A $375,000 grant will allow health officials in Clark County to offer expanded reproductive health and wellness services — which they believe will decrease teen pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease rates.
The grant from the Ohio Department of Health will pay $75,000 each year for five years, allowing the Clark County Combined Health District offer expanded services for men and women, including family planning.
“Our community needs this,” Director of Nursing Susan Bayless said.
The district currently offers STD testing, but beginning June 30, the district will hold dedicated hours for reproductive services, including walk-ins on Monday and appointments on Thursday.
“It will still include STD testing, but we’re really expanding into reproductive health,” Bayless said.
Other program services include:
• Pap testing, preconception care and contraceptives.
• Pregnancy and STD testing.
• Pelvic, breast and testicular exams.
• Reproductive health education and appropriate vaccines.
A certified nurse practitioner, Sherri Moore of the Rocking Horse Center, has been hired to provide services.
Clark County ranks among the worst in Ohio for teen pregnancy rates with 53 birth per per 1,000 female residents ages 15-19.
By speaking to patients about family planning, it can reduce teen pregnancy rates, Bayless said.
“We can educate them on their diet, their habits to clean up their lifestyle a little bit before they even think of conceiving,” Bayless said.
Education will also be provided to patients about specific self-exams, such as breast and testicular cancer, Bayless said.
“They can learn to take care of themselves and learn the signs,” Bayless said.
The service will also provide a place to ask questions about contraceptives, Nursing Supervisor Kitty Smith said.
“A lot of time they’re coming in here because they’re afraid and they don’t have anyone to ask,” Smith said. “A lot of times they’re not getting the correct information in schools, so they’ll be coming in here for an education.”
The district will accept insurance from providers such as Buckeye, Anthem, CareSource, Molina and Medicaid among others. It cannot currently accept My Care plans, but hopes to have approval soon, Smith said. The program will also use a sliding scale fee based on income and household size, Smith said.
“We want to make sure everyone gets care,” Smith said.