Now more than ever, it is critical women have all the information and resources at their disposal to make informed decisions about their health.
As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, women are facing more barriers than ever when it comes to accessing the birth control and reproductive health services they need. The healthcare system is overwhelmed, many transportation and childcare services are closed, people are scared to leave their homes and an unprecedented number of women are finding themselves out of work. All of this together can make it almost impossible for some women to get birth control and take care of their reproductive health.
Reproductive health services are essential and accessing them should be a right, not a privilege, for women across the globe. A pandemic should not compromise a woman’s ability to plan if and when she gets pregnant. Medicines360 wants to make sure every woman has the information they need.
For healthcare practitioners (HCPs) serving women who use certain types of birth control, such as the pill, vaginal ring or patch that require regular refills, your patients may be concerned about how to get these refills during this time. If women have a regular OBGYN or primary care physician, they can call and ask for guidance to ensure they can continue getting the birth control they need. If financially feasible, women also need the resources and information to go online or use one of many available apps to get birth control delivered to their homes. Bedsider.org has great resources on this.
It’s also important to empower women who don’t have an OBGYN or primary care physician to know they still have options when it comes to birth control. Luckily, there are still private offices, public health clinics and university hospital centers that are currently accepting patients. Women can visit findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov to find a center near them.
For women concerned about cost, they can still seek care at safety net clinics. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are on the front lines of caring for women across the country right now. These neighborhood health centers provide comprehensive care for free or low cost. FQHCs deliver publicly funded family planning care to approximately two million women each year across the US at 1,400 health centers operating at 12,000 sites. FQHCs have sliding fee scales for uninsured patients to make care affordable and accessible, making it a great resource for women facing new or existing challenges such as losing insurance.
HCPs at FQHCs and doctors’ offices are busier than ever and are all taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Instead of walk-in appointments, they are encouraging women to call ahead and schedule a telehealth appointment, using a videoconference or phone. After a virtual appointment, HCPs may be able to prescribe a method the patient can pick up from the local pharmacy or they may need to schedule an appointment to come into the office.
Reproductive healthcare is an essential service and is critical to maintaining a woman’s health, wellbeing, safety and economic stability. Regardless of the current circumstances, women should be able to plan if and when they want to have children.
At Medicines360, we are thankful to the clinics and HCPs on the front line that recognize the importance of continuing to provide a way for women to get birth control during this crisis.