Complaint triggers Pen Bay Medical Center inspection
Rockport — A recent complaint against Pen Bay Medical Center triggered the Maine Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services to conduct an unannounced survey of the hospital May 27-29, Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Bachman confirmed June 3.
Bachman declined to describe the nature of the complaint. However, he said it triggered an "off-cycle investigation" of the hospital that normally occurs unannounced every three years. The state works under contract with the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS, which handles hospital accreditation.
The final determinations within the survey will not be shared with PBMC for a few weeks, said Bachman, who specializes in emergency medicine. But he said that in 25 areas of inspection — radiology, medical records, and emergency medicine being a few —"We were found to be in compliance with the conditions of participation" required for a successful survey.
If deficiencies are found to exist, the state agency will provide instruction on how to correct them, Bachman said.
In a June 3 email from John A. Martins, director of public and employee communications for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Martins addressed what triggered the investigation of complaint in April. He was asked if serious incidents at the hospital led to the investigation.
"Hospitals are required by state law to report unanticipated deaths," Martins wrote. "Pen Bay, following the unanticipated death of a patient in the Emergency Department, reported to the DLRS appropriately. Following the investigation of the facts, the CMS determined, based on a recommendation from the DLRS, that a full federal survey should be conducted to determine sustained substantial compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation."
Participating in the survey were a total of six DLRS surveyors and three individuals from the state Fire Marshal's Office office conducting Life Safety Code requirements.
The complaint follows a May 29 story in The Courier-Gazette in which PBMC interim Director Mark Biscone said that job cuts and job losses attributed to unfilled positions will be lost at the hospital for budgetary reasons. One oncologist position will be lost at PBMC, with the existing oncologist at Waldo County General Hospital now serving patients in both locations.
Bachman said all Maine hospitals are "struggling to meet their budgets" while maintaining high levels of patient care, adding "We're being very proactive with that." Part of maintaining high levels of hospital service while balancing budgets involves a more regional approach, in which PBMC and Waldo County are considered one service area for the purpose of shared services.
"We're paying our bills as far as I know," Bachman said, while adding that he would be prepared to share the survey results within a few weeks.
Courier Publications reporter Larry Di Giovanni can be reached at 594-4401 x. 117, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.