News Article Details

State-owned psychiatric facility can accept Medicaid

Register-Herald - 9/12/2019

Sep. 12--Two years after losing its permission to accept Medicaid and Medicare, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is allowing Sharpe Hospital in Weston to again accept Medicare/Medicaid patients.

In September 2017, CMS notified Sharpe Hospital, a state-owned psychiatric facility in Weston, that it would no longer be allowed to accept Medicare and Medicaid funding. CMS visited several times, and Sharpe employees were not showing that they were appropriately caring for patients through documentation of treatment plans.

In response, the state Department of Health and Human Resources began transferring forensic patients, typically those found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental illness, from other hospitals in the state to Sharpe Hospital, and transferring Medicare and Medicaid patients to other hospitals.

Disability advocates worried, at the time, that the change meant forensic patients wouldn't be receiving an acceptable quality of care. They also worried about patients being shuffled throughout the state, unable to maintain community relationships and far from family who could visit. Those advocates, at the federally funded, independent nonprofit Disability Rights of West Virginia, did not respond to inquiries Wednesday.

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In a news release Wednesday, DHHR officials announced that they'd regained Medicare/Medicaid certification. DHHR spokeswoman Allison Adler confirmed, in an email, that they'd also begin taking both forensic and non-forensic patients.

"Additionally, Sharpe is now licensed for 200 beds and will be providing services to both civil and forensic patients," she said. "The population is segregated as the civil patients are maintained in a separate unit than the forensic patients."

DHHR officials had said they were contracting with The Greeley Company, a consulting firm, to help them become re-certified. Last month, Adler said the state had paid $1.5 million for The Greeley Company to assist with that re-certification.

In an interview with the Charleston Gazette-Mail shortly after Sharpe lost certification, DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch had explained why documentation was important to CMS: "One of the things that everybody says is, if it's not documented, you didn't do it," he'd said at the time.

In a statement Wednesday, Crouch said the re-certification was "a huge feat for Sharpe Hospital and DHHR and demonstrates that the Sharpe team is providing quality care to its patients. He said he "taken a true team effort to get Sharpe to this point and we will continue to ensure compliance and quality care are continued."

Patrick Ryan, CEO of Sharpe, said, in a statement, that the re-certification was "a direct result of how our staff has committed to changing the course of Sharpe Hospital.

"The past two years have seen many changes in our approach to delivering patient care and the processes that guide our daily work," he said. "I am confident the Sharpe team is on the right path with the care and treatment we provide to our patients."

Email: ebeck@register-

herald.com and follow on Twitter @3littleredbones

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