The Sexual and Reproductive Health Services Clinic at the Middletown Health Unit quietly closed its doors this month, after nearly 40 years of operation.
“Due to a combination of limited resources and dwindling number of patient visits, the decision was made to close the clinic before the end of the year,” said Emily Knearl, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health, which operated the clinic at 214 N. Broad St. until Dec. 13.
Patients were notified of the impending closure via mail in a letter dated Dec. 5. However, the division did not publicly announce the closure until Dec. 19.
The letter sent to patients included a list of area health care providers that accept Medicaid and offer primary care or GYN services.
The communication also provided information about how to obtain their medical records from the clinic. All remaining medical records have since been moved to the Porter State Service Center in Wilmington, according to division officials.
The Sexual and Reproductive Health Services Clinic first opened in Middletown in 1975, according to its website. The clinic eventually grew to offer a mix of clinical and home-based services, including family planning, HIV testing and counseling, prenatal care, child health and immunizations, as well as services related to environmental health and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
However, Knearl said, fewer and fewer patients have been coming to the clinic, as other health service providers moved into the area, including Westside Health Family Healthcare, the Bayhealth Medical Center, Christiana Care Health System’s Family Medicine Center and Dedicated to Women OB-GYN Associates.
In early April, the Division of Public Health announced that it had reduced the health unit’s hours from five days a week to Tuesdays and Fridays.
However, the division’s website for the Health Unit was last updated in 2009 and includes no mention of the reduced hours or the clinic’s subsequent closure.
Former patients of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Services Clinic who need assistance finding a doctor are directed to call (800) 996-9969 or the Delaware Helpline at 211. Additional assistance also can be found at www.delaware uninsured.org.
Knearl said the WIC program services offered at the Middletown Health Unit would be unaffected by the clinic’s closure. However, that service will now only be available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.