The Planned Parenthood Mountain View Health Center soon could be losing its home at the corner of San Antonio Road and California Street. The health clinic's lease is set to expire in May, and might have to close its doors as soon as this year.
The loss of the lease is due to pending redevelopment in the larger San Antonio area, including the commercial building that houses Planned Parenthood and several other businesses. After May, the lease will be month-to-month until it's shut down and redeveloped, according to Linda Williams, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.
Williams said the regional Planned Parenthood organization has been working hard to find a new place for years, but it's been a tough and fruitless endeavor so far. Potential properties on Moffett Boulevard and El Camino Real fell through, but city parking regulations for medical offices made both options infeasible.
"We've been looking for alternate property for some time, but that is very difficult to find in Mountain View," she said. "It can't just be any place, it has to have good foot traffic potential and good transit options."
Although best known for providing abortion services, Planned Parenthood provides a range of health care services including prenatal care, pregnancy tests, contraception, sexually transmitted disease testing, breast cancer screening and a slough of education programs. Abortion procedures make up about 3 percent of the total services provided by the national Planned Parenthood organization in 2014, according to the nonprofit's website.
The Mountain View center also serves as a neighborhood clinic, offering primary care for men, women and families.
The Mountain View clinic first opened its doors in 1973, and serves more than 8,000 patients, with 14,000 visits each year. Most of the women are Santa Clara County residents, and many of them rely on affordable health services provided by the clinic. Only 24 percent of the patients are eligible for Medi-Cal, even though 70 percent of the clinic's patients earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit, according to the county report. Without the Mountain View clinic, it's unlikely other nearby Planned Parenthood facilities could bear the brunt of a major influx of new patients.
"Given the large patient volume at this clinic, and the high demand for primary care and reproductive services, it is unlikely there is enough excess capacity in other area health centers to absorb those affected by the clinic’s closure," according to the county report.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian said the Planned Parenthood clinic plays an integral role in providing health care to the North County. On top of the reproductive and women's health services, a total of 2,131 residents on the county's Valley Health Plan rely on the Mountain View facility for primary care. There is no county health clinic within the North County or West Valley regions of the county to pick up the slack, Simitian said.
"We've been pushing hard these last four years to expand health care options for North County residents with some success," Simitian said. "But this would be a real blow, not just to North County residents, but folks who work in Mountain view and the surrounding communities"
In response to the potential closure, Simitian is suggesting that county staff step in and help Planned Parenthood Mar Monte to find a way to continue to operate in Mountain View. Options include finding a way to allow Planned Parenthood to remain at the existing site, and if that falls through, locating an alternative spot for the clinic to operate within the city. Given that the lease may expire in the next three months, the county may also have to find an interim solution to keep the doors open.
The potential of losing the Planned Parenthood facility in Mountain View couldn't have come at a worse time, Simitian said. There's a national effort underway by the new administration in Washington to defund Planned Parenthood as a national organization. Over the course of the election last year, President Donald Trump said he wanted to take away Planned Parenthood's funding and signaled that the landmark decision making abortion legal, Roe v. Wade, ought to be overturned. During his first few days in office, Trump re-instituted a policy blocking federal funding for international organizations that provide abortion services.
Following the election, Williams wrote in a letter that Planned Parenthood is under siege by all three branches of government, and that the nonprofit will face efforts to defund, discredit and destroy the nonprofit over the next four years. Although she admits that Planned Parenthood Mar Monte will face "relentless attacks" during the Trump administration, she said it will find a way to persevere.
"We have never deserted the people who trust us to serve them, and we won't desert them now. No matter how great the threat, our commitment to them has never wavered," Williams said in the letter.
If the Mountain View clinic closes, Planned Parenthood would lose its presence in the north county, forcing patients seeking its services to travel to either Redwood City or San Jose. Williams said she is confident that Santa Clara County will find a way to preserve Planned Parenthood's services in Mountain View, and has no intent of letting Washington slow them down.
"We are committed to Mountain View," she said. "Our services are there and available to them, and we have no plans to let Congress or any other body shut us down."