When the new Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific facility in San Rafael facility opens its doors this summer, the two-year-old Mill Valley Planned Parenthood will be closing, as much of the staff head to the significantly larger San Rafael building, according to
Local leaders and Planned Parenthood staff and supporters gathered Monday in San Rafael’s West End for a sneak peek of the new center, which organizers hope will open in early June.
The soon-to-be full-service facility, at 2 H Street, may create déjà vu for some community members. The 6,632-square-foot building housed a Planned Parenthood clinic in the past.
The San Rafael center will have a staff of 10 to 15 people, including the assistant medical director for the Concord-based Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific and a Marin County health educator. It’s one of the five new centers Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific has opened in the last two years, taking over clinics last run by an .
“It’s more than twice the square footage of the Mill Valley center,” said Mill Valley Planned Parenthood Center Director Stacey Stein, adding that the new facility is conducive to offering a full range of services, including a new Marin educator position. Stein will become director of the San Rafael center after it opens.
The Mill Valley facility opened a clinic at 141 Camino Alto in February 2011, after Golden Gate Community Health, which lost its Planned Parenthood in September 2011 amid financial and administrative problems, closed its clinic on H Street as well as five other clinics in the Bay Area in March 2011. That paved the way for the new clinic in a medical office building across from Mill Valley Middle School.
At the time, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Oakdale Ave. wasn't excited about the arrival of a clinic that would be providing abortions, but Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific President and CEO Heather Estes said she was enthusiastic about the location.
“...While most of our clients are not high school students, some of them are,” she had said. “Those students in particular don’t always have access to cars, so being close to the high school was important. It was a combination of factors that made this the best space for us.”
However, Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific had already opened new clinics in San Francisco and Santa Rosa and the possibility of opening a clinic in Novato and San Rafael was already on the horizon. Construction is now underway on the roughly $1 million remodel on 2 H Street, and organizers are in the middle of fundraising to cover those costs and the $2.2 million spent on purchasing the property.
Thus far, roughly $800,000 has been raised.
“Many clients use our services as their first and only health care,” Estes. “We’re delighted to reopen here and provide an important safety net and reproductive health center for Marin.”
Speaking to a group of supporters inside the under-construction building’s conference room, Estes said that Planned Parenthood has had a presence in Marin since 1930, when it started in Mill Valley as the Marin Maternal Health Association. Later, when mentioning that the new center will offer all ranges of contraception, she joked, “Thankfully, there are some new ones that were developed since the 1930s” and the room burst into laughter.
“The center will fill a gap in this county in the ability to provide the full complete range of services that women need in their healthcare,” said Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams, adding that she’s hoping to have the Board of Supervisors consider using some of the county’s general fund to help with the project.
The renovations at the building will include moving the main entrance to be adjacent to the parking lot and doubling the size of the facility’s lab.
The Mill Valley Planned Parenthood offers HIV testing, abortion services, birth control and emergency contraception, pregnancy testing and services, STD testing and treatment and other services, according to its website.
The new center will include:
- A full range of services in English and Spanish
- HIV testing
- Abortion services
- Abnormal pap smear treatment
- All ranges of contraception
- Education programs for teens and parents
Central Marin makes sense for a Planned Parenthood center, Stein said. The facility is close to the transit center, Novato and the Canal district as well as Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific partner organizations that include the Novato-based Marin Community Foundation and San Rafael-based Huckleberry Youth Programs and the Center for Domestic Peace.
“We’re just thrilled Planned Parenthood is here to provide needed and valuable services to the community,” said San Rafael Chamber Business Development Manager Leonard Weingarten.
When the clinics closed, Golden Gate Community Health officials cited a lack of funding. Officials with the organization filed for bankruptcy in February 2011.
When the San Rafael last closed, it ago had served approximately 12,000 clients a year, more than 90 percent of whom received a government subsidy for their health care because they are low income.
To make donations or help with the fundraising effort for the project e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (415) 821-1282.
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