CMS recertifies hospital that had been cut off from Medicare

A year after Medicare stopped paying Anaheim General Hospital due to its inability "to render adequate care to patients," the facility has regained its Medicare and Medi-Cal status, the Orange County Register reports. CMS recertified the hospital to collect government funding after two surprise inspections in April and July.

When Medicare funding is yanked, hospitals often have no choice but to go out of business. From 2003 through 2009, 18 hospitals or critical access hospitals were involuntarily terminated. By mid-September of this year, only five had been reinstated and two were still active, CMS spokesperson, Ellen Griffith, told FierceHealthcare. Jack Cheevers, another Medicare spokesman told the Register that he wasn't aware of any other California hospital that regained certification over the past six years.

Anaheim General first came to the attention of state surveyors in February 2008, when five instances of things that could post potential harm to patients were found, including medication missing from the OR that could treat a potentially fatal reaction to anesthesia. Buying more equipment and hiring more staff and outside consultants didn't make enough of a difference, considering the hospital continued to fail follow-up inspections.

By July 2009, Anaheim General had lost its Joint Commission accreditation. What's more, the county ambulance system refused to deliver patients to the hospital's ER.

The 142-bed hospital’s CEO Tom Salerno , who was brought on board in November 2008 to turn the facility around, attributed past troubles to poor leadership. In his first year, he replaced 82 percent of managers and pushed for a culture of accountability, safety and clinical excellence. The hospital staff of 320 were trained in areas such as infection control, preventing falls and medication safety.

To learn more:
- read the Anaheim General press release
- here's the Orange County Register story