Cherokee Nation Hospital Making Corrections After Health Department Audit

Wednesday, August 22nd 2018, 5:29 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

A federal health department audit shows the problems at Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah go beyond a recent lapse in protocol. According to a report the hospital employees are going through new training this week as part of a correction plan.

The Cherokee Nation says nurse J.R. Baker resigned on May 1st after a "lapse in protocol," involving a syringe that led to the recommendation that 186 patients be tested for HIV and Hepatitis C.

06/18/20218 Related Story: Cherokee Chief's Son Identified As Nurse Involved In HIV/Hep C Scare

When the Health Department's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or CMS visited the hospital in July, it discovered even more issues.

"We don't take them lightly, but it's not as if we didn't know that there were areas for improvement," said Cherokee Nation Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo.

08/22/2018 Related Story: HHS Demands Changes At Cherokee Nation Hospital

CMS says the hospital "failed to have an effective Infection Control Program," placing patients "in the Operating Room, Recovery Room and Post-Operative Room at risk for cross-contamination and negative outcomes."

Other observations in the report include a nurse hanging an IV on a cabinet door knob because there was "no IV pole available" and staff brushing against sterile supplies on open shelving in a semi-restricted hallway. The report shows 'observations' were made every five to ten minutes during the morning of the last day of the visit.

CMS also says Hastings "failed to have a comprehensive Nurse Training Program" that addresses specific issues. That failure, CMS says, has the "potential to affect all inpatients and outpatients on a daily basis."

"Some of the things we were already aware of and taking steps to fix. One of them is adding a new entrance to an operating room, which isn't an overnight fix. That's construction that takes time and planning," said Nimmo.

The hospital CEO signed off on a list of corrections to fix each issue and that list is considered "acceptable" by CMS.

CMS plans to make an unannounced visit to the hospital sometime between now and October 31 to follow up on those corrections.