OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma City facility that has helped so many Oklahomans become parents will close its doors at the end of the year.
This news comes at a time when fertility experts say there’s a serious lack of help for couples struggling to conceive.
“Infertility is increasing, but the number of clinics is going down,” said Traci Keen, CEO of Mate Fertility.
Keen said 30% of the population needs reproductive help for many reasons.
“Sperm counts have declined 50% since 1960, globally. And they’re projecting that they will continue to decline,” said Keen. “And some of it is just, you know, people are waiting longer to have children as well.”
Just last week, Integris announced its Bennett Fertility Institute will close at the end of the year.
“This was an extremely difficult decision to make; however, due to a reduction in patient volumes and overall financial losses from increased expenses and contract labor costs, it is no longer feasible to keep Bennett Fertility open,” said Brooke Cayot, spokeswoman for Integris. “We find reassurance in knowing that patients will have access to high quality reproductive care through other service providers in our immediate area.”
Sara Jackson said because of the Integris clinic, she has precious twin girls.
But tragedy struck in 2019 when her husband suddenly passed away.
“I have the one embryo left that’s a little piece of him,” said Jackson. “It’s just been hanging out. That one embryo is still at Bennett and they have been super sweet about the whole thing and they know my situation.”
“So, when I head about the clinic shutting down, that was my main concern, was what’s going to happen to that embryo now?” said Jackson.
Keen said this is a situation happening across the country.
Aside from high costs, many clinics are consolidated now and moving to larger cities.
“It’s going to be really difficult for the average patient to be able to make those eight, nine, ten appointments,” said Keen.
“We met so many people in the clinics that had driven two, three, four hours to get there,” said Jackson.
Keen said this means fewer people will get the care they need.
“It’s really about creating more access points locally, rather than creating these big facilities that are doing high volume care,” said Keen.
Keen said Mate Fertility is working to make their services more affordable by offering financial plans. They also partner with the patient’s own OBGYN and bring them along on the patient’s fertility journey.