• November 19, 2019

App available for birth control, UTI medication - Odessa American: Local News

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App available for birth control, UTI medication

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Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 2:07 pm

Planned Parenthood has introduced the Planned Parenthood Direct app that provides birth control and urinary tract infection treatment in Odessa and Midland.

No appointment is required to get the same birth control and urinary tract infection treatment available at Planned Parenthood health centers.

The closest Planned Parenthood to the Permian Basin, a news release said, is in El Paso and the next closest is in Austin.

One in five American women uses the nonprofit for healthcare in her lifetime, the release said.

Following defunding by the Texas Legislature beginning in 2011, more than 75 family planning clinics in Texas closed, including Planned Parenthood health centers. Reduced access to family planning health centers, and high uninsured rates in Texas, creates barriers to healthcare for some West Texas communities, the release said.

In Ector County, the teen birth rate is nearly four times the national average, and 21 percent of residents lack health insurance, the release said. In Midland County, the teen birth rate is three times the national average, and 17 percent of residents don’t have health insurance. Lack of insurance can create a barrier or delay in accessing healthcare, including contraception to plan and space pregnancies, the release said.

Nearly half of the pregnancies in the country are unintended with the highest unintended pregnancy rates among low-income women, the release said.

Aubrey Reinhardt, who is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and attended school in Lubbock, is a patient advocate for Planned Parenthood. A recent law school graduate, she works for the organization for free and has been a patient of Planned Parenthood.

With the clinic closures in 2013, basically all the Planned Parenthood clinics in West Texas were wiped out, Reinhardt said.

The only one left was in El Paso and they opened a new health center in 2018.

With 337 miles between Odessa and Austin and 283 between Odessa and El Paso, Reinhardt said she thinks the app will help bridge that gap.

Patients go through the same process that they would going to a physical Planned Parenthood clinic.

People can download the app for free and answer about a dozen health questions about their medical history. If there is a medical issue, Reinhardt said, they will have person make an appointment with a doctor or Planned Parenthood clinic.

Reinhardt said patients meet with a clinician through telemedicine.

“Tele-medical services like this are becoming more mainstream. A lot of these services are being made available directly,” Reinhardt said.

She said the app is available to West Texans right now.

“We’re just making the big push to let folks know it’s available,” Reinhardt said.

“I am just so grateful that it exists. When I was in Lubbock, there was no other option than to travel. I hope it brings a lot of West Texans comfort to know that this is going to be an option. Without having a clinic, this is the next best option and it’s a good one,” she added.

Reinhardt encouraged people to download the app and check it out.

“This is really important that these communities that need this care know it’s available. That’s why I’m doing this; to make sure people know that this is available,” Reinhardt said.

Asked why Planned Parenthood picked birth control and UTI medication for the app to start with, Autumn W. Keiser, Director of Marketing and Communications for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said birth control allows people to safely plan and space their pregnancies so that they can accomplish their career, education and family planning goals.

“For that reason, access to birth control is one of the highest priorities for Planned Parenthood. Our goal is to continue to explore new ways to use telemedicine to expand additional areas of healthcare, particularly in rural areas where healthcare options may be limited. Because UTIs can be effectively treated with an antibiotic prescription, it was a logical next step to expand service delivery,” Keiser said in an email.

She said Planned Parenthood is looking into additional ways patients can use the app, including PrEP and PEP HIV prevention medication and sexually transmitted infection screening.

“At this time we don’t have specific plans in place or dates for new services. As we expand services, we will also explore additional ways to use the app for health education and other healthcare resources. For example, the app is already designed to inform users about all forms of contraception, not just the options available through the app. Patients can also connect to make an appointment at a Planned Parenthood health center if they need healthcare services not available on the app,” Keiser said.

She added that Planned Parenthood does not anticipate getting sued over the app.

“These services were developed to improve health and access to healthcare, especially in rural areas. That’s not something healthcare providers generally expect to defend in court in this country,” Keiser said.

Odessa, TX

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