University Hospital dialysis centers still being monitored for problems

Cost to taxpayers now $1 million plus and climbing

By Brian Mylar - Anchor/Reporter
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SAN ANTONIO - University Health System is continuing to employ monitors at its outpatient kidney dialysis centers after a state audit last year uncovered problems.

A KSAT 12 Defenders investigation found that the cost of the monitors so far has topped $1 million and taxpayers who support the county-run system are continuing to pay for the cost of part-time monitors.

University operates four outpatient kidney dialysis centers in San Antonio and the problems were found after a visit by the Department of State Health Services.

Deficiencies found included those involving patient safety, quality of care and customer service.

Terri De La Haya, UHS senior vice president, Community Health and Clinical Operations, said the system changed a total of 248 policies after the state's visit.

"We've been working with the state over the last year to make those improvements," De La Haya said. "This is really an opportunity to improve ourselves in every aspect."

De La Haya said some improvements involved changing routines to decrease the danger of infection.

"They wanted to increase the number of times that we washed our hands and the way we wipe down the machines," De La Haya said.

University is embracing the changes as a chance to improve patient safety and quality of care.

De La Haya said this is an opportunity, not a black eye.

But she does admit the changes have taken a lot of time and a lot of money.

University had to hire monitors to mark the progress of those changes.

Last year the cost was $716,183; the first quarter of this year it was $292,020 and the part-time monitoring being done now is still adding up.

"It was expensive," De La Haya said. "Their hourly rate is very expensive. It was worth it because, again, we're focusing on the patient safety and their quality."

Kidney dialysis is usually done at private outpatient facilities. University is only involved because renal failure is a big problem in a population like San Antonio's with a high rate of diabetes.

De La Haya said current patients should feel safe with UHS dialysis.

"I would say that we're giving the highest quality of care," De La Haya said.

University said it is still waiting for the state to reinspect.

Once that happens the hospital expects to be released from any state oversight.

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