WW investigation leads to shutdown of troubled hospital

Once again, Willamette Week has nailed some bad guys through their investigative reporting. Back in October, WW reported on the death of a woman in the care of Northeast Portland's Physicians' Hospital - the only doctor-owned hospital in Oregon.

Last night, Willamette Week reported that a federal investigation has led to the hospital losing its ability to get Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements -- basically a death knell for the facility.

Among the alleged irregularities were the circumstances surrounding the death last July of 88-year-old Helen Wilson, who went into cardiac arrest shortly after undergoing elective spinal surgery.

There were no doctors on the premises when Wilson's heart stopped. Nurses called 911 after failing to revive Wilson, and an ambulance transported her to Portland Adventist Hospital, where she died without regaining consciousness.

WW's story caught the eye of Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa), who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The committee oversees federal Medicare and Medicaid and asked for an inquiry.

"The events surrounding the death of Helen Wilson are tragic, and illustrate some of the drawbacks of the limited scope of work performed at specialty hospitals," Grassley and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) wrote the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

That Feb. 14 letter led to a federal inspection of Physicians' less than a week later. Last week, the investigators issued their findings.

"Based on a review of deficiencies identified during the survey, we have determined that Physicians Hospital is not in compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation and the most serious deficiencies constituted immediate jeopardy [emphasis theirs] to the health and safety of patients," Medicare inspector Steven Chickering wrote to Houston. ...

Following the inspection, Medicare officials ordered Physicians' to discontinue surgery immediately and not admit any additional patients, according to Dr. Grant Higginson, who directs hospital licensure for the state of Oregon. Higginson says that within a few days, the hospital was empty of patients.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)

    This will cost the citizens of Portland $500,000 for the unsecured loan from the Portland Development Commission which will never be repaid. Mayor Potter has to get a handle on the diversion of property taxes to boondoggles like this.

  • Jon (unverified)

    So, the nurses at this hospital had to call 911 to take this lady to another hospital? Wow.

  • (Show?)
    <h2>Too bad their article on Wal-Mart this week was so WEAK!!! Reading the first couple of pages was torture and I doubt will have much effect on the WM machine coming our way.</h2>
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