Giving Thought: More to Planned Parenthood than meets the eye
Planned Parenthood is well known to the public as a provider of women’s health care, including abortion services. What many don’t know about this nationwide nonprofit is the wide range of other reproductive health services it provides for women, men and teens.
Rebecca Murray has worked for Planned Parenthood for 15 years and has managed the health center in Glenwood Springs for the past nine years. Whitney Phillips handles public relations for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, the regional office that runs centers in four states.
Aspen Community Foundation: How long has Planned Parenthood been in Glenwood Springs, and what services does it offer there?
Rebecca Murray: Our health center in Glenwood Springs has offered a wide range of reproductive health services for women, men and teens for nearly four decades. Our professional, nonjudgmental and confidential services include annual well-woman exams, cancer screenings for women that could include pap tests, breast exams, colposcopies, cryotherapy and referrals for mammograms. We also provide birth control and emergency contraception, sexually transmitted disease tests and treatment, and rapid HIV tests with results available in 20 minutes.
We also do pregnancy tests and options counseling with referrals on adoption, abortion and prenatal care. For men, we provide testicular cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection tests and treatment, and HIV tests. We offer the abortion pill and mid-life menopause services including hormone replacement therapy.
Really, it’s an incredible range of reproductive health care. We work with other community providers and offer referrals for our patients based on need and to support the continuum in their health care.
ACF: What is Planned Parenthood aside from the headlines? And how does the larger organization coordinate with the local offices?
Whitney Phillips: First and foremost, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is a health care provider, actually one of the largest providers in Colorado. We serve nearly 100,000 patients yearly with life-saving cancer screening, STI testing and treatment, breast health, birth control and abortion care. We are a passionate team, with deep roots in our communities.
We are an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and we operate 29 health centers in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Southern Nevada.
ACF: Who are your Glenwood customers, how many are there, and what services do they seek?
RM: The Glenwood Springs Planned Parenthood is the only health center west of the Denver area along the Interstate 70 corridor into mid-Utah. We serve a large geographic region and our patients travel to us from Aspen to Parachute, the Vail Valley, Grand Junction, Delta, Montrose, Paonia and beyond. It is not uncommon for us to see someone from Crested Butte or even Utah. In 2016 our health center served more than 2,500 patients.
While our health center does accept Medicaid and insurance, most of our patients have no applicable form of insurance and rely on the affordable reproductive health care we provide, which includes access to our Clients In Need funding. Our Clients In Need Fund is available to any patient who cannot cover the cost of their visit and can demonstrate the need for financial assistance. Our health center appreciates Aspen Community Foundation’s continued support for this critical fund.
ACF: What does the advent of the Trump administration mean for the organization, nationally and locally?
WP: We’re certainly watching the political landscape with a new lens. The new administration has made it clear that reducing access to reproductive care will be a priority. For us, that means fighting 10 times harder to make sure our patients are taken care of and still have a trusted provider like Planned Parenthood in their community.
For example, in Colorado just this last week, we saw three different bills introduced that would have limited access in some way to reproductive care or to abortion, but all three of those bills were defeated. Our legislative and political teams are working hard to make sure the Colorado General Assembly protects access and represents the values of all Coloradans. We’re reaching out to local, state and federal elected officials to make sure they know that Planned Parenthood is here to stay.
Tamara Tormohlen is executive director of Aspen Community Foundation.
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