Venice Regional Medicare Agreement At Risk



Federal officials say Venice Regional Bayfront Health will lose its Medicare provider agreement if the hospital can not adequately address concerns about a May sewage leak that might have exposed patients to danger. Hospital CEO Peter Wozniak resigned this week amid concerns about how the leak was addressed. 

Wozniak, who has helmed Venice Regional since January 2010, praised his staff as he announced he will leave his post after today. “I am extremely proud of Venice Regional and the employees and physicians who provide personalized, quality care for patients each day,” Wozniak said in a statement. “Significant work is underway to strengthen the facility. This is a committed team of professionals and I wish them all the best in the future.” 

But that announcement came barely a week after a report from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services was sent to the hospital identifying numerous deficiencies in the handling of a May 26 sewage leak in a post-surgical orthopedic nursing unit. Nursing staff saw water leaking from the ceiling and running down walls in the early afternoon, according to the report. The source of the leak was determined to be a six-inch main sewage line serving the third and fourth floors. A restoration company was called in and worked to clean up the area over the course of five days, but “at no time during the restoration project and cleanup were patients moved,” the report states.

The report found lapses in notification of superiors as well. The hospital’s risk manager told CMS officials on July 1 she had not been made aware of the scope of the sewage leak until that week. The same day, Wozniak told CMS he also was not made aware of the scope of the matter, and that the facility “thought we did the right thing and fixed it, but trusted the restoration company too much.” The director of Infection Control, who was on vacation at the time of the leak, was not immediately told details of the incident beyond that plumbing had overflowed and shorted out an elevator, according to the CMS report.

CMS administrator Sandra Pace informed hospital officials on July 21 that a plan of correction addressing all areas of deficiencies, as well as monitoring and tracking procedures to ensure the plan is effective, must be submitted to the Agency for Healthcare Administration, and that if all condition level deficiencies are not corrected by Oct. 19, the hospital’s Medicare provider agreement will terminate. The federal government will conduct on-site visits to verify corrections, the report said.

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