Office for Planned Parenthood opens

Montgomery County residents have another option for family planning services, now that Planned Paren
Linda Scharf director of communications for Planned Parenthood, left, and CEO Paul Drisgula, conduct a tour of the new facility on Route 30 in the KEM Plaza in Amsterdam Wednesday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Linda Scharf director of communications for Planned Parenthood, left, and CEO Paul Drisgula, conduct a tour of the new facility on Route 30 in the KEM Plaza in Amsterdam Wednesday.

Montgomery County residents have another option for family planning services, now that Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson has opened a branch in the Kem Plaza on Route 30.

Paul Drisgula, co-president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, said the facility will offer a variety of basic services, including counseling, screenings, testing, treatment and birth control.

The facility, like other Planned Parenthood sites, is offering the Plan B emergency contraceptive free, while supplies last.

Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson now has 13 facilities in its 12-county region.

While Planned Parenthood can be a controversial organization, because it provides abortions at some sites, there has not been overt opposition to the new facility.

Drisgula said the Amsterdam location is the first facility in a strip mall, which he said allows for the site to expand as needed.

“This was just a wide open space so we were able to design it however we wanted,” Drisgula said.

The 2,800-square-foot facility has two examination rooms, two laboratories and offices for the site’s sexual assault crisis coordinator and therapist and an educator.

The facility has six staff members including a licensed clinician, a family planning services coordinator, a nurse, and three front office staff members.

According to Linda Scharf, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, the facility has at least one staff member who is bilingual and bicultural.

Scharf said Planned Parenthood has translated most of its materials into Spanish to cater to the large Hispanic population in the city.

Drisgula said while Planned Parenthood doesn’t discuss its security measures, the facility has been reviewed by two national security groups.

Surgical abortions won’t be performed at the Amsterdam site.

Disgula said the site, just north of Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse on Route 30, is close enough to the city to serve the area’s urban population and far enough to serve the area’s rural population.

The site is also on a bus line. “We believe we’ve found the ideal location to serve both the rural and urban populations,” Drisgula said.

Drisgula said he anticipates that about 70 percent of the facility’s patients will be at or near the poverty level.

He said Planned Parenthood accepts most insurance policies and has federal and state grants to help pay for those who “fall between the cracks.”

On Jan. 1, government-subsidized family planning services offered in Montgomery County dwindled when Amsterdam Memorial stopped its program.

Residents were forced to travel to the Planned Parenthood facility in either Gloversville or Schenectady for similar services.

Drisgula said the state Department of Health, realizing the need for services in Montgomery County, pushed approval of the Planned Parenthood site through in four months.

The normal approval process takes about a year, Drisgula said.

“We’re definitely filling a vacancy here,” Drisgula said.

Currently about 350 Amsterdam-area residents are patients at neighboring Planned Parenthood sites in Gloversville, Schenectady, Herkimer and Cobleskill.

“We anticipate that those people will transfer to this location,” Disgula said.

A community educator who will split time between the Montgomery and Fulton County facilities will work with families to help teach their children about sex and sexuality.

Drisgula said the educator conducted a sexual education program for the Fonda-Fultonville School District that created controversy at first, but officials believe was successful.

The Amsterdam site officially opens Monday, but Drisgula said the facility has experienced a soft opening this week, with patients coming in during the afternoon asking for services.

The office is located at 4803 Route 30. It will be closed Tuesdays. Visit www.ppmhchoices.org for more information.

Categories: Schenectady County

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