I-Team: State regulators request access after deaths at birthing center

Monday, April 9, 2018
I-Team looks into how birthing centers and midwives are regulated after deaths of three newborns at Cary location
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The I-Team is looking into how birthing centers are regulated after a birthing center stopped delivering babies.

CARY, NC (WTVD) -- Officials with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services are requesting access to survey a Cary birthing center under scrutiny for three newborn deaths in seven months.

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In a letter obtained by the ABC11 I-Team, Deputy Secretary for Health Services Mark T. Burton acknowledges the lack of legal authority to demand access to Baby + Co., but nonetheless offers "a transparent process that will answer many of the outstanding questions raised by these recent deaths" and "provide the public with the assurance that quality and safety are at its highest levels."

The I-Team first reported on Baby + Co. on March 23, when administrators announced the birthing center voluntarily stopped delivering babies at its Cary office, located at 226 Asheville Avenue. While the vast majority of deliveries were safe, Baby + Co. confirmed three newborn deaths within seven months, including at least one in 2018.

In all of NC, there are only seven birthing centers. All of them have an accreditation, but they don't have any state licensing - and that's because there's no such thing.

Burton told Baby + Co. managers the proposed survey would last two to three days, involve three staff members, and review several procedures and protocols, including medical oversight and supervision, fetal heart rate strips and preventative maintenance logs, infection controls and sanitation inspection records, plus EMS/ambulance logs and hospital emergency records.

"We have every confidence in our model of care and welcome the opportunity for review," a Baby + Co spokesman told ABC11 on Friday evening. "We are licensed in the state of TN and CO where there is birth center regulation and regulators from those states have conducted site visits and a careful review of our policies, procedures and safety standards. We apply the same standards across all of our centers, including our center in Cary, NC. We have reached out to DHHS to set a framework for evaluation and look forward to working with them on this as we move forward."