On April 2 Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan (PPMSM) will open a new health center in Ferndale. Located at 23338 Woodward, the new facility is Planned Parenthood’s first in Oakland County.
“We are thrilled to start serving the people of Oakland County closer to home,” said PPMSM CEO Lori Lamerand. Oakland County currently has no reproductive health care facility that serves patients on a sliding fee scale. “Especially in these tough economic times, it is more critical than ever to provide access to essential health care including affordable birth control and cancer screenings.”
Although there is controversy associated with Planned Parenthood’s referrals to abortion services, 97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are basic, preventive health care, like annual exams, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing and counseling, and procedures to address pre-cancerous conditions of the cervix.
“Last year, we saw nearly 67,000 patients from Benton Harbor to Detroit,” said Lamerand. With the addition of the Ferndale heath center, PPMSM now has 17 facilities that serve patients in 31 counties. “Seventy-five percent of our patients are women between the ages of 20 and 40, many of whom are struggling without health insurance. We’re here for them.”
In 2010, PPMSM bought a building at I-75 and Opdyke Road in Auburn Hills. In the face of stiff opposition from a small group of conservative activists, PPMSM filed a lawsuit in May 2011 seeking judicial confirmation of its right to open a health center at that location. In January, PPMSM won a summary judgment in the case, but that judgment has been appealed by the defendants.
“There is a need for multiple centers in Oakland County, where the State of Michigan has documented the need for affordable reproductive health care,” said Lamerand. “We will assess whether we will open a facility in Auburn Hills when the legal process is final. In the meantime, we’re open in Ferndale.”
Magnitude of need
Ann Heler has seen the magnitude of the need in Oakland County as president of the board of FernCare, the city’s free medical clinic that serves patients from Hazel Park, Royal Oak and Madison Heights.
“Since FernCare Free Clinic, Inc. opened in August of 2010, we have seen the enormous need in this community for access to basic health care,” said Heler. “We are thrilled that Planned Parenthood is coming to Ferndale to help fill the gap. While people are playing politics with reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood continues to push forward to help those who need it most.”
Oakland County Commissioner Craig Covey is supportive of the center’s opening. “Political pressure from religious ultra-conservatives had kept Oakland County bereft of a formal Planned Parenthood presence for years,” Covey said. He noted that Oakland County has the second largest number of low-income women without health insurance in Michigan and said, “We are thankful that an organization like Planned Parenthood provides health care for so many people. The alternative is much higher health care costs in emergency rooms and for advanced disease that would be borne by us all.
“More than half of all pregnancies in Michigan are unplanned, and two thirds of those births are then publicly funded, costing our state taxpayers $282 million annually. Each one dollar spent on preventing unplanned pregnancies saves more than six dollars in local, state, and federal Medicaid costs for maternal and infant care in the first year alone.” Covey’s commentary on the opening can be read online at at his blog – http://coveys-corner.blogspot.com.
Planned Parenthood offers affordable reproductive health care through medical services, education and advocacy. Ninety-seven percent of services are focused on cancer screening, Pap tests, breast exams, birth control, vasectomies, sex education (including abstinence), and diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. With 17 health centers serving 31 Michigan counties, PPMSM serves more than 69,000 women, men and teens each year.