INDIO, Calif. - The California Department of Public Health is investigating JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio. State Officials are looking into what they describe as "serious deficiencies" in patient care.
If the problems are not corrected soon, the hospital could be cut off from receiving Medicare reimbursements.
The hospital disputes the claim, saying "It's important to understand that the findings in July are not reflective of the improvements and advancements we have made, and it does not include all of the facts or final results."
JFK Memorial Hospital is working to address a number of serious concerns related to patient care. The issues came to light during a hospital survey by the California Department of Public Health in July.
The survey uncovered several instances of sub standard patient care causing concern for people in the area.
Patient Barbara Dunn says "I would hope that whatever was found was corrected.. And continue to operate and serve the community but at a standard that was acceptable or above."
Another patient Jeremiah Alcala says "the majority of Indio residents .. they do go that hospital.. To get checked up.. So they really need to get checked up.. So they need to straighten up their act.. You know."
In a 48 page report the State survey identified a number of cases of sub standard care. The most serious include... The hospital's failure to properly report a fire in a patient's room February 18th, 2012. While also failing to properly asses the patient's condition after the fire.
Failure to follow proper procedures for handling a "do not resuscitate" order for an 83 year old patient.
Registered nurses operating outside their scope of practice by setting sedation levels for a patient, which could have resulted in the patient's death.
Also, failure to account for a small piece of a surgical instrument which broke off during a surgery on a patient's torn rotator cuff.
The Hospital's newly hired Chief Nursing Officer Joel Brown responds to the findings saying "those issues are very serious. Like I said we have ben investigating those and we have taken action items to put in place to make sure that if they did happen. That they will not happen again and we've also put action items in place and some controls in place to keep that from happening."
Other findings by the State also include a case in which an operating room team left a surgical sponge inside a patient, and Doctors later performed another surgery to remove it.
A number of surgeries in which equipment and sponges were not properly accounted for.
And the hospital's failure to maintain a policy for ensuring that "foreign objects" don't get left inside patients during surgeries.
Also cited, improper administration of patient medications and lastly the hospital failed to implement and maintain an ongoing quality improvement program.
Joel Brown states "JFK is here to stay and we are not going anywhere. We are here for our community. We're here with out physician partners . Nursing and administrative staff is very on board to delivery quality care for the Coachella Valley."
Officials from the State paid an unannounced visit to the hospital Wednesday and Thursday to find out if JFK Memorial Hospital made any progress in dealing with the patient care problems discovered in July. It could be about two weeks for the results of this latest survey to be released.
If the hospital does not show enough improvements, JFK Memorial's agreement with Medicare could be terminated by November 4th.
Gary Honts, Chief Executive Officer at JFK Memorial Hospital issued this written statement in response to the investigation.
"It's important to understand that the findings in July are not reflective of the improvements and advancements we have made, and it does not include all of the facts or final results."
"As a provider of care since 1966 in the community, JFK has been and continues to be focused on providing a high level of quality care to the community that we serve."
In recent years the hospital has received numerous awards including recognition from the American Heart Association for treatment of heart failure, and awards for hip and knee replacements, also for birthing practices.