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Planned Parenthood closing, merging central Indiana locations

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MUNCIE, Ind. (JULY 14, 2016) -- Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Northern Kentucky is closing two clinics in central Indiana. They’re also merging four other health centers with nearby clinics.

Friday is the final day of operations for the Planned Parenthood in Muncie and next Wednesday, the Terre Haute location is set to shut its doors.

They’re also merging Valparaiso with Merillville on July 21, Fishers with Eastside on July 26, Avon with the Southside health center on August 30 and East Chicago with Gary on December 15.

The news is bittersweet for CEO Betty Cockrum who tells me improvements in women’s health care access are what’s driving away their business.

“It isn’t that there’s a reduced need for Planned Parenthood with these patients, it’s that the patients don’t need that from anybody anymore,” says Cockrum.

Cockrum says the medical community’s change in recommending pap tests every three years instead of annually had one of the biggest impacts on traffic at all Planned Parenthood locations.

“At our peak, we did 60,000 pap tests in a year and we’re now at 6,000,” says Cockrum. “That’s 54,000 women who don’t any longer come through the door once a year to get their pap test done.”

Access to free birth control through the Affordable Care Act and ability to get emergency contraceptives like Plan B without a prescription also reduced the number of people walking through their doors.

“It’s just been a great advancement for women who have reason to believe that they might have introduced risk of pregnancy and they’re able to avail themselves of that,” says Cockrum. “When it went over the counter, regardless of age, that took traffic out as well and then there’s long-acting, reversible contraception, IUDs for example, they can last as long as twelve years.”

More women using IUDs means fewer follow-up visits for new packs of birth control.

But there are still hundreds of people in the Muncie area who still depend on Planned Parenthood’s services, including prescriptions for birth control.

That’s where Open Door Family Planning on South Walnut comes in.

“It is great to see people getting insured and getting more access to care, but we know the need is still there,” Graybeal.

Planned Parenthood in Muncie is referring local patients to Open Door for help, especially the uninsured.

“Many of our patients are able to receive free services from us and that’s the key,” says Graybeal. “And that’s what other places just can’t do, just because of the funding that we get from the Indiana Health Council.”

Graybeal says Planned Parenthood patients can expect the same types of services and care at Open Door.

“We’ve always provided this same care and they can come here and get their birth control, get their women’s wellness exams, get their STD screenings, just like at Planned Parenthood,” says Graybeal.

Open Door also provides other health services, connecting the uninsured with health insurance providers and services of their own outside of women’s health care. They have an urgent care and also offer dental and pediatric care, among other services.

Cockrum says even though, in some places, they’re leaving medical care to others like Graybeal, they won’t stop advocating for the kinds of women’s healthcare improvements putting them out of business.

“Certainly we’ll be out there as a voice for reproductive justice,” says Cockrum. “We’ll always be out there educating, to make sure Hoosiers know how to make good decisions about whether and when to become sexually active, whether or when to become parents.”

If you're a former Planned Parenthood patient that needs to contact Open Door for an appointment, call 765-281-4263.