HHS Demands Changes At Cherokee Nation Hospital
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is involved and demanding changes at W.W. Hastings Hospital, where 186 patients were potentially exposed to HIV and Hepatitis C in June.
A report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) looks at compliance issues when it comes to nursing services, pharmaceutical services, and infection control.
The report says the Director of Quality at the hospital confirmed the nurse, who the Cherokee Nation says is Chief Bill John Baker's son, "confessed that he used the same needle and syringe on several different patients until the needle was dull.”
"First, I believe that to be incorrect," said Deputy Attorney General for the Nation Chrissi Nimmo.
JR Baker resigned on May 1st.
"That was a statement from the nurse involved to a supervisor to a third party and I think that there is some inaccurate information there,” said Nimmo.
The report also says the Director of Quality “confirmed the nurse confessed to using the same medication filled syringe on multiple patients,” and that the nurse “stated this started about six weeks prior to him being noticed by his colleagues.”
The report highlights an interview with one of the 186 patients asked to get tested because of the "lapse in protocol." It says he declined to test because he did not understand what was being told to him, and found out later through news reports.
It also mentions a nurse who was interviewed by CMS, who says she “did not know what was going on at the hospital until it hit the news.”
"Looking back, it's easy to say what we should have done at the time. We failed in communicating there," said Nimmo
But the HIV and Hepatitis C scare are not the only issues addressed in the report. It also lists several observations made during the visit, like an RN who "did not clean or sanitize the glucometer after using it."
The hospital responded to the report with a list of corrections it plans to make, including some to the layout of the hospital.
CMS responded to the hospital CEO on Thursday saying, “the plans of correction submitted are deemed acceptable.” CMS says it will make an unannounced visit between now and October 31st to determine whether the hospital has made the corrections the Cherokee Nation says it is committed to making.
"We truly value the feedback from CMS and are continuing our implementation of this approved action plan. The true value here is turning that feedback into positive change. We'll continue working with our partners to advance best practices and improve procedures at W.W. Hastings Hospital," said Dr. Charles Grim, executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services.
You can look at this 21-page public report below.
The Cherokee Nation says every patient tested so far has come back with negative results. Of the 186 patients who have been contacted, 24 refused to test, and 15 have not shown up for their lab testing yet, according to the Cherokee Nation.