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Pittsburgh abortion clinics correct deficiencies

Tony LaRussa
| Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011

The Pittsburgh abortion clinics that were cited when routine state inspections resumed in 2010 after a lapse of more than 15 years have corrected the deficiencies, according to state records.

State health officials began inspecting facilities where abortions are performed after learning the ghastly details of what allegedly occurred at Dr. Kermit Gosnell's West Philadelphia abortion clinic.

Seven local clinics were inspected. Three of them were cited by state inspectors for problems far less serious than the West Philadelphia clinic's deficiencies.

The clinic operated at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, Oakland, was inspected Nov. 4 and cited for failing to test "urine protein and sugar" before performing abortions. UPMC officials responded to the state Friday with a letter indicating that the tests were now being done.

UPMC officials declined to comment on the problems found at its abortion clinic.

An inspection of Allegheny Women's Center in East Liberty on Sept. 28 found problems including:

• A failure to have equipment "readily available" to resuscitate patients.

• A monitor to display heart rate and breathing patterns that was not checked "for proper function and possible electrical leakage."

• No portable oxygen available.

The clinic's director, Debra Miller, informed the state in a letter dated Saturday that the problems had been corrected.

Miller did not return messages seeking comment.

Inspectors cited Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, Downtown, on April 15 for a lack of written evidence that its physicians supervised licensed practical nurses working in the recovery room.

Kim Evert, the clinic's director, said the problems were corrected "within 48 hours" by changing the job descriptions to indicate that doctors were indeed supervising the nurses.

"In practice the doctors were supervising the nurses all along," Evert said Wednesday. "It was simply a matter of correcting the documentation."

Prosecutors in Philadelphia said at least two women died in Gosnell's clinic, and hundreds of babies were born alive and killed by scissors stabbed into their spines. Bags and jars containing aborted fetuses and body parts were found throughout the clinic.

Following the inspection of the state's 22 free-standing clinics last year, health department officials ordered 14 of the providers to remedy problems, a review of records obtained by the Tribune-Review shows.

Vicki Saporta, chief executive officer of the National Abortion Federation, wrote in a letter to members that the problems found at Gosnell's clinic "are not typical of the high-quality abortion care provided by" NAF practitioners.

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