Skagit Regional Health is working to improve policies and practices that if left unaddressed could leave the hospital without Medicare funding.
MOUNT VERNON — Skagit Regional Health is working to improve policies and practices that if left unaddressed could leave the hospital without Medicare funding.
Skagit Regional Health gets about 70 percent of its revenue from Medicare and Medicaid, so losing that funding would be disastrous, said President and CEO Gregg Davidson.
“We are a safety-net hospital, taking care of people regardless of their ability to pay,” Davidson said. “Losing (Medicare funding) would create major financial problems, but we think the chances of that occurring are very low.”
Skagit Valley Hospital and Skagit Regional Clinics make up Skagit Regional Health.
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In May, the state Department of Health performed a routine inspection to check whether Skagit Regional Health complies with standards set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Results of the inspection found Skagit Regional Health’s patient-grievance process and other documenting procedures lacking, said Skagit Valley Hospital Commissioner Bruce Lisser.
“When someone files a grievance, the process for which we responded was not compliant with their time frame,” Lisser said.
Added Commissioner Clark Todd, “The process wasn’t spelled out as carefully as it should have been. It may not have been responsive enough.”
The report also showed improvements were needed in the emergency-room triage process, Chief Medical Officer Connie Davis said.
Davidson said none of the issues was related to clinical care.
“They were looking at policies, procedures and other documentation,” Davidson said. “They weren’t finding the right paper trail.”
After the Department of Health informed Skagit Regional Health of its deficiencies, Skagit Regional Health and an outside consultant created an action plan to address the issues. The action plan was submitted to the Department of Health on July 15, Davidson said.
Next, the Department of Health will respond, offering input or additions if necessary. It will then revisit Skagit Regional Health for an unscheduled inspection within 45 to 90 days to make sure it is complying with the action plan.
Todd said the hospital has already started implementing the changes proposed in the plan.
“This is a serious matter. It’s not just a casual, ‘You could do better here and here,’” he said. “They made a strong point and they want us to react to it and we believe that we are.”