WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - Under unusually heavy guard, a grand-opening ceremony was held today at a West Hollywood Planned Parenthood Center.
Safety was a key topic of conversation at the event, which was held in the wake of a shooting that killed three people and injured nine others at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"The safety of patients and staff is our top priority, and Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place to ensure that our health centers are safe, supportive, welcoming environments for all people to get the
high-quality health care they need,'' said Celinda Vazquez, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles vice president of public affairs. "Our doors are open today, in Colorado and across the country, and nothing will deter us from providing high-quality health care to our patients.''
The concern over safety was evident at today's news conference, which featured armed sheriff's deputies flanking speakers in a room packed with media.
The center at 825 N. San Vicente Blvd. opened for business June 1 as the 20th Planned Parenthood health center in the Los Angeles region.
Today, on World AIDS Day, officials formally inaugurated the facility, which offers a full range of reproductive health care, including gynecological and breast exams, screenings for cervical cancer, STD testing and treatment and birth control and emergency contraception.
Officials said nearly 2,000 individuals are newly diagnosed with HIV each year in Los Angeles County, calling the epidemic one of the county's most pressing public health issues.
In addition to testing, PPLA provides counseling and education and will begin providing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), medications designed to reduce new HIV infections, to patients in 2016.
In 2014, PPLA provided services to about 150,000 patients at its 19 health centers and is the largest provider of reproductive health care in the county.
Planned Parenthood has been under fire from anti-abortion Republican lawmakers who have been seeking to pull federal funding for the agency.