By Dave Andrusko
No sooner were residents learning that the building which houses Femcare, Asheville North Carolina’s only abortion clinic, was up for sale, than Femcare announced that it planned to shift its abortion services to a new Planned Parenthood clinic scheduled to open in the summer.
“Recognizing the political challenges in today’s environment, FemCare has been in conversation with Planned Parenthood for several months,” the company said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Both parties want to ensure that women in Western North Carolina have strong, long-term access to full GYN.”
Melissa Reed, vice president for public affairs for Planned Parenthood Health System, told Julie Ball of the Citizen-Times, “We have been in lots of long conversations with Dr. [Lorraine] Cummings about this transition, and she has been very supportive of the process.” Cummings owns the clinic, which she put on the market for $1.2 million.
As NRL News Today reported last August, following a routine inspection—the first since 2006–Femcare had its license suspended by the state Department of Health and Human Services, the third North Carolina abortion clinic to have sanctions imposed in just a matter of months.
“In April, state health officials revoked the license of A Preferred Woman’s Health Center on Latrobe Drive in Charlotte,” according to the News Observer’s Jim Morrill and Karen Garloch. “Last month they shut down The Baker Clinic for Women in Durham. The Charlotte clinic has since been allowed to reopen. It’s unclear whether the Durham clinic is back in business.” Investigators found dead insects, blood splatters and dirty surgical instruments inside the Durham abortion clinic.
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According to a statement from the state DHHS office inspectors found “egregious violations of existing rules that revealed an imminent threat to the health and safety of patients.” Femcare failed to meet 23 separate rules.
The 49-page report found (according to The Citizen Times) that the clinic failed to:
- Maintain anesthesia (nitrous oxide gas) delivery systems in good working condition, with torn masks and tubing held together with tape;
- Ensure emergency equipment had weekly checks to ensure the equipment was suitable for use in patient care and failed to ensure that emergency medicine wasn’t expired;
- Have a resuscitator available;
- Sweep and mop the operating room floor and failed to properly clean operating room beds;
- Have a director of nursing responsible and accountable for all nursing services;
- Have an agreement or contract with an anesthetist or anesthesiologist; and
- Have an agreement or contract with a registered pharmacist to assure appropriate methods, procedures and controls for obtaining, dispensing and administering drugs.
However, the clinic subsequently reopened.
In its Tuesday statement, Femcare said it will continue to provide abortion services, but will not be taking new gynecology patients, during the transition, according to Ball.
Planned Parenthood’s current Asheville location does not provide abortions.