Prenatal clinics soldier on after losing national alliance

A network of Bay Area nonprofit prenatal care clinics that lost its affiliation with Planned Parenthood for unspecified reasons last month is now embracing freedom from the trademark’s restrictions. 

Pro-choice advocate Golden Gate Community Health, formerly known as Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, serves Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino counties at seven centers, and it was once one of the busiest networks in the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The federation is affiliated with more than 130 health centers that serve more than 3 million patients.

“Their decision [to sever ties] remains a mystery, but with Planned Parenthood, you’re bound by what’s known as primarily a women’s health organization, and now we’re not bound by that,” said Therese Wilson, Golden Gate Community Health president and CEO. “There are plenty of other unmet needs in the Bay Area, and there are exciting new possibilities.”

According to Wilson, the clinic can now embrace such ideas as attracting more men and families to the facilities for STD prevention, methods of birth control and other sex-related clinical needs.

Last month, Planned Parenthood made the announcement that it was ending its relationship with the local network, stating that the organization wants to “strengthen administrative resources.” Representatives declined to comment further.

Plagued by financial burdens, Wilson said she became interim president in January and hired external accountants “when things started to really change with the national office. There were lots of requirements, financial and operational benchmarks.”

Wilson said the Golden Gate group met all but one on a “long list of financial ratios.”

Clinics served under Golden Gate Community Health were founded in 1923 and Planned Parenthood offered its affiliation in the 1950s.

Now, two other Bay Area affiliates, Planned Parenthood Shasta Diablo in Concord and Mar Monte, that already operate more than 30 centers in Northern California and Nevada are hurrying to secure leases in the same area served by Golden Gate Community Health.

“We actually have a lease in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County and offers on a place in San Francisco and in Marin,” said Mitzi Sales, Planned Parenthood Shasta Diablo vice president of external affairs.

Wilson said she plans to keep the same services and is not threatened by the idea of competition. “You can never have too much health care,” she said.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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