BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Within the walls of the 9th Medical Group lies a walk-in birth control clinic, which is the only one of its kind in the Department of Defense. Most visits are a ten minute process where a patient can be seen by a pharmacist and become educated on different birth control options, women’s health, and receive a prescription in a one-stop fashion.
“It’s important women have easy access to birth control, and more than that, choices on which contraception method they would like to use,” said Maj. Andrea Russell, 9th MDG pharmacy element chief.
Birth control can play a crucial service in women’s health for a multitude of reasons. These medications improve reproductive health, reduce pain caused by ovarian cysts and uterine cancer, and can even aid in working through painful acne.
The walk-in clinic is able to provide immediate pill based birth control to patients. They can also refer those who prefer different contraceptives, such as implants, to the appropriate clinics to get the care they need.
Maj. Charla Watson, 9th MDG diagnostics and therapeutics flight commander, championed this clinic with the desire to relieve providers, educate patients, and give ladies around the base another outlet for their medical care.
“I saw a need in the facility to increase access to our patients,” said Watson. “By creating a birth control protocol here at the pharmacy, I can pull appointments from providers and open their time for more urgent care.”
The clinic sees approximately 25 women a month. While that number may seem small, since its creation Watson’s program has pulled 40% of the workload from the family health clinic by assuming birth control appointments.
These visits can help not only give access to a necessary resource, but also open the door to other issues that some may not know they need to discuss.
“Conversations about birth control will often lead to conversations about other types of preventative screenings,” said Russell. “Some young women come in with the misconceived notion that they don’t need to get a pap smear, so we can talk to them about why those are important and why they should get one if they never have.”
The only criteria necessary for individuals to utilize the clinic is that they are at least 15 years old and DoD ID beneficiaries. This flexibility helps facilitate conversations between mothers and daughters and allows ladies and Airmen easy access to birth control.
“It’s nice to be able to do something for the women in the military” said Watson. “Women’s health is important. Period. Taking care of yourself is always important.”
To use the birth control clinic please stop by the pharmacy and simply check in at the kiosk. If you wish to talk to a member of your health care team about which option may be right for you, go to https://www.tricaronline.com and select the Secure Messaging feature.