I step inside a quaint, refurbished house just off Laurel and College. It is cozy and welcoming. I see a few couches and tables in the waiting room, but it doesn’t feel like a waiting room; it feels more like a living room. I am comfortable and safe here. A lamp in the corner delivers a relaxing ambiance. The smell of the room is distinct. A sweet aroma invites me in. The receptionist greets me with a warm smile. She is not hidden behind thick glass, but is accessible and friendly. After I check in, she kindly asks me to take a seat. Turning around I find those same couches I had just observed. As I sit, I begin hearing soft music playing in the background. As I observe my surroundings, I begin having flashbacks to a time I visited Planned Parenthood. Cold, dark, metallic. Not anything like the environment I was in now. My thoughts are interrupted by a soft and gentle voice calling my name. I stand up and walk over and am immediately pulled in by her cordial greeting. She tenderly introduces herself as we walk through a wooden door. The flashbacks begin again. The creaking of a metal door, the nurse loudly calling my name, with no introduction of herself. Being led to a tiny room with no windows and fluorescent lights. I shudder, but am quickly drawn back to the present moment as we enter an elegantly decorated room. Comfort settles over me. I see “Alpha Center” business cards on the table next to me as I sit down.
At the end of the consultation I realize that this place called the Alpha Center has my best interests in mind. They want to care for me, a woman, without judgement and without making me break the bank. I think back to my Planned Parenthood experience and recall the feelings I had. Feelings that I was not being listened to, that I was just another patient. Remembering the urgent tone in the nurse’s voice and contrasting that to the serene woman I had just talked with. I recall how black and white it seemed. The unwelcoming and dark environment inside what most people believe to be the best healthcare provider for women versus a small and inviting place that would be able to better provide for my needs. The impersonal money machine versus the deeply genuine pregnancy center.
It was in that moment that I realized that Planned Parenthood was not in the business of compassionate care for women. They would not be able to provide pregnancy and STD testing services for free and as caring as the Alpha Center. In fact, PP will charge you $25 for a pregnancy test and at least $152 for a basic STD appointment, depending on what additional services you may require. I was appalled that an organization aimed to helping women (especially low income women) may be hurting them instead. So, I began doing research on Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and found that they provide the same services as Planned Parenthood (and more!) at much lower costs. This includes birth control, cancer screenings, immunizations, pregnancy care, preventative screening services, and much more. Not only that, but statistics show that for every 1 Planned Parenthood in the nation, there are 20 FQHCs, making them 20 times more accessible to women in need. In Fort Collins, there are 2 FQHCs that you can find called “Salud Family Health Centers”. I encourage you to look them up as well as the Alpha Center to receive the quality care you or someone you know, deserves.
— Anonymous Colorado State University student