Family Planning of South Central New York announced it will open a new state-of-the-art medical center in Cortland, N.Y. in early 2022.

The center — Family Planning’s sixth in central New York — will be located within Family & Children’s Counseling Services facility at 165 Main Street in downtown Cortland.

The new clinic will operate four days a week, offering a full range of both urgent and non-urgent gynecological and reproductive health care services, including birth control, annual exams, UTI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment.

Same-day and next-day appointments will be available, as well as virtual phone and video visits.

A ‘natural fit’

“With Family & Children’s Counseling Services providing affordable, accessible outpatient behavioral health care and prevention services — as well as a one-day-a-week primary care clinic — at their Main Street facility, it was just a natural fit for us to collaborate and co-locate as providers,” Debra Marcus, Family Planning’s Chief Executive Officer, said.

Lisa Hoeschele, Chief Executive Officer of Family & Children’s Counseling Services, agreed.

“We know that for so many vulnerable people, publicly funded family planning centers serve as their main, and oftentimes only, source of medical care, acting as their entry point into a region’s wider health and human services safety net,”  Hoeschele said. “And so, by co-locating the new center, we are able to create an environment of care that encourages patient referrals for additional services.”

Cortland is now the fifth county in Family Planning’s service area, joining Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Otsego counties.

Expanding access

The closure last September of the Jacobus Center for Reproductive Health Center left vulnerable and at-risk Cortland County residents without a New York State Department of Health licensed family planning program provider.

And Marcus noted the COVID-19 crisis has only served to exacerbate and widen health care gaps in many regions across upstate New York.

“All of this has given our collaborative efforts to ensure and expand the region’s access to affordable, quality care a particular urgency,” she said.

Patient-centered care

Partnering together to open the new Cortland medical center made sense on multiple levels, according to both leadership teams.

The two local independent nonprofits serve similar lower income, rural residents, providing different but complementary services that focus on health and wellness, education, and risk reduction.

“And we are both equally committed to providing inclusive, compassionate and nonjudgmental patient-centered care,” Hoeschele said.

‘Desperately needed services’

The addition of the new co-located center means Family Planning’s service area will expand to five counties across central New York: Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware and Otsego.

And Marcus said by combining efforts with FCCS, the two groups will be able to more effectively address the health and wellness of the communities that together, they serve.

“It’s about us taking the time to get to know people, the whole person, acknowledging and addressing social determinants of health, providing wraparound care, referral services — and just as importantly: acting as engaged members of our community,” Marcus said.

“The bottom line is the Cortland community will be thrilled to have Family Planning provide these desperately needed services,” Hoeschele said.  “That’s why we’re working closely together to begin seeing patients at the Cortland clinic as quickly as possible.”