Ferndale will be home to the newest Planned Parenthood clinic – the only location in Oakland County – beginning next Monday.
The clinic is scheduled to open its doors at 9 a.m. April 2. It will not be the only location in Oakland County, according to Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan’s agenda.
“We’ve found grave need in Oakland County,” said Desiree Cooper, spokeswoman for the local Planned Parenthood. “We took that information, layered it on with the people who drive out of the county to get our services, and decided to pursue places that would be beneficial.”
The locations Planned Parenthood searched were specifically along the Interstate 75 corridor and south Oakland County, she said.
“Oakland County does have a particular reputation for (higher incomes), but the reality of that reputation is that there’s many pockets that have been suffering a really long time,” she said, pointing to cities like Pontiac, Southfield and areas of south Oakland County.
Planned Parenthood originally purchased a building in Auburn Hills in the fall of 2010, but it was met with anti-abortion opposition that spiraled into a legal battle. That stall allowed Planned Parenthood to seek other opportunities around Oakland County, Cooper said, which led it to the space at 23338 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale ().
The organization isn't stopping there, though. “It’s not either or. With Auburn Hills, we prefer to think of it as it’s not happening yet. We just have to wait for the legal process to lend its way before we can go forward,” she said. “But, we aren’t willing to wait while people need help in Oakland County.”
Planned Parenthood will complement , Ferndale's free clinic, which does not provide OB/GYN care. Ferndale Mayor David Coulter told the Detroit Free Press that the free clinic has been overwhelmed, with a months-long waiting list.
It’s been six years since a clinic that accepts people on a sliding scale fee has been in the area, Cooper said, and the vacancy on Woodward in Ferndale allowed Planned Parenthood to get started with a new opening in a central location and decide what services were needed most.
“When you say Planned Parenthood, you might think of one service, but what’s important to know is that each clinic is different,” she said, explaining that 97 percent of services the organization offers is preventative care.
“Our core services are annual exams, breast cancer screenings, birth control, testing and treatment of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, and procedures that address pre-cancer cells in the cervix.”
Cooper said additional services, like prenatal care, vasectomies and the most controversial of their services – abortion care – are offered in select clinics based on the population’s need, as well as funding. The core services that will be found at the Ferndale location address the needs that the Michigan Department of Public Health found in Oakland County.
“Many people we serve from Oakland County are students or younger women just starting out, and a surprising number are older women who have lost their jobs and do not have health insurance,” Cooper said.
Planned Parenthood is often the last resort for women and families in economic hardship, right before they feel forced to neglect care, she said.
Monica Migliorino Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society is concerned about the new clinic. “It’s distressing when they open anywhere,” she told the Detroit Free Press and said her group will picket the clinic.
Coulter said the city isn't concerned about protesters. "This is Ferndale. We have protesters on a weekly basis. We've learned how to accommodate free speech," he said in the Free Press report.
The Ferndale clinic, while just announced today, has been in the making for quite some time, Cooper said. A fairly small staff of around a half-dozen will manage the clinic and those hires are already in place, many of whom come from Oakland County themselves.
The Ferndale city government has been of “great cooperation” while Planned Parenthood worked to renovate the space and go through ordinances.
At Monday's City Council meeting, Planned Parenthood Mid and Southeast Michigan and given the opportunity to make a special presentation.
She said opening the clinic in Ferndale feels like they've "come home."
Former mayor and current Oakland County Commissioner Craig Covey welcomed Planned Parenthood to Ferndale today in his blog, Covey’s Corner. He said Ferndale is “proud” to be the new location.
“Political pressure from religious ultra-conservatives had kept Oakland County bereft of a formal Planned Parenthood presence for years. Anti-choice activists didn’t want you to know that 97% of all Planned Parenthood activities are essential life-saving cancer screenings, pap smears, breast health services, STD treatment, and health counseling and education. Yet for many of their patients, mostly poor, a visit to Planned Parenthood was the only health care they got,” he said in his blog post.
“Oakland County has the 2nd largest number of low-income women without health insurance in Michigan. We are thankful that an organization like Planned Parenthood provides health care for so many people. The alternative is much higher health care costs in emergency rooms and for advanced disease that would be borne by us all.”
Cooper confirmed the clinic will serve Ferndale's diverse community. "We will definitely be reaching out to the LGBTQ community," she said. "Our core services are already responsive to the needs of many in the LGBTQ community, but often they don’t think of Planned Parenthood as a place that is welcoming to them. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Planned Parenthood clinic in Ferndale
Where: 23338 Woodward Ave.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, noon-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday.
For more information: For more information or to schedule services, call 800-230-PLAN or visit www.plannedparethooddetroit.org.