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February 2012 - Queens Spotlight

Reproductive Health Stays Local, Even if Funding Goes

Birth control can mean the difference between becoming a mom at 16 or having a career. Preventing sexually transmitted disease and getting prenatal care can mean the difference between a healthy family and one riddled with preventable disease.

Reproductive care clinics provide all this and more, but their financial solvency is in serious jeopardy. Clinics across the country that serve poor and increasingly uninsured women are hemorrhaging money as their primary source of funding, the federal Title X program, was cut 5 percent last year, with deeper cuts expected this year.

Public Health Solutions (PHS), the City’s largest provider of publicly funded reproductive health services for young women, operates six clinics serving 18,000 women in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Title X cuts have already forced it to freeze wages and consolidate two of its centers, but it has become clear that more needs to be done.

“Public Health Solutions made the courageous decision to transfer operation of three of its six clinics to the Community Healthcare Network, a federally qualified health center, which means more stable funding sources due to the range of medical services it provides,” says Joyce Bove, senior vice president for grants and special projects at The Trust.

A grant of $100,000 to PHS will help it transfer the operations of the three clinics, integrating both providers’ electronic medical records systems to assure that clients get continuous care. Most of the multi-lingual staff will make the move and all three centers’ services will add adult and pediatric primary care. The grant will also help PHS to plan for its three remaining women’s health clinics in Brooklyn.

“This is a win-win solution,” says Ellen Rautenberg, executive director of PHS. “The health clinics will be solvent again, and women will actually have more medical services available to them.” With Title X funding under constant attack in Congress, Rautenberg notes that these transfers are being looked to as a possible model for other women’s health clinics in jeopardy across the country.

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