Friday June 29, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Retreat has turned in its proposed plan to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to correct compliance deficiencies discovered during a June 7 site visit.

The hospital has until July 30 to have its plan accepted, or risk losing Medicare funding.

CMS sent out a public notice Thursday saying that the agreement between the Retreat and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services would be terminated on July 30.

Medicare patients would not be allowed to be admitted after July 30, and payments for those patients admitted before July 30 would terminate on Aug. 30.

Peter Albert, Brattleboro Retreat Senior Vice President for Government Relations, said the CMS notice Thursday was expected, and was only one further step toward the psychiatric hospital’s goal of maintaining its Medicare funding.

"The Retreat anticipated this notice from CMS today as public notification is a routine step in the federal CMS process," Albert said. "We have submitted what we believe is a positive plan of correction which we have already been implementing. We expect to be in full compliance with the CMS re-survey that will be conducted prior to July 30."

The Retreat first came under federal scrutiny following a patient’s death at the Brattleboro hospital.

On Jan. 26, CMS conducted a complaint investigation at the Retreat, and notified administrators on Feb. 6 that the hospital was noncompliant with federal rules.

During a revisit survey on June 7, federal inspectors found two additional violations and told the hospital it had until July 30 to come with a plan to address the issues.

"We find that the Brattleboro Retreat is not in compliance with the conditions of participation for hospitals," CMS Branch Chief Richard Shaw wrote to the Retreat on June 15. "The deficiencies have been determined to be of such a serious nature as to substantially limit the hospital’s capacity to provide adequate care."

Albert said the plan that went out to CMS this week addresses policies and procedures that will improve communication throughout the organization, and assures that adverse events are thoroughly reported and analyzed, and where necessary corrective action is taken.

The Retreat also submitted a plan to improve nursing plans and make sure they are tailored to meet the individual needs of patients.

The federal agency told the Retreat that it would lose its Medicare provider agreement on July 30 if its plan for compliance was not accepted before July 30.

That plan was sent in to the federal agency Wednesday.

Following the June 7 site visit, Department of Mental Health Commissioner Patrick Flood said the state "continues to have faith in the Brattleboro Retreat’s commitment to provide quality services and is optimistic the Retreat will correct the deficiencies and remain certified for Medicare and Medicaid."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279