Notorious Chicago abortion clinic loses license, fined $50,000—but it’s still open for business
May 1, 2015 (ProLifeAction.org) -- The Pro-Life Action League has just obtained documents revealing that the Illinois Department of Public Health has fined a notorious Chicago abortion clinic $50,000 and revoked its license to operate as an ambulatory surgical treatment facility (ASTC).
The Albany late-term abortion clinic, a part of the Family Planning Associates (FPA) abortion chain, has had ongoing problems with its state license to operate as an ASTC for the past 20 months. As of this writing, Albany is still open for business, despite the fact that on March 10—which is, ironically enough, “National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day”—the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued an order [PDF] revoking the clinic’s license, stating, “The Department has found conditions in the Facility that are threatening to the public interest, health, safety, or welfare.”
On this same date, IDPH assessed fines in the amount of $40,000, after having previously assessed a $10,000 fine on February 9.
Anything But “Safe and Legal”
The Albany abortion clinic, run by the Family Planning Associates chain, has long been notorious for not-safe-but-legal abortions, as witnessed chiefly by four (4) women who died following abortions performed there: Maria Rodriguez, Nakia Jorden, Maria Leho, and, most tragically of all, 13-year old Deanna Bell. It’s also worth noting that Albany is a member of the National Abortion Federation, which holds itself up as the gold standard of providers of so-called “safe, legal, and accessible abortion care.”
In 2012, IDPH conducted its first nursing inspection of the Albany facility since 1995. It passed. In August 2013, IDPH conducted the first life safety inspection [PDF] in at least that long. That inspection revealed multiple violations related to patient and employee safety, particularly in case of fire or other emergency, and in maintaining a sanitary environment.
Fire doors were not intact, fire exits were blocked, clean linens for patients and staff were stored in the same room as the dirty linens and trash—the deficiencies went on for 22 pages.
Four of the biggest problems were:
Construction type: Parts of the clinic were of adequate construction, but other parts incorporated into the clinic from the “business” part of the building required the installation of sprinklers, which has not been done. This is a fire hazard that endangers all building occupants.
Emergency generator: Because the clinic uses general anesthesia, there must be a power supply backup for when electrical service goes out. The emergency generator was not installed properly to ensure that a patient under general anesthesia would continue to have her life-support supplied with the electricity needed to keep her alive. Also, the emergency exit lighting appeared to be dependent upon the generator, and the installation did not support this. This could endanger all building occupants in the event of an electrical outage and need for evacuation.
One-way flow: To ensure infection control of any medical practice, it is necessary to keep the clean areas clean and keep the dirty areas contained. One part of this is to have transitional rooms where the staff change from their “dirty” street clothes into their “clean” scrubs. Then they enter into the “clean” areas of the clinic. The Albany FPA facility did not do this. Their staff changing area was entered by going down stairs to the basement and walking through the “dirty” hazardous storage (storing ladders, tools, and other maintenance equipment) area to the staff changing room. After changing, the only way out is to go through the same door and walk through the same “dirty” hazardous storage area, go up the stairs and enter the surgical area. This endangers all patients by putting them at increased risk of infection due to staff being contaminated by the “dirty” environment.
Distribution of emergency power: A clinic’s generator-supplied emergency power is supposed to flow through separate circuits and wiring from the regular electricity. This is so that in an emergency the “normal” needs of the clinic do not overwhelm the generator. There are supposed to be two emergency circuits: one for critical care (to maintain the emergency medical equipment for patients) and another for exit lighting in case of an emergency. This was not the case at Albany, thereby endangering any patient on life support during an electrical outage and potentially endangering all occupants of the building fleeing during an emergency resulting in loss of power.
The normal procedure is for a facility to respond with a Plan of Correction (POC) within 10 days of receiving notice of the deficiencies explaining what they intend to do to fix the deficiencies and by what date they will do so. Albany requested ( and was granted) an extension of the deadline to October 3, 2013. Albany also requested to meet with IDPH to discuss the violations, and did so on October 22, 2013.
But Albany did not submit a POC.
State Health Department Requirements Met with Stall Tactics
Around January 30, 2014 Albany submitted by email an unsigned and undated POC that could not be accepted, as it is a legal document and therefore must be signed.
Around February 28, 2014—over four months following the POC extended deadline of October 3, 2013—Albany submitted a signed and dated POC along with a request for another in-person meeting with IDPH. But the POC was not acceptable, as it did not solve the problems of the numerous deficiencies for which it had been cited. Albany was given another 10 days to respond with a revised POC, but once again failed to submit one.
On May 19, there was another in-person meeting between IDPH and Albany.
On June 26, 2014 Albany’s lawyers requested an extension to July 22, which was granted. A few days later, Albany submitted a revised POC with addendums, but on August 7, this POC was also found to be not acceptable, so IDPH once again outlined the deficiencies and gave Albany 10 more days to submit an acceptable plan of correction.
On August 11, 2014, Albany’s lawyers “submitted a letter to the Department alleging purported corrections”, but yet again, no acceptable POC was submitted to IDPH.
At this point it had been nearly a full year since the initial inspection. IDPH conducted another licensure survey of Albany on August 21. While some of the smaller violations had been rectified—at relatively inexpensive cost—some of the “fixes” actually caused more problems because they caused other violations to occur, while the major violations—which would have required more money to fix—remained untouched.
On August 26, IDPH served the statement of deficiencies of the August 21 survey to Albany and gave them 10 calendar days to respond. On September 8, IDPH received yet another unsigned POC, and so had to remind Albany on October 14 that this was not acceptable. Albany was once again given 10 days to respond. Around October 28, Albany submitted a revised POC that did not address the deficiencies previously outlined, and on December 9, submitted another revised POC that was, not surprisingly, still deemed to be unacceptable.
This was going on for 16 months. Because Illinois law only permits IDPH to release acceptable plans of correction, the Pro-Life Action League has no way of knowing what the Albany FPA facility was submitting proposals for its POCs. We only know that they did not solve any of the major problems, and many of the more minor problems still remained.
It’s obvious that Albany was employing stall tactics, perhaps hoping to wear out IDPH, or at least keep operating their profitable abortion business as long as possible.
Something needed to give. Eventually, it did.
Three Ambulances in Two Days
Last October—without, of course, knowing any of the above since it was not deemed releasable under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, since no acceptable POC had been received—the Pro-Life Action League questioned IDPH as to why we had evidence of numerous ambulance transfers from Albany, yet since 2005 (the earliest year for which ASTC profiles are available on the IDPH website), Albany has reported a grand total of zero ambulance transfers, despite the fact that Illinois law requires ASTCs to report these numbers.
Because pro-life presence is not continuous during all Albany’s operating hours, we did not know the exact number of transfers for complications, but we knew it was far greater than zero. The League also provided IDPH with photographic evidence of ambulance transfers from Albany that we were aware of.
Then, on December 19, there were two ambulance transfers from the Albany abortion clinic in the same day.
The very next day, December 20, Albany had yet another ambulance transfer. The Pro-Life Action League submitted a complaint on December 22, which was immediately investigated.
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IDPH contacted Albany the following week, the medical director gave inconsistent explanations, and an on-site complaint investigation was conducted on January 5, 2015, at which time Albany was cited for violations of Statistical Data. As we suspected, the clinic had not been submitting accurate quarterly reports to IDPH regarding ambulance transfers.
The January 5 inspection revealed twelve (12) ambulance transfers in the previous year. Yes, you read that right: The Albany FPA abortion facility was averaging one ambulance transfer per month. But up until now, no one knew, since they were hiding these statistics from IDPH, to which they have a legal obligation to report.
But it gets worse.
Abortionist abandons patients
On December 20, the abortionist—whose name was omitted from documents obtained from IDPH—left Albany in the ambulance to accompany the woman he had injured, thereby leaving unattended three (3) other women who had just had abortions in the recovery room with no physician present in the clinic. What’s more, there was no written contingency plan for emergencies, just a verbal explanation that a back-up doctor would be called and come before the ambulance left—but that didn’t happen.
No doctor came to oversee the care and safe recovery of these three women. One of these women had only entered the recovery room just two minutes before the abortionist left. And she was rushed out less than 90 minutes later, following a late term (D&E) abortion. On February 9, Albany was cited for violation of Presence of a Qualified Physician and fined $10,000.
Four days later, IDPH sent a comprehensive recitation of its efforts to work with Albany to bring them into compliance with the Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Act and Code, giving Albany one last chance to comply. They also included a summary of the January 5 violations and the fine. IDPH also notified them of the need to have an acceptable POC in 10 days and to address the violations cited in the January 2015 survey within 20 days.
On February 28, Albany submitted a revised POC—but it was once again unacceptable.
League Calls on State to Take Action
As recounted previously, IDPH revoked Albany’s ASTC license on March 10 and assessed an additional $40,000 in fines for repeat violations of the August 2014 survey. Together with the January fine, the Albany FPA abortion facility now owes the State of Illinois a total of $50,000 in fines.
IDPH also revoked Albany’s ASTC license, but the revocation has been stayed pending the outcome of a hearing that has yet to be scheduled—this despite the fact that Family Planning Associates has repeatedly shown that they never intended to fix any of the major problems at the Albany abortion clinic, thereby making it a constant threat to the health of any person who enters. This is outrageous.
The Pro-Life Action League calls on IDPH to shut down Albany immediately, collect the $50,000 in fines, and rid the State of Illinois of this utterly dangerous facility.
Reprinted with permission from Pro-Life Action League.