Highland penalized for 2012 issues, which have been fixed

Published 10:51 am Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Highland Community Hospital is among one of the 12 Mississippi Hospitals that are getting a slash in their Medicare payments due to medical issues. But Highland’s Administrator Mark Stockstill said that the reason behind the penalty is no longer valid.
Across the country, Medicare is cutting payments by one percent to hospitals, including Highland, after data from the Centers for Disease Control found that patients were leaving the hospital with a different ailment than what they came in with. The issue was that two patients contracted a urinary tract infection due to catheter usage.
Stockstill said that Highland only had two cases from 2012 to 2013, where the patients contracted infections at the hospital, but added that they were quickly treated with antibiotics and thereafter improved.
Highland’s Chief Nursing Officer Melissa Wise added that since then the hospital implemented and set criteria that determines if a patient needs a catheter. Staff now analyze the patient’s health before giving them a catheter, and educated their staff about proper procedures in handling medical equipment.
Highland’s Director of Clinical Outcomes Stephanie Lopez said that they are also using, “a closed system, where all the materials for the catheters are placed inside one box to keep it as sanitized as possible.”
Stockstill felt that the hospital should not be penalized now for something that occurred in the past but has since been corrected. He also worries patients will be discouraged because of the cuts.
“As a consumer of health care, I except to have good healthcare. Being a small-town hospital…at the end of the day, it’s not financial loss but loss of confidence from community,” Stockstill said. Stockstill added that the hospital had zero catheter associated urinary tract infections in 2014.
Highland will have $70,000 in cuts to Medicare reimbursements due to violations, which occurred in 2012.

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