Planned Parenthood move affects Park City teens
When Park City’s Planned Parenthood Clinic moved to Heber last year it was with the understanding that Park City residents could still utilize its services. Unfortunately, some teenagers in Park City say the clinic’s move is hindering their access to reproductive healthcare services.
"I know personally I’ve had to get checked out and it’s scary going to a place where you don’t know if your information is confidential or if it will get billed to your parents. I don’t have gas money to drive down to Salt Lake or Heber to get tested," explained a senior at Park City High School who did not want her name published.
Other students worry that the increased difficulty in getting to a clinic will have a negative impact on teens’ efforts to make safe choices.
"It’s really important that there is accessibility and education within reach. A lot of my peers can’t make it out to Heber and they needed Planned Parenthood here in Park City. People are a lot more motivated to stay up to date on their tests and making sure they are staying safe if they have access to healthcare services," said Marta Myshrall, a PCHS junior.
According to Kathy Burke, assistant medical director for Planned Parenthood Utah and a nurse practitioner who specializes in women’s health, the clinic closed its Park City location, in part, because "more of the people using the service were from the Heber zip code."
Although there are other healthcare options in Park City, none have managed to fully replace Planned Parenthood.
The People’s Health Clinic offers healthcare services at a reduced price but does not provide contraception.
"If kids want to get birth control they need to go through the Summit County Heath Department," Clinic Coordinator Patti Peters explained.
The Summit County Health Department offers birth control, STD testing, cancer screening, and breast exams. Fees for office visits are income-based and charged on a sliding scale. The Utah Cancer Control Program helps cover the costs of pap smears and mammograms but teens can only access these services if they bring an adult family member to sign for them.
Although she has not seen an influx of teens, Melanie Heairld, a nurse practitioner for the Summit County Health Department, has noticed an "increase in patients from underserved communities who can’t afford to drive to Heber or Salt Lake."
If Parkites are able to get to Heber, they can still access Planned Parenthood’s services on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Heber clinic offers STD screening, hormonal contraceptives and pregnancy tests. Although exams are not necessary for a birth control prescription, they are offered.
The clinic’s fees are based on the teen’s income and insurance in accepted. Thanks to federal Title X funding, there is no charge for contraception for those who make under $20,000 a year.
According to Planned Parenthood’s Burke, "We encourage everyone to make good decisions and we’d love to talk to people about healthy relationships. If teenagers are choosing to have sex we hope they would do that safely and make a well-considered decision where they look at the pros and cons."
"No one should be pressured into making that decision. We want people to launch into that phase of their life safely and without life-long consequences."
Planned Parenthood, Heber City Clinic: 728 W 100 S, 435-649-5989
Summit County Health Dept., 650 Round Valley Dr., 435-333-0014
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