Hospice Facility Ordered To Hire Consultant, Fined

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The state has fined an Orange hospice facility $2,500 and ordered it to bring in an independent nurse consultant after inspections at the facility last year uncovered nearly two dozen violations.

Compassus – Greater Connecticut entered into a consent order with the state Department of Public Health (DPH) on April 8 in response to 22 violations DPH investigators found when they made unannounced inspections in August and September 2015.

The violations included failure to devise and follow adequate plans for pain management, failure to inform patients about the frequency and cost of services rendered, failure to reconcile medications and update plans of care, and failure to ensure timely coordination of care. Other violations cited were failure to get doctors’ orders before pre-filling medication syringes, failure to have a performance improvement plan in place, and failure to adhere to tracking requirements for adverse events, among others.

According to the consent order, which was signed by the president of Compassus, Tony James, the facility agreed to pay $2,500 at the time the order was signed.

Per the order, Compassus has hired a DPH-approved independent nurse consultant, according to Executive Director Bridget Perun. The consultant must be a registered nurse with experience in hospice care with a focus on pain management. Under the order, the consultant must provide services for at least six months, and DPH may determine a longer time period is warranted. Compassus will pay all costs associated with the consultant’s work, per the order.

The facility also has a new leadership team in place, Perun said. Perun was hired in mid-October—after the violations took place. She said she has since hired a new hospice program director and a new supervisor of clinical services.

“We are aware that the previous management was not doing what they were supposed to be doing,” Perun said. “A tremendous amount of education” has taken place in recent months, and continues, among Compassus staff as they work toward compliance, she added.

The independent nurse consultant is tasked with submitting to DPH an initial assessment of Compassus’ regulatory compliance by May 6, identifying any areas that require remediation, according to the consent order. The nurse will consult with the facility’s administrator, supervisor of clinical services, hospice medical care director and other staff, and make recommendations to them.

The consultant also will monitor and evaluate the delivery of patient care, the coordination of patient services delivered by various healthcare professionals, and implementation of a correction plan the facility has submitted to DPH, according to the order. The consultant also will let DPH know if he or she feels that his or her contracted hours need to be increased.

The consultant is to submit to the DPH every other week reports detailing the facility’s regulatory compliance, according to the order.

By April 29, all nursing staff at Compassus is to be educated in the policies and procedures, according to the consent order.

If Compassus doesn’t maintain substantial compliance with the requirements of the order, the state has the right to issue charges.

The DPH order can be viewed here.

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