The beleaguered Southwest Healthcare System, which operates Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar and Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta, has passed state regulators’ inspections, it was announced this weekend.
But the process was not without complications: It took two survey inspections before Southwest Healthcare was found in compliance by the regulators.
Beginning July 25 and ending Aug. 2, the California Department of Public Heath, under federal authority, conducted a full validation survey of Southwest Healthcare System. The inspection was preceded by a flurry of problems dating back to 2007 that ultimately led to a finding by state investigators that Southwest Healthcare System was putting patient health in jeopardy. As a result, state officials threatened to pull the healthcare provider’s Medicare/Medicaid funding and revoke its license to operate both hospitals.
Either move would have toppled Southwest Healthcare, so by fall 2010 the provider appeared to be getting back on track: A new CEO was in place, its license had been reinstated, and a temporary agreement had been reached on funding.
But inspections were still pending, and the check that ended Aug. 2 brought some bad news. The state health department’s survey team found “two areas out of compliance with the conditions of participation as a Medicare participant. Those areas were Pharmacy and Nursing Services,” according to CDPH spokeswoman Anita Gore in an email to Patch.
(Click here to download the state’s August 2011 findings.)
The findings were enough for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to strip Southwest Healthcare’s Medicare certification, Gore said.
Instead, state officials postponed the termination and put hospital officials on notice that they would be back within 90 days for another inspection, Gore said.
On Nov. 1, state officials revisited Southwest Healthcare’s hospitals to conduct a second survey.
“CDPH did not identify any deficiencies during their survey and provided CMS with their findings,” Gore said.
Finally, on Nov. 4, an approval letter was sent by the state to Southwest Healthcare.
“CMS stated in a letter to Southwest that they intend not to proceed with the hospitals’ Medicare termination action,” Gore stated.
The news was welcome by Southwest Healthcare Systems CEO Ken Rivers. On Nov. 5, he released the following statement (in full):
Southwest Healthcare System has passed the CMS Certification Survey recently concluded pursuant to the System Improvement Agreement which Southwest had entered into with CMS and CDPH last year. As a result, the termination notice which had previously been sent by CMS has been rescinded and Southwest has been restored to our deemed status. This outcome was the result of the dedication, devotion and hard work of the employees, medical staff, volunteers and leadership at Southwest. We are also very appreciative of the cooperation and collaboration of the dedicated professionals at CMS and CDPH. Their willingness to work with Southwest during this process was a major factor in our success and we are pleased that their confidence in Southwest was validated. We appreciate the tremendous support we received from our local officials during this difficult period and wish to express our gratitude.
This result is not the end but the beginning. The employees and medical staff at Southwest Healthcare have always been fully committed to ensuring that the highest quality healthcare is being provided to our patients and this community. We will not rest on our accomplishments to date but remain steadfast in our commitment to maintain and enhance the quality of care we provide which our patients expect, their families demand and that this community deserves. Southwest looks forward to our continued role as the leader of healthcare services for Southwest Riverside County.