Medical Center hospitals to face possible termination in the first quarter of this year.
DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital was scheduled for cutoff Jan. 15 after the hospital failed to meet federal requirements for "physical environment" during inspections in December. Termination was cancelled March 22 after Receiving passed an unannounced March 7 inspection.
Sinai-Grace continues to face a federal aid cutoff if building problems, including fire safety violations, aren't corrected by Aug. 31.
Michigan is among the states that bar Medicare-banned hospitals from participating in Medicaid, the government program that covers health care for pregnant women and low-income adults. Medicare paid for 36 percent of inpatient hospital days at Harper in 2017, while 42 percent of hospital stays were covered by Medicaid.
State regulators inspected Harper and Receiving in December, on behalf of CMS, after three cardiologists and the the top medical executive at DMC Heart Hospital complained they were fired from their management roles in retaliation for their complaints about quality-of-care issues. Heart Hospital adjoins Harper and shares many of its facilities and services.
The inspection at Harper found flying insects in an intensive care unit, improperly attired surgical personnel and lapses in sterile processing of surgical instruments. At Receiving, inspectors found the hospital had discontinued surveillance of some infections due to budget cuts.
Sinai-Grace spent most of 2018 under threat of Medicare termination over building problems and quality of nursing care, but recovered its "deemed" status in September after passing inspections.
Sinai-Grace was inspected again in January after The Detroit News reported the facility was unable to treat a heart attack patient during a power outage on Nov. 21, 2018, because the cardiac catheterization lab wasn't operational. The patient died after being transferred to another hospital.
A six-month Detroit News investigation published in August 2016 found an 11-year history of problems with dirty surgical instruments at five hospitals on the DMC's Midtown campus.
Harper and Receiving, as well as Hutzel Women's Hospital and DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan, were threatened with the loss of Medicare funding over problems with dirty surgical instruments. Their "deemed" status was restored after the DMC invested more than $1 million in new surgical instruments and other improvements.