After blasting San Jose’s Good Samaritan Hospital’s management over the summer for failing to address “serious, systemic, and recurring issues” that put patients in harm's way, federal health regulators have determined the hospital is back in compliance with Medicare standards, according to a letter obtained by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit.
In July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent Good Samaritan a “Notice of Termination” threatening to end the hospital’s Medicare agreement unless a series of staffing and management deficiencies were corrected. The agency took aim at the hospital’s top officers, detailing staffing and training issues that led to mistakes and direct injury to patients.
Earlier this month, CMS officials alerted the hospital it would no longer face Medicare “termination” after health inspectors determined the violations had been resolved.
“If they had not come into compliance with the deficiencies that CMS spotlighted for them, they would have lost the ability to treat Medicare beneficiaries, which for most hospitals accounts for a very large share of revenue,” said Cheryl Damberg, director of the RAND Center of Excellence on Health System Performance.
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The complete CMS report and Good Samaritan’s detailed plan of correction can be viewed here.
Damberg said the CMS findings were also good for patients, not just the hospital’s bottom line.
“They can now have assurances that the quality of care and the safety of care provided at the hospital meets the standards that the Medicare program has set out,” Damberg said.
Several hospital nurses who spoke to NBC Bay Area say management guidance and oversight has improved but staffing issues persist.
“There still remains short staffing on the night shift in many departments, mine specifically,” said Good Samaritan nurse Diana Rossman, who works in the hospital’s antepartum department. “Nurses aren’t getting breaks. They’re tired.”
Good Samaritan nurse Jeremy Wright says while some issues have improved, management needs to improve how it works with nurses.
“Unless management changes, things will just return to the way they were before,” he said.
Good Samaritan Hospital and its parent company, HCA Healthcare, have declined interview requests from NBC Bay Area, but a spokesperson sent a statement saying the issues have been fully addressed.
"We would like to thank each and every one of our staff who went above and beyond to make this successful outcome possible and want to reassure the community that our commitment to them is unwavering. Our top priority is to continue to fulfill our mission that above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. We are proud to continue to serve Silicon Valley as a vital partner in the health and the wellbeing our community."
In response to concerns from staff, HCA has raised wages, pledged to recruit 80 additional nurses and create 43 more nursing positions, according to the nurse’s union.
There has also been a shakeup among upper management.
Earlier this month, the Director of Nursing for Women’s Services at Good Samaritan confirmed she was let go.
Prior to that, the hospital’s chief medical officer and assistant chief nursing officer left the facility.
“There’s still a long way to go,” Rossman said. “They’ve definitely made strides to fix things, but we’re nowhere near a fix, yet.”
Catch up on all of NBC Bay Area’s reporting on Good Samaritan Hospital:
- Part 1: Dangerous Patient Care at Good Samaritan Hospital: Inspection Records, Insiders Say
- Part 2: Good Samaritan Hospital, Regional Medical Center to Add Staff After Violations, Complaints
- Part 3: Good Samaritan Hospital Leadership Blasted in Medicare Agency Report
- Part 4: South Bay Hospitals Accused of Losing and Mishandling Patient Bodies
- Part 5: Good Samaritan Hospital Chief Medical Officer Resigning after Nursing Officer Exit
- Part 6: Good Samaritan Hospital Women's Services Director Let Go After Complaints