Winnebago Mental Health gets another chance to meet Medicare standards

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - The Winnebago Mental Health Institute, found by federal inspectors to be non-compliant with Medicare standards, has received another extension to correct the issues that have put its federal funding at risk of being cut.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have set an Oct. 1, 2018 Medicare cut-off date in order to give the state-run psychiatric facility time to implement its plan of correction and schedule a revisit.

Target 2 Investigates obtained the most recent reports Monday.

On July 12, CMS informed WMHI that it was not in compliance with federal standards when it comes to physical environment, medical records and special staff requirements.

This was the second time the facility was found to be non-compliant. Target 2 Investigates reported in May that WMHI was found not up to Medicare standards after a December 2017 visit by inspectors.

CMS gave WMHI another extension and made a revisit on June 27. The Wisconsin Department of Health, Division of Quality Assurance made a visit on July 5.

A follow up letter from CMS informed the facility that it was again non-compliant and its Medicare program would end on Sept. 1. However CMS decided to extend that date to Oct. 1.

During the revisit, inspectors agreed that the facility had improved its conditions regarding patient rights.

"However; the remaining noncompliance is significant and limits your psychiatric hospital's capacity to render adequate care and ensure the health and safety of your patients," reads a letter from CMS Branch Manager Pam L. Thomas.

CMS says WMHI has submitted an acceptable plan of correction.

The correction plan includes improving treatment plans and methods; alternative treatments for at-need patients; and ensuring there's enough nursing staff and psychiatric care technicians on hand.

The plan says each unit will have a minimum of two psychiatric care technicians scheduled per wing during the night shift.

The facility had previously submitted a plan of correction for the Petersik building on campus. It does not have a standard sprinkler system or a properly rated fire resistance door. The campus has set an August 31 completion date for the repair.

If WMHI loses the ability to bill Medicaid and Medicare, the facility will no longer be able to reimburse other counties for costs related to caring for a patient.

"We will continue to provide services to clients referred by counties regardless of the outcome of this survey process," reads a statement.

Target 2 Investigates reported in May about the death of a 58-year-old Racine man who fell while in care. The man hit his head, and it took nearly 14 hours before he was transferred to a hospital for treatment. He required surgery for bleeding on the brain and later died.

The Winnebago County District Attorney determined no criminal charges would be filed in the case, saying the "incident is a horrible tragedy, but this tragedy cannot be criminally attributed to the doctor."

Target 2 also obtained a 74-page consultant report that suggests an overhaul of Winnebago Mental Health's work environment.

Consultants from Cerner Group found some staffers reported feeling "demoralized, discouraged and disengaged."

"The current state is not sustainable and will impact the ability of Winnebago Mental Health to meet its mission, vision, guiding principles and values," consultants said.

Some PCTs reached out to Target 2 about forced overtime making their job dangerous.

Target 2 Investigates will continue to follow this developing story.