Sunday, April 14, 2024

Florida Hospital Seems To Be An Advertisement Against Corporate Health Care

Although this article is about a hospital in Hudson, Florida, there are concerns about what is taking place at hospitals across the country.

Bayonet Point Hospital is located in Hudson, Florida. The hospital is owned by HCA Healthcare Inc. HCA is the largest hospital company in the United States. Currently they own/operate 182 hospitals as well as 125 surgery centers and it is obviously a profitable business, last year they earned $5.6 billion dollars.

Some believe that the profitability, although seemingly impressive, came at the expense of patient care.

As far back as December of 2021, surgeons at the facility were concerned. At that time more than a dozen convened to discuss their issues with management. Among the problems that were brought to management’s attention were: anesthesiology errors that resulted in patients waking up during surgery, inadequate monitoring of patients in ICU, an overwhelmed and overflowing emergency department and unsanitary surgical instruments.

NBC News has reported that four of the doctors that attended that meeting gave this account of an interaction between the surgeons and the management representative that was at the meeting.

The group of surgeons were asked two questions. First, is the hospital providing a safe environment to perform surgery? The answer was a unanimous NO! They were then asked, Is the hospital a dangerous place to practice? Again, the response was a unanimous YES!

At the close of the meeting, the hospital administrator promised to address the issues, but now, over 14 months later little has changed. NBC News reached out, but a spokeswoman for the hospital declined comment.

The Doctors at Bayonet Point are not alone. After NBC News did a report on HCA, seven doctors from California, Texas, Virginia, and Florida reached out to them with complaints. The doctors believe that HCA is so focused on profits that they are implementing cost cutting measures to enhance the bottom line, unfortunately, they are endangering patient care. Nurses in 5 states agree with the doctor’s opinion.

During the interview that NBC News conducted with the four Bayonet Point doctors, three of them wished to remain anonymous fearing retaliation from HCA.

That said, all four stated that since 2021, HCA began cutting staff and hiring contract workers, resulting in patient care going downhill. The most frightening thing they told NBC News, is that there was a significant rise in “sentinel” events. These are circumstances that occur resulting either in permanent or severe temporary harm or death to a patient.

Dr. George Giannakopoulos, a neurosurgeon, and at the time the hospital’s chief of staff, stated that in January 2022, there were 18 “near misses.” He described one such occurrence where a patients left hip was prepped and anesthetized instead of the right hip.

Structural problems also exist at the hospital. Photos provided by doctors show bloody and backed up sinks, a leaky ceiling in a recovery room, wires protruding from a hole in a wall, cockroaches in an operating room, and equipment held together with tape.

Regina Temple, the CEO of Bayonet Point, declined comment on the doctors allegations. However, the facility’s spokeswoman issued this statement:

“As a learning hospital, we are continually looking for ways to improve patient safety and quality of care. We apply those learnings, including reports by both federal and state regulators, to ensure best practices for quality care are in place. HCA Florida Bayonet Point Hospital is appropriately staffed to ensure the safe care of our patients. We rely on feedback from our physicians, and when issues are validated we take necessary action.” 

With all of the issues at the existing facility, Bayonet Point is opening a new $85 million dollar tower, which houses an additional 102 beds. Regarding the new addition, the hospital spokeswoman had this to say about why it is being built:

“To meet the community’s needs for rehabilitation services, expanded medical and surgical services, and critical care. In the past three years we have invested an additional $123 million to improve and upgrade many areas of the hospital. Specifically, we renovated and expanded our ER and updated our Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, Preoperative/Holding Area, and Central Sterile Processing Unit. Additionally, we made upgrades to the cafeteria and common areas, invested in new equipment and general maintenance, including repairing minor roof damage.” 

The seven doctors that reached out and were interviewed by NBC News disagreed. They believe HCA manages their hospitals in a manner that maximizes financial growth and shareholder returns which jeopardizes patient care. The four doctors from Bayonet Point say the new tower is an example of that mindset. HCA is more concerned with increasing admissions than solving the issues at the existing hospital.

 Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has also expressed concerns about Bayonet Point. In September of 2022 agency documents show that nurse to patient ratios fell short of what is required.

This wasn’t the first time AHCA pointed out staffing problems at Bayonet Point. In April of 2021 they determined that the hospital had:

“Failed to enforce the emergency department policy and procedures to protect the health and safety of all patients in the hospital’s ER.”

AHCA said for example, staffers whose sole job was to watch electronic monitors for changes in patient’s  vital signs were also acting as unit secretaries:

“answering phones, transferring calls, taking written messages, and being distracted by other tasks that involved them not looking at the monitors for long periods of time.” 

It was also in 2021 when HCA also reduced the anesthesiology staff from fifteen providers to one. At that time they began hiring contract employees affiliated with HCA’s own in-house Physicians Service Group. According to the doctors the new employees were nowhere near as talented or dedicated as the staff they replaced.

The Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offers a hospital comparison website. HCA has 49 hospitals in Florida. On that website, CMS rates 37 of them. Of those rated, 70 percent of them have either a one-or two-star rating on a five star system. No HCA Florida hospitals currently have a five-star rating.

HCA made $5.6 billion dollars last year, I wonder what percentage of that was blood money.