Planned Parenthood to close its doors in Newport

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 6:20 PM EST
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NEWPORT, Vt. (WCAX) - After 40 years in the community, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England plans to close its Newport location at the end of the month.

Folks who want to go to the Newport Planned Parenthood will now have to travel 45 minutes to St. Johnsbury or Hyde Park for in-person appointments or opt for telehealth.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England says limited resources and a national crisis for reproductive health access are causing them to close their doors in Newport.

In a statement to WCAX News, Kai Williams of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England said, in part, “PPNNE faced challenges delivering care at our Newport health center and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues.”

The facility has five employees and offers services such as birth control, abortion referrals, pregnancy testing, STD testing and primary care.

The employees have the option to work at another Planned Parenthood.

The organization says they will offer telehealth and reallocate resources to the St. Johnsbury location by opening more days a week.

“I was so discouraged,” said Barbara Morrow, the executive director of the Orleans County Restorative Justice Center.

Some members of the community fear a 45-minute drive for in-person service is too much.

“If you don’t have a good car or good transportation, that’s very difficult,” Morrow said.

Others note Planned Parenthood’s accessibility isn’t easily replicated.

“In a small town where everyone knows everyone, the intimate services Planned Parenthood offers is really unique and distinct from going to your primary care physician,” said Lizzy Alexander of Derby.

“The cost structure of the hospital is different from the cost structure at Planned Parenthood, so again, there’s not the same ease of walking in and getting certain services in our office than there is at Planned Parenthood,” said Dr. Peter Stuart, an OBGYN at North Country Hospital, which is just 10 minutes down the road from the Planned Parenthood.

Stuart says he was disappointed to learn of the closure.

He says the OBGYN practice has room to absorb patients and says they’re in conversations with Planned Parenthood and the hospital about how to alter pricing and make their services as accessible as those at Planned Parenthood.

“There’s also the possibility-- and it’s preliminary-- if we can get funding, we may be able to open some form of a clinic that’s a bit separated to the hospital that could offer services similarly,” Stuart said.

The last day for the Newport Planned Parenthood will be on Feb. 23.

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