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Breaking News / Featured / News / Virgin Islands / September 29, 2014
 For the first time taking ownership of serious violations and deficiencies outlined in a 112-page report issued by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) last week, Juan F. Luis Hospital Interim Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kendall Griffith on Saturday announced his plans to “revamp hospital procedures and institute reforms toward achieving improved and sustainable standards of high-quality patient care,” according to a statement issued by the CEO’s office.

Griffith’s announcement comes almost two weeks after speaking out against CMS’s decision to decertify the Luis Hospital when the federal agency terminates its relationship with JFL on Oct. 9. Griffith had said he would appeal CMS’s decision and that CMS was “wrong” for withdrawing its funding from JFL.

Now, taking what appears to be a different strategy in dealing with the crisis, Griffith said, “I recognize the troubling nature of the survey, and admit that some errors did occur, as they do at all hospitals. Clearly, the goal is to minimize these instances. As a matter of due diligence, we have been undergoing a thorough revitalization of all hospital procedures.”

Griffith further pointed out that since the CMS report was published within the last week, he has already taken corrective action on many of the infractions that were highlighted.

“The type of infractions cited by CMS have been addressed and rectified through policy changes, staff terminations, by reinforcing protocols, ensuring accountability where violations or negligent action occurred, and by taking other corrective measures where needed,” Griffith said. He pointed out that additional improvements are underway.

Last week, Griffith announced JFL would retain the services of Boston-based law firm Ropes and Gray to help the hospital “strategically navigate a reassessment of hospital operating procedures and to draft a comprehensive Corrective Action Plan.

Once the plan is completed, Griffith said, it will be shared with members of the Senate, Governor de Jongh and Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen before being submitted to CMS.

Ropes and Gray Attorney Deborah Gardner and three of the firm’s associates visited St. Croix last Wednesday to begin helping Griffith and JFL executives adopt a multi-pronged approach to ensure the hospital does not lose its certification on Oct. 9 and to help move the facility forward. Ropes and Gray specializes in assisting hospitals with regaining certification standing and has expertise in identifying resources to ensure hospital compliance.

“I am grateful for the support and collaboration of our elected officials as we undergo this transformative process to effect real and lasting change at JFL,” Griffith stated. “We take this matter very seriously and are committed to engaging all relevant parties as we move forward in rectifying the situation, and restoring the community’s trust, faith and confidence.”

With that Griffith said significant change has already been put in place to get JFL back on track. One such measure include the establishing of a quorum for the St. Croix District Board with two nominees who were appointed by the governor.

“This will go a long way in providing a foundation for change and will further provide increased accountability and proper governance at JFL,” Griffith said.

Griffith said the hospital also has put in place other immediate measures that would see JFL moving in the right direction, these include:

  • Updating the hospital’s electronic medical records systems, as well as full and core re-credentialing of staff.
  • Revising triage protocols and revamping the peer review process, which led to the removal of some physicians and other staff.
  • Increasing the number of clinical providers, including CNAs, RNs and CMAs.
  • Revising hospital-wide patient monitoring in accordance with CMS guidelines.
  • Instituting updated wound care protocols and other measures.

And Griffith said JFL will remain transparent and keep the public abreast of its activities as the hospital moves through the restructuring process.

“Recognizing that this is a matter of the highest importance, we will provide updates to inform all VI residents and stakeholders of our actions and progress moving forward,” the CEO said. “I would like to assure all Virgin Islanders that we are actively engaged in addressing these critical matters on a round-the-clock, 24/7 basis. Yes, we have experienced deficiencies, and I ask for patience and support as the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital works with CMS and our elected officials to address these issues and restore the public’s trust.”

But despite his efforts, senatorial candidate Jamila Russell is calling for Griffith to resign.

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Cynthia Graham

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Jamila Russell: Dr. Griffith "Should Step Aside"

Popular St. Croix radio personality and senatorial candidate for the 31st Legislature, Jamila Russell, in an interview on...

September 29, 2014