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Planned Parenthood to open clinic in Ferndale (Detroit Free Press)

Published March 26, 2012, by the Detroit Free Press.

By Megha Satyanarayana, Detroit Free Press Staff Writer.

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Published: 03.26.12| Updated: 03.28.12

Planned Parenthood is coming to Ferndale next week, and city officials are welcoming it with open arms.

The new clinic, Planned Parenthood's first in Oakland County, will open April 2 and start seeing patients April 4. It's located at 23338 Woodward Ave., the old PrimeCare building.

At the Ferndale City Council meeting Monday, clinic officials introduced themselves and gave a short presentation about their decision to build in Ferndale. Rather than wait on the outcome of a yearlong legal battle to open their clinic in Auburn Hills, Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan CEO Lori Lamerand said they chose Ferndale because it was at the center of where they saw the most need in Oakland and Wayne Counties.

Their clinics in Warren, Livonia and Detroit see about 5,000 Oakland County residents.

"We've been welcomed into a community that really cares about its citizenry. It feels like coming home," said Lamerand.

Although the Ferndale clinic won't provide abortions, it will offer other services on a sliding scale -- birth control, STD testing and routine reproductive health care for men and women.

Planned Parenthood will complement work being done at Ferncare, Ferndale's free clinic. Ferndale Mayor David Coulter said the free clinic has been overwhelmed, with a months-long waiting list.

"I think it's good news, especially for women without health care that need reproductive health services," Coulter said.

Ann Heler, Ferncare board president, said women in the clinic's care ask for help with mammograms, Pap smears and birth control. "We don't provide any ob-gyn care," she said. "This is something women ask for all the time."

The clientele for Ferncare mainly comes from Ferndale, Detroit, Madison Heights, Hazel Park, Southfield and Royal Oak.

For several years, Planned Parenthood has been trying to open a clinic in Oakland County, based on available funding from the Michigan Department of Community Health through the federal Title X program, which funds reproductive health services but not abortions. MDCH surveys indicated a need for low-cost health care for uninsured and underinsured people in the county, said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Desiree Cooper.

In 2011, County Health Rankings -- a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health care project -- found that 11% of Oakland County residents younger than 65 were uninsured, slightly under the state average of 14%. Wayne County residents, which the clinic expects to serve, are 15% uninsured.

After buying a building in Auburn Hills in November 2010, Planned Parenthood met opposition from anti-abortion groups, headed by Citizens for a Pro-life Society. For more than a year, Planned Parenthood has been in court fighting the owners of a hotel that sits behind its proposed clinic.

The owners say a medical office would violate a restrictive covenant signed between the owners of the Comfort Suites Inn on Opdyke Road, and the landowner who sold the land to the company.

In December, an Oakland County Circuit Court judge disagreed and allowed Planned Parenthood to proceed with its Auburn Hills clinic. Lawyers representing the hotel owners, whose fight is being funded in part by anti-abortion groups, have appealed the decision. No court date has been set.

Monica Migliorino Miller, the leader of Citizens for a Pro-life Society, said she learned of the planned clinic in Ferndale recently and is concerned. She said even if the clinic doesn't perform abortions, it will refer young women to other clinics that do.

"It's distressing when they open anywhere," she said, noting that her group will picket.

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