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Boonville, Missouri, Hospital Ordered To Stop Performing Surgery

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services cited Pinnacle Regional Hospital for its sterile processing procedures.
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The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services cited Pinnacle Regional Hospital for its sterile processing procedures.

Missouri health regulators have told a Boonville, Missouri, hospital that specializes in bariatric surgery and is affiliated with a similar privately owned hospital in Overland Park, Kansas, to discontinue performing surgery.

The directive was issued last month, after the regulators conducted an inspection at Pinnacle Regional Hospital and cited it for sterile processing procedures.

“We’ve elected to forgo surgical services in the immediate future and we’re working with the state right now on getting a plan moving forward to rectify the situation,” Joe Conigliaro, the hospital’s CEO, told KCUR.

Formerly known as Cooper County Memorial Hospital, the hospital changed its name to Pinnacle Regional in 2018 after businessman Douglas Palzer bought it. Palzer also owns Blue Valley Hospital in Overland Park, which lost its Medicare certification in 2018 and is fighting to regain it.

Before losing its certification, Blue Valley, which Palzer has also rebranded as Pinnacle Regional Hospital, claimed to perform more than a third of all bariatric surgeries – a procedure to help extremely obese people lose weight – for Missouri Medicaid patients.

Palzer bought the Boonville hospital after Blue Valley lost its Medicare certification. Since then, the Boonville hospital had been performing bariatric surgery on Medicaid patients.

In order to resume performing that surgery, it will now need to comply with the state’s directive to upgrade its sterile processing department – work that will involve architects and engineers and could take months.

“The plan is to make the appropriate repairs in a timely fashion so we can get the (operating rooms) back up and running as quickly as possible,” Conigliaro said.

Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the agency that cited the hospital, said the department would have no comment.

In the meantime, the Boonville hospital is continuing to provide outpatient, primary care, podiatry and other services, Conigliaro said.  

The Overland Park hospital has been in a drawn-out battle to regain its Medicare certification.

Health officials conducted an unannounced inspection of the hospital in November 2017 and concluded it did not "primarily engage" in providing inpatient services, a requirement for Medicare coverage. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says hospitals must average at least two inpatients a day and an average length of stay of at least two nights to be eligible for Medicare reimbursement.

Last March, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the Overland Park hospital’slawsuit challenging the loss of its certification.

Randy Schultz, a lawyer for the hospital, said the matter is now pending before an administrative law judge.

Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Copyright 2020 KCUR 89.3

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.