Adjacent State Clinics Team Up to Provide Abortion Care : Schott

A room at the Planned Parenthood of Illinois Clinic in Waukegan. Abortion is largely banned in Wisconsin, so Wisconsin abortion providers are helping more patients get access from their home state.

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Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

A room at the Planned Parenthood of Illinois Clinic in Waukegan. Abortion is largely banned in Wisconsin, so Wisconsin abortion providers are helping more patients get access from their home state.

Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

About two days a week, Natalie Hartwig leaves her home in Madison, Wisconsin, and moves across the border to Illinois before her son wakes up.

“Luckily it’s summer now,” said Hartwig, a midwife with Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin. It’s my spouse who has to.”

She drives at least two hours each way to her clinic in Waukegan, a northern suburb of Illinois, and immerses herself in audiobooks and podcasts. She spends her days in the recovery room, tending to abortion patients and checking their vitals before they go home. She also received her license and training in Illinois to provide medical abortions. This is something you can do virtually through telemedicine with patients across Illinois.

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Hartwig basically works part-time in Illinois. Law vs Wade Wisconsin’s law was overturned in June, immediately enacting a law banning nearly all abortions except those that save the life of a pregnant woman. While providers in Wisconsin want to maintain access to patients, providers in Illinois, long an oasis for abortion rights, are treating a surge in patients arriving from across the country. That’s why we need more staff.

Waukegan Clinic is Illinois’ busiest out-of-state abortion center Planned Parenthood.rear egg 60% of patients come to this clinic from out of state, primarily from Wisconsin. In fact, the organization was opened in Waukegan two years ago by him with Wisconsin in mind. Law vs Wade If degraded, access to abortion in that state is greatly reduced.

rear egg Planned family organizations in both states announced a partnership after the US was overthrown. More than a dozen of his Wisconsin employees, including doctors, nurses and medical assistants, now commute to Waukegan to provide care.

“We really needed the perfect combination of supply and demand,” said Kristen Schultz, chief strategy and operations officer at Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “They had capacity without local demand, and we had the opposite.”

A month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a landmark ruling, Illinois became yet another oasis for abortion seekers. Dozens of clinics have closed nationwide as 11 states in the South and Midwest implemented the ban, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that supports abortion rights and tracks issues. .

The influx of cases into Illinois had another impact. For years, abortion providers traveled once or twice a month to other states such as Kansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, and their help was desperately needed.

Dr. Laura Laursen of Chicago Obstetrics and Gynecology was one of them.

“Now the script has been completely flipped,” said Laursen, a physician fellow for reproductive health. “This is where you are needed more than anywhere else.”

Anti-abortion groups are preparing a marathon effort to oppose the Planned Parenthood partnership and limit abortion rights in Illinois. In a statement after the organization’s announcement, Amy Gurk, executive director of Right to Life, Illinois, called it “particularly tragic.”

Help treat surges

Inside the Waukegan clinic you will find typical examination tables, ultrasound machines and hardwood floors. There are also traces, such as the shiny vault in the employee break room, that this space was once a large bank in a busy retail district.

Some Wisconsin providers commute to Waukegan several times a week. Others are a few days a month.

Hartwig, Associate Director of Clinical Services for the Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, can do more for patients in Illinois than go home. Even though she was a nurse with an advanced degree, she was not allowed to perform a medical abortion in Wisconsin. But she can be in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Finance and Occupational Regulation.

“This is exactly what I should have always done,” Hartwig said. “Nothing is stopping me from helping my patients.”

Dr. Kathy King, medical director of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said her staff is dedicated to providing these services, but they are costly.

“This is a burden for clinicians, nurses and medical assistants who have small children at home,” King said. “That sounds great. Sure, we’re all just traveling to Waukegan his five days a week. But the logistics of that and the cost of doing it just in people’s daily lives has taken its toll.” Become.”

Still, this sacrifice was useful. With Wisconsin staff, the Waukegan clinic has now doubled the number of available abortion appointments, and they’re still growing. This frees up other staff to treat patients who come in for other needs, such as birth control or cancer screening.

All Planned Parenthood of Illinois clinics were flooded with abortion appointments from Wisconsin. The following month he increased tenfold. egg The number of patients per month has dropped from about 35 to 350, King said. This does not include Wisconsin residents who may have sought abortions from other health care providers.

potential model

The Waukegan clinic has sparked interest from abortion providers in other neighboring states. For example, Planned Parenthood of Illinois responds to calls from people in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, Schultz said.

What Illinois needs is more staff to treat more patients. But where do these additional employees come from? The commute from Wisconsin to Waukegan is relatively short compared to providers in Ohio who have to cross Indiana to get here.

Across the country, another conversation is taking place between providers. With nearly 500 institutional members, including independent abortion clinics and hospitals, the National Abortion Federation combines those seeking work at clinics with those in need of workers, said the federation’s chief program officer. says her Melissa Fowler.

Still, she admitted that moving isn’t a viable option for everyone.

“People have lives,” said Fowler. “They have families. They are deeply rooted in their communities. Because I can take care of myself and I don’t have to move or move my family.

In southern Illinois, many of the Fairview Heights clinic workers live across the border in St. Louis. For Dr. Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer for Family Planning in the St. Louis area and southwestern Missouri, it’s about a 30-minute commute.

During her career she has traveled to Kansas and Oklahoma to provide abortions. I’m looking for someone who canegg The world now works in states that ban nearly all abortions. Recently, there has been a surge in abortion-seeking patients from Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi to Fairview Heights.

“Who provides that service?” McNicholas asked.

Prior to the June decision, Fairview Heights patients typically waited three days for an abortion appointment. Now they have been waiting for about 3 weeks. It takes place at a clinic that offers abortions eight hours a day, six days a week.

McNicholas said the clinic could open 12 hours a day, seven days a week later this year.

She fears that alone will not allow her to quickly access patients.

This article was produced as part of a partnership with NPR. Kaiser Health News When WBEZ Chicago.

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