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Retreat gets CMS status upgrade

Feds note ‘impressive progress and strides,’ release hospital from year-long improvement agreement

BRATTLEBORO—After addressing its regulatory troubles, Brattleboro Retreat has been released from a “systems improvement” agreement with the federal government, officials announced on Dec. 4.

The psychiatric and addiction-treatment facility also has recovered its “deemed status” – meaning that it is no longer under direct scrutiny of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for quality and performance issues, a spokesman said.

Retreat administrators learned of the changes via a letter from a regional CMS administrator who lauded “the impressive progress and strides the hospital has made over the past year.”

Rob Simpson, the Retreat’s soon-departing president and chief executive officer, credited his staff with the upgrades. “We also know that the provision of high-quality care is a constant journey in health care,” Simpson said in a prepared statement. “We fully intend to capitalize on our recent successes by continuing to raise the bar.”

CMS and the Retreat entered into a systems improvement agreement on Oct. 31, 2014, allowing the facility to continue operations while administrators addressed short- and long-term regulatory concerns.

Retreat officials say they’ve worked over the past year to make improvements related to patient rights; the Retreat’s governing body; its physical environment; and its quality assurance programs. Last month, a survey conducted by state and federal regulators found that the Retreat was in full compliance.

Retreat administrators say they’re still considering ways to renovate an adolescent inpatient care unit, a long-term goal in the systems improvement agreement.

The Retreat recently named its incoming president and CEO, but there have been ongoing issues including a state investigation that followed fraud allegations by a former employee.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #335 (Wednesday, December 9, 2015). This story appeared on page B1.

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