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Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma merges with other regional offices

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Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, Thursday, June 2, 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett FIsbeck
  • Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, Thursday, June 2, 2016.

The recently announced decision by Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma (PPCO) and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM) to merge is the latest move in a wave of consolidation in the changing health care landscape.

July 1, the two affiliates become Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP) serving the Oklahoma City metro; Kansas City metro; Columbia, Missouri; and Wichita, Kansas. Planned Parenthood is known for reaching women, men and children through its quality, low-cost reproductive health services and educational and professional programs.

About a month ago, two Michigan Planned Parenthood affiliates merged to create one entity serving the northern state. In 2011, groups in Iowa and Nebraska absorbed an affiliate serving Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. Over seven years, affiliates across the country have united as part of a strategic move to expand services.

“Our affiliate decided to do this because we want to become a regional health system as you’ve seen in other hospital health systems,” said Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, a spokeswoman for the new affiliate. “It really is no different. Merging makes us a stronger regional affiliate and brings us to another level in the ability to care for our patients.”

Service offerings

For Oklahoma City, the merger includes the addition of new health services and the opening of a third health clinic at 6112 NW 63rd St. in Warr Acres. The new clinic will offer services that mirror those available from northwest Oklahoma City and Edmond health centers.

New services coming to OKC will benefit people living with HIV and AIDS and those most at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. The HIV prevention service, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), is a one-pill-a-day medication proven to prevent infection. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is suggested treatment after HIV exposure.

Abortion services, which metro clinics do not offer, will not be added for now.

“We are always keeping our options open,” Lee-Gilmore said.

PPKM provides abortion services at the affiliate’s two Kansas locations only.

“Abortion is a core mission of Planned Parenthood, and our affiliate sits in the so-called ‘abortion desert.’ We are always looking for opportunities to expand,” Lee-Gilmore said. “Right now, it is not happening.”

The new affiliate will be headquartered in Kansas City but will keep senior management in place in OKC. No layoffs resulted from the merger. Laura McQuade, PPKM president and CEO, leads the organization.

“It is our responsibility as a health care provider to ensure every person, no matter his or her gender or sexual identity, receives the health care they need,” McQuade said in a statement. “Growing our presence is an important piece to sustaining the high-quality, specialized care we deliver.”

When the change takes place, PPCO will no longer hold a contract with Oklahoma Health Care Authority. The state agency that oversees Oklahoma’s Medicaid program terminates contracts with the central Oklahoma and the eastern Oklahoma affiliates June 29. In late 2015, Gov. Mary Fallin called for the termination, citing high rates of billing errors. State funding and support is at risk in Kansas and Missouri.

Despite the obstacles, Lee-Gilmore said, the new Planned Parenthood affiliate is moving in a positive direction.

“This is all about our patients,” Lee-Gilmore said, “and being able to continue to offer quality reproductive health care in a state where we often face opposition.”

Print headline: Healthy merger, New sexual health services and a third Planned Parenthood clinic come to OKC.

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