BENTON TOWNSHIP — While the ability for women to access birth control and family planning services has increased over the years, it has decreased in Southwest Michigan recently.
That’s because the Planned Parenthood location along Napier Avenue, in Benton Township, has closed.
Angela Vasquez-Giroux, director of communications and media relations for Planned Parenthood of Michigan, said in an email this week that the heath center closed Sept. 23 and its clients were directed to the Kalamazoo location.
She said that the closure was simply part of the ongoing evaluation of health care.
“Providing health care services in an ever-changing landscape means we will always be evaluating where our services are needed most and concentrating our resources where the needs are, etc.,” Vasquez-Giroux said. “We strive to provide care for anyone who needs it, and part of that is concentrating our resources in the places they’re needed most.”
The Benton Harbor Planned Parenthood location saw 851 patients in 2018. It offered free and low-cost sexual and women’s health care, and family planning services. It was not a location that provided abortion services.
Gillian Conrad, spokeswomen for the Berrien County Health Department, said as a result of the closure, they’ve seen an uptick in people coming to the health department.
She said she doesn’t know if people think of the health department as a backup to free and low-cost health services, but they offer the same services in its Family Planning Program.
The program provides education and counseling on contraception and health, physical examinations, testing and referrals at all of its locations.
The fees are based on income, though health insurance is also accepted. No one is denied services due to the inability to pay.
Other clinics in the area that offer free, sliding scale or low-cost women’s health care services include Intercare Community Health Network in Bangor and Benton Harbor, and the Niles Community Health Center.
Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman