- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WINNEBAGO, Neb. (AP) - The Winnebago Indian Health Services Hospital in northeast Nebraska has been put on notice that it is set to lose Medicare funding within the next week, after an investigation found problems with the care of a patient who died there in April.

A public notice from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says the hospital’s Medicare agreement will be terminated June 4, the Sioux City Journal reported (https://bit.ly/SPyMgm ) Wednesday. That means the hospital would no longer be reimbursed for treating patients enrolled in the health care program for the elderly and disabled.

The hospital is “not in substantial compliance” with Medicare regulations, the notice says.

But John Blackhawk, chairman of the Winnebago Tribe, said the hospital is working with the federal agency to avert the funding cutoff.

Experts with the Indian Health Service have been brought in to assist with the plan, which includes demonstrating additional training the hospital staff has been completed, Blackhawk said.

Losing access to Medicare funding would be devastating for the rural hospital, he said, noting the hospital receives around $2 million annually from the program.

Earlier this month, the federal agency warned that the Winnebago hospital was in jeopardy of losing its Medicare funding after a patient admitted for respiratory problems died on April 17.

An investigation by the agency concluded the hospital’s nursing staff failed to meet the needs of the patient and that conditions within the hospital “posed an immediate and serious threat to the health and safety of patients.”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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