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Family planning now in DL

Since March of 1969, the Otter Tail Wadena Community Action Council has been offering a Family Planning program.

"We have been providing services to Detroit Lakes area patients for many years, through our Perham office," said Cyndy Rastedt, R.N., who is a member of the OTWCAC Family Planning staff.

Among those services are medical examinations for men and women; education and counseling on risk reduction and contraception (as related to sexual responsibility); choice of contraceptives; and testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

"Our purpose is to provide accessible, free or low cost reproductive health services to men and women, while promoting responsibility in decision making," Rastedt emphasized.

"On May 1, we opened an office in downtown Detroit Lakes," said Davis Leino-Mills, executive director of the OTWCAC.

But contrary to some misleading information included in some recent letters to the editor (printed in the Becker County Record), the OTWCAC Family Planning program is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, Rastedt noted.

"We are not part of Planned Parenthood, we are part of the OTWCAC," she added.

Family Planning is one of several programs offered by OTWCAC, Leino-Mills said -- others include housing, energy assistance, Retired & Senior Volunteer Program and Head Start.

"We are an anti-poverty agency -- our programs are similar to Mahube (CAC, which is based in Detroit Lakes), but they don't offer family planning services," he added.

While Planned Parenthood provides valuable services, there are key differences between that program and this one, Leino-Mills continued.

Among the most notable: "We provide no abortion services," said Rastedt. "By law, we're not even allowed to discuss it (abortion)."

"Our only relationship with Planned Parenthood is that we have to go through them for one of our funding sources," added Leino-Mills. "We have nine other sources of funding -- and none of our funding sources allow us to do anything with abortions."

In fact, the focus of Family Planning is primarily on education, Rastedt added.

"In one year, we (Family Planning) will provide education sessions to more than 3,300 people in local high schools, colleges and family events," she explained.

The Detroit Lakes office also currently provides "clinic days" twice a month.

"Clinic days are days when we provide comprehensive physicals, including PAP smears and breast exams," said Rastedt. "Clients can come in to see us any time, but we only offer the physical exams on clinic days."

Because of the demand, the local office will most likely begin offering clinic days once a week in the very near future, she added.

For more information, or to make an appointment, call 218-844-5832 or 1-877-275-6123 (toll free). You can also visit the Web site at

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454