New documents released by South Carolina’s public health agency reveal state regulators shut down a Fort Mill birthing center over violations that may have led to a newborn infant’s death last month.
Earlier this week, the Carolina Community Maternity Center posted on its Facebook page that South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control regulators had temporarily suspended its license. DHEC did not publicly give a reason at the time.
DHEC released the suspension order on Wednesday. The order states that two CCMC midwives violated state regulations for not contacting a physician after a woman in their care began experiencing complications during labor. DHEC officials say the midwives also failed to call for an ambulance, instead taking the woman to the hospital in her own vehicle.
The August 30 emergency involved a woman who had arrived at the clinic in labor the night before. An exam at 7:15 a.m., that morning showed she was 8 centimeters dilated. However, she was not checked again until 12:45 p.m., when it was discovered she had experienced a “rupture of membranes with light meconium stained fluid,” that complicated the labor. No physician was consulted, the DHEC documents say.
Later that evening, the infant’s heart beat dropped from the 130s to the 110s while en utero, but no physician was consulted. DHEC regulations only allow midwives to deliver a “low-risk” birth. An on-call physician must be notified once complications occur, the agency says.
After the heart tones began dipping into the 80s around 7:30 p.m., the midwifes took the woman to the hospital in her own vehicle rather than call an ambulance, which DHEC also maintains is a violation. When the group arrived at Piedmont Medical Center, a Cesarean section was performed and the baby was born with no heartbeat. Hospital personnel tried to revive the infant but were unsuccessful, state documents said.
DHEC mailed an order suspending the clinic’s license on September 3. The agency said it had previously cited CCMC for failing to have a physician on call.
CCMC officials insist that DHEC had never enforced the regulation during their licensing process before. In a Facebook post Monday, the clinic said its midwives took appropriate action.
“Calling a physician to come to the birth center would have delayed transport,” the post said. “A physician would not have been able to provide appropriate care at the birth center as operating room facilities were needed.”
The clinic did not comment on Wednesday.