After a mid-July inspection revealed 23 violations that effectively suspended women’s health care services at Asheville’s Femcare, the only abortion provider in Western North Carolina, the clinic has reopened.
According to employees at Femcare, which is owned by Dr. Lorraine Cummings, the clinic’s official statement at this time is, “We are pleased to be back open.”
The clinic received state approval to reopen its doors after being closed since July 31. A memo sent last week to Femcare from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced that health and safety conditions at the local clinic “no longer present an imminent danger to the health, safety, and welfare of clients effective August 21, 2013.”
When Femcare was inspected back in July, the 49-page report found that the facility failed to keep anesthesia delivery systems in good working conditions, specifically citing torn masks and tubing that were found “held together with tape” — putting patients at risk for pain and physical harm due to inadequate sedation dosages during surgical procedures.
After the General Assembly passed a controversial abortion bill, investigations by Xpress found that Femcare was the only abortion clinic in the state that would comply with the law’s new requirement that all abortion providers meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
Following the summer inspection and the clinic’s temporary closure, critics of the bill said the inspection was a surprise. However, neither politics nor changes to state health regulations influenced either the timing of the recent survey of Femcare or the loss of the Asheville abortion clinic’s medical license, according to statements from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
“On average we’re able to inspect the medical component of abortion clinics every 3-5 years — and that’s on average. So obviously, this is about six years,” DHHS Communications Director Ricky Diaz told Xpress on Aug. 1. Before the most recent inspection by the state, Femcare was last inspected in 2006, where it was found in violation of personnel and quality assurance rules.
In addition to providing abortions up until the 12th week of pregnancy, Femcare provides a range of women’s health services from screenings for sexually transmitted infections to annual exams, according to the clinic’s website.
Caitlin Byrd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 251-1333,ext. 140.
Want to read more about Femcare? Read the articles below to get more context surrounding today’s news:
July 31, 2013: State suspends medical license of Asheville abortion clinic