SVMC passes Medicare inspection


BENNINGTON -- The local hospital has passed state inspection and will remain compliant with the federal Medicare program, according to a release distributed Wednesday by officials.

The inspection followed an October incident that involved negligence on the part of two Southwestern Vermont Medical Center emergency room nurses.

The two nurses, who are no longer caring for patients at SVMC, according to officials, failed to provide immediate care for an unresponsive patient who was later found dead by a doctor.

State regulators -- who also act on behalf of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- conducted an official inspection shortly after the incident.

Hospital staff was required to create a "plan of action" following the incident, which was later approved by its board of trustees on Oct. 24, submitted to CMS on Oct. 25, and fully accepted by the agency on Oct. 28.

According to SVMC officials, no deficiencies were found during a three-day follow-up visit by CMS that ended on Oct. 30.

"We are pleased that SVMC remains in good standing," said Thomas Dee, president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Healthcare. "I want to thank our nurses, doctors, and clinical and support staff for their tireless effort that made our success possible."

SVMC officials also noted that the hospital staff have taken several steps to prevent future incidents similar to the one that occurred in early October, including a revision of its emergency room nursing policies, protocols, and documentation.

Going forward, all nurses are required to reassess patients when a change in their condition is reported.

"This incident does not define us," Dee said. "Our nursing quality has been recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Magnet program, and we take pride in that. The entire staff's desire and ability to quickly set things right ensures that our community continues to have access to the high quality care they deserve and have come to expect from SVMC."

Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at or follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.


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