News Article, "Women's Services Take Quantum Leap Forward," Staten Island Advance (9/23/10)
Staten Island, NY -- For women of means, getting birth control is as easy as requesting a prescription during an annual visit to the ob-gyn.
For the poor, the uninsured and other Staten Islanders without regular health care, family planning services are often beyond reach. But starting Monday, options will increase for borough residents -- as Planned Parenthood sets up shop here for the first time.
"We know that Richmond is among the fastest-growing counties in New York and Staten Island has a need for comprehensive family planning and reproductive health care services," said Dana Czuczka, acting vice president of public affairs for the national organization. "We'll be proud to bring these services."
For the next few months, the not-for-profit will offer consultations and care every Monday out of a mobile clinic parked on Central Avenue in St. George, not far from the offices of its partner in the venture, Community Health Action of Staten Island. Early next year, the clinic will be open three days a week, housed in a space in Community Health Action's Hyatt Street location.
Available services will include birth control and emergency contraception, as well as testing for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. There will also be someone onsite to explain free and low-cost insurance options.
Unlike in the larger centers in other parts of the city, abortions will not be performed here. Appointments, for now, are on a walk-in basis.
"Most of the services are targeting women. It really increases reproductive care on Staten Island; Staten Island is very poorly served compared to other boroughs," said Diane Arneth, executive director of Community Health Action.
An especially appealing aspect of the Planned Parenthood model, she said, is that prescriptions can be written and filled on the spot.
Decades ago, residents could access reproductive care from the now-shuttered Community Family Planning Council in St. George. Since then, free and low-cost family planning services on the Island have been scattershot, and limited to a few options for adolescents and Medicaid recipients.
According to the state Department of Health, in 2008, Staten Islanders had nearly 500 abortions for every 1,000 live births -- a rate lower than other parts of New York City but far higher than most of the rest of the state.
The numbers show that the majority of women who decide to terminate their pregnancies are in their 20s or 30s, and a disproportionate number are black or Hispanic.
It's hoped that better access to birth control will obviate the need for some abortions.
The mobile clinic will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 800-230-PLAN.