Senate passes Planned Parenthood bill

Legislation would give weight to employee complaints
June 27, 2013

A bill aimed at ensuring safe conditions at state medical facilities passed the Senate unanimously June 25.

Senate Bill 140 would allow an employee of a Delaware medical facility to file a complaint against the institution, which would prompt an inspection from state officials.

Under current law, the Department of Health and Social Services inspects medical facilities only when a complaint is brought by a patient or an adverse event occurs.  Under SB 140, an employee complaint could also be cause for an inspection from DHSS.

The bill stems from the testimony of two former Planned Parenthood nurses, who said conditions at clinics in Dover and Wilmington were unsafe for patients.  Joyce Vasikonis and Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich told senators May 29 that physicians were focused on speedy operations, and that medical equipment and examination tables were unclean.

The nurses said patients were being exposed to blood-born illness and bacterial infections on a daily basis.

Vasikonis and Mitchell-Werbrich said they tried to report the unsafe conditions to Delaware Division of Public Health, a branch of the Department of Health and Social Services, and Delaware Division of Professional Regulation.

“DPR did nothing and DHSS also did nothing,” Mitchell-Werbrich told senators before the vote.

SB 140 also requires medical facilities like Planned Parenthood to be accredited by independent agencies.  “I’m happy that they’re not going to be accrediting themselves,” Vasikonis said.

Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, D-Middletown, noted the bill had been brought directly to the Senate floor, and the Senate Health and Social Services Committee had not heard the bill.  Hall-Long voted in favor of the legislation, but she said she would have liked to hear state agency officials respond to the nurses’ complaints.

Sen. Bob Venables, D-Laurel, the bill’s main sponsor, said Mitchell-Werbrich and Vasikonis are scheduled to speak with the secretary of DHSS.

SB 140 heads to the House for consideration.

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