SEMINOLE - Abortion doctor Nareshkumar Patel has told investigators that he previously disposed of fetuses by burning them in an open-air incinerator at the Seminole Municipal Hospital, The Oklahoman has learned.
Hospital administrator Ron Clifford said Thursday that Patel burned material at the hospital in 1990, but he is unaware the doctor ever disposed of fetuses there.
"That would be an unequivocally false statement," Clifford said.
"We were never ... under any impression that there was anything to do with fetuses in what he burned. " Clifford said he notified Patel in a Sept. 21, 1990, letter: "It is my understanding that Seminole Municipal Hospital disposed by incineration biomedical waste products from your office. I need to inform you that this practice must be discontinued ... due to federal and state legislative requirements. " Patel made his statement to Pottawatomie County sheriff's deputies, who were investigating the discovery of the charred remains of 55 aborted fetuses in a field east of Shawnee.
"Patel states the fetuses came from his clinic in Oklahoma City and (he) had attempted to dispose of them through different landfills, but had been turned down," sheriff's reports state.
"Patel states he had taken fetuses to Seminole hospital for cremation in the past, but they had also started refusing him. " Clifford said, "It's total news to me. If I knew that or knew it to this day I'd have pitched a fit. " The administrator said Patel has never performed abortions at the hospital. "Unequivocally not. We have a policy statement against performing abortions," Clifford said.
Margo Tims, a spokeswoman for a group of concerned citizens in Seminole, said she is "absolutely outraged" to learn that Patel told investigators he disposed of fetuses at the local hospital.
"We are outraged purely by the fact that he is even allowed" to practice at the Seminole hospital, she said. "You can not be an abortionist and a good doctor. They are like oil and water. They don't mix.
Last week, the Seminole Municipal Hospital Board declined to dismiss Patel, who is on the hospital's courtesy medical staff, after a three-member committee reported the doctor had violated no state laws or hospital bylaws. Some 50 citizens had sought the dismissal.
In May, the board of Midwest City Regional Hospital declined to renew Patel's privilege to practice there citing bylaws which call for good moral judgment and ethical behavior.
Patel is to appear today for a disciplinary hearing before the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 507902