B y Jaime Thomas
The Granville Planned Parenthood on Quaker Street announced last week it will close its doors next month.
“After careful evaluation, we have decided to close our Granville health center on July 3 at 7 p.m. This decision enables PPMH to focus on the continued upgrading of our other health centers, to ensure we can continue to offer the highest level of patient care,” officials said in a release.
Paul Drisgula, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, confirmed the closure and said the organization will close the branch in Herkimer as well.
“Our feeling right now is with the change in the healthcare landscape it was time for us to change, too,” Drisgula said. The Granville clinic is currently open only two days a week; additionally, Drisgula said 60 percent of Washington County patients go to the centers in Glens Falls and Saratoga.
“We have 611 patient visits annually—that’s a small number. It makes it difficult to keep centers that small open,” he said, blaming lack of funding as a problem. And Linda Scharf, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Mohawk/Hudson, said those 611 patients make up about 1,000 visits because they often come in more than once in a year.
“We do believe we’re underfunded by the state health department. Many small clinics get funding from larger, urban clinics. A lack of appropriate funding makes it difficult to stay open,” Drisgula said, though he doesn’t think his organization is alone. “It’s not just Planned Parenthood; it’s all health providers. The healthcare system is in a state of flux.”
The Granville clinic has been in place since the early 1970s, but Scharf said many patients have already moved on to other centers.
“Other centers are open more hours, they have walk-in clinics and they offer far more service. There are many reasons Washington County residents have chosen to bypass the Granville center, and that’s part of the reason we’re closing,” she said, mentioning that the Granville clinic is currently open only two days per week.
Drisgula did admit officials are aware that people might be deterred from seeking out family planning services once the Granville clinic closes but said there are plans in place to address that.
“We are concerned about that, and that’s why we’re going to make as strong an effort as we can to inform patients how to access services with providers,” he said. The organization will add significant education and outreach hours, and officials will reach out through mailings and calls to patients.
“We will send out lots of education to patients and provide alternatives to make sure patients can find out where to go for service. We’ll be advising them of how and where they should go to Planned Parenthood locations and other providers.”
Officials said both the Glens Falls and Saratoga clinics have the capacity to welcome new and transferring patients, and patient electronic medical records are already available at all regional Planned Parenthood centers. Additionally, the organization has many partnerships in the community with other medical providers to which officials will continue to refer patients.
Drisgula said he hopes to place current Granville staff elsewhere.
“We have a great staff there; they’ve done amazing work for a long period of time. It’s a fantastic group of people,” he said.