by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:
HAMLET, N.C. - Thousands could be without access to medical care after federal health officials threaten to stop payment for Medicare and Medicaid recipients at Sandhills Regional Medical Center.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services notified hospital officials last week their status was in "immediate jeopardy" for not being in compliance with CMS regulations in nursing services or patients’ rights.
CMS officials said unless the hospital complies, they would stop payment for treatment for Medicare and Medicaid recipients effective Sept. 6, which was worrisome news for patients like Cayla Freeman.
"Yeah, I am worried because it's the closest spot right there, and if something happens, it's right there versus all the way in Rockingham," Freeman said.
In the wake of the notice, Sandhills officials said CEO Michael McNair was no longer with the hospital, and it named an interim CEO.
The hospital was cited nearly a month after a janitor, Thadus Primus, was arrested on allegation he engaged in sexual activity with two female patients in the hospital's psychiatric ward.
In a statement, hospital officials said, "The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has cited our hospital related to a recent patient safety event. We are taking this matter very seriously. Administration and nursing leadership have reviewed the survey findings and developed a robust plan to meet the standards of care. This plan of correction has already been implemented and accepted by CMS. We feel strongly that the actions that have been taken will address the concerns raised by CMS in a pending re-survey of the hospital prior to Sept. 6.
"Among our actions include strengthening our patient safety policies and procedures. Members of our caregiving team have gone through additional training and compliance will be monitored on an ongoing basis.
"Leadership of the hospital, administration, medical staff and board of trustees is engaged to monitor progress and identify opportunities for continued improvement. Staffing has been focused in some areas of the hospital to support these practices.
"Providing safe, quality care is our priority and we will take the appropriate actions to fulfill this commitment to every patient. We believe our new processes have created a markedly safer environment and we are committed to taking any necessary actions to meet and exceed the standards of care required by CMS."
CMS officials said they will return for an unannounced visit before Sept. 6 to evaluate the hospital's compliance.
To see more local news stories, click here.