Rawson-Neal fed funds in jeopardy after inspection

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A troubled Las Vegas psychiatric hospital isn’t meeting standards and could lose Medicare funding if problems aren’t fixed within two weeks, federal officials said this week.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent a letter Thursday to Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, threatening to cut the funds by April 7 based on findings of a November inspection at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital.

“The deficiencies identified by the 11/08/2013 surveys substantially limit the hospital’s capacity to render adequate care to patients or are of such character as to adversely affect patient health and safety,” CMS official Rufus Arther wrote.

The letter did not identify the specific problems it found at the hospital, but said Rawson-Neal is not meeting requirements related to its governing body, nursing services and Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement program. The hospital is also out of compliance with fire codes, the letter said.

CMS set a Jan. 22 deadline for the mental health services agency to prove the issues have been corrected. If those materials are submitted in time, CMS will set up another inspection to verify the findings.

Nevada health department spokeswoman Mary Woods said new staff members have been hired and processes have changed, and she promised no disruption in service.

“It appears many of the noncompliance issues mirror those identified by outside consultants,” she said, calling the latest recommendations “an opportunity to continue to improve.”

The failed inspection is the latest setback for the state’s mental health system, which has been dogged by controversy since The Sacramento Bee reported last spring about a patient who was bused to California without a follow-up care plan.

The Bee obtained ticket vouchers and later found that more than 1,000 Rawson-Neal patients were provided bus tickets out of state upon discharge.

Over the summer, the independent Joint Commission announced it would not re-accredit the hospital. The commission said Rawson-Neal was out of compliance on numerous standards, including educating patients about follow-up care upon discharge and documenting patient discharge information.

Since the issues came to light, Nevada has added millions of dollars to mental health programs and set up an 18-member panel of experts from a variety of fields to assess Nevada’s mental health system and recommend improvements.

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