Due to advances in health care, Planned Parenthood patients come in less often for some services. (Michael B. Thomas | Getty Images)
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is closing its Claremont health center as well as four locations in Vermont in response to the expansion of telehealth, hiring challenges, and funding obstacles. Those include the loss of federal money under the Trump administration and the Executive Council’s denial of state contracts for low-cost reproductive health care.
The Claremont site, which will close June 12, is open three days a week and in 2021 served 783 patients. Nicole Clegg, senior vice president of public affairs, said the site does not provide abortion services. The organization has referred patients to nearby providers and Planned Parenthood sites in Keene and White River Junction, Vermont.
Planned Parenthood sites in Derry, Keene, and Manchester will continue operating without changes. Hours at the Exeter location will be expanded, Clegg said.
“It’s a multitude of reasons. That’s the clearest message,” Clegg said. “One, it’s complex to deliver health care. And then, because of who we are and the care we provide, it’s even more complicated. We have other barriers that we have to overcome that other health care providers don’t have to deal with at all.”
Those barriers include securing public funding, which in New Hampshire allows Planned Parenthood to provide discounted or free reproductive health care to 8,000 low-income, uninsured, or underinsured men and women annually through the state’s Family Planning Program.
The Executive Council repeatedly denied family planning contracts last year to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Equality Health Center, and Lovering Health Center over concerns they were using public money for abortions. The 4-1 party-line vote came after state officials assured councilors that new audits instituted last year by the Legislature confirmed the three centers were using only private money for abortions.
Public funding challenges alone did not trigger the restructuring, Clegg said.
Due to advances in health care, patients come in less often for some services, including cancer screenings, which are now recommended every three to five years instead of annually. And, patients can now get 12 months of birth control at a time, rather than just a three-month supply. Like other employers, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England has had challenges hiring staff. The centers lost money when pandemic health concerns kept patients at home.
The use of telehealth has also expanded. Clegg said patients have become more comfortable receiving care remotely, and more health care services can be provided that way, including at-home testing for sexually transmitted infections and consultations for birth control.
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