Shortly after the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) started released undercover videos this summer, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards sent an email to supporters claiming that her employees “deliver the absolute best care to their patients.” She also used predictable phrases like “dangerous misinformation” and “lies” perpetrated by “extremists.”
No surprise here—after all, what else would we expect Richards to say?
But officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH) didn’t take her word for it. Just a few weeks after CMP started releasing videos, they decided to see for themselves what was going on at all eight Planned Parenthood facilities in the state that perform surgical abortions by conducting “special monitoring” surveys. Six passed, but the two facilities in Philadelphia—Kermit Gosnell’s hometown—both failed.
Cluelessness about Cleanliness
Pennsylvania law requires abortion facilities to properly store fetal tissue prior to being picked up (that is, in a freezer or refrigerator). But at Planned Parenthood’s Far Northeast Health Center, state health officials found [PDF] on August 13 that aborted fetal remains were being kept unfrozen and without preservative in a janitor’s closet.
Philadelphia’s other Planned Parenthood facility that performs surgical abortions, the Locust Street Health Center [PDF], was keeping aborted fetal remains in a biohazard storage freezer, but it was unlocked and located in an unlocked room, and it was in dire need of defrosting. What’s more, the biohazard bags were undated, meaning there was no way to verify if the remains were being picked up at least once every 30 days, pursuant to state law.
One week later, PDH conducted a full licensing survey at both facilities—and both failed. For starters, the Far Northeast Center was found [PDF] to be improperly storing syringes and needles outside of their packaging. This is one of those things that doesn’t sound like a big deal to the average person, but when packages say “Sterile if package intact,” you get the idea: improper storage = not sterile (≠ “absolutely best care” to patients).
At the Locust Street center [PDF], inspectors found six medical wraps and five pouches were found to have wet stains after they had been sterilized in an autoclave. Again, the average person might ask: Why does this matter? Because water allows germs to pass through. Indeed, as a review of Planned Parenthood’s own Infection Control Plan showed, “Instruments are no longer sterile if the packaging is torn, wet or damaged…”
This excerpt from the inspection of the Locust Street facility is particularly illustrative:
A request was made to EMP1 [Employee #1], on August 20, 2015, at 11:15 AM, for a facility policy based on evidence based guidelines or manufacturer recommendations regarding the length of time that the instruments are required to soak in order to effectively dissolve, suspend and digest contaminants. EMP1 did not provide a facility policy on the amount of time the surgical instruments are to soak in the basin.
In other words: Planned Parenthood’s employees don’t know what they’re doing.
Inspectors also found 20 gauze sponge packets stored beneath a sink. This violates not only state health protocols, but also basic common sense. Nothing can be stored beneath a sink if it needs to be kept clean. If rodents get in the building, they’ll surely find their way there, aside from the the obvious risk of drippage.
The week after that, PDH conducted building inspections at both facilities—and yet again, both failed.
Yelp Reviews Leave a Lot Be Desired
With all this in mind, you won’t be surprised to read these Yelp reviews of Philadelphia’s Planned Parenthood facilities.
Here’s one review of the Far Northeast facility:
EWWW. This place is a hell hole….inside and out. You will not be able to speak w/ a Dr. beforehand eventhough they tell u you will. There is broken glass and trash all over. The Dr. has no time for your questions. He wants u in & out….quickly.
Here are a few excerpts from reviews of the Locust Street facility:
The most terrible experience I’ve had. … They were unprofessional and just didn’t give a crap. What kind of place makes you wait 3 hours after your appointment time?? Why even have appointment times?! I was so upset and I had to leave or risk losing my job. I hate this place.
And this one:
The receptionists need to get their attitudes in check. And I was under the impression I was going for a free visit because of my low income, but at the last minute, after everything was said and done, they sprung a surprise $100 balance at me, which I was unable to pay. There was a huge lack of communication which caused embarrassment to me.
And this one:
Don’t come to this location if you want to be treated with respect! The wait was well over 2 hours long, the staff acted as if they had no idea what customer service means and the nurses seemed disinterested. Um, I didn’t know you were doing me a favor by doing your job. I asked general health questions and she brushed them aside as if she had no time for them.
Are Planned Parenthood’s employees giving “the absolute best care to their patients”? Decide for yourself.