No patients at new Hospice House due to red tape, hospital says
By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Although Rowan Medical Center cut the ribbon in November and expected patients by January, the hospital’s new Hospice House still does not have a single occupant.
In a March 28 letter to Hospice House contributors obtained by the Post, hospital President Dari Caldwell blamed the delay on a series of bureaucratic snafus.
When Rowan Medical began construction on the 14-bed facility at 1229 Statesville Boulevard, the hospital contacted the Department of Health and Human Services in Raleigh to determine the proper procedure for licensure, Caldwell wrote in the letter.
In the process of obtaining a home care license, the hospital encountered numerous delays, including the Department of Health and Human Services losing its application, Caldwell wrote. Rowan finally obtained a home care license in early February after several trips to Raleigh, she said.
Rowan then applied to add the Hospice House to the home care license. After several weeks with no results, the hospital turned to Fred Steen, a former N.C. representative from Landis and current legislative liaison for Gov. Pat McCrory, for help.
The next day, the hospital was told the state had made an error, Caldwell wrote. Rowan could not add the Hospice House to the home care license and instead must apply for a separate license, including an inspection and separate Medicare provider number.
“Needless to say, we were distraught at this further delay but were able to obtain the separate license for our house and receive the inspection very quickly,” Caldwell wrote.
The Hospice House passed the inspection “with flying colors” and submitted paperwork to obtain the Medicare provider number, which will allow the house to begin accepting patients.
The hospital is still waiting for the number.
In the meantime, Rowan Hospice and Palliative Care continues to provide hospice care to patients in their homes, Caldwell wrote.
The hospital remains in constant contact with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to monitor the progress of issuing the Medicare provider number, Caldwell told the Post.
“We have submitted all the information necessary to process our application, and they have indicated that it is ‘in process,’” Caldwell said Wednesday. “As recently as this afternoon, we have not received an expected date of completion.”
Caldwell said she cannot put a specific dollar figure on the delay, other than the hospital is paying for utilities and related occupancy costs.
The house is fully staffed, but the hospital is using the employees at a sister facility, the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice House in Winston-Salem during the delay.
“We are very anxious to be able to utilize this greatly needed facility and will be delighted when we receive the provider number and are able to move forward,” Caldwell said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.