ASH aims for state's blessing after '17 re-tool

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It’s been almost seven months since Allegiance Specialty Hospital was ‘involuntarily terminated’ from the Medicare program following a pair of on-site surveys by the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services.

By the time of the termination, May 5, the hospital had discharged its patients months before and subsequently launched an effort to address deficiencies state officials said represented “immediate jeopardy” to patient health and safety.

After reconstruction inside its portion of Laird Memorial Hospital biolding as well as a retooling of operations, ASH remains in limbo: Allegiance officials are awaiting another visit by CMS and, they hope, a clean bill of health on compliance.

Simone Sparks, ASH interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer, said she will be meeting with corporate leadership next week for more insight into the path ahead for the local operation.

Waiting on a green light from CMS, “We’re still kind of in a holding pattern waiting for them to come back in,” she said.

ASH leases Laird Memorial from the City of Kilgore. The overall facility has still seen patient activity in the portions of the building occupied by Allegiance’s subtenants including the Regional Crisis Response Center, Christus Good Shepherd Emergency Department and Kilgore College’s Health Science Center.

There’ve been no clients in ASH’s wings, however.

“We are not treating anybody,” Sparks said. “We are maintaining the building and our tenants.”

After the Medicare agreement was terminated, the inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services could have continued, she noted, but ASH leadership opted to focus solely on mitigating the compliance concerns.

“We could have remained open and done insurance patients,” Sparks said. “We chose to wait until we cleared the final survey of the reconstruction project.”

However, “We are still staffing that unit with an RN 24/7.”

According to Sparks, there’s no timetable available on when the state will return for a visit. She hopes to have a better idea of the future after conferring with ASH-corporate in the coming week.

The goal is to get the operation rolling as soon as possible with the state’s blessing and a Medicare agreement back in place.

“Absolutely,” Sparks said. “We want to get this place up and running and bring staff back in” to resume serving patients.

Read more in the Kilgore News Herald archives via tinyurl.com/ASHreopening.

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