The Gov. Juan Luis Hospital was deemed to be “in substantial compliance” by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after three days of inspecting conditions at the St. Croix medical center. The survey team from CMS evaluated the hospital “on four conditions of participation over the past three days,” according to a Wednesday press release. “JFL was found to be in substantial compliance and we await a formal report from CMS,” it read.
Troy de ChabertSchuster, chairman of the JFL board, said “substantial compliance” indicates there was “nothing jeopardizing our certificate” discovered during the inspection. He said an exit conference was held with the hospital leadership team, complete with security guards prohibiting anyone from entering or leaving. He did not attend the meeting but said he was updated by JFL’s acting chief executive officer, Richard Evangelista.
According to de ChabertSchuster, CMS received a formal telephone complaint that the hospital’s emergency room was shut down. The complaint prompted the inspection and, late Sunday afternoon, three representatives from CMS paid an unexpected visit to JFL.
The Source was contacted Monday morning by Shane Reed of CMS who wanted to discuss the June 9 news story about rumors that the JFL emergency room had closed down suddenly and that the V.I. Cardiac Center sustained critical equipment failure. When contact was made, Reed said she got the information she needed elsewhere and no longer wanted to talk.
Reed also said she could not answer any questions and, in fact, would talk to no one other than Evangelista. Furthermore, there was no CMS representative with the team who would talk to the media, she said. The JFL medical center had also been silent about the federal inspectors. According to Erica Parsons, JFL’s public information officer, no information would be shared with the public until after the survey had been completed and the hospital received written and emailed reports.
According to Keith James, assistant to the CEO, the CMS team vacated the hospital Wednesday. In January, CMS lifted a systems improvement agreement, satisfied that JFL sufficiently corrected deficiencies that threatened to cancel the federal program to reimburse for services to Medicare and Medicaid patients. Since then, the hospital has undergone several management upheavals in addition to the ongoing financial woes.
In May, the JFL board placed the last chief executive officer, Ken Okolo, on leave and then terminated him a week later, despite employee support demonstrated at the May 6 board meeting. Okolo was dismissed at a time when the hospital was functioning without a chief operating officer, medical director, human resources director or chief nursing officer. Evangelista, originally the hospital’s legal counsel and who had been serving as HR director as well, was named acting CEO.
Currently Evangelista and Tim Lessing, chief financial officer, oversee the functioning of the hospital. The St. Croix hospital has lost around $4 million annually for the last two years, due in part to inadequate government funding and a low reimbursement rate from CMS. It owes more than $12 million for utilities and struggles to pay vendors.