Breaking News: El Paso News just learned that the El Paso Children’s Hospital was found to be noncompliant in federal state regulations in the case of Jessie Limas who died at the hospital on September 5. As we reported, Jessie’s mother, a registered nurse, documented several instances of failures of the medical staff to care for her child. Nancy Limas, the mother of Jessie, filed a complaint with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission on September 19 alleging failures at the hospital that resulted in the death of her eleven-year-old child.
In an email sent to Limas from Susan Zimmerman, Regional Director of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Zimmerman wrote to Limas that the Commission concluded their investigation of the El Paso Children’s Hospital on September 19.
Zimmerman wrote in her email that “a very thorough investigation which included reviewing hospital policies, Jessie’s medical records and interviews with staff was conducted.”
The email adds that the noncompliance report was forwarded to the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for “noncompliance with the federal regulations for their review.”
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The CMS, a federal agency, “provides health coverage…through Medicare, Medicaid,” and the “Children’s Health Insurance Program.” They ensure that health providers meet federal medical standards to qualify for federal reimbursements.
When a provider like El Paso Children’s Hospital is deemed to be in noncompliance with federal health rules, CMS can issue civil monetary penalties. A noncompliance finding can also lead to the revocation of the hospital’s participation in the Medicaid payments.
On May 19, 2015, the El Paso Children’s Hospital filed for bankruptcy. When it emerged from bankruptcy it was absorbed into the University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC), which forgave part of the debt, paid off other debt and became the sole-owner of El Paso Children’s Hospital. One of the key financial strategies for sustaining the hospital are the federal funds tied to Medicaid reimbursements.
According to Zimmerman, now that El Paso Children’s Hospital’s has been found non-complaint, both at the state and at the federal level, “the next step will be the facility will be contacted about the deficiencies and given time to create and implement a plan so any such incidents will not occur again.”
The investigation and finding by the Commission only covers the facility and does not include any findings of the medical staff.