July 13-26, 2001
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Medical Center names external review panel; keeps funding status

Staff Report

Three outside experts in managing the treatment of patients in hospital psychiatric units have agreed to serve as a team of consultants for the niversity’s
Medical Center.

Two of them, a doctor and nurse from the University of Rochester Medical Center, have been nationally recognized for their work to reduce the use of restraints with hospital patients. The other, a nurse with graduate degrees in psychiatric nursing and behavioral sciences, was a long-time clinical administrator at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Institute of Psychiatry. [See page 4 for names and titles.]

“The team has two main goals,” said Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer: “to suggest additional measures for behavior management that could achieve an effective, safe and restraint-free environment; and to assure that the University’s program of psychiatric services meets accepted standards of medical and nursing practice.”

He has asked them to work directly with Pamela F. Cipriano, chief clinical officer at the Medical Center, over the next six to eight weeks. As part of their review, they will look at the appropriateness and quality of care, the effectiveness of administrative systems, and any changes in institutional support needed to improve the quality of psychiatric services.

In addition to these consultants, Sandridge has asked Dr. Anita Smith Everett, inspector general for Virginia’s mental health system, to provide an educational session for physicians and staffs to share best practices she has observed in other state facilities.

Consultants to the Medical Center

Glenn W. Currier, M.D., M. Public Health
Director, Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program
University of Rochester Medical Center

Carole Farley-Toombs, M.S., R.N.C.
Clinical Chief, Strong Behavioral Health Nursing
University of Rochester Medical Center

Gail Wiscarz Stuart, Ph.D., C.S., F.A.A.N.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences,
College of Medicine
Coordinator, Psychiatric-Mental Health Graduate Program,
College of Nursing
Director of Nursing; Chief Executive Officer (both former)
Institute of Psychiatry
Medical University of South Carolina

Formerly medical director of the Valley Community Service Board in Staunton and chair of the Psychiatric Society of Virginia’s committee on public psychiatry, Dr. Everett has been a practicing physician in Staunton and at U.Va.’s Medical Center.

“Immediate jeopardy” status lifted

University officials announced June 27 that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, formerly the Health Care Financing Administration, has lifted the “immediate jeopardy” status from the U.Va. Medical Center. This means that CMS will not terminate Medicare funding for the Medical Center, and there will be no break in coverage for Medicare patients.

The Medical Center was put into “immediate jeopardy” following CMS’s findings that it was not in compliance on issues relating to the protection of patients, stemming from allegations of sexual assault on the psychiatric unit. U.Va. submitted a 14-page corrective action plan to CMS on June 21. On June 25, a team of CMS inspectors began its review of the plan and determined that the Medical Center has addressed its concerns regarding patient health and safety.

“We are pleased that the immediate jeopardy status has been removed,” Sandridge said. “The entire staff of the Medical Center has worked hard to correct the problems identified by CMS. All of us want to assure our patients and families that we are absolutely committed to sustaining the highest quality patient care and safety at the Medical Center. Our community and the Commonwealth deserve nothing less.”

The six-member team from CMS and the Virginia Department of Health continues to evaluate the Medical Center’s compliance with remaining Medicare requirements. A full hospital survey has been conducted, and the results will be forthcoming, according to a recent letter from CMS.

“We will not be satisfied until we have met the expectations of CMS on all fronts,” Sandridge said. “This announcement is but one step in our ongoing commitment to provide a safe, protective environment for all who use our services. We are expanding our internal education efforts, instituting new review practices and carefully monitoring all that we do. Recent incidents have only strengthened our resolve to protect our patients and provide the best possible care.”


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