Terrell's only hospital shut down over patient safety




Posted on February 12, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 13 at 12:39 AM

TERRELL — Renaissance Hospital in Terrell had its license terminated and its doors shuttered Tuesday following the results of an investigation of massive safety failures that led to at least two deaths.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says conditions have been deteriorating for months, and ordered the hospital to close. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also revoked funding the the hospital.

The DSHS investigation and violations detailed in the state documents paint a graphic picture.

Renaissance Terrell is licensed for 100 beds, and it provided a wide range of services in Kaufman County — from emergency care, to labor and delivery, to surgical services.

Employees said about 140 people were still on the payroll, including administrator Sonya Fullmer, who worked there about 10 years.

"We were all a family," she said. "There were times that care was compromised, but we were pulling together to improve things. We worked hard to make things better. We were improving. It's a sad sad thing."

Nursing care (or lack of it) was chief among the major violations cited. Failure to provide proper care, the investigation found, resulted in two deaths.

Other issues included:

  • no anesthesia follow-up in multiple cases
  • no infection and communicable disease program
  • no laboratory director
  • no organized nursing service
  • no chief nursing officer

There was also a failure to provide a sanitary environment, which included a failure to clean and decontaminate surgical instruments.

The hospital also owes more than $440,000 in back property taxes to Kaufman County. Tax attorney Jeff Brown said the county tried for several months to work out a payment plan, but got nowhere.

Monday was the deadline, so the property was seized.

"[Terrell] city staff had been concerned about the number of employees there losing their jobs before the holidays," Brown said, emphasizing that the city and county exercised patience prior to seizing the property. "A lot of the staff were there caring for patients. They didn't run off when they figured out the hospital was about to close, and they may not get paid or whatever. They cared for their patients, doing the best job they could. I was impressed by that."

The City of Terrell owns the land and the building, and they terminated the lease after the state and federal reports came to light.

"We deserve better than the previous operator," said City Manager Torry Edwards. "Our citizens definitely deserve it."

He said the city is already in talks with other operators, hoping they'll take over the facility or build a new one.

The next closest hospital now is Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman, which is 11 miles away.

“That’s several more minutes,” said Fullmer. “And minutes can be a lifetime.”

According to DSHS, Renaissance Hospital Terrell is only the second Texas hospital since 2007 with conditions so bad it had to be shut down to protect lives. Renaissance administrators have not answered the phone for comment.

Below is a statement from David R. Wright, deputy regional administrator for the Dallas branch of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“Renaissance Hospital Terrell lost its ability to receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding at 12:01 a.m. [Tuesday]. The action was in response to numerous documented concerns about the hospital’s inability to provide safe patient care in accordance with Medicare’s basic health and safety requirements. This is a determination of last resort, exercised only nine times by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services since 2009. Other agencies and jurisdictions, both state and local, have also initiated actions based on health and safety concerns at this hospital. CMS officials have been in close communication with leadership in the City of Terrell to move forward on plans for restoring hospital services to this community.”

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com and twoodard@wfaa.com