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The top headline this year is COVID-19. The COVID-19 death toll in America is quickly reaching 300,000 people and has transformed our daily lives. The CDC continues to urge everyone to reduce exposure by wearing masks, practice social distancing of six feet, wash their hands frequently, and avoid social gatherings. 
 
As a health care organization, Planned Parenthood has made its response to the pandemic a top concern – working to reduce the risk of transmission at our health centers and adapting to the needs of our communities.  
 
All states our affiliates serve have been greatly impacted by the virus, and in all six states, the virus has hit BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) communities the hardest. 
 
Dr. Kara Cadwallader, Chief Medical Officer of PPGNHI, stated, “A recent report shows [that in addition to the 250,000+ deaths reported as COVID-related] we have another 100,000 or so excess deaths, which are likely related to folks not getting timely non-COVID related health care.  Latinx, Black, Asian and American Indian/Alaskan Native communities are suffering in greatly disproportionate numbers with much higher mortality. It is critical that we keep our doors open to provide non-COVID related, important health care to these at-risk communities.” 
 
Throughout the crisis, Planned Parenthood has insisted on continuing to ensure that our services remain essential, and has persisted in fighting hard to keep them available to all in need.  
 
Many services Planned Parenthood offers such as abortion, treatment for UTIs, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and cancer-preventing procedures such as LEEP - simply cannot wait.  
 
Dr. Cadwallader mentioned that in the beginning of the pandemic sometimes patients were encouraged to put off other services that are preventative in nature, such as cancer screenings, in order to prioritize safety and social distancing. For other services, such as birth control prescription refills, telehealth has been used to a greater extent than ever before, and for many patients telemedicine has been a saving grace. 
 
However, with COVID-19 still raging on into the foreseeable future, we are seeing clearly that reproductive health care services (just like any other health care) cannot be put off indefinitely. 
 
“It’s imperative that we reduce the risk [for transmission] as much as possible in our health centers, so that we can continue to be there for our patients,” Dr. Cadwallader said. 
 
So far, the risk-reduction measures in place have been very successful.  
 
Dr. Cadwallader reports that not a single case of COVID-19 has been transmitted from clinician to patient or from patient to clinician in any of our health centers this past year. 
 
She noted some clinicians did test positive for COVID-19, but their exposure occurred outside of Planned Parenthood health centers from family or friends. All staff who test positive for the virus, as well as all who are exposed to the virus, must quarantine for 14 days. 
 
Because there were zero outbreaks in PPINK and PPGNHI health centers, all 55 health centers within the affiliates were able to stay open. 
 
Dr. Cadwallader reports that many patients expressed gratitude that we remained open. She explained that we must remain open for our patients - this is a time when we must prove that we provide “care no matter what.” 
 
However, taking every CDC precaution, keeping up with ever-changing guidelines, maintaining PPE for clinicians and staff, granting special COVID-related medical leave to staff who need it, and fighting to keep reproductive health care deemed as “essential” has taken a toll.  
 
Now more than ever, Planned Parenthood needs the support of its community.  
 
Please stand with us in this fight by wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing your hands regularly and following other CDC guidelines. 

And please, consider a gift to ensure Planned Parenthood health centers can rise to this formidable challenge and continue to be there for all our patients. No matter what.  

Tags: covid