Planned Parenthood 1

The Planned Parenthood sign is visible on the former Essential Health Clinic building at 1201 Caledonia St.

Three Essential Health Clinic locations in western Wisconsin were brought into the Planned Parenthood fold in August, including the La Crosse clinic on Caledonia Street.

The two reproductive health organizations had partnered for a number of decades before the merger and had a number of conversations over the years about how to most effectively and efficiently serve patients in the region.

“The timing seemed right for us to come together,” said Tanya Atkinson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, during an open house Tuesday at the Caledonia Street facility. “We believe that in coming together, we’re really stronger together.”

Tanya Atkinson


The merger has been well received by the North Side community and has established new, positive relationships in the neighborhood, Atkinson said.

Planned Parenthood will keep Essential Health employees so patients can continue to see a friendly face during visits. And when those patients go in for services, such as a cancer or sexually transmitted disease screenings, to pick up supplies or for a routine checkup, they’ll fill out routine paperwork as a new Planned Parenthood patient.

Planned Parenthood expanded services provided by Essential Health to include quarterly contraceptive kits and delivering birth control methods through the mail, as well as a telemedicine services to connect a patient to a clinician if there isn’t one available on site.

Planned Parenthood will continue to expand services offered in La Crosse, Blair and Sparta to include endometrial biopsies, polyp removals, early pregnancy complication assessment and management, as well as postpartum care, among others in the near future.

Abortions will not be provided at any of the former Essential Health sites.

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“We’re focusing on our prevention services here and then focusing on expanding those services,” Atkinson said.

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The history wall in the basement of the facility shows Essential Health's growth over the decades to this year, when the facility was brought into the Planned Parenthood fold.

“It’s an undertaking to add three new health centers into the fold, so we’re making sure we’re doing that in the best possible way,” said Iris Riis, the media strategy manager for Planned Parenthood Wisconsin, in an email. Only three of Planned Parenthood’s 24 Wisconsin health centers perform abortions.

In 2018, Essential Health served over 3,300 patients in western Wisconsin at locations in Blair, La Crosse and Sparta and received over 6,600 patient visits. The clinic provided more than 300 cancers screenings and breast exams, nearly 4,000 STI and HIV screenings, and over 54,000 contraceptive units, including emergency contraception and condoms, according to data provided by Planned Parenthood.

For those without access to health insurance, Planned Parenthood will work with patients to see whether they qualify for a Medicaid family planning program or put them on a payment plan.

“We don’t turn anybody away,” Atkinson said. “We do work directly with people to see what makes the most sense for them and what they may be eligible for.”

Planned Parenthood also conducts community outreach and provides unbiased reproductive health education for young people and adults.

“The other thing that Planned Parenthood provides is a place to receive confidential nonjudgmental care,” Atkinson said. “That’s a huge value at Planned Parenthood. … People know they can come to Planned Parenthood, receive comprehensive reproductive healthcare in a nonjudgmental and very caring setting.”

In 2018, Essential Health served over 3,300 patients in western Wisconsin at locations in Blair, La Crosse and Sparta and received over 6,600 patient visits.

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Data, interactive and video journalist

Elizabeth Beyer is the agriculture, data, interactive, audio and video journalist with the La Crosse Tribune.

(10) comments


Humans, supposedly the the smartest animals on earth, different from other animals because WE CAN FEEL EMPATHY. Also, the only animal that kills its unborn when their are numerous ways of preventing pregnancy.

If it’s just an unwanted lump, why does that baby have different DNA than the mother?


Humans CAN feel empathy, but do you, Hoaxer? We've yet to see it in your posts. And you're incorrect. Many species from fish to lions kill their young.


The wingnuts screechers are out in force, making false claims about abortion services. They clearly did't read the article, but even if they had, facts don't matter to them.


Here's a fact - 700,000 babies killed by abortion in a year in this country alone. Is that enough fact for you?


Here's a fact for you, bungda - abortion services are not provided at these clinics. Read the article.


I wonder how much profit these centers killing babies will add to PP. How much do you think they will profit from the sale of baby parts after the homicide.


"Abortions will not be provided at any of the former Essential Health sites." I know reading is hard for you, but at least give it a little effort.


Your name speaks volumes. You are shameless, sarcastically snarky with your comment to mocha1. They also said, in the future they would be offering other "services". Considering their history, I'm pretty sure abortion will be one of those services. With all the contraceptive information today, there is no reason for killing a child. Let me shorten that up for you - there is NO REASON FOR KILLING A CHILD. We as a society treat our pets better than the pre-born humans we have created. It should make us sick.


I wonder how many lives were ended by those 3 abortion clinics? If it's "no big deal" why not post the statistic next to the others?



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