State shuts down Gentilly abortion clinic
Published: Thursday, May 26, 2011, 5:33 PM
By Bruce Nolan, The Times-Picayune
State health inspectors have shut down a Gentilly abortion clinic after an unannounced inspection uncovered conditions they said put patients at risk.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals said it revoked the license of Gentilly Medical Clinic for Women, on Gentilly Boulevard near Elysian Fields Avenue.
A department spokeswoman said an inspection on May 6 found that “the facility failed to provide nursing services to meet the needs of its patients and adequately monitor women in recovery following a procedure.”
State records list the owner of the facility as Dr. Anthony Okpalobi, who was not available for comment Thursday.
Russo said Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein used a new law passed last summer to close the facility immediately, on a finding that conditions there “posed an imminent threat to the health, welfare or safety of the patients.”
The state had moved against the Gentilly clinic before.
In Jan. 2010 it revoked the clinic’s operating license.
Inspectors said then the clinic had been operating without a registered nurse on staff, without a controlled dangerous substance license and without registering with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
But under state law in effect then, it was able to reopen while it contested the action in state court.
Russo said that litigation was still under way three weeks ago when Greenstein moved again against the clinic with the new, tougher enforcement tool of Act 490, passed by the Legislature last year.
Under that law, the clinic remains closed during its appeal, unless it files for special relief like a permanent injunction or temporary restraining order, Russo said.
Backers of the legislation championed it as a patient safety measure they said puts abortion clinics on the same footing as other institutions, like adult residential day-care centers and substance abuse clinics.
But abortion rights advocates said Act 490 is another attempt to harass, and perhaps reduce the number of, providers by involving a “zero tolerance” policy for any infraction — a rigor that is not extended to hospitals, among other facilities.
The state used the same law last fall to shut down a Shreveport abortion provider, Hope Medical Group for Women.
However, a state court overturned that closure.
Hope was among five Louisiana women’s clinics and one unnamed doctor who sued in federal court last fall to have Act 490 overturned.
However, that suit was dismissed. It is on appeal.
According to Operation Rescue leader, Troy Newman, “This is just one more example of how abortion clinics defiantly disregard the law and sacrifice the health and safety of women because they think that laws don’t apply to them and that women don’t deserve any better treatment. We have found this kind of attitude to be rampant inside the abortion cartel, in spite of their phony public relations claims to the contrary.”
Operation Rescue has Louisiana officials to also asked close the Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge after a botched abortion revealed numerous abuses, including the alleged illegal non-reporting of abortion complications.
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From the Department of Heath:
DHH Immediately Suspends License of New Orleans Abortion Clinic
Gentilly Medical Clinic for Women ordered to cease operations for violating state licensure regulations
Thursday, May 26, 2011 | Contact: Bureau of Media & Communications (225) 342-7913 or (225) 252-3579 (cell)
BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein Wednesday issued a license revocation for Gentilly Medical Clinic for Women and ordered the abortion facility to immediately cease performing abortions after an investigation found repeat violations that posed significant health and safety risks to clients. The Gentilly abortion facility is currently appealing a separate license revocation action instituted by the Department in January 2010. That action was based on a determination of the facility’s substantial failure to comply with the minimum standards for licensure of abortion clinics.
The immediate suspension came under a new law signed last year by Gov. Bobby Jindal that gives the DHH Secretary authority to immediately suspend an abortion facility’s license under certain circumstances. The new law, Act 490 of the 2010 Legislature by then-Rep. Fred Mills, had not been enacted when the Department initiated the January 2010 license revocation proceedings against the facility.
“We take very seriously our responsibility to protect the health and safety of people receiving services in facilities licensed through our Department,” Secretary Greenstein said. “This abortion facility continues to have significant repeated violations that put women at risk. We are thankful to have this law behind us to ensure we can take action when standards are not met.”
The Department issued Wednesday’s revocation action based upon a new survey of the facility conducted by DHH Health Standards on May 6, 2011. This most recent survey found the clinic, once again, to be in violation of standards for abortion clinic licensure. Specifically, the facility failed to provide nursing services to meet the needs of its patients and adequately monitor women in recovery following a procedure. The Secretary determined that the facility’s non-compliance and violations posed an imminent threat to the health, welfare or safety of the patients.
The abortion facility was notified of the revocation action and immediate suspension Wednesday morning.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens.