U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services: UPHS-Marquette is compliant

Photo courtesy: U.P. Health System - Marquette

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - After UP Health System-Marquette nurses filed a complaint about unsafe patient conditions, a government inspection found the hospital is in compliance with Medicare certification requirements.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the result of the inspection Monday afternoon. According to the DHHS inspection, the Marquette hospital meets all of the health and safety standards that are the foundation for improving quality and protecting the health and safety of patients.

UPHS-Marquette administration responded to TV6, saying it is proud of hospital employees, physicians and volunteers and the zero deficiencies found at the facility. The Michigan Nurses Association says it has not received any official notification of the investigation report, and the nurses who filed individual reports about unsafe conditions weren't interviewed by inspectors.

As TV6 has previously reported, surveyors from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs conducted an unannounced, two-day onsite inspection of UP Health System-Marquette on Sept. 19 and 20 as a response to the nurses' complaint.

The initial complaint to DHHS was filed Aug. 24 by the Michigan Nurses Association and nurses employed by UP Health System-Marquette. The complaint detailed concerns about patient safety.

The complaint, entitled "Misplaced Priorities," documented 111 cases of IVs running dry or medicines given late, 12 cases of patient falls, and 259 cases of nurses working dangerously long shifts or going without breaks. There were several other reported cases in which the nurses believed patient care suffered due to under-staffing.

This is the response from the state to the hospital after the survey was completed:

“I am pleased to inform you that as a result of the September 21, 2017 substantial allegation survey, UP Health System – Marquette was found in compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation and will continue to be deemed to meet applicable Medicare requirements based upon accreditation by the Joint Commission," wrote Michael Potjeau, Principal Program Representative Non-Long Term Care Certification.

There was no further information in the public report confirming or denying the documented cases the nurses initially complained about.

The report said the hospital's census was 134 patients on Sept. 21. UPHS-Marquette is a 307-bed hospital, according to its website.

TV6 asked the Michigan Nurses Association and to UP Health System-Marquette for comment. Below are both statements in the order we received them.

The statement from UPHS-Marquette Regional Director, Marketing and Business Development, and Hospital Spokesperson, Victor Harrington is as follows:

"In September, UPHS–Marquette was surveyed during an unannounced visit by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in response to claims made related to staffing and quality at the hospital. Late last week, we received the official findings of that survey and we are very pleased to report that the surveying authorities found zero deficiencies at our hospital.

"It is noteworthy that while the primary focus of this survey was the subject of the complaints, any survey performed by regulatory authorities is comprehensive in order to ensure full compliance with accreditation standards. Numerous nurses and other staff were interviewed during the survey process, and scores of records were examined and analyzed. Receiving zero deficiencies from this team of highly experienced nurse surveyors is outstanding and a strong endorsement of the quality care being delivered daily at UPHS–Marquette. We know these results would not be possible without the hard work, dedication and tireless compassion of our employees, physicians and volunteers.

"It is our privilege to serve the healthcare needs of our community, and we will continue working to deliver the very best care to those we serve."

The statement from the Michigan Nurses Association and UPHS-Marquette RN Staff Council, from Stephanie DePetro, OR Nurse at UPHS Marquette and Chief Grievance Officer of the UPHS-Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA is as follows:

"The Michigan Nurses Association has yet to receive any official notification regarding a state investigation of nurses’ complaints at UPHS Marquette, and we look forward to reviewing the full report and its methodology as it becomes available.

"UP Health System Marquette nurses reported unsafe conditions to Duke LifePoint management on over 200 Assignment Despite Objection Forms between January 1 and August 24, documenting at least 783 consequences for patient care. Incidents of unsafe patient care were reported, including:
• 111 cases of one or more IVs running dry or medicines being given late
• 12 reports of one or more patient falls (4 in one day in one unit)
• 259 reports of one or more nurses going without breaks, lunches or being mandated to work shifts that could be dangerous to patients (up to 16 hours)

"Common sense suggests that a proper investigation prompted by the ADO reports submitted to the state should include attempts to interview the nurses who filed the complaints. From what we understand so far, none of the nurses filing the ADO reports were contacted by state investigators regarding those documented incidents.

"Marquette nurses will continue to advocate for the highest quality of patient care, because hospital safety is not a simple pass/fail endeavor. We have documented hundreds of patient safety concerns, and at this time, we are not convinced that the state has adequately looked into those issues."

UPHS-Marquette nurses have been working without a contract since July and went on strike for 48 hours earlier this month. The nurses say their staffing ratios are unsafe. No future bargaining sessions have been announced between nurses and administration.

TV6, FOX UP and UpperMichigansSource.com will continue to follow this story as it develops.

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