Kanakanak Hospital pharmacy is Medicare and Medicaid compliant

The Kanakanak Hospital in Dillingham serves 28 Alaska Native tribes in the Bristol Bay area. (Photo by Austin Fast/KDLG)

The Kanakanak Hospital pharmacy has met the Medicare Hospital Conditions of Participation, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In September, CMS found during a survey that the Kanakanak Hospital’s pharmacy practices put patients at risk of harm and death. The survey described serious medication errors, unsystematic labeling of medication and incompetence among the staff.

The hospital was at risk of losing its Medicare and Medicaid funding, and it developed a plan of correction. That plan included hiring and training pharmacy staff. CMS established in a recent follow up survey, that the hospital met the Jan. 11 deadline to bring the pharmacy into compliance.

In a statement, Robert Clark, Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation President and CEO, said, “I want to thank everyone involved for their commitment and dedication to improvement that was required over the past several weeks to ensure we made the necessary improvements in pharmacy services which will allow us to continue providing safe pharmaceutical care services to the people of our region. Compliance is a daily, ongoing effort for all of us as we strive to provide quality health care with competence, compassion, and sensitivity.”

In November, the Curyung Tribal Council in Dillingham called for a special meeting of the BBAHC Board of Directors, and five other tribes signed the petition.

The meeting was not held because the petition was not signed by a majority of the 28 Alaska Native tribes that authorize BBAHC to provide health services to their members. BBAHC board chairman, Mark Angasan was critical of the petition in a Nov. 15 letter he sent to board members.

“I urge you to help the corporation avoid this expensive step,” Angasan said. “You would not have all the information about the CMS audit if we hold a board meeting now, during the holidays. The annual meeting is scheduled for early March, and I encourage you to wait to hear the whole story then.”

The Curyung Tribe also passed a resolution at its annual tribal meeting in November, urging the BBAHC board to terminate top administrators and authorizing the tribal council to leave BBAHC and work with Indian Health Service to authorize a different tribal health organization to provide health care to the tribe’s membership.

Curyung and two other tribes who signed the petition, New Stuyahok and Togiak, declined to comment for this story.

Raymond Apokedak is the Levelock representative to the BBAHC Board of Directors, and he signed the petition last fall. However, now that the pharmacy has been brought into compliance, he said that his concerns have been alleviated. Levelock is no longer asking for a special meeting.

He said the Curyung Tribal Council was “jumping the gun before they got all the facts straightened out. They got everybody in an uproar… They weren’t waiting for everything to go through the right channels at the hospital at the time.”

The remaining two tribes that petitioned for a special meeting, Clark’s Point and Portage Creek, did not respond to a request for comment.

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