Thursday, February 09, 2017

Kermit Gosnell's Last Abortion

Gosnell: The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer, by Ann McElhinney and Philem McAleer, is eye-opening even for folks like me who followed the Gosnell story closely and delved deeply. Nobody has delved more deeply than Ann and Philem. I'm grateful to them.

It's a best-seller on Amazon, and for good reason. There's so much meat here, it's hard to know where to start, so I'll just start with Kermit Gosnell's last hurrah.

Darlene Augustine.and Elinor Barsony, two Department of Health nurses, accompanied the initial raid on Women's Medical Society.

Darlene Augustine had worked at the Department of Health since 1989, supervising inspectors who responded to complaints about health care facilities. She had gotten a fax from Kermit Gosnell on November 24, 2009 notifying the Department of Health about the death of Karnamaya Mongar after her abortion at his Women's Medical Society.

According to the Grand Jury Report, Ms. Augustine had the authority to send someone out to investigate. She often sent someone out within an hour of receiving a report of a serious incident. But since this serious incident involved abortion, she decided that she should run it up the chain of command. She presented the fax to her boss, Cynthia Boyne, to get permission to launch an immediate investigation.

Ms. Boyne supervised the Division of Home Health.  (For some reason only bureaucrats can fathom, the Division of Home Health was in charge of overseeing abortion facilities.) Rather than give the go-ahead, Ms. Boyne discussed the matter with her boss, Janice Staloski, who oversaw the entire Bureau of Community Licensure and Certification.

Boyne and Staloski told Ms. Augustine no. She was not allowed to start an investigation into the death of Karnamaya Mongar.

According to the Grand Jury Report, Ms. Augustine got instructions by senior Department of Health Attorneys Kenneth Brody and James Steele that when she accompanied law enforcement on the raid, she was to to reveal anything about Karnamaya's death. If she were asked about it, she was to refer the questions to the Department's attorneys.

She decided to go even farther. She told the other Department of Health nurse in the group, Elinor Barsony, not to even admit that they knew about Karnamaya's death.

In they went. Ann and Philem note:
Everything was covered in cat hair -- the chairs, blankets, and all the surfaces. The clinic's two surgical procedure rooms were filthy and unsanitary. .... Instruments were not sterile. Equipment was outdated and rusty. Women recovering from their abortions sat on dirty recliners covered with bloodstained blankets that the employees said they 'tried' to clean weekly. Unlicensed employees had sedated all of the women, long before Gosnell arrived. Staff members couldn't say for certain which medications they had administered. Many of the medications that the agents and the detectives found in inventory were well past their expiration dates.
Detective James Wood expressed his shock and disgust to Ms. Augustine, who stunned him by replying, "Well, you're just saying that because you're a cop."

A gynecological exam table, with torn cover and blood crusted ledge, in a cluttered and grimy-looking procedure room
Blood-encrusted and torn procedure room table
As she later testified in Gosnell's trial, Ms. Barsony noticed that the women in recovery weren't hooked up to any of the standard post-surgery monitors for things like blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen saturation. There was only one blood-pressure monitoring cuff on the premises, and it was dusty and dirty and obviously disused. As for the procedure rooms, "They had the trays for the procedure already opened, so they were sitting there exposed ... and they're supposed to be covered." The fact that they were sitting out open, and not being kept sterile prior to starting the abortion, meant that they were unsafe for use. The suction machine was in disrepair and could not allow an accurate measure of how much suction was being applied.

Two of the patients were in such bad shape medically that they needed to be hospitalized. Because the emergency exit was still padlocked and blocked with junk furniture and equipment and the hallways were so narrow and crooked, the paramedics couldn't get stretchers to the patients and had to walk them to the waiting ambulances.

Even after witnessing all of the filth and chaos, nurse Barsony decided to pass one patient's request along to her supervisors. Barsony called Cythia Boyne, who called Janice Staloski, with a question: Should Gosnell be allowed to use his unsterile instruments, expired medications, and dysfunctional suction machine to do one last abortion in his feces-encrusted, urine-spattered, flea-infested clinic?

Boyne and Staloski, the two health officials who had refused to green-light an investigation into a death at Gosnell's filthy facility, were willing to green-light an abortion there.

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