PALMDALE – Planned Parenthood has recognized the needs of the Antelope Valley by building a health center in Palmdale.
The health center, which opened Nov. 30, 2011 and has already served more than 800 people, held an open-house Thursday.
Planned Parenthood CEO and President Sue Dunlap said she was proud to have a health center in the Antelope Valley.
“I’m honored to be here together working toward a healthful Antelope Valley,” Dunlap said.
Serena Josel, Planned Parenthood director of public affairs, said one of the main reasons the health center opened in Palmdale is because residents have a high STD rate.
“There’s not a lot of places to go for treatment here, especially for the uninsured, which is probably why so many have STDs,” Josel said.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found in 2007 that the Antelope Valley has a higher rate for STDs, infant mortality and unplanned pregnancies than the rest of the county, Josel said. She added that they also found that AV residents have the lowest number of pap smear testing.
“I want to ensure everyone has access to comprehensive reproductive health care,” said Linda Jones, a local community leader. “For many in the AV, this is their primary care provider, and they can’t go anywhere else.”
The services the health center provides are 93 percent preventative, Josel said.
“I feel strongly that prevention is how people can have the happiest, healthiest lives,” she said.
Some of the services given include birth control, pap smears, STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings as well as counseling for the different birth control methods, pregnancy options, and education on STDs and prevention, she added.
“We’ve tried to make sure this is the highest quality care anyone can get,” Josel said. “People should be treated with respect whether you can afford health insurance or not.”
The health center has top-of-the-line equipment, including motion control sensors, in the exam rooms so there is less risk for infection, as well as electronic files, which will allow patients to go to different Planned Parenthood centers with all their information updated.
“We’ll have the most information to give the person appropriate care,” Josel said.
Before this center, Antelope Valley residents used to have to drive to other Planned Parenthood health care centers in the San Fernando Valley to get counseling, testing or treatment, she said.
“I’m glad we don’t have to travel over 50 miles to get basic care now,” Jones said.
Even the testing done in the health center is run in the lab room in Palmdale to provide quicker results and help cut down on costs, Josel said.
Planned Parenthood’s presence in the Antelope Valley started out as a clinic without walls at Antelope Valley College and has grown into the new health center, said Rachelle Smith, Planned Parenthood staff.
“This is about being responsible,” Jones said. “I want to make sure we protect the right to choose.”