By Dave Andrusko
When last we wrote about the Capital Care Network, the abortion clinic in West Toledo, Ohio had informed state authorities it had fulfilled the requirement to have access to a “local” hospital.
But that hospital was more than 50 miles away and in a different state—the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.
On Wednesday, the state “urged a hearing officer to follow through with the closing of Toledo’s last abortion clinic, saying in a legal filing that the clinic can’t claim it has a legally required emergency transfer agreement with a ‘local’ hospital,” reported Jim Provance of the Toledo Blade.
“At the [March] hearing, CCN’s operator testified that it would take CCN’s transportation provider approximately an hour to show up at CCN even to begin to transport a patient to this far removed hospital and that the actual transport itself would take another 15 to 20 minutes, if possible, to effect by helicopter,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Lyndsay Nash.
“Such a lengthy delay would frustrate the purposes of having a transfer agreement with a local hospital, which is to provide immediate care to an [ambulatory surgical facility] patient in the case of emergencies and medical complications that require treatment beyond what the ASF can provide.”
Nash told hearing examiner William Kepko “If CCN was unclear what the word ‘local’ meant, it could have consulted a dictionary.”
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As NRL News Today explained (quoting from Ohio Right to Life), “According to Ohio law, Capital Care exists as an Ambulatory Surgical Facility and because of this status, the clinic is not a full-service medical facility. In order for Capital Care Network of Toledo to operate legally, the clinic has to have a transfer agreement with a full-service hospital to handle all cases of abortion complications against the mother.”
CCN Capital Care had a one-year arrangement with the University of Toledo Medical Center, but UTMC exercised its option not to renew, effective July 1, 2013. Unable to find an Ohio hospital, the abortion clinic signed an agreement with the Ann Arbor hospital, effective late this past January.
“State law doesn’t define ‘local,’ but the state’s health director at the time, Dr. Ted Wymyslo, determined that the University of Michigan Health System, about 53 miles away, doesn’t qualify,” Provance wrote.
As a backup strategy, CCN has taken the position that a transfer agreement is not really needed. In situations not considered serious emergencies, the clinic will employee a helicopter, clinic owner Terri Hubbard has said.
In situations that are a true emergency, “they will be transferred to the local hospital because 911 will transport to the closest hospital to the center,” said Jennifer Branch, the clinic’s Cincinnati attorney
The abortion clinic has remained open during the litigation. Kepko is expected to make a final recommendation in June.