MOUNT VERNON — Women’s health care, particularly women’s reproductive health care, is an area that is frequently neglected by women for a variety of reasons.
That needn’t be the case. The Family Planning Clinic of the Ko-Ho-Co-Ashland Community Action Commission, located at 69 Sychar Road, offers convenient, accessible and comprehensive women’s reproductive health care services. The goal of the program is to reduce the incidence of unplanned, unintended pregnancies while providing quality reproductive health care and voluntary, comprehensive family planning services.
Health services administrator Kelly Baldwin said all services provided at family planning are confidential and include blood pressures, weights, PAP screenings, pelvic and breast examinations and screenings for sexually transmitted infections.
“We can screen for STIs and treat them,” said Baldwin. “We also do HIV testing and referral, pregnancy testing and verifying that so the patient can become eligible for Medicaid Healthy Start. We also do specialized tests here such as colposcopies. That takes place if a woman has an abnormal PAP smear; we can do a colposcopy exam and actually take biopsies of the tissue. Based on that result, some people may need referred, or, nine times out of 10, we just follow up with another PAP in six months.”
Client education is a major component of the services provided by family planning.
“We talk about all birth control options including abstinence,” Baldwin said. “We do education on abstinence and what we call natural family planning. When we perform any tests, we ask the female if she is planning a pregnancy and 80 percent of the time they are not. When you ask if they are using birth control, a lot of times they’ll say they’re not. We then try to get them on a [contraceptive] method while they are here. The good thing is, most of our girls age 24 and under are using their birth control and they are using it how they are supposed to.”
Baldwin said many of the area high school students don’t know that family planning exists or where it is or how it works, but the clinic can provide them with reproductive education and services.