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Planned Parenthood NY Promises Services Despite Layoffs and Closures

A Planned Parenthood healthcare center in Long Island City.
A Planned Parenthood healthcare center in Long Island City, April 8, 2020.
Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

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Planned Parenthood of Greater New York has laid off or furloughed more than 240 workers, while temporarily closing 11 of its 28 locations — including the Staten Island and Bronx branches.

The nonprofit, facing losses of $32 million amid the coronavirus crisis, says it remains committed to providing health services to those in need and is still booking what it deems essential appointments, including surgical abortions.

But multiple staffers told THE CITY that the pandemic has wreaked havoc internally, and they’re concerned about the impact of the sudden recent cuts.

The job reductions that hit the statewide staff of 800 are “hampering our ability to deliver essential services,” union officials said in an email to members.

“The organization will survive this, even though at a great cost to its employees and community,” one laid-off staffer told THE CITY.

Staffers laid off or furloughed include a handful of employees who spent more than two decades working at Planned Parenthood, according to a document obtained by THE CITY.

Planned Parenthood has begun conversations with health care partners — including public and private hospitals in New York City — to refer furloughed clinical staff to local hospitals struggling with the surge of COVID-19 cases, the organization said.

Two employees, who spoke to THE CITY on condition of anonymity, said they first learned of their imminent terminations through their union, 1199 SEIU. The union is currently bargaining with management to reach a contract. A representative declined to comment.

The terminations were effective the same day workers were notified by management.

“It was a very unpleasant way to find out,” said the same staffer, who’d worked at Planned Parenthood for about a year.

Deep Cuts

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York President and CEO Laura McQuade said that the organization analyzed “every way and every place” possible to endure the crisis. Ultimately, 134 staffers were laid off, 111 were furloughed, and 35 have been limited to reduced hours.

“We know what communities need from us and expect from us, that’s what we are going to be there to do,” McQuade told THE CITY. “All of these decisions were made centering the most marginalized in our communities.”

Since the coronavirus first flared up in New York last month, abortion-related appointments at Planned Parenthood have remained steady, even as other in-person visits have declined 78%, according to Jacquelyn Marrero, a spokesperson for the nonprofit organization.

A mobile health unit is still available in The Bronx on Mondays and patients are now able to get care through telehealth platforms launched recently, Marrero added.

According to an email McQuade sent to staff last week, reductions were planned for every department of the organization, including clinical staff. Half of the clinical employees affected by the reductions are set to be furloughed until July.

‘No Other Jobs’

The union had proposed alternative measures in lieu of the mass layoffs, such as halting 401(k) contributions and reducing salaries and vacation days, and was “repeatedly rebuffed” in these attempts to save colleagues’ jobs, according to an email sent to union members.

“We are devastated that entire departments and programs that are integral to the mission of Planned Parenthood have been decimated,” the email reads.

The bulk of staff at numerous clinics and departments, such as victim advocacy services, was furloughed, according to the email.

Fired employees will receive full benefits through the end of the month, and Planned Parenthood will cover COBRA health insurance costs for May and June, according to an email obtained by THE CITY. Furloughed staff will receive benefits through the end of June.

“There are no other jobs on the horizon,” said one employee who worked his final day on Wednesday.

“The only option is to join the millions of people in line and try to get that unemployment until the economy recovers.”

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