This is the clinic where two physicians admitted in 1996 that partial birth abortion was a common practice. A very inconvenient truth, since the abortion industry spokespeople were claiming at the time that no more than 500 a year were performed nationally.
From the Bergen Record, Wednesday, February 28, 2007:
State shuts abortion clinic over health risks
State health officials have shut down one of New Jersey's largest abortion centers after finding violations at an Englewood clinic that posed "immediate and serious risk of harm to patients."
Metropolitan Medical Associates will remain closed until it corrects the deficiencies that prompted the closure, state officials said. State reports show the clinic performs more than 10,000 abortions a year.
The shutdown order cited problems "including but not limited to infection control, instruments, equipment used for sterilization of patient care use items and the processing of equipment."
The Department of Health and Senior Services refused to release the detailed list of violations to the public until the clinic has an opportunity to dispute the findings and the state issues its final report.
An order to halt medical services is extremely rare. This is only the second time in the last five years that the department has closed one of the state's 619 ambulatory-care facilities for "deficient care," said health department spokesman Nathan Rudy.
The state's two-day investigation of Metropolitan Medical was spurred by a complaint filed last week by Newark Beth Israel Medical Center after its emergency room treated a woman for complications following her abortion at the clinic, according to two sources close to the investigation. The hospital told the state it was concerned the abortion may have been done improperly, the sources said.
Newark Beth Israel officials declined to comment.
Metropolitan Medical also did not answer inquiries for comment.
" 'No one could be reached for comment' is the note they left me," said the operator at the clinic's answering service.
This is not the first time the Engle Street clinic has been forced to close because of infection control problems, Rudy said. For a short time, the state barred the clinic from providing care back in 1993.
Metropolitan Medical, which has operated in Englewood since the mid-1970s, is one of a handful of clinics in the state that perform not only first-trimester abortions but second-trimester terminations, as well -- up to the 24th week of pregnancy.
It is a frequent target of antiabortion protests and has been the subject of lawsuits over just how far protesters can go to block access to a clinic. In the past, protesters have chained themselves together and lain down in front of its entrance. These days, they hold regular prayer vigils.
The state has ordered the clinic to hire an infection control consultant and an administrative consultant, both of whom must be approved by the state and must be at the clinic "no less than 40 hours per week."
The consultants "shall have full authority to review, revise, if necessary, and implement all facility policies and procedures, particularly those related to administration, infection control, sterilization, housekeeping, emergency procedures, quality assurance policies and procedures and the overall practices of the facility."
The consultants must submit weekly written reports to the state health department.
In the meantime, the clinic is redirecting patients to other local abortion facilities, including Women's Choice in Hackensack, which has the same owners as Metropolitan Medical.
The clinic is also telling callers that it will reopen next Tuesday. The state, however, is making no promises.
"We will rescind the order once the major violations are taken care of and a plan of corrections, approved by the department, is in place," said Rudy. "And we do follow-up inspections to make sure all violations have been abated."
New Jersey statutes provide for penalties of up to $2,500 for each day that violations related to patient care are not corrected.
The clinic, meanwhile, is doing its best to downplay its troubles.
Asked by a caller why the clinic was closed, the receptionist said only: "Everything's fine. We're just doing a little renovation."