RIVERSIDE – The Board of Supervisors today approved spending an additional $332,000 to ensure that Riverside County Regional Medical Center is deemed fit for service by the federal government.
The allocation was requested by hospital CEO Lowell Johnson, who said further work is required by personnel from the Boston-based Greeley Co. to prepare RCRMC for an upcoming quality-assurance ”survey” by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
”I was hoping we would be able to resolve this relying on our own staff and not have to engage the consultants to make sure we’re in total compliance, but we found we’re not able to complete it ourselves,” Johnson told the board.
The Greeley Co. was awarded a $115,000 contract with the county earlier this month to review RCRMC operations and make certain they meet ”conditions of participation” necessary for ongoing federal certification.
Medi-Cal and Medicare patients account for 54 percent of the hospital’s business, according to Chicago-based Huron Consulting Inc., which is still in the early stages of a comprehensive 18-month examination of RCRMC’s policies and practices.
Huron, which contracted with the county for roughly $26 million, and Johnson, who’s earning $1.2 million through this year and most of next, are attempting to turn the medical center around from a deeply indebted county liability to a financially stable asset.
Johnson suggested that without Greeley’s assistance, RCRMC risked falling short of points needed during a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ”validation survey” expected in the next month.
”RCRMC requires … the Greeley Co. to implement a root cause analysis that will identify underlying issues (and) ensure the hospital has demonstrated effective actions to remediate regulatory deficiencies,” according to a document submitted by the hospital’s CEO.
He told the board that unresolved problems that Greeley consultants need until May 10 to resolve exist mainly in the hospital’s ”dietary and food services” department. He did not elaborate, nor did board members question him, though
Supervisors John Benoit and Jeff Stone expressed concern that RCRMC- related expenses seemed to be going the wrong way and urged the CEO to move as swiftly as possible to implement cost-saving measures.
The $332,000 was approved as a not-to-exceed amount and will be drawn out of the medical center’s reserve account. The board also authorized just under $50,000 for incidental expenses that may be incurred by Greeley personnel while executing their day-to-day duties.
A progress report released by Huron in February indicated the Moreno Valley hospital would be put on a path leading to eventual amortization of its nearly $50 million in annual red ink, thanks to changes in labor usage, lower- cost pharmacy programs and implementation of a host of other operational efficiencies.