Planned Parenthood leader speaks in Knoxville after fire causes ‘total loss’ of clinic

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) —  Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi CEO Ashley Coffield said Thursday morning they plan to rebuild the Knoxville clinic after a Dec. 31 fire destroyed the East Knoxville health center. The cause has not yet been determined by fire officials.

“We were just six weeks shy of a $2.2 million construction project that doubled the size of the building and provided larger and more welcoming space for our staff. And patients,” Coffield said. “The fire on December 31, erased the hard work of many, many people, including our staff, our board of directors, our donors, our contractor and architect and engineer, our lawyer. The list goes on we are heartbreak broken at the loss of our beautiful new building. But I’m here to tell you that we are committed to Knoxville and East Tennessee and we are determined to rebuild. Knoxville wants Planned Parenthood. Our patients need us to be here and we are going to be here.”

The Knoxville clinic is one of four Planned Parenthood locations in the state and had been the sole location in East Tennessee. The other three Planned Parenthood clinics are located in Memphis and Nashville.

“I want to thank the Knoxville community for your outpouring of support and for people across Tennessee and across the country,” Coffield said. “I especially want to thank the first responders here in Knoxville for protecting our neighbors from harm and for working so hard to find out what the cause of the fire is.”

Knoxville Fire officials said Thursday that information should be released this week on the cause of the fire at the clinic and that investigators have fully processed the building.

“Knoxville is a welcoming, diverse and vibrant community and we are honored to be an important part of that. we will work with our friends in Knoxville, to come back even stronger to our patients,” Coffield said. “We want to continue helping you with services and referrals that we can make through telehealth, please call us at 866-711-1717.”

According to its website, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi is one of Tennessee’s oldest and largest private, nonprofit health care agencies, adding that “for over 75 years, PPTNM has remained committed to providing high-quality, affordable reproductive services and education throughout Tennessee, north Mississippi and part of Arkansas.”

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