Local News

Mental Hospital to Get Overhaul After Federal Funds Cut Off

Posted September 24, 2007 3:45 p.m. EDT

— Broughton Hospital will be reorganized to increase staff supervision and patient safety after the federal government cut off funding for the mental health hospital, state health officials announced on Monday.

Health officials hope the reorganization will turn convince the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to begin paying coverage for Broughton patients again. CMS cut off the funds on Aug. 25 after a probe into patient  treatment at the Morganton facility.

"We cannot emphasize enough how seriously we take this matter, as well as our expectations that the prescribed actions are immediately undertaken to resolve the identified deficiencies," state health secretary Dempsey Benton and Mike Moseley, director of the state's mental health division, wrote in a memo to Broughton director Seth Hunt.

Federal funds were denied after two incidents involving patients.

In February, Anthony Lowery, 27, died while staff members, including one who laid across his chest, restrained him. On August 19, a patient who was supposed to be under close supervision fell. That patient has recovered.

Broughton will now give staffers more training on how to use physical restraints and how to prevent falls, said Dr. Michael Lassiter,  psychiatrist who lead the review.

Supervision of clinical staff by clinical professionals will also be increased. Prior to the review, the lack of oversight meant nursing staff members did not report to the director of nursing, Lassiter said.

"The organization needs to be realigned, so that it is clear that the clinical team is supervised by professional staff that understands the role of clinical staff," Lassiter said. "We need to set up an organizational structure that empowers and enhances physicians' and nurses' oversight and accountability functions for clinical services."

Lassiter will lead the three-member reorganization team of nursing and administrative experts, which will report weekly to state health officials.

The team will conduct a mock CMS survey after the review, which is expected to last a month, and then request CMS look over the hospital's plan of correction.