A major shift in the operating structure will cause a change in the services provided at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Creston and Red Oak.
Effective Dec. 12, there will no longer be an on-site provider at either location. Planned Parenthood will still offer limited health services by appointment through the telemedicine delivery system for birth control consultations, birth control method changes, sexually transmitted infection testing and medication abortion.
“The board had to make many difficult decisions, but to remain a strong, viable organization we need to change how we are operating to better meet the needs of our patients,” said Planned Parenthood Board Chairman Bob Shaw in a prepared statement. “The demographics of our patient base are shifting. Our organization must focus our limited resources where our patients are located.”
One of the main focuses in the transition are sites like Creston that are only available for limited hours during the week. The reorganization will provide more direct services during expanded clinic hours, but patients will have to travel further.
The Creston location is currently open noon to 5 p.m. Mondays, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays. It serves patients in all or part of eight counties in southwest and central Iowa.
“We understand that this adds complexity to accessing services,” said Planned Parenthood Public Relations Manager Shelby Cloke. “The majority of our Creston patients utilize our family planning services, which will still be available through telemedicine delivery.”
The next closest Planned Parenthood for most patients that use the Creston facility is in Des Moines or Urbandale.
“We face many challenges with the evolving health care system, hostile political environments and restricted funding programs,” said Planned Parenthood President and CEO Jill June in a prepared statement. “While there will be many changes, the one thing that will always remain the same is that Planned Parenthood will be here for our patients. We have the best interest of our patients in mind, and we will do all we can to ensure that we will continue to be here for patients, no matter what.”
In addition to the loss of an on-site provider in Creston and Red Oak, Planned Parenthood announced the closure of its locations in Ankeny, Fort Dodge, Mount Pleasant and Washington.
“Some community members have concerns that we will no longer have a health center located in their community,” Cloke said. “We share their concerns and are doing all we can to make sure these patients can still access Planned Parenthood when they need to.”
For example, Cloke said patients can receive birth control through the mail via the C-Mail program instead of scheduling monthly visits to the health center.
The Creston and Red Oak centers will also reduce their staffs, consolidating the management to one position.
Cloke said it was against Planned Parenthood policy to discuss private personnel matters regarding if Creston’s on-site manager Deb Peterson’s and LPN Brenda Sedlymayr’s position will be dissolved because of the consolidation.
The Creston News Advertiser has learned through other sources, Peterson’s and Sedlymayr’s positions will be dissolved during the consolidation.
“It is always disappointing to hear about a loss of jobs in our area,” said Creston resident Jan Knock. “Many folks in Creston and in our area have been served by Planned Parenthood and have appreciated the services and expertise of the staff, providing years of service and quality health care.”
While Planned Parenthood is focusing on restructure to provide more direct services and expanded clinic hours, Iowa Right to Life director Jenifer Bowen is worried the limited services via telemedicine delievery could lead to more complications for patients.
“These medication abortions via webcam have dangerous complications and Planned Parenthood has no follow-up care,” Bowen said. “You can’t treat an ectopic pregnancy or an incomplete abortion by webcam.”
Planned Parenthood has contacted patients about the change in service by mail, and fliers are available at the Creston site. Cloke said Planned Parenthood provided patients with a list of additional family planning providers in Iowa.
Knock said she believes Planned Parenthood’s plan is keeping in line with medical services in rural areas where patients have limited hours for local care or can travel farther for direct services.
Bowen believes the change shows Planned Parenthood is focused more on abortion and not prevention. The four closing locations were abortion-referral clinics.
“Planned Parenthood is peeling of their ‘non-abortion’ sites,” Bowen said. “Once more, getting rid of non-essentials to their abortion business.”
For more information about scheduling appointments or the services that are provided in Creston or the Des Moines/Urbandale locations, patients can call 1-877-811-7526.