After a follow-up visit by state surveyors late last month, a Missouri hospital has had its second “immediate jeopardy” finding this year lifted. But the facility remains out of compliance.
Mercy Hospital Springfield retains its CMS certification despite continuing to fall short of the Conditions of Participation (CoP) pertaining to nursing services and patient rights, a spokesperson for the CMS regional office in Kansas City said this week. Surveyors will return to the facility once again this month to determine whether the hospital has brought its operation into compliance with the CoPs, the spokesperson said.
In January, surveyors faulted the hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) for failing to properly handle certain tense situations, including one incident that involved a scuffle between a nurse and a patient diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. That survey resulted in an immediate jeopardy finding, but the status was removed when the hospital provided an immediate action plan to remedy the situation. The BHU worker involved in the scuffle was placed on administrative leave in January, then his employment was terminated  in February.
In April, a follow-up visit determined that the hospital’s condition-level deficiencies had been corrected, though there were still standard-level citations pertaining to patient rights, according to records obtained via state and federal public records requests.
In August, the hospital was found in immediate jeopardy once again and given less than a month to address its problems or lose Medicare funding. The facility fired 12 workers, implemented new and additional training modules, and brought in an interim leadership team  before surveyors returned for their follow-up visit.
One former nurse in Mercy’s Emergency Department (ED) wrote an opinion piece for the Springfield News-Leader defending the fired workers. David Schneider, a traveling nurse, argued that ED staff are subjected to verbal and physical threats and abuse on a daily basis, adding to the difficulty of their jobs.
“Health care staff in Springfield are being abused by members of the community on a daily basis and as the result of the employee terminations at Mercy … many of those health care members now feel more unsafe ,” Schneider wrote.
Additional detail on the Statement of Deficiencies and Plan of Correction stemming from the August inspection are not yet publicly releasable but should be available soon, the CMS spokesperson said.
A hospital spokesperson didn’t respond to my request for comment this week, but the News-Leader reported that the hospital released a statement Friday announcing that the immediate jeopardy had been lifted. Jon Swope, interim president of Mercy Springfield Communities, thanked the hospital’s stakeholders for their input and hard work in implementing a variety of changes.
“I’m certain Mercy Hospital Springfield will be even better because of these efforts ,” Swope said in the statement, as the News-Leader reported. “We are empowering our co-workers with additional skills and resources so they may fully cherish the dignity of every individual we serve.”