KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Michiganders seeking reproductive care in the Kalamazoo area have another option to address those needs.

Starting this week, the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department is offering what they call family planning services. County health director Jim Rutherford said the program provides low- to no-cost birth control and family planning services.

“The ability to garner good quality birth control, thereby reducing the likelihood of an unplanned pregnancy, I think that’s something that hopefully everybody can understand and appreciate,” he added.

The services include pre-pregnancy wellness assessments, exams, contraception, vaccinations, counseling and testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. According to Rutherford, Kalamazoo is now on a list of more than 30 Michigan county health departments that offer the services. It also includes referrals to other programs, like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (more commonly known as WIC), fatherhood initiatives and sexually transmitted infection treatment programs.

“There’s a lot of connectivity and opportunity for us to do that one-stop type of provision for our clients. Therein lies the true value of having family planning within local health departments,” Rutherford explained.

According to a department spokesperson, the family services program’s operations cost around $400,000 per year, which is covered by federal grant money funneled through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Abortion is not provided by the health department. Planned Parenthood also has a medical center in Kalamazoo, but the county and state believe additional family health services are also needed in the area.

“We’re not in the business of abortions and we don’t do referrals for that as well,” Rutherford said. “So, I think there is a place for both entities and organizations within the community.”

Planned Parenthood of Michigan declined a request for an interview, but a spokesman told News 8, “We are glad that Kalamazooans will have additional options for sexual and reproductive health care.”

To accommodate the services, the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department is adding a larger exam room for family planning at their Alcott Street building. Rutherford expects that to be finished by the end of 2023.

The program’s creation also prompted the department to hire two full-time employees: a physician’s assistant and a medical assistant, Rutherford said.