Alaska Native Medical Center found to have deficiencies with emergency services

Full nature of violations remains unclear
Alaska Native Medical Center found to have deficiencies with emergency services
Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 3:31 PM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2023 at 4:59 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After an inspection by federal regulators, the Alaska Native Medical Center lost its “deemed status” on July 12, a status which means a medical facility is accredited and can bill the federal government for Medicare services.

At this stage, however, despite losing that status, the medical center is allowed to continue to treat Medicare patients and receive federal funding for those services, and more information is emerging about the deficiencies that led to this federal action.

The Alaska Native Medical Center is a 172-bed facility in Anchorage and is the largest and most comprehensive hospital jointly owned by the Southcentral Foundation and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

This past June, CMA inspectors conducted a survey of the center and found that the facility was not in substantial compliance with federal regulations. As a result, the Alaska Health Facilities and Licensing unit will step in to conduct a follow-up to confirm compliance with regulatory requirements. If those corrections aren’t made, the center’s accreditation could potentially be in question.

In a letter from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it stated that “a survey conducted by Healthcare Management Solutions LLC (HMS) at Alaska Native Medical Center on June 23, 2023, found that the facility was not in substantial compliance” with the following Medicare Conditions of Participation for hospitals.

  • Fed - A - 0043 - 482.12 - Governing Body
  • Fed - A - 1100 - 482.55 - Emergency Services

The center wrote that the consortium’s deemed status was removed effective July 12, and that “survey jurisdiction has been transferred” to the Alaska Health Facilities and Licensing.

The letter said that when a hospital is out of compliance with the Conditions of Participation, officials are required to report that the facility no longer meets the requirements in providing or supplying services in the Medicare program.

“Such a determination has been made in the case of Alaska Native Medical Center and accordingly, the Medicare agreement between Alaska Native Medical Center and CMS is being terminated,” the letter read.

In response to the letter from CMA, an ANTHC spokesperson wrote that their findings “include the governance of the Emergency Department and Fast Track, unified physician and nursing leadership, the role of the administrator, and the functions of the Joint Operating Board.”

The spokesperson would not elaborate on the exact details of those deficiencies, but in an email statement on behalf of ANTHC and the Southcentral Foundation, he wrote that physicians, nurses, and other care providers from both entities are affected.

“For example, ANTHC employees staff the acute section of the ANMC Emergency Services Department and SCF employees staff the fast track (a non-acute section within the ANMC Emergency Services Department),” they said. “A single Emergency Services Medical Director provides medical oversight for the entire Emergency Services Department including acute and fast track.

“With respect to CMS’ findings, as it relates to services, roles and leadership, the findings refer to regulations that require, for example, one leader of medical staff and one hospital administrator who reports to hospital governance (i.e. the Joint Operating Board).”

The ANTHC does contend the issues are not “directly related” to the quality-of-care patients are receiving; rather, it says in the statement that “governance issues” are the reason for the federal action.

The institution must now submit a corrective plan and says that the plan will be delivered to the federal government this week.