Fort Mill birth center’s license suspended

earriero@charlotteobserver.comSeptember 10, 2013 

  • Carolina Community Maternity Center’s statement The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) … is enforcing a regulation that has never been previously enforced on any SC birth center. It … requires a physician to be “on call and available to provide medical assistance at the birthing center at all times that it is serving the public." Our initial license to operate, and each subsequent annual license renewal, was approved without this provision. We had an agreement with a physician who was available to provide medical assistance but it did not require him/her to be on site at the birth center. As we were working on this issue with DHEC one of our families had a birth with a bad outcome. CCMC midwives took appropriate emergency measures in transporting the laboring mother to the hospital. Calling a physician to come to the birth center would have delayed transport. A physician would not have been able to provide appropriate care at the birth center as operating room facilities were needed. For this reason DHEC issued a suspension of our facility’s license…. We are appealing this suspension … In the meantime, please remember there is a grieving family who deserves the utmost privacy and respect.

— The license for a Fort Mill birth center has been suspended pending an investigation, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Monday.

Carolina Community Maternity Center’s license was suspended Sept. 2, said Jim Beasley, a spokesman for the department. He declined to comment on case specifics since it’s under investigation.

The center, which is just across the state line from Charlotte, has operated for four years. According to its website, it has five midwives on staff.

Monday evening, the center released a statement saying it is appealing the suspension, which stemmed from “a birth with a bad outcome.” The center referenced a “grieving family,” but did not provide specifics.

It did say its midwives “took appropriate emergency measures in transporting the laboring mother to the hospital.”

The center claimed the state was enforcing a regulation that had never been previously enforced on any S.C. birthing center – that a physician be on call and available to provide medical assistance at the birthing center at all times.

South Carolina officials could not be reached for comment Monday night on the center’s statement.

In South Carolina, midwives can work so long as they’re licensed; they do not have to be nurses. Beasley said the department has not suspended any other birthing center licenses in the past 12 months.

Many of the clients that the center serves come from North Carolina because of the differences in midwife laws, said Mint Hill resident Tabitha Bush, one of the center’s supporters and a former client.

The Fort Mill staff said on the center’s Facebook page that “...We will share additional information as soon as we are able to. We have loved serving our families for the past 4 years and look forward to continuing to do so in the near future,” the Friday post said. “We are grateful for the ongoing love and support from the community.”

Several of the page’s more than 700 fans expressed support for the center and shock over the suspension.

“I am FURIOUS! This is taking away our rights as women to have the birth experience of our choosing!” a woman identifying herself on Facebook as Rachel Lee Conway wrote. “Who do we contact to let our outrage be known!?”

A page called “Friends of CCMC” said it has raised more than $1,100 for the center as of Monday afternoon to help compensate for the lost income during the license suspension.

Bush is one of the supporters trying to help reopen the center. Her 4-year-old daughter Layla was the first baby born at the center, which opened in fall 2009.

“This center is just absolutely near and dear to my heart,” Bush said.

She said the suspension means that “pregnant women are out on the streets,” trying to find an alternate birth plan.

“I know of several who are planning at this point to do unassisted births in their homes because they have no other option because they don’t consider hospitals an option,” she said. “It’s not an ideal situation to have to transfer your care at 41 weeks.”

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero

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