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McKee: Eleanor Slater Hospital regains accreditation, billing likely to resume

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee announced Tuesday that Eleanor Slater Hospital has regained full accreditation following months of uncertainty, earning a key stamp of approval that keeps the state eligible for millions in federal funding that could resume for the first time since 2019.

The governor said The Joint Commission has notified the McKee administration about the accreditation for the state-run hospital, following a preliminary denial issued in June over unsafe conditions there. The national accrediting agency will return in the next six to eight months to monitor conditions, he added.

McKee also said he expects Eleanor Slater will resume billing again for federal funding from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The state has not billed for most services since fall 2019 when concerns were raised about the state improperly submitting claims.

The lack of federal support has cost the state upward of $200 million in general revenue since then. The governor said he expects Rhode Island could recoup some of those funds retroactively, although there may be a gap of time when the state wasn’t eligible.

“We start to qualify again in November,” McKee said. “I believe there’s a gap based on the patient count.”

The discussion around billing comes ahead of the release of a much-anticipated report focused on billing that was conducted by a team from Butler Hospital. McKee said he hadn’t seen the report yet.

“My understanding is that we will be able to collect, but we don’t know the amount,” he said.

The Joint Commission’s accreditation marks a sharp change from a few months ago when the national group described the hospital as posing a “serious threat to public or patient health and safety.” Hospital officials have since been scrambling to fix many of the cited issues, including building conditions and an overall failure to create a culture of safety.

“This is the result of many hours of hard work by many employees as well as a firm commitment by the state and its leaders to ensure that Eleanor Slater Hospital has the tools and support it needs to continue providing the best care for its patients,” said Richard Charest, director of the R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals and Interim Chief Executive Officer of Eleanor Slater Hospital.

“I thank all the people who contributed to this outcome and look forward to the next visit from The Joint Commission,” he added.

The state doesn’t expect The Joint Commission’s next visit to affect accreditation.

The hospital has dominated headlines throughout 2021 for various issues including billing, patient care and hospital conditions. Separate from the Butler review, R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha has been conducting his own months-long investigation into patient care and billing at the hospital.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is an investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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