SEATTLE -- Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW) will be closing three of its health centers, effective December 31, 2011. Closure locations include: Oak Harbor, Silverdale and Forks. The closure is part of a general reduction and restructuring of the organization. Additionally, PPGNW will be downsizing operations in Sitka, Alaska.
The decision to close these particular health centers was not made lightly. Throughout this economic downturn, it was previously possible for PPGNW’s larger health centers to subsidize the smaller locations. Now, with additional loss of state and federal funding and increased eligibility requirements for family planning programs, fewer patients can access services.
Critically important in making this decision was ensuring that PPGNW patients could continue to receive needed health care services at nearby Planned Parenthood health centers. Oak Harbor patients will be referred to Planned Parenthood health centers in Mt. Vernon, Everett, Lynnwood or Marysville. Silverdale patients will be referred to the Bremerton health center, just six miles away, and Forks patients will be referred to the Port Angeles health center.
The closures will impact 2,866 patients out of 90,075 or about 3% of PPGNW’s total patient volume. To assure continuity of care for our affected patients, PPGNW will coordinate with other Planned Parenthood health centers or other community providers as needed to maintain access. Additionally, PPGNW is currently working to expand our telemedicine and other online services to better serve patients in rural and more remote areas of the state.
“We don’t want any of our patients to fall through the cracks and we will work with them to transition their care,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO/President PPGNW. “We will make every effort to get our patients the care they need.”
PPGNW is deeply saddened that federal family planning restrictions and inadequate state funding have contributed to the closure of these health centers. Washington State Family Planning programs have been cut by $3.53 million during the last four years. In this harsh economy, PPGNW can no longer sustain operations in these locations and with future cuts projected, there may be additional closures.
Family planning is basic health care. It is wise public health and fiscal policy to ensure that Washington men and woman have access to preventive family planning services. Almost 50% of pregnancies in Washington are unintended and for every $1 spent on family planning, the state saves over $4 in pregnancy related costs.
PPGNW salutes our excellent staff who has worked tirelessly to provide the community essential health care like life-saving cancer screenings, birth control, well-woman exams, education programs, STD prevention and treatment, and other family planning services.
PPGNW would like to express its gratitude to all of our donors and supporters who have stood with Planned Parenthood to provide quality affordable health care for our patients. As PPGNW navigates the current economic downturn, we hope that you will continue to support the mission of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.