1 NC abortion clinic closed, another reopens

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — One North Carolina abortion clinic is now permanently closed and another surgery center that performs abortions has re-opened after both were cited for problems that led to the suspension of services at each this summer.

The state Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Monday that the physician at The Baker Clinic for Women in Durham voluntarily surrendered his license effective last week. The clinic already had closed its doors in early July after inspectors said the clinic failed to perform quality control testing on patients who received blood testing.

The Asheville surgery center FEMCARE Inc. opened its doors again late last week after regulators said certain deficiencies were no longer present. HHS said last month inspectors discovered problems there that posed a threat to the health and safety of patients.

The Baker Clinic had 60 days to appeal the suspension, but clinic operator Dr. John Baker voluntarily surrendered his certificate to run the clinic Aug. 21, according to a document sent to the department’s Acute and Home Care Licensure and Certification Section.

HHS spokesman Ricky Diaz said Monday that the Baker Clinic’s suspension section staff visited the clinic again after receiving an anonymous complaint. Reached by phone on Monday, Baker declined to comment.

Inspectors in July found FEMCARE had failed to maintain anesthesia delivery systems in good working condition and didn’t have an agreement or contract with an anesthetist or anesthesiologist. The clinic failed to ensure emergency equipment underwent weekly checks to ensure the equipment was suitable for use in patient care, a state official said last month.

Section staff visiting FEMCARE on Aug. 20 and 21 found the center was in compliance with rules for ambulatory surgery center licensure rules, according to a section document lifting the suspension.

The General Assembly last month approved a bill giving state HHS the authority to regulate abortion clinics using the same standards as those for outpatient surgical centers “while not unduly restricting access.” Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law. The actions against the Durham clinic and Asheville center occurred under rules set before the new law.

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