All stories in this directory may be used free of charge by news media sites, provided credit is given to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. Use the URL from this page to bookmark this article, send it to a friend, or link to it from your blog.
Fine fight continues over Toledos last abortion clinic
By Maggie Prosser
(February 4, 2019) — Ohio’s health director increased the fine on a Toledo’s last abortion clinic to $15,000 from $3,000 for safety and procedural violations after a patient with potential post-abortion complications was improperly transferred to a hospital in 2017.
And Capital Care Network appealed to the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas after the decision by state Health Director Lance Himes.
State health investigators say the clinic failed to follow emergency transfer procedures in April 2017 when a staff member drove a patient with a possible perforated bowel to a hospital following an abortion. Additionally, the clinic did not send medical records with the patient to the hospital as required.
Investigators said the clinic’s policy is to contact emergency personnel in case of medical emergencies. However, clinic officials contended in court that the situation did not pose a medical emergency, and ultimately, the patient did not have a perforated bowel and was discharged from the hospital the next day.
Himes declared on Jan. 9 the situation did not constitute an emergency, but cited the clinic for failing to provide the patient with proper discharge instructions; failing to document complications at the facility; and failing to provide documentation of a procedure for reviewing such incidents.
The health department proposed a $40,000 fine on the clinic in 2017, which clinic officials said they could not afford. A state hearing officer recommended slashing the amount to $3,000, ruling the evidence indicted the case was an isolated incident. However, the final call is left to the health director.
“It’s an insult to women. It’s an insult to health care,” said Greater Toledo Right to Life Executive Director Ed Sitter. He was disappointed Himes did not re-impose the original $40,000 penalty, but said the final ruling is “more substantial” than hearing officer Karl Schedler’s $3,000 recommendation.
Sitter called Schedler biased, saying he did not let key department witnesses testify, and dismissed four of the investigators’ five citations. Testimony from the department Assistant Medical Director Mary Kate Francis to rebut clinic officials’ testimony was denied, according to court documents.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said the clinic “is a critical health care provider serving northwest Ohio and beyond. … After hearing all of the evidence presented in a thorough investigation, the department’s own hearing officer recommended a significantly smaller penalty.
“Instead of accepting these findings and recommendations, the political appointees at the (health department) are continuing to demand a higher fine. Decisions made by the department should be made not on the basis of politics, but on the evidence before them.”