Planned Parenthood cites business decline for clinic closures

Patient visits are falling sharply at Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana, due to more options for women’s services and less frequent need for Pap tests, prompting the organization's decision to close six health centers over the next five months.

“It’s a good thing for woman and good thing for patients, but it’s having an impact on our business model,” Betty Cockrum, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, told IBJ on Friday.

The organization will try to offer jobs to employees at other locations, some of which are extending hours. But some positions will be eliminated, she said, without being specific.

Planned Parenthood has about 170 workers in Indiana, most of whom work in 23 health centers. The organization operates on a $17 million annual budget.

The single biggest factor in the decline in patient visits is a recent recommendation by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that women get a Pap test for cervical cancer once every three years rather than annually, Cockrum said.

At its peak in 2011, Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana did about 60,000 pap tests a year. “Now we are at 6,000 a year,” she said. “That means 54,000 patients have stopped coming through the door every year.”

Other factors for lower patient volumes were greater availability of the “morning-after pill,” a contraceptive used after unprotected sex; greater use of long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as IUDs; and an end to co-pays for birth control under the Affordable Care Act.

Cockrum called the trend a “mission win” for women, even as it is cutting into business for her organization.

“Women have more options about where they go for birth control,” Cockrum said. “The traffic is going to other health care providers. It’s going to other pharmacies. To some extent, it’s going to big box stores.”

Planned Parenthood is closing its Muncie health center today and one in Terre Haute on Wednesday. It is also merging four locations. The Fishers center will be merged July 26 with a center on the east side of Indianapolis. The Avon center will merge Aug. 30 with one on the south side of Indianapolis. The Valparaiso center will merge July 21 with one in Merrillville. A center in East Chicago will merge Dec. 15 with one in Gary.

Employees in Muncie and Terre Haute will be offered jobs at other locations, but might choose not to accept them, Cockrum said.

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