This morning I got a wonderful photo texted to me. The picture is of a simple printed sign that has been taped to the front entrance of Hillcrest Women's Medical Center in Harrisburg:
Hillcrest is closed!
As I've written before, Hillcrest has been going through a rough time over the past few months. They failed their health inspection back in February. When that report went public it generated a lot of news reports. Here are just a few: ABC FOX Lebanon Daily News
There was also a short radio segment about the failed inspection on the WITF radio station last week. This is an NPR member station, so many people thought it was in the national news.
As a result of this failed inspection and all of the news around it, three Pennsylvanian senators got involved. Senators DiSanto, Scarnati, and Mensch sent a letter to the Department of Health ("DOH") requiring an explanation as to "why the DOH did not immediately move to suspend or revoke" Hillcrest's medical license.
"[Hillcrest's] health and safety violations are obviously deeply troubling." The Senators said in their letter, "However, even more problematic appears to be DOH's response, which was to allow the abortion clinic to continue operating while granting Hillcrest a six month grace period to correct the cited 'deficiencies.'"
After the Kermit Gosnell "House of Horrors," the Pennsylvania legislature overwhelmingly passed Act 122 in 2011. This Act required the DOH to regulate abortion clinics the same way they regulate other ambulatory surgical facilities. "This was done with the intent of ensuring that abortion clinics were meeting basic requirements in order to keep their patients safe." the Senators wrote. The Act gave the DOH the authority to revoke or suspend the medical license, or to fine the facility that fails the inspection. "[I]t appears none of these appropriate sanctions were pursued in this situation. Indeed, Hillcrest is still open and accepting patients today."
The Senators sent that letter on June 5th. It appears to have had an immediate - almost instantaneous - impact. According to Ben Allen of WITF news, the Department of Health conducted an unannounced visit to Hillcrest on Monday, June 5th (the same day as the Senator's letter)! This visit on Monday found even more violations at Hillcrest!
Based on these findings, the DOH has ordered Hillcrest to close! In order to re-open, Hillcrest must correct all of the identified violations from both of these inspections. The grace period that was originally going to extend until August 31st, has been cut off.
Hillcrest is closed. This filthy, horrible, back-alley-esque abortion facility will no longer be operating.
This is the best news I've had in such a long time. Ben Allen came out to Hillcrest today, and took a few statements from me and another sidewalk advocate there. We were able to talk about how bad the conditions at Hillcrest are. Hillcrest is a filthy, disgusting place. They force women to enter through the back-alley parking lot. It is no different from any back-alley abortion done before 1973. Now it is gone.
No matter what a woman's circumstances are, she never needs a place like Hillcrest. We're glad that it's gone.
We will keep watch on Hillcrest and the DOH in case they re-open this horrible abortion clinic.
Undefeated Courage will also be at Planned Parenthood in Harrisburg tomorrow to offer resources and help to women facing crisis pregnancies. You can join us at Planned Parenthood located at 1514 N. 2nd Street. UPDATE: Here is the press release from the Department of Health stating that the clinic has been ordered to close.
06/07/2017 Department of Health Orders Dauphin County Facility to Suspend Services Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy today announced that the department has ordered Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center in Harrisburg to suspend services to patients after a June 5 unannounced monitoring visit found serious deficiencies and violations. “The health and safety of patients served at any Pennsylvania health care facility is a top priority of the Wolf Administration,” Secretary Murphy said. “On Monday, Department of Health staff conducted an unannounced monitoring visit to Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center. The department concluded that it was no longer safe for the facility to continue providing medical services to patients. Therefore, I have ordered the facility to suspend all services until such time that it can demonstrate it is safe for women to receive care.” A February inspection at Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center identified several deficiencies, including record-keeping violations and failing to have a registered nurse on site. While some of the issues have been corrected, such as hiring a registered nurse, the June 5 monitoring visit found additional violations, including expired sterilization and medical supplies. “Protecting the health and safety of Pennsylvanians is paramount,” Secretary Murphy said. “If you have been a patient of Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center and have questions or concerns about your health, you should speak with a health care provider. You can also contact the department at 1-877-PA-HEALTH for more information.” Inspection reports from health care facilities are available 41 days after the completion of an investigation on the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov. MEDIA CONTACT: April Hutcheson, 717-787-1783 or firstname.lastname@example.org