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The state investigated Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester and here’s what it found

Vaseline 4 weeks ago

An investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH) found that Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester did not have sufficient equipment to properly monitor patients with heart problems early this year.

The DPH launched an investigation into the hospital, which is owned by Dallas-based health care company Tenant Healthcare, on Jan. 31. According to Katheleen Conti, deputy director of media relations for the DPH, the investigation began after the MNA – the largest nurses’ union in Massachusetts – filed several complaints about poor management and technology.

These complaints arise from the increasing tension between the hospital and the nurses’ union. According to David Schildmeier, director of public communications for the MNA, complaints were filed directly with the DPH and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, accusing Saint Vincent of not having adequate staff or equipment, putting patients and nurses at risk .

Schildmeier said the allegations against Saint Vincent don’t just come from the MNA, as eight former nurses filed a lawsuit in Worcester Superior Court against the hospital and Tenet Healthcare in March, claiming they were wrongfully fired for unsafe practices. conditions in patient care. A week later, the National Labor Relations Board filed a formal complaint against the hospital, accusing administrators of failing to provide nurses with information about staffing levels and preventing nurses from speaking out about poor conditions.

“We continue to make direct requests to the DPH as conditions here remain very dangerous,” Schildmeier said. “There are not enough staff to watch over these patients who need care.”

A spokesperson for Saint Vincent’s declined to comment Friday on the union’s allegations.

According to documents obtained by MassLive, the DPH met with 17 patients and seven nurses in February who told them the hospital did not have sufficient telemetry monitoring equipment, known as teleboxes.

“Based on interviews and review of medical records, the hospital failed to provide care in a safe environment,” the report said. The hospital did not have sufficient cardiac telemetry boxes, a wearable device placed on the patient and designed for continuous monitoring of a patient’s electrocardiogram, which records electrical respiratory rate and oxygen saturations to properly monitor patients.”

In the DPH interviews, two nurses explained that teleboxes should be available in every hospital ward for every patient, but there are situations where a telebox is not present in the room. These situations can be critical because some patients who require constant care require teleboxes to monitor heart and breathing rates, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

“Nurse number seven stated that there are typically not enough teleboxes available on this telemetry unit,” the report said. “This nurse stated that the situation often arises where a patient arrives at the telemetry unit with telemetry orders and the nurse has to wait for an available telebox or hunt for a telebox.”

The NIH states that patients who are at risk for their heart rate to be dangerously slow, fast or irregular over the past 24 hours need teleboxes to monitor their heart rate. If a telebox arrives too late to a patient, he or she may die. According to the documents, a nurse told a DPH representative that a patient needing a telebox arrived at a hospital unit with no one present. A nurse found a phone booth for the patient – ​​27 minutes after arriving.

“The patient has the right to care in a safe environment,” the report said. “This standard is not being met, as evidenced by interviews and medical records.”

After reviewing their findings, the DPH filed a statement of deficiency with Saint Vincent on March 5 and asked the hospital to submit a plan of correction to change the way it appropriates and manages phone boxes.

The hospital submitted its action plan on March 13, which included the purchase of 42 additional teleboxes, a training plan to teach new employees how to manage hospital beds with teleboxes and a monitoring plan that will monitor 30 patients with teleboxes. are checked every month to ensure they are receiving proper care of the machines.

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“Audits will be reported weekly to the charge nurse and monthly to the hospital Quality and Patient Safety Board until three consecutive months of 100% compliance are achieved,” the report said. “Audits will be conducted periodically to ensure continued compliance.”

Conti told MassLive that the department approved Saint Vincent’s action plan on March 15. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency that provides health care to people through Medicare and Medicaid, approved the action plan on March 19. A week later, the department approved Saint Vincent’s action plan. DPH closed the investigation, Conti said.

Before the investigation was completed, Saint Vincent officials issued a news release claiming the Department of Health had found no deficiencies in staffing or quality of care and affirmed the hospital’s “commitment to high-quality care.” This statement was disputed by MNA, who accused the hospital of creating a culture that instilled fear among nurses for speaking out against management.

However, the DPH told MassLive that the investigation was still ongoing at the time, backtracking on Saint Vincent’s press release.

Schildmeier told MassLive that the DPH investigation partially confirmed the nurses union’s concerns, but said more needed to be done by the DPH. He said the MNA wants the DPH to send individuals to monitor the hospital to ensure employees are providing patients with proper care — similar to how the state sent monitors to Steward Health Care hospitals.

“It doesn’t go far enough,” he said. “These patients were at risk of having a heart attack and they were not being monitored. This all has to do with the dangerously low staffing levels.”

Nurses union struggles with Saint Vincent

The relationship between Sint-Vincentius Hospital and the MNA is fraught. The nurses’ union has accused the hospital of a lack of care, while the hospital has admonished the union for its statements.

In February 2021, unionized nurses went on strike because the two sides could not agree on staffing levels. The strike lasted ten months, with the union receiving support from Worcester City Council and then Attorney General Maura Healey. In December of that year, the hospital and the union reached an agreement on staffing levels and ratified a contract on January 3, 2022.

Despite the end of the strike, the rift between Tenet and the nurses’ union is still wide and continues to grow as more complaints about poor working conditions at the healthcare company have been filed by union members, former employees and national labor organizations.

“While the nurses ended the strike with great hope for a new beginning and a promise to work with our government for a positive future, their CEO, Carolyn Jackson of Tenet, had no such intention and has made a concerted effort to empower nurses attack and endanger every patient under their care,” Schildmeier said.

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