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'We will rebuild' | Knoxville Planned Parenthood leader expects year-and-a-half of work to reopen clinic

Authorities said an arsonist likely burned down Knoxville's Planned Parenthood clinic on New Year's Eve in Dec. 2021.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It has been around 4 months since a Planned Parenthood medical clinic in East Knoxville was likely set on fire by an arsonist, according to the Knoxville Fire Department. It burned down on the morning of New Year's Eve in December 2021.

Leaders of the Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi branch said they planned to rebuild the clinic and welcome patients once again.

“We will rebuild at our Cherry Street location," said Aimee Lewis, the vice president of external affairs. "We expect the design phase, which we are currently in, to take approximately 6 months and construction to take a year. While we work with our architects, builders and insurance to make this happen, we are exploring options to provide in-person services in some capacity in the meantime."

She said they are continuing to offer limited telehealth options and referrals for patients while trying to expand healthcare options by hiring more providers and staff.

In 2021, the clinic served almost 4,000 patients. More than 2,400 went to the medical facility for birth control and to test for sexually-transmitted diseases, while another 712 sought gender-affirming hormone therapy. Officials said 815 were there for abortion treatments.

The clinic had posted before burning down that it was closed for renovation "to enhance and expand our patient services."

Officials previously said they expected it would cost around $2.2 million to rebuild, in addition to the $2.2 million they had already spent on the renovation project the center burned down.

Recently, MacKenzie Scott donated a historic $275 million to support Planned Parenthood at the national level.

“Regarding MacKenzie Scott’s incredible generosity, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi did not receive a donation," said Lewis. "However, this gift is a testament to the very strong health care network that the Planned Parenthood federation and its affiliates provide for its patients all over the country. We’re excited to see what Ms. Scott’s investment in our sister affiliates will do to bring care and education to the patients they serve.”

Anyone with information about the arsonist or arsonists involved in the Knoxville branch's fire should reach out to KFD at 1-800-762-3017 or email them at KFDArson@Knoxvilletn.gov. They previously offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information.

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