KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- It’s been almost a year and a half since the Knoxville Planned Parenthood building was destroyed in an arson attack.
Since then, Planned Parenthood has been offering those affected telehealth services. The nonprofit announced a new way they will be providing a range of health services in the area on Tuesday.
Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi President and CEO Ashley Coffield said that the last time she was here in Knoxville, it was a time of mourning as she spoke about the arson attack that destroyed their Knoxville building. This week, she said she’s excited about the future as they bring in a mobile unit.
“Our patients are going to be so happy I know to see us in person again starting May 1,” Coffield said.
Planned Parenthood cut the ribbon on a new mobile unit that will allow them to offer in-person care for birth control, testing, vaccines, and LGBT services.
“The important thing for folks to remember is that despite the building not being here, the services that Planned Parenthood provides for the Greater Knoxville area are still available and it’s really exciting to see that we have a mobile unit now to provide this stuff to the community,” said Nathan Higdon, Knox Pride CFO.
Before their building was destroyed, the Knoxville location was going through a multimillion-dollar renovation.
The fire caused them to rethink their plan.
“We stand where there were once ashes to celebrate this moment of rebirth,” said Francie Hunt, Executive Director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood said at the podium.
“We have been working on the past year to imagine something new on this site,” Coffield said. “Before when we were remodeling an existing building, we were working with that structure. Now, it’s a clean slate and we can build exactly what we want here in Knoxville. So we are really excited to bring something modern, patient-friendly, and welcoming to the community.”
Planned Parenthood has been in the middle of the controversy over the past year regarding LGBTQ rights and abortion services but they say their main focus continues to be on patient care.
“Our patients know that we’re here for them and they know that we provide a lot of services in addition to abortion services and that we are here for them no matter what,” Coffield said. “And people actually need us now more than ever. Preventative care, high-quality options for birth control that are affordable, that don’t judge people about where they are in their reproductive decision making, all of that is the brand of planned parenthood and people need us now more than ever.”
Planned Parenthood said they are looking to start construction on the new building at the end of May.