By Bill Parry
Planned Parenthood has opened its first health facility in Queens.
The Diane L. Max Health Center opened its doors to patients for the first time Tuesday at 21-41 45th Road in Long Island City, just steps from the No. 7 subway line’s Court Square station.
“This state-of-the-art facility completes Planned Parenthood of New York City’s dream of providing care in all five boroughs,” CEO Joan Malin said. ““We’re thrilled to be opening the doors of this beautiful new health center in the diverse and vibrant borough. Queens residents, and all New Yorkers, will now have increased access to high-quality, confidential sexual and reproductive health care services they need, regardless of their income or immigration status.”
The 14,000-square-foot facility provides services, including birth control, breast and cervical cancer screening, gynecological care, pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, HIV testing and counseling, among other essential health care services. Abortion services will be added later this year.
The center will also offer on-site health insurance enrollment through Medicaid and the New York State of Health marketplace. Officials expect the center to provide services to 17, 500 clients each year once it’s fully operational.
The Diane L. Max Health Center, named in honor of the organization’s chairwoman, had been expected to open in early June. “Like all licensed medical facilities, we needed to secure approvals by New York City and New York state,” spokeswoman Carrie Mumah said. “The entire approval process took slightly longer than expected.”
Planned Parenthood officials point to public health data that showed a glaring need for the new facility in Queens, where 14 percent of the population lives under the poverty line. The borough also has the highest rate of uninsured women and girls in the city and nearly 60 percent of the pregnancies in the borough are unintended.
In addition, they say, many of the city’s most underserved and vulnerable residents live in Queens. For example, in western Queens, rates of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and teen pregnancies are among the highest in the city.
“For too many women and families, affordable, high-quality health care remains out of reach,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said before a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center last spring.
“Planned Parenthood of New York City has a long history of ensuring that New Yorkers have access to health care no matter what. This new center will help tackle health disparities and connect more New Yorkers to quality reproductive health care in their community.”
The center will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The 30 staffers are bilingual, while interpretation services, as well as translated materials for non-English speaking clients, are available.
The new center will also offer education and training for youth, adults, and professionals, and has a community space open to Planned Parenthood partners for education, training and advocacy events.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr