The Pennsylvania Department of Health recently sent “out of compliance” notifications to both Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital and Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital due to issues with the number of beds in each facility.

Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital was cited with non-compliance to a Pennsylvania DOH regulation that requires health care facilities to report intentions to stop providing an existing healthcare service or reduce it’s licensed number of available beds within 60 days of the action following an “unannounced, off-site complaint investigation” conducted from June 23 until July 10.

According to the Pennsylvania DOH, Guthrie Towanda Memorial did not report that the facility would no longer provide Pulmonary Function Testing and failed to report that they had reduced it’s licensed bed count.

The DOH investigation states that a request for information on June 23 showed that the facility could only provide 10 in-patient beds while they were licensed for 35 available beds. On July 2, a report noted that the number of beds available at Guthrie Memorial ranged from 2 to 10 from February 27 through June 30 with the exception of three days where the count was higher.

During interviews throughout June, the DOH was notified that Guthrie Memorial’s in-patient bed count had been low from February until May and that “the decrease in the in-patient beds was made on May 8 and is not permanent.”

No formal documentation of the decrease in the bed availability was made through June 23, according to the DOH’s investigation, which also noted that the organization had not been notified of Guthrie Memorial’s cancellation of Pulmonary Function Testing, which took place in March of 2020 “at the beginning of the COVID 19 Pandemic.”

An unnamed source is quoted in the DOH investigation stating that the closure was “related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Among actions listed in the DOH Plan of Correction for Guthrie Memorial Hospital are that formal documentation was submitted to the DOH notifying the organization of the reduced bed count and cancellation of Pulmonary Function Testing; a Program Manager distributed a patient safety flyer to leadership defining mandatory DOH reportable events and that the Med/Surg Nurse Manager will notify Guthrie Memorial’s Program Manager Patient Safety of any reduction of staffed beds who will then report it to the DOH.

Nurse Managers and Hospital Leadership will participate in safety huddle and will “use this forum to escalate any future events that would be considered infrastructure failures,” and that hospital leadership “will notify Program Manager Patient Safety with any intent to suspend any existing healthcare service.”

Guthrie issued a press release on Tuesday stating,“while Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital has not decreased the number of licensed beds in its facilities, the hospital has adjusted its staffing levels to better align with recently declining average daily census numbers. This is not related to COVID-19. When the staffing levels were adjusted, Guthrie inadvertently did not notify the Pennsylvania Department of Health. If at any time patient care requires Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital to increase its number of staffed beds, the hospital is prepared to do so and will notify the Pennsylvania Department of Health.”

Guthrie’s Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre was also cited with non-compliance after an investigation from June 1 through June 29 that showed that the facility failed to report an infrastructure failure to the DOH within 24 hours from receiving confirmation that such an incident occurred.

DOH investigation records state that according to a review on June 22 and an interview with an unnamed source on June 23, Robert Packer Hospital failed to report the reduction of available beds on the Behavioral Science Unit “due to staffing issues,” an act that counts as an infrastructure failure.

Actions included in the DOH Plan of Correction for Robert Packer Hospital include reports being made notifying the DOH that the number of beds in the Behavioral Science Unit had been reduced, that Behavior Science Unit will participate in daily safety huddles “and will use this forum to escalate any future infrastructure failures” and that “Behavioral Science Unit leadership will report future infrastructure failures and updates to reduction in bed capacity via incident report system.”

In a press release made public Tuesday, Guthrie representatives stated, “The number of beds at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital’s Behavioral Science Unit was decreased in order to maintain a safe staff to patient ratio. This is a temporary situation and Guthrie has plans to increase the number of beds in the BSU when staffing levels allow.”

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