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After the abortion decision, clinic staff will work on trauma

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Leah Willingham

Charleston, West Virginia (AP) — Daniel Manes clasps the hands of hundreds of uneasy patients lying on operating room tables. rice field. empty. She recorded countless vital signs and delivered dozens of snacks to her recovery area, but she is now silent.

Looking into the dark room of West Virginia's only abortion clinic, the chief nurse wondered if he could treat the patient again for abortion treatment.

"It literally makes me sick and I don't know what their future will bring to them," Manes said of residents who depend on women's health centers in West Virginia. rice field. "What is difficult to express in words is a kind of broken heart. There are all these" assumptions ". ‘

Last week, when the clinic booked all the slots for an abortion appointment, the waiting room should have been full of patients. However, the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case a few days ago and ruled that the state could ban abortion, and state law in the 1800s banned abortion, forcing the clinic to suspend it. The ACLU in West Virginia filed a proceeding on behalf of the clinic and demanded that the law be declared unenforceable so that staff could resume the abortion immediately. Other states are at various stages of legal issues.

Nationwide, clinic workers who have stopped abortion services are frightened and stressed as they try to pick up debris and draw a path forward. At the West Virginia Center, the day after a historic court ruling, the beginning of a new reality for staff brought another kind of sadness to staff, one Manes said long after the first trauma of the decision. I said I would.

On the first day, she talks to a desperate patient playing in an inevitable loop in her head.

"I don't think any of us can block it," she said. "It's always in our heads."

Like many clinics performing abortions, the facility did not provide daily procedures. Several days of the week are devoted primarily to regular gynecological treatments (cervical cancer screening, cancer screening) for low-income patients in Medicaid who have nowhere else to go. The determination to continue the work enlivened the employees.

Immediately after the decision was announced, Manes was one of the few staff members who was tasked with calling the patient to cancel her abortion appointment. On the contrary, she had never heard people speak with such fear.

All the staff realized they were in crisis for a few days, but they and others across the country were expecting a few months' ruling. "I think you're ready for now, but you're never really ready until it's a reality," said Executive Director Katie Kinones.

She saw the staff broke and sobbed. Some people called or answered the patient. Workers who spent their days off appeared, and some were still wearing pajamas to save their colleagues and provide support. Kinones encouraged everyone to take a break, and she often managed the phone herself.

She forever remembers that Friday is one of the worst days of her life. During the weekend, she hung up her phone, lay under a weighted blanket on the couch, ate junk food, and watched TV. That was the only way she could escape and deal with it.

When she and her staff returned to work, she postponed filling her empty slots from the canceled abortion appointment. Some patients still needed other services, but she wanted the workers to hold their breath. She told them to come late if needed. The clinic room was almost empty and remained dark and quiet.

Still, the phone rang.

Beth Fiddler was sitting at the desk behind the glass reception window of the clinic in her waiting room. She had no patients to check in, no Medicaid data to scan the charts, and no useful packets to distribute.

Instead, she answered the same question over and over and introduced a hotline or website to help callers find the nearest out-of-state abortion provider.

"You guys will close soon." No, the clinic will be open to provide other services.

Can I get the "Plan B-" Morning After "pills?" What about IUDs and other contraceptives? We will help you make a reservation.

"You are confident that I cannot make an abortion promise. There are no loopholes as an exception." There is no abortion service at this clinic.

Some callers have been rejected. Some remained stoic and others cried. Some responded hostilely, claiming that Fidler was wrong. She tried to be polite and empathetic — but the conversation was sacrificed.

"It annoys me," she said. "I'm already stressed and upset. I understand that I want to find a way, but there's no way."

Of the first worker the patient sees As one, Fidler takes pride in welcoming people and making them feel safe. She said it was annoying to just have to distract them and introduce them to the website.

"It's as helpless as I feel about it, I can't imagine how they must be feeling," she said.

It's quiet even outside the clinic. There is no fuss about patients arriving in the parking lot to be accompanied by volunteers in pink vests. The only car is owned by staff and security guards. On the other side of the street, there are many places owned by anti-abortion groups, except for the large white cross.

A normal protester, a pastor with the sign "Jesus loves you," prayed outside early in the morning, but the normal crowd asking the patient to reconsider left. Some cars slow down as they pass. Workers recognize some as protesters' vehicles and imagine that clinics are being monitored to prevent patients from arriving due to abortion.

Director Kinones said he knew that the long road to recovery from pain would make the next step difficult.

"Our staff needs space and time to handle this very traumatic loss," she said. "And all the secondary injuries we experience from all patients."

It's hard to just work, but employees are dedicated to helping patients. I am.

"We came on Monday, and I was like" OK, what am I doing now? " "Kaylen Barker, who handles the clinic's public messages, said. "It's hard to come back here and realize that we can't get the life-saving medical care people need and we have to refer them to our website. That's the best we can do right now.

Barker came to the clinic as a patient during the fear of breast cancer 12 years ago. She took care of her when she had no other choice. She wanted to work in this place to help her save her, so she applied until she was finally hired. Knowing that she can help others like her, whether or not an abortion is planned, "people deserve medical care in a cozy space without prejudice or judgment.

Therefore, Quinonez and her staff are focused on keeping the clinic open. Abortion services make up 40% of clinic revenue, leaving a gap that could mean layoffs, but Quinonez is determined to avoid it.

She encourages residents to move gynecological treatment to the clinic and will offer new services. The clinic recently added a sex-verifying hormone therapy service in addition to the prevention and treatment of HIV. She hopes more programs will continue.

And donations are flooding the clinic's abortion fund. Prior to this year, the fund's balance never exceeded $ 50,000. One weekend after the ruling, they raised $ 75,000. The staff will use the money to help send people out of state for an abortion.

"Yes, we are tired, we are devastated, we are angry," Kinones said. "But this isn't over yet. Now, no matter how desperate and dark it feels, I want to reassure people that it's not over."