Despite recent news of litigation surrounding its loss of state grant funding for HIV education and testing and the Komen Foundation’s temporary suspension of financial support for its breast cancer screenings, Planned Parenthood says its new Johnson City office has been well received since opening in early January.
“We’ve had a very positive reception so far,” said Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Middle and East Tennessee. “We know there is a great need and that’s part of the reason we came to the area.
“Twenty-five percent of women in the seven counties of Upper East Tennessee live in poverty and have limited access to affordable health care options. We provide great services to women with limited options at affordable fees set at approximately 25 to 30 percent of what they would pay at private health care offices.”
Located at 409 E. Unaka Ave., the new Planned Parenthood office is open Mondays from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Teague said while the office has only been open a few weeks, patient visits are increasing as more people learn it is there. “The bulk are coming for preventative care, cancer screenings and birth control,” he said.
The Johnson City office’s January opening coincided with the Tennessee Department of Health’s termination of grant funding that for many years had been awarded to Planned Parenthood for HIV education and testing. Planned Parenthood filed suit against the state last week to restore the funding.
Teague said the funding was provided by the federal government and administered by the state, which terminated the grants without explanation other than its statement that Planned Parenthood did not qualify.
He said Planned Parenthood has continued to provide free HIV testing and education despite the grant loss because “we believe its a moral responsibility that people have access to HIV testing and that they understand their status and protect themselves and their partners.”
Teague said that although the Komen Foundation’s decisions to end, and seven days later to restore, funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings did not apply to Planned Parenthood affiliates in Tennessee, “We were concerned for thousands of women across the country who suddenly would not have that access to life-saving cancer screenings.”