Cumberland County attorney admits he knew of abnormal pap smear allegations

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Cumberland County’s attorney is continuing to investigate the health department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program.

RELATED: Nurses: Cumberland Co. Health Dept. didn’t notify women of abnormal test results

The issue was in a story CBS North Carolina first broke on May 22.

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That federal program is intended to help lower income women get potentially lifesaving screenings.

The Department of Health and Human Services told CBS North Carolina that between July 2010 and June 2016, 851 women used it to obtain pap smears.

Now the county is investigating if women who received abnormal test results for pap smears or breast exams were ever informed.

The allegations first came to light about a week and a half ago. Two former nurses and one current one at the Cumberland County Health Department reached out CBS North Carolina.

They were angry that the health department hadn’t done more and were concerned for the women affected. They wanted to get the word out.

Following our report, CBS North Carolina obtained a memo that Cumberland County Attorney Rick Moorefield sent to the health director, county manager and county commissioners. It promised a thorough investigation. That’s still underway.

Those nurses say the coordinator for the program, a fellow nurse, failed to notify patients and that when the county found out she was fired back in 2015.

The nurses claim the health department didn’t do enough to follow up.

In an email, Moorefield admitted he knew about the accusations when they happened and that he edited a notice given to the nurse in question.

But Moorefield disputes why she was let go.

He said it was based on issues of data entry and documentation. He also said it centered around two cases — neither of which involved abnormal mammograms or pap tests.

Following her dismissal, Moorefield said the Health Department contacted DHHS. He told CBS North Carolina they made an effort to properly document and follow up with cases.

Moorefield said he didn’t inform county commissioners back then because the “Health department had already taken appropriate action to address each of these issues.”

Moorefield maintains he’s the right person to head up this new investigation. There is no word on a timeline for that work.

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