Planned Parenthood clinic serves hundreds
The tiny-but-cheerful office of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte at the top of Dollar Hill seemed to deeply exhale as the busy day’s walk-in hours came to a close.
The staff of three manages to serve hundreds of patients, offering a wide range of educational resources. Their capacity is pushed to the limit, but that’s not stopping the Tahoe clinic from wanting to do more.
Informative pamphlets on everything from sexually transmitted diseases to birth control and safe sex neatly lined the bright yellow walls. Plastic flowers sprouted from a box of condoms. And a few chairs with an assortment of magazines faced opposite of two desks.
The clinic area was located behind a shoji screen that divides the office into two parts.
The Tahoe City satellite clinic, along with three other locations, served a total of 1,185 Tahoe-Truckee clients seeking reproductive health care last year alone ” more than doubling the clinic’s traffic from the prior year.
And they plan to keep growing, with hopes of expanding into a larger office so they can see more patients, said Reno Tahoe Program Manager Danielle Rees.
“We’re really a point of entry into [reproductive] health care,” Rees said.
Planned Parenthood first opened its doors on Dollar Hill three years ago. Before that, the local office of the national nonprofit only saw patients in their homes and at the group’s Reno clinic, Rees said.
The Dollar Hill clinic is currently open eight hours a day from Monday through Thursday, with designated walk-in hours from 3 to 5 p.m.
The vast majority of the clinic’s patients qualify for subsidized care. A state-sponsored program, Family PACT for Planning, Access, Care and Treatment, reimburses the clinic for services it provides to low-income men and women, including teens.
Those who don’t qualify for the plan are charged on a sliding-scale depending on their means.
Rees said she sees a wide range of clients come through their doors, different ages, both male and female, averaging 100 patients a month. But the seasonal, 20-something skier is the most typical patient.
“I think that’s really great ” that word of mouth has really spread,” she said. “A lot of people feel more comfortable here.”
The clinic offers HIV screening, tests for such sexually transmitted diseases as chlamydia and gonorrhea, pregnancy testing and pregnancy options counseling. The clinic also provides emergency contraception, birth-control pills and condoms.
And everything the clinic does is protected by confidentiality agreements.
Beyond the clinical services, Planned Parenthood offers several sex-education programs to students in local schools. More than 60 teenage boys participated in their Male Investment Program offered at North Tahoe High School and Sierra High ” over half of the participants were Latino.
“I think the need for education prevention services is much greater than what we can provide,” Rees said. “There’s definitely an interest among the youth to get involved.”