by Rachel Spacek

Quality health care in America is decidedly hard to come by. For women, the struggle is twofold. When searching for a clinic, it is rare to find a place that services all of women’s health concerns. In Reno, there are few health centers that offer all women’s health services and resources for low cost.

The Fifth Street Planned Parenthood Health Center in Reno offers pregnancy testing and counseling, but does not offer abortions. Patients who seek these services must be referred to another health center, making it difficult and time consuming. This is often the case for many women.

“Thirty-three percent of women of reproductive age living in the United States reside in one of the 87 percent of United States counties without an abortion provider,” said Elisa Cafferata, President and CEO of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “One in four women in this country will get an abortion in her lifetime.  Therefore, I think it would be a service to Northern Nevada women if we could offer abortion care.”

Cafferata explained that the health centers in Reno that offer reproductive counseling and family planning services to low-income patients are scarce. The Community Health Alliance in Reno offers these services, but is often crowded leading to long waiting periods and an inability to accommodate every patient.

Planned Parenthood health centers in both Las Vegas and Sacramento offer abortion services that include access to an abortion pill, pre- and post-abortion education, and post-abortion follow-up exams. The B Street Planned Parenthood Health Center in Sacramento also offers miscarriage services and in-clinic abortions. These services are covered by a patient’s insurance and patients without insurance may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Pregnancy counseling and classes are hard to come by for low-income families. Renown Health offers a Pregnancy Center for expectant mothers who are underserved and receive low-income. According to Renown Health, Medicaid covers 60 percent of the women who seek information and assistance at the Pregnancy Center. Patients are not rejected from the service due to the financial burden or lack of insurance.

“More places should offer a pregnancy center for low-income families and better access to health care is always necessary,” said Leslie Brown, a nurse at Renown Health.

On campus, women can find various services at the UNR Health Center. It offers pregnancy testing and referrals, contraceptive counseling, and prescription management as well as emergency contraceptives at its pharmacy. This is in addition to other women’s health care services like unlimited office visits and family planning, which are offered to students at no additional cost because students pay a fee every semester they are enrolled.

In addition, the Health Center prides itself on providing a positive atmosphere for its patients according to Cassondra Linares, an employee at the UNR Disability Resource Center.

“Every student who uses our services for mental or physical health accommodations feels safe when they walk in our doors,” Linares said. “Professional and kind, our counselors make absolute sure that every student is listened to.”

In order to keep up with the demand for health services, health centers nationally have been changing as the requests for different services change.

Many have introduced new services andresources for the LGBTQ community. In Reno, the Fifth Street Planned Parenthood Health Center offers hormonal treatments and transition counseling for transgender clients.

In terms of preventive care, both the Fifth Street Planned Parenthood and the UNR Health Center offer breast exams and mammogram referrals at a low cost. Renown offers digital mammography for early breast cancer detection and SonoCiné ultrasound to provide early detection in addition. October is breast cancer awareness month,;people can spend it learning more about the disease, educating the community, and personally creating and following an early breast cancer detection plan.

Though low-priced women’s services are not abundant in northern Nevada, there are still some health centers dedicated to providing women with low-cost, quality service for whatever needs and concerns they may have.

Rachel Spacek can be reached at jsolis@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.