Providing Choice in a Pandemic

Jessica Lothrop serves as Choice Family Health Care’s Director of Clinical Services.

Jessica Lothrop spends her days in Choice Family Health Care’s clinics in Grand Island and Kearney helping patients and addressing their sexual and reproductive health needs. As Director of Clinical Services, Jessica is adaptable — and ready to take on any health challenge arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Choice Family Health Care website notes that the clinics are operating in a “manner that reduces risks to staff and patient while supporting public health efforts within the community.”

Jessica described some steps Choice has taken to tackle pandemic-related challenges: “We were working from home during part of the pandemic, but we were able to give out extensions on pills, telehealth, curb-side pickup and Depo shots. Now, if someone asks for telehealth, we will do that.”

A June study by the Guttmacher Institute found that 24% of women using the pill had switched to a telemedicine appointment with their health care provider to have their prescription refilled during the pandemic.

So what does telehealth look like for a patient seeking reproductive and health services?

Jessica said the process is simple as Nebraska allows providers to prescribe birth control without an in-person visit.

Patients can call to request a telehealth appointment or use the choicefamilyhealthcare.org website to schedule appointments. Jessica suggests calling a receptionist at (308) 384-7625, who can walk a patient through the process.

During the appointment, Jessica says that patients and the doctor we will go over health history and verbally agree on consent forms.

People can explore different options and decide which contraceptive is best for them. Choice Family Health Care offers many options for those seeking birth control: pills, the Nuvaring, Depo shot, Nexplanon, Paragard, Mirena, and condoms.

Jessica notes that Choice has been fortunate to not experience any supply chain interruptions for prescriptions, a common worry for many health clinics across the nation.

Patients can come pick up their prescription at the Choice office or the doctor can call in to a pharmacy.

The June 2020 study found that over one in three women had trouble getting birth control services or had to cancel or postpone a sexual health appointment due to the pandemic. Being able to pay for contraceptives is a driving concern as well; 27% of women reported worries about affording and obtaining contraceptives in the pandemic.

Family planning services offered by Choice Family Health Care and many other clinics across the state can help alleviate these needs through low-to-no-cost birth control options.

“I feel family planning services are one of the important parts of health care. If they were not federally funded by Title X, many of our patients would not have access to birth control. It’s extremely important to provide birth control for young people, people who can’t afford these services, or anyone else who wants them,” Jessica says.

Living in the central part of the state adds another unique challenge.

Location makes all the difference in family planning services. The urban metropolitans of Omaha and Lincoln contrast to the sprawling rural farming land across the state. Nearly a third of Nebraskans live in rural areas.

Grand Island and Kearney are distinctive in landscape; they are the fourth and fifth largest cities of Nebraska, respectively, but are also surrounded by swaths of corn and soybean fields. This mix of town and country lead to a diverse group of patients: those from the urban cities, as well as those patients from smaller, rural towns such as Lexington, Shelton, Gibbon, and even Holdrege, 20 to 45 minutes outside the city.

Get a sense of Grand Island’s unique landscape in this drone video from JB Cinema.

Jessica advises all people, regardless of location, to not be apprehensive about coming into a clinic or setting up an appointment via telehealth. With pre-screening, masks, hand sanitizer, and temperature checks, Choice Family Healthcare is working to provide health care as safely, and quickly, for all Nebraskans — rural and urban.

The clinic welcomes all people, offers many birth control options, tests and treatment for STDs, HIV testing, annual exams, pap smears, pregnancy tests, testicular and breast cancer screenings, and more.

To learn more about your low-to-no-cost contraceptive options and to schedule an appointment, go to nefamilyplanning.org and click on the Clinic Locator.

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