State Issues Emergency Orders Closing Gulf County Hospital

Port St. Joe is without a local hospital Wednesday. Gulf Pines Hospital has shut down.

The move comes after several key staff members walked out two weeks ago, including the director of the Emergency Room, the nursing director and the hospital administrator.

Last week the state slapped Gulf Pines with a moratorium, prohibiting it from admitting new patients. Paramedics have been by-passing the hospital's ER since the walk-out.

Earlier this week Gulf County commissioners said they were fed up with the hospital's shaky financial status and were making plans to build a new hospital, but that could take two years.

In the meantime, paramedics are now brining patients to hospitals in Panama City.

Late Tuesday, The State Health Care Administration issued the following emerency order closing the hospital.

STATE OF FLORIDA AGENCY FOR HEALTHCARE ADMINISTRATION STATE OF FLORIDA, AGENCY FOR HEALTHCARE ADMINISTRATION,

Petitioney vs. CASE NO.: 2005001780

ORDER OF EMERGENCY SUPSENSION OF LICENSE

Alan Levine, Secretary of the Agency for Healthcare Administration (“AHCA” or “Agency”), does hereby ORDER the EMERGENCY SUSPENSION of GULF PINES HOSPITAL, INC. d/b/a/ GULF PINES HOSPITAL’s (“Respondent” or “Gulf Pines”) license to operate as a hospital in the State of Florida. The following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law support this Emergency Suspension of License to operate a hospital in the State of Florida.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. The Petitioner, AHCA, is the regulatory agency responsible for licensure of hospitals and enforcement of all applicable federal regulations, state statutes, and related rules.

2. The Respondent owns and operates a hospital in the State of Florida. The hospital is a 45-bed hospital located at 102 20th Street, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456 and is licensed by the Petitioner, having been issued license # 4175.

3. On or about February 8-9, 2005, the Agency conducted a Licensure Revisit Survey at Gulf Pines (“Survey”) evaluating Gulf Pines’ compliance with applicable regulatory laws. At that time, the Agency determined that a) conditions at the Respondent’s facility presented a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of Respondent’s patients as well as a threat to public health or safety, and b) a moratorium on elective admissions could be imposed. Said moratorium was imposed on February 22, 2005 (Ex. A).

4. During the February 8-9 survey, there was approximately a 10' x 10' area of the kitchen ceiling leaking into the kitchen, with approximately 20' x 20' of standing water on the kitchen floor. Furthermore, on or about February 22, 2004, a Life Safety survey was conducted at Gulf Pines. It was determined that the fire sprinkler system in two areas could not function because there was no viable ceiling remaining due to water intrusion, causing approximately fifty percent of the ceiling to be missing, presenting a clear and present danger to public health and safety pursuant to §395.1065, Florida Statutes (2004), for which the Agency may revoke or suspend Respondent’s license. If a fire starts in the area not protected by sprinklers, the fire cannot be contained and would spread to other parts of the facility, thus posing a clear and present danger to public health and safety.

5. Unsanitary conditions exist in the kitchen, such as staff washing dishes in a sink stopped with a used rag stuffed in the drain. In the presence of Agency surveyors, Respondent added liquid bleach to water to clean dishes, which was not in accordance with the facility infection control policies and procedures, testing below the standard required to safely sanitize dishes. Furthermore, encrusted bake ware in the kitchen was covered with at least a one-inch layer of flaking food like substance. All of these conditions present a clear and present danger to public health and safety pursuant to §395.1065, Florida Statutes (2004), for which the Agency may revoke or suspend Respondent’s license. Unsanitary conditions in the kitchen of the facility could cause contamination of food, which would be consumed by patients and/ or staff, leading to serious illness, thus posing a clear and present danger to public health and safety.

6. The Respondent has not submitted documentation that it has obtained professional liability coverage in an amount equivalent to $10,000 per claim for each hospital bed in Respondent’s hospital since July 2004 pursuant to §766.105, Florida Statutes (2004) for which the Agency shall revoke or suspend Respondent’s license (Ex. B). Without professional liability insurance, the facility would not take responsibility for harm affecting its patients, thus presenting a clear and present danger to public health and safety.

7. The conduct set forth in these Findings of Fact is likely to continue, as evidenced by the violations set forth in both the surveys of February 8-9, 2005 and February 22, 2005. Furthermore, the lack of professional liability coverage has been continuing since July 2004.

8. This drastic remedy is the only way to avoid future harm to public health and safety, as a moratorium on elective admissions has already been imposed.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

9. The Agency has jurisdiction over the Respondent pursuant to Chapters 395, 408, and 766 Florida Statutes and Chapter 59A-3, Florida Administrative Code.
10. Based on the foregoing findings of fact, the Secretary concludes that
a. the conditions in the facility present a clear and present danger to public health and safety, pursuant to §395.1065(4), Florida Statutes (2004); and
b. the facility failed to submit documentation that it has obtained professional liability coverage in an amount equivalent to $10,000 per claim for each hospital bed in Respondent’s hospital since July 2004 pursuant to §766.105, Florida Statutes (2004).

11. All of the foregoing conclusions of law warrant the immediate entry of an Order of Emergency Suspension of License against the Respondent.

12. The Agency shall promptly proceed with any other administrative action to be brought against the Respondent based upon the facts set out herein and shall provide notice to the Respondent of the Right to a hearing under §120.57, Florida Statutes at the time such action is taken.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT:

1. Respondent’s license to operate as a hospital, license # 4175, is hereby under immediate EMERGENCY SUSPENSION in accordance with §120.60(6), Florida Statutes (2004).

2. Respondent is prohibited from operating as a hospital in the State of Florida.

3. A proceeding will be promptly instituted and acted upon pursuant to §120.60(6), Florida Statutes (2004).

DONE AND ORDERED at Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida, this ____ day of ____________________, 2005

______________________________
Alan Levine, Secretary
Agency for Healthcare Administration

NOTICE OF RIGHT TO JUDICIAL REVIEW

THIS EMERGENCY ORDER OF SUSPENSION OF LICENSE IS A NON-FINAL ORDER SUBJECT TO FACIAL REVIEW FOR LEGAL SUFFICIENCY. See Broyles v. State, 776 So.2d 340 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001). SUCH REVIEW IS COMMENCED BY FILING A PETITION FOR REVIEW IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FLORIDA RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE 9.100(b)(2) and 9.100(c). See Fla. R. App. P. 9.190(b)(2). TO BE TIMELY, SUCH PETITION FOR REVIEW MUST BE FILED WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS OF RENDITION OF THIS ORDER.


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