Gamma Healthcare to close its lab, radiology businesses

Updated: Nov. 3, 2020 at 2:47 PM CST
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POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KFVS) - Gamma Healthcare to close its lab and radiology businesses starting on Wednesday, November 4.

The company sent a letter to employees on Tuesday.

According to the company’s attorney, Mark Weller, for the last week, it continued to draw blood and send samples out to reference labs.

“There have been no positive developments, no response from CMS to the plan of correction,” Weller said. “There was some outreach from CMS over the weekend asking for Gamma’s customer list that appears to be an effort to find other labs to step in.”

We sat down with Gamma’s president on Monday, November 2, who said he’s most concerned about the elderly patients they serve.

At the time, Gamma Healthcare could run any testing in its Poplar Bluff and Springfield labs. That came after months of back and forth between the lab and the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

“We are at complete compliance at the moment and the suspension was unnecessary," said Gamma Healthcare President Jerrod Murphy.

He defended the actions of his lab after the suspension of operations at two locations.

“This is a sad day for a number of nursing homes and patients in 11 states that Gamma Healthcare serves," he said.

Attorney Mark Weller represents Gamma in its bid to stay open.

Murphy said the problem stems from technical testing issues that did not put patients at harm.

“They came in for a survey back earlier this year and I believe it was June based on some concerns that have been raised around contamination and some false positives not false negativities.”

The lab provides radiology, blood testing and toxicology tests for more than 2,000 nursing homes.

Murphy said the directions from CMS to help solve the issues were not very clear.

“They kept moving the goal line," he said. "We would respond to that and they would come back and there were more responses constantly without a real clear direction of where we should head.”

Weller said he believed his client met all federal requirements.

“Right now, we feel as though they are in compliance with as Jerrod mentioned they actually stopped Covid testing in efforts to condemn these conversations with CMS," he said.

Weller said he tried, and failed, in federal court to stop the suspension. Now, CMS is set to revoke Gamma’s testing ability on December 21, unless they file an appeal.

In the meantime, Murphy said they’ve found a way to keep serving their clients, for now.

“None of our clients has missed a stop from one of our service representatives and we are sending specimens to our other labs that we own to get those results out that we own and we are utilizing some third party results also."

Gamma currently serves 459 nursing homes in Missouri, including three in the Heartland operated by Paradigm senior management.

CEO Ben Sells worried what the shutdown could mean to his clients.

“It’s a devastating blow to these nursing facilities,” he said. “There are other labs, but the problem is, those other labs are not set up to service nursing facilities.”

Paradigm serves 200 residents in Sikeston, Gideon and Bernie.

Sells said they’ve used Gamma Healthcare for about 30 years.

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