CMS threatened to pull Medicare funding from Sequel Pomegranate unless issues fixed

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COLUMBUS (WBNS) – A federal health agency tasked with overseeing hospital and patient safety has threatened to pull Medicare funding from Sequel Pomegranate following the discovery of issues related to patient safety.

The youth psychiatric facility and acute hospital for teens ages 12 to 17 has said it has submitted a plan of correction and is awaiting approval from CMS.

Letters obtained by 10 Investigates show Sequel Pomegranate was cited earlier this year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for “failing to ensure a comprehensive lethality assessment was completed for nine of ten patients” whose medical records were reviewed by health inspectors acting on behalf of CMS. Inspectors also noted that Sequel Pomegranate failed to conduct “physical assessments of patients following an assault and/or injury in four of the ten” patient medical records review.

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This year, inspectors have also raised concerns about children being placed in restraint holds that weren’t properly tracked or documented. The facility also failed to conduct suicide risk assessments on patients within the first 8 hours of the patients being admitted. Issues with fire suppression, doors that didn’t latch and lacking a plan to address legionella risks were also noted.

Sequel Pomegranate – which hosts both a residential psychiatric treatment center for teens as well as an acute hospital – has been the focus of a series of 10 Investigates reports that uncovered a repeated pattern of incidents of violence and sexual abuse allegations.

Both Franklin County Children Services, which supplies children and pays Sequel Pomegranate roughly $5 million each year, and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS), which licenses Sequel Pomegranate, have conducted unannounced visits at Sequel Pomegranate following our reporting.

Gov. Mike DeWine ordered his director of Ohio MHAS to tour the facility after our investigative reports first aired. The director, Lori Criss, later described the activities and the facility as “clean, safe and therapeutic.” Criss later clarified that there were a few issues that her department thought needed be addressed – including improperly restraining children and a sexual assault allegation from June that was not initially reported to her department.

Sequel Pomegranate hosts both a residential side and an acute hospital that treats teens ages 12 to 17 with psychiatric or behavioral health needs.

Through a spokesman, Sequel Pomegranate released the following statement:

“Sequel Pomegranate submitted a plan of correction to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and they have already conducted another site visit to resurvey the facility. Based on that visit, we fully expect to receive (sic) the written findings from CMS stating that we are back in substantial compliance. Our priority and focus continues to be on ensuring we provide outstanding care and services to the youth we serve.”

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