HOUSTON - After failing four separate inspections from January to September 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) an involuntary termination letter in November.
CMS said the letter was the last resort after the hospital system failed to address its health and safety deficiencies at its facilities. That means UMMC, which has four locations in the greater Houston area, will lose Medicare funding after December 11th.
Bonnie Sheeren is a board-certified patient advocate with Houston Health Advocacy.
"I've just never seen this before," she said. "It’s losing a good part of their funding that's most hospitals rely on that is kind of the bedrock of their financing. And you know, the population is getting older."
Sheeren believes the consequences will be vast, especially for the most critical patients like those undergoing dialysis or in the ICU.
"I would tell them to immediately check in with her doctors if they're having procedures or surgeries done at that hospital because if that doctor does not have privileges another hospital they might have to find another doctor," Sheeren advised. "ICU patients can't really be transferred. I would immediately start appealing and getting in touch with the appeal process with Medicare."
In a CMS survey report dated July 19, 2021, records show that multiple operating rooms had rusted equipment, dirty cabinets with debris, and cockroaches found inside.
Documents also cite a dirty open floor drain with water, which allowed pests access to the OR.
Other issues include medical staff not donning the appropriate PPE while dealing with COVID-19 patients and poor infection control methods, like failing to clean and prep a patient before surgery in one instance.
"We are making sure patients can be seamlessly relocated to safer facilities, said a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesperson. "Through coordination with case managers/ombudsmen, the Medicare and Medicaid patients will either be appropriately discharged to their homes or transferred to other hospitals within the area."
According to the letter, UMMC has the option of filing an appeal by the deadline in January.
FOX 26 reached out to UMMC but as of this writing, have not heard back.