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Carrboro Midwifery closes

By Taylor Sisk
Staff Writer
Carrboro Midwifery has closed its doors and told its clients that it can no longer provide services.

According to a statement released on May 31 by Deb O’Connell, owner and operator of the business, “Carrboro Midwifery will be closing our doors today secondary to losing our back up physician who alerted me last evening that he was advised by the Board of Medicine to immediately cease supervising Certified Nurse Midwives who are not employed by him.”

Henry Dorn, a High Point-based obstetrician, had been providing supervision to Carrboro Midwifery, which recently moved to Durham, and six other midwifery agencies in North Carolina. A physician’s supervision is required by state law.

But North Carolina Medical Board records indicate that no actions, disciplinary or otherwise, have been taken against Dorn, and the board’s public affairs director, Jean Fisher Brinkley, said on Tuesday that it was Dorn’s own choice to cease providing the supervision.

“Dr. Dorn still has a full and unrestricted medical license,” Brinkley said.

In a Tuesday email to The Citizen, Dorn wrote: “This is a complicated issue and unfortunately I cannot really comment on it by [the deadline for this week’s issue] but may be able to do so within the next 2 weeks.”

Brinkley, careful to underscore that she wasn’t speaking specifically of Dorn, added that she was not authorized to comment on any investigations or pending investigations.

O’Connell, however, wrote in her statement that she is “now without a license and therefore without medical malpractice and forced to close the doors to the practice I have worked so hard to build for the past two years.”

She said she is now attempting to arrange follow-up care for her clients.

Reached on Wednesday, O’Connell confirmed that she had closed the practice, and had no additional comment.

Meanwhile, the Midwifery Joint Committee, which regulates certified nurse midwives (CNMs), voted at an emergency meeting last Thursday to approve a rule that would allow CNMs to “continue practicing for up to 75 days in the event of the unexpected loss of their current supervising physician.”

The rule was submitted to the state Rules Review Commission for final approval.

Neither for nor against
The state medical board does not license midwifes. According to its website, the board “does not have a position on home birth. It is neither for it nor against it.”

Chapter 90, Article 10A of the N.C. General Statutes states: “A person approved pursuant to this Article may practice midwifery in a hospital or non-hospital setting and shall practice under the supervision of a physician licensed to practice medicine who is actively engaged in the practice of obstetrics.”

Supervision criteria set out in the statutes include guidelines stipulating how and under what circumstances the CNM and the physician will communicate and a process for regularly reviewing care.

According to the medical board’s website: “The Board has no policy that would prohibit physicians from supervising CNMs and has no plans to adopt such a policy. Any physician who meets the requirements of state law and related administrative rules may supervise CNMs.”

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