• 77°

Planned Parenthood hosts first event for Oxford donors at the Graduate

By Haley Myatt

EAGLE contributor

Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region held its first-ever cocktail event for donors and supporters in Oxford at the Graduate Hotel on Monday night.

Aimee Lewis, PPGMR’s Vice President of External Affairs states that the purpose of the event is to thank those invited for supporting Planned Parenthood’s initiative to providing high-quality, nonjudgmental sexual health care.

“This is mostly to just say thank you to the donors,” Lewis said. “We are appreciative of them and we want to give them an update on what it is we have been doing in the community this past year.”

PPGMR has participated in several advocacy events in Oxford in the past year according to Ashely Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region.

“We want to engage with the Oxford community as much as possible, “Coffield said. “We would love to provide ongoing sexual health education for Oxonians and university students.”

While there aren’t plans to provide a Planned Parenthood clinic in Oxford anytime soon, Lewis and Coffield said it doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen in the future.

Grace Weil, Director of Development stated that it had been her goal to have an event in Oxford by the end of the year.

“We have consistently wanted to do more in Oxford because we do serve a large part of Mississippi,” Weil said. “We do have a sizable amount of donors in Oxford and we hope to expand as much as possible.”

Nikeisha Royston, Community Organizer, states that PPGMR is considered Oxford’s local chapter for now. Royston stated that she hopes attendees of the event received a better understanding of their efforts in the north Mississippi region.

This past April, PPGMR educators trained students at the University of Mississippi about Sexperts, a comprehensive sex-ed and peer education program for young adults.

“We have a small but mighty education and advocacy outreach staff,” Royston said.

In addition to the young adult programs, PPGMR offers age-appropriate workshops for middle-school aged youth, high-school aged youth, as well as workshops for parents and guardians to enable them to answer questions about sexual and reproductive health.

“We also provided education at two events in Holly Springs, and another at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville this year,” Lewis said.

Planned Parenthood serves 42 counties in the Greater Memphis Region with approximately 15 percent of their patients coming from Mississippi out of 9,000 patients.

Lewis says Planned Parenthood offers information that includes: breast and cervical cancer screenings; birth control; routine well-woman exams; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; counseling, testing, and referrals for HIV; and medication and surgical abortion services.

PPGMR’s services for teens 18 and younger are free, including preventive visits, problem visits, STI testing and all forms of contraception. HIV counseling and testing along with long-acting contraceptives (IUDs and implants) are free to patients of all ages.

“Our services are affordable,” Coffield said. “We accept most insurance plans — including Mississippi Medicaid — and for patients who are uninsured, we offer deep discounts for preventive and problem visits.”

To alleviate transportation barriers, Coffield said that they have a screening tool that gives patients a “deep discount” if they have to travel long distances or if they have certain income qualifications.

“Patients travel for care at Planned Parenthood because we have been a trusted healthcare provider for more than 100 years and more than 75 years in the Mid-South,” Lewis said.

The primary source of funding comes from patient fees and donor contributions. Lewis states that patient fees are a mix of commercial insurance and public insurance like Medicaid.

Deb Gochfeld, a supporter of Planned Parenthood, stated that she would love to see more of a local presence and enjoyed the cocktail party to make connections locally.

“It was nice for them to understand our concerns and for us to get information about what they do year-round,” Gochfeld said.

Planned Parenthood’s motto is “Care. No matter what,” Lewis says PPGMR believes that all women and all families deserve the highest quality of care regardless of who they are, where they live, or where they are from.

“We know that when people are truly cared for, they make their lives, their families and their communities better and healthier, “Lewis said. “Our doors are open to everyone — no matter their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, income, country of origin or zip code — no matter what.”