Associated Press (12.24.11) - Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Funding cutbacks are forcing the Planned Parenthood health
center on Lake Street in Sitka to close at the end of January
and reopen at another site in February, according to agency
officials. The new location has not yet been selected, and it
will not be staffed by a certified nurse practitioner, only a
center employee. Instead, patients there will be able to speak
with a CNP via secure video conference, officials said.
Sitka's current part-time clinic sees about 270 patients
annually. Due to difficulty finding CNPs to staff the office,
telemedicine has been in use there for at least the last year,
said Clover Simon, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson in
At the new site, some reproductive services like Pap testing
will not be offered, and STD testing could be reduced. Which
STD screenings are offered will depend on whether the clinic
staffer is certified to draw blood. Tests for infections like
gonorrhea and chlamydia, which require only a urine sample,
will continue, said Simon.
"There will definitely be less access for some women. We're
going to try as hard as we can to fill that gap, but the
reality is it's going to cause hardship for some women," Simon
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW), which
operates facilities in Alaska, Idaho and Washington, is
wrestling with state and federal budget cuts. Three smaller
clinics in Washington will close, said Seattle-based
spokesperson Kristen Glundberg-Prossor.
However, "This restructuring is an opportunity for Sitka to be
the pilot for a new and more efficient care delivery model for
PPGNW rural service areas," officials said. "Our hope is that
this model will enable PPGNW to reach many new patients
through Alaska and other remote areas of the great Northwest."