SOUTH BEND, Ind. — St. Joseph County Board of Health member, Heidi Beidinger, was reprimanded by the board’s attorney and the board president for going on a crazy rant in which she spread lies about a controversial program which just had funding pulled by the St. Joseph County Council. Beidinger decided to also turn her ire toward one member of the Council, gaslighting the board and public by calling the council person a liar.
"I'm very concerned about that County Council person who now written two articles in the Federalist who is denouncing public health." Beidinger said in reference to County Councilwoman Amy Drake during the meeting on February 15th. "This is the same person who then is saying these things in the council meeting that are misconceptions and it feels like intentional lies."
"Let's be careful." Board President John Linn replied.
"I don't need caution. I understand what I'm saying. This should all be in the public domain... to say that we don't understand what's going on is unacceptable. It's unacceptable." Beidinger snapped. "What do we do to fix this, so we have a county council that supports public health and supports the department of health and gives it the respect and dignity that it deserves?"
"I don't think it helps to call county council people liars." Linn responded.
"It's a violation of the board statement for conduct of public meetings." attorney Marcel Lebbin interjected.
"I will retract my statement and just say that misinformation is being shared." Beidinger continued.
Beidinger, who was the president of the board during the height of COVID and recently ran and lost for a seat on the Indiana House of Representatives as a Democrat, started her rant in response to the County Council pulling approximately $8,000 in funding from a controversial birth equity program. The money was supposed to be used to help in gathering data for the program for what are being called "Pregnancy and Birth Equity Cafes."
BIRTH EQUITY DEBACLE
In May of last year, REAL News Michiana uncovered disturbing details regarding the "Birth Equity" push by the St. Joseph County Department of Health. It turns out, the DoH hired an extremely controversial doctor out of Louisiana to lead the study and give a seminar to the public. However, the doctor the county hired has had her medical license suspended, practiced medicine without a license and has been accused of multiple malpractice cases that ended in the deaths of a baby and a new mother.
The St. Joseph County Department of Health came into a contract with Joia Crear-Perry and her organization, New Orleans based National Birth Equity Collaborative, in April of 2022. The county paid nearly $20,000 for a seminar on April 13th and 14th with Crear-Perry as the keynote speaker, in which she blamed “White Supremacy” as the reason for health disparities between races.
A DOCTOR DISGRACED
Crear-Perry’s medical practicing history is full of redflags in which she has shown herself to be dishonest and careless, at the least.
According to Louisiana state medical licensing records, in 2005, Crear-Perry had her hospital privileges partially revoked by the Baptist Memorial Medical Center for not following hospital rules and putting patient safety as risk. Crear-Perry was told her privileges would be restored after she went through another year of obstetrics training “at an approved residency program.” She requested a leave of absence to complete that training. However, instead of doing so, she sought staff privileges at another hospital, East Jefferson General Hospital, and never disclosed her suspension.
Crear-Perry also failed to disclose her suspension to the State Board of Medical Examiners, as required by law. She practiced for three years before the death of a child at her hands led to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
In 2007, Crear-Perry is accused of puncturing the amniotic sac of a 20-week pregnant woman, leading to the death of her unborn son. According to an article from the Times-Picayune, Crear-Perry was attempting to remove a non-existent IUD (implanted birth control device). Crear-Perry did not perform an ultrasound to confirm the existence of an IUD and performed the procedure without the use of an ultrasound when she ruptured the amniotic sac. The mother gave birth to a stillborn child weeks later.
In 2008, East Jefferson General Hospital revoked Crear-Perry’s medical privileges after they discovered she did not disclose her previous suspension from Baptist Memorial Medical Center. That same year, Crear-Perry was accused of medical malpractice that lead to the death of a new mother, according to the Times-Picayune.
Only months later, the State of Louisiana suspended Crear-Perry’s medical license for 6 months. However, the Licensing Board stayed the suspension in lieu of a 3 year medical license probation. Crear-Perry was ordered to do several things in order to have her license fully restored, however she ignored the state order and continued to practice medicine illegally.
In 2009, the State of Louisiana suspended Crear-Perry’s license entirely.
Then, in 2010, Crear-Perry was selected by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to be the city’s acting Health Director. That position was short-lived, as controversy over her suspended license led to her quickly resigning the position, according to a report by the Times-Picayune.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the State of Louisiana fully restored Crear-Perry’s medical license.
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY BOARD OF HEALTH SILENCES JOURNALIST
In a St. Joseph County Board of Health meeting in May of 2022, much of the board and employees of the health department praised the Birth Equity initiative partnership with Crear-Perry.
However, during public comment, the board initially refused to take questions or comment from REAL News Michiana Reporter, Clifton French. Instead, Beidinger turned off the Zoom meeting quickly after RNM brought up concerns about Crear-Perry’s past.
The project with the County Health Department is being spearheaded by Sally Dixon, Fetal Infant Mortality Review Program Coordinator. If you have questions about the program, you can contact her at SDixon@sjcindiana.com.
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