Florida Planned Parenthood Evacuated After Chemicals Spread Throughout Clinic

Police in Sarasota, Fla. evacuated a Planned Parenthood clinic after workers inside began experiencing shortness of breath due to hazardous fumes filling the vents. An investigation has been ongoing since the scary event Monday, hopefully proving that no one intentionally tried to hurt the clinic employees.  

According to the Associated Press, Spokeswoman for the Sarasota Police Department Genevieve Judge said that two hazardous materials teams were sent to the clinic this morning after evacuating almost 40 people. Seven of the people who felt sick were even brought to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for evaluation, but none of the cases were considered life-threatening. The clinic, as well as a nearby arts school, were both put on lockdown until police could resolve the problem.

Cosmopolitan reported that Planned Parenthood released a statement during the incident, providing more details. "Several member of our Sarasota Health Center staff felt ill while working" and that the substances believed to be causing the issue were "fumes from cleaning solution located in a janitorial closet."

President and CEO of Sarasota's Planned Parenthood, Barbara Zdravecky explained that the materials were left open and on top of a water heater, allowing the fumes to enter the ducts in the building. From there, they spread around and caused many of the employees to feel sick. Thankfully, there were no patients in the facility when the problem arose, according to the Herald Tribune. "I feel very appreciative that we have such a responsive group of professionals that are looking out for the safety of the people who live and work in Sarasota," said Zdravecky. 



Once hazardous materials teams found the cleaning supplies and identified them as the source of the problem, the chemicals were removed from the premises. The lockdown of both the clinic and the nearby school were lifted, as well. The Planned Parenthood clinic made the decision to stay closed for the rest of the day, but explained that all the workers who were affected by the fumes are safe and feeling okay.

"We just got word that several of [our staff] were being released right now," Zvardecky said, according to the Herald Tribune. "Our medical director is there with them. Everyone is going to be fine."

Planned Parenthood provides help to those looking for reproductive care, family planning and birth control. However, this has also made its clinics a huge target for those who are violently against abortion. Sarasota's response to this situation—even though the dangerous chemicals were just open cleaning supplies—was quick and appropriate considering how dangerous it could have been. Thankfully, the evacuation was not caused by an outsider trying to harm clinic employees.