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JFL to Meet with CMS Friday in Baltimore

The leadership of the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital will make its case to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid in Baltimore on Friday, in the hopes of getting the agency to reconsider its decision to decertify.

The plan itself was presented to CMS on Wednesday. It has not yet been shown to government officials, according to a statement from Government House.

CMS announced earlier this month that, effective Oct. 9, it will decertify the St. Croix hospital from participation in the two federal health care programs, threatening an important revenue stream for the St. Croix hospital. The report included a catalog of cases in which the hospital caused harm to patients. (See links below.) The report also highlighted what the inspectors considered administrative problems at the hospital.

Following a 2011 CMS inspection, the hospital was found deficient in 11 of 23 categories and remains noncompliant, despite entering a correction agreement with the agency.

Following the announcement, the JFL administration hired the Boston-based law firm Ropes & Gray to address problems cited by CMS and prepare a plan of correction.

Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen announced Sept. 27 that CMS officials had agreed to Friday’s meeting. Juan Luis Hospital Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kendall Griffith had said a week earlier that the plan would be shown to government officials before it was sent to CMS, but that did not happen.

On Thursday, Gov. John deJongh Jr. reaffirmed his administration’s support for the hospital and the overall healthcare delivery system on St. Croix.

“Although neither Government House or the Territorial Hospital Board were privy to the corrective action plan before it was submitted to CMS on Wednesday and which will be presented to CMS officials in Baltimore on Friday, we remain optimistic that they will be successful in the attempts to head off the hospital’s decertification,” deJongh said.

Ropes & Gray has had extensive experience in the field of health care and works often with CMS.

“It was a plan developed by someone extremely knowledgeable with CMS with the assistance of a committed hospital leadership and staff and vetted by the new district board – individuals committed to the delivery of health care," deJongh said.

The governor said that since CMS announced its decertification decision, his administration has communicated regularly with the hospital leadership, Christensen and with members of the 30th Legislature on CMS concerns and the actions required to correct the deficiencies.

“The fact is that the Luis Hospital is St. Croix’s only hospital facility and we have to come together to do all that can be done to ensure it can provide services to all in need – whether through increased funding or improved oversight and management of hospital operations," he said.

"On the basis of a plan developed and approved by the hospital, we are requesting that CMS focus on the improvements, the plan forward and keep the certification in place so that the hospital’s solvency is not in question.”

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