Boonville’s hospital won’t be performing surgeries for now after a state inspection last month found issues with the building’s HVAC system.
A regular inspection by the state Department of Health and Senior Services found that Pinnacle Regional Hospital’s sterilization room didn’t have the right pressure, temperature and humidity, Pinnacle CEO Joe Conigliaro said.
The HVAC issues did not cause patients any infections, he said.
The state said the hospital could keep performing surgeries if they brought in a mobile sterilization unit, which would cost $300,000 for a two-month rental, Conigliaro said. They decided instead to stop performing surgeries until they could get the HVAC system repaired and meeting state standards, he said.
“This building is extremely antiquated, and the mechanicals are not great,” he said.
Conigliaro had already been working before the inspection with a Kansas City-based contractor called Design Mechanical, which designs HVAC systems for hospitals and healthcare facilities, he said.
“We had already been working together on getting the building more up to speed as far as the mechanicals go, and then the state pops in for an inspection,” he said
It is not yet known when the hospital will be able to perform surgeries again, Conigliaro said. The hospital is working with state regulators on a plan to fix the HVAC issues. It’s submitted a plan to the state and is waiting to hear back, he said.
The hospital hasn’t done surgeries for traumatic injuries for years, and ambulances take seriously injured patients to Columbia for emergency surgeries, he said. Recently, the hospital had been performing bariatric — weight loss — surgeries, as well as general surgeries like hernia repairs, he said. There have been no infections as a result of surgery, he said.
“It had nothing to do with the (operating rooms), it had nothing to do with unsafe practices or anything like that,” he said. “It was just, ‘Your central sterile processing has to be up to standards where temperature, humidity and pressure is concerned.”
Everything else in the hospital is operating as usual, including the rural health clinic, pain clinic, outpatient clinic, internal medicine and the emergency department, Conigliari said.
Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Senior Services, said she could not confirm anything or comment on the situation, citing a state statute that makes reports of inspections for licensing confidential between the department and the inspected party.
Formerly known as Cooper County Memorial Hospital, the hospital was renamed Pinnacle Regional Hospital after Douglas Palzer bought it in October 2018 from Rural Hospital Group, known as RHG Consolidated. RHG purchased the hospital from its board of trustees in February 2018 because the board was struggling to operate the hospital on its own. It originally planned to build a new hospital building before selling to Palzer.
Palzer also owns Blue Valley Hospital in Overland Park, Kansas, which was renamed Pinnacle Regional Hospital after he bought the Boonville hospital. The Overland Park hospital specialized in bariatric surgery until it lost its certification for Medicare reimbursement after a 2017 inspection found it did not “primarily engage” in providing inpatient care, according to KCUR. Bariatric surgery is typically an outpatient procedure. The Boonville hospital is still eligible for Medicare reimbursement, Conigliaro said.