ER attack investigated – Wilson Times

Wilson Medical’s Medicare funding jeopardized

Alleged attacker diagosed with bipolar disorder.

Wilson Medical Hospital could lose its Medicare certification by March 27 if it doesn’t implement a plan of action in response to a violent episode in the emergency room on Feb. 18.

State investigators have been at the hospital since Tuesday looking over the hospital’s operations and other facilities they run, said Jim Jones, state spokesperson for the Division of Health Services Regulations.

Rick Hudson, WilMed Healthcare’s president and chief executive officer, said Thursday investigators are recommending the hospital be placed in “immediate jeopardy to lose their Medicare certification” because of an assault in the emergency room two weeks ago.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in Atlanta asked the state to look into that incident following a published report in The Wilson Times last week, according to Hudson.

On Feb. 18, Bobby and Catherine Murphy, along with two hospital employees, were assaulted, allegedly by 32-year-old Cedric Newton of Wilson, according to police. The couple was in the emergency room waiting for Catherine Murphy to be treated for bronchitis. Newton was also waiting to be seen by a doctor when he reportedly hit Catherine in the head. Later, Bobby Murphy said he was struck trying to protect his wife. He suffered a broken ankle in three places, requiring surgery, and needed stitches in his lip.

Newton’s mother, Japhaine Newton, told The Times last week her son suffers from bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes. Wilson police were called to the hospital. Approximately six days later, Newton was taken to Cherry Hospital from Wilson Medical Center.

Being placed in immediate jeopardy means the hospital has 23 days to implement a corrective action plan, and have state investigators approve those plans.

“Regulators said we did not act in a timely manner resulting in the immediate jeopardy of our (Medicare) designation,” said Lisa Briley, director of marketing and development for the hospital.

The corrective plan the hospital proposes, along with recommendations from the state, will be sent to CMS in Atlanta, said Jones. The hospital has already submitted a plan to state investigators.

“Today what we are providing them with is a plan of immediate action,” said Hudson Thursday. “If there is anything else they can recommend, we (will) add to the plan and I’ll sign it today.”

Hudson is hopeful the state team reviews the plan and finds it acceptable before they leave the hospital. Hudson said he hopes the regional office in Atlanta will see the steps the hospital has taken and will lift the jeopardy status before March 27.

While the hospital is under investigation, patients can continue to come to the hospital and Medicare will continue to pay the hospital. Should the hospital lose its certification, it would not be reimbursed by Medicare for services given.

It cost Wilson Medical more than $7.9 million to treat Medicare patients during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009. Medicare is the federal health care insurance plan for people over age 65 and for the disabled.

Part of the submitted plan includes educating staff on crisis prevention incident training. He said the first people trained will most likely be those who work in the emergency room.

Hudson would not share the rest of the plan, but said he would possibly share that information before March 27.

Hudson said they regret the incident happened in the hospital, but added they were unaware of the patient’s agitation.

“At the time no one knew he (the patient) was off balance,” Hudson said. “This whole episode took place in a period of six or seven minutes. It happened that quick. Up until then, you would not know that he (would) be violent or acting out.”

Hudson said his security team responded within two minutes.

Hudson said the accused patient had only been waiting 20 minutes to be seen when he hit the other patient.

“You can’t prevent that,” Hudson said. “You can get hit waiting in a line at a store.”

He added other hospitals in the state have faced similar action from the state.

Japhaine Newton told The Times she informed the intake person in emergency that her son needed help upon their arrival. She took her son to the emergency room after noticing a change in his behavior and after consulting his doctor, she said. | 265-7847