Joint Commission downgrades GMH's status - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Joint Commission downgrades GMH's status

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Already struggling with near flatlining finances that have resulted in temporary shortages of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, the prognosis for the Guam Memorial Hospital apparently is getting worse, as the Joint Commission has downgraded the hospital's accreditation status.

A year and a half ago, there was significant celebration over GMH receiving full accreditation from the Joint Commission, an organization that certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. But a follow-up letter from the August 31 surprise inspection informed officials that GMH had a change in status -from "Full Accreditation" to "Accreditation with Follow-Up Survey".

Interim hospital administrator Rey Vega told KUAM News, "That means that we should expect anytime within the next two months a survey team coming over."

According to JCO's website, this category of certification means that the hospital was not in compliance with specific standards that require a follow up survey in the next 60 days. "Their findings in general terms are transient and practices in medication management, provision of care, treatment and services, so they really are specific to that.  But those were the issues that they have identified," said Vega.

The Joint Commission cited GMH for recurring trends and patterns as far as the practice in medication management, provision and care treatment and services. As a result of the change in status, GMH must successfully address the identified problem areas in an evidence of standards compliance submission. Correcting those deficiencies are in addition to efforts already ongoing to address concerns raised by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. 

CMS threatened to pull the hospital's funding for Medicare, but GMH was granted a temporary waiver and given until December 31 to correct the problems. Vega noted, "The last remaining citations, I think, we should be able to see some completion dates by middle of next week," adding, "replacement of doors and these are just the remaining citations we have to comply with before December 31."

While the hospital waits for the follow-up survey, Vega assures the community that GMH continues to do its best to maintain national safety goals set forth by JCO.  Healthcare Committee chair Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. is awaiting more information about the reason for the change in status, but says he is committed to ensuring GMH does whatever is necessary to keep accreditation, saying he is opposed to any efforts to give it up. 

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