Panel Says Care Ok At Unit Of Allegheny A National Commission Inspected Hahnemann. It Said Financial Problems Haven't Hurt Patients.

Posted: July 30, 1998

The Allegheny health system yesterday pointed to the positive results of a national commission's survey of Hahnemann hospital as proof that the fiscal crisis buffeting the system has not affected patient care.

The unannounced inspection of Allegheny University Hospitals/Hahnemann in Center City was performed last Friday by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

``We wanted to verify that the financial picture was not having any impact on patient care, so we sent a survey team in to make sure that care is still being provided,'' commission spokeswoman Janet McIntyre said yesterday.

She said the commission has not inspected the eight other Allegheny hospitals in the Philadelphia area since the health system filed for bankruptcy protection for almost all of its operations in this region last week.

The commission's inspection of the 618-bed Hahnemann facility was a gauge of the entire system's ability to continue providing quality patient care despite the financial problems, McIntyre said.

``We didn't cite the hospital for any deficiencies,'' she said. ``Basically, our team did not identify any supply shortages or patient-care deficiencies.''

An Allegheny official said yesterday that the survey results should relieve concerns about quality of care at the system's hospitals.

``For quite some time, we have been expressing how diligent we have been in avoiding any impact on patient care that could result from our financial problems,'' said Allegheny spokesman Thomas Chakurda. ``Given the fact that this was an unannounced review and no difficulties were discovered, I believe this is a tangible reinforcement of what we have been saying.''

The Illinois-based joint commission is a nonprofit organization that performs ``quality audits'' of 18,000 health-care institutions nationwide, including about 5,100 hospitals. The commission is funded by the organizations whose facilities it inspects and accredits every three years.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said yesterday that it also has been monitoring patient care at the Allegheny health system since the severity of its financial problems became apparent.

``The governor immediately directed the Department of Health to monitor quality-of-care issues in all of the Allegheny facilities,'' department spokeswoman Megan Neuhard said.

The department said it had received one complaint against an Allegheny facility since the health system filed for bankruptcy, but Neuhard declined to provide any information about the matter.

``We have not seen any increase in complaints in any [Allegheny] facilities,'' she said.

The commission's positive survey was good news for Allegheny, which is limping financially from its Pittsburgh headquarters to its Delaware Valley operations.

``This is a good message to send to the public in a very difficult time,'' said Chakurda.

Hahnemann is one of the nine Allegheny hospitals included in a proposed $502 million sale to Vanguard Health Systems Inc., of Nashville. The for-profit chain is expected to finalize its bid today or tomorrow, after approval by the boards of both organizations.

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