PRIMARY CARE: Planned Parenthood Affiliates Move To Fill Gap
While managed care and increased competition have placed new constraints on all health care providers, specialty providers such as Planned Parenthood clinics have been especially hard hit. As a result, many Planned Parenthood clinics are broadening their focus on reproductive care to include primary care, the California Wellness Foundation Newsletter reports. "Safety-net providers fill a critical need for preventive services, and they are facing a difficult transition because of historic changes in health care," said Gary Yates, president and CEO of the California Wellness Foundation. In December 1996, the nine Planned Parenthood affiliates in California were awarded $600,000 by the foundation and the California Endowment "to help strengthen and expand the clinics' infrastructure and enhance delivery of preventive services."
"More and more, we are the health care provider that people can afford, and we have the cultural competency to give the best services," said Linda Williams, executive director of the Mar Monte Planned Parenthood affiliate. About one-third of Mar Monte's clinics decided to become primary providers. Williams noted that many of their clients have difficulty accessing appropriate referrals and "stay with Planned Parenthood through all phases of their lives." She said, "We have a have a commitment to reproductive services. ... Adding primary care strengthens that mission." Similarly, several clinics in the Shasta-Diablo affiliate became primary care providers "because it was in the best interest of their clients." Heather Saunders Estes, president and CEO of the Shasta-Diablo affiliate, said, "We were responding to requests from our clients. Many women never see a doctor except when they come to Planned Parenthood. This is the best way to provide a continuum of care."
For The Boys
Perceiving a gap in reproductive health services for men, and with a "target population that was static and aging," the Six Rivers affiliate in rural Northern California decided to expand its services to men. Tina Shelton of the Six Rivers affiliate said, "The local urologist who provided most of the vasectomies in the area suddenly retired, leaving a gap in care we knew we could fill. Another population we needed to reach was teen males." The clinic now does vasectomies, holds "drop-in clinics for teen males" and does "reproductive counseling for couples" (California Wellness Foundation Newsletter, Summer 1998 issue).