The U Welcomes the New Contraceptive Clinic to Campus

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(Photo Courtesy of the Campus Contraceptive Clinic)

By Ivana Martinez , Assistant News Editor

 

The campus contraceptive clinic started off as a pipedream for student researchers at the University of Utah — a place where students could access free contraceptive methods and counseling. 

Grace Mason, the president of the Campus Contraceptive Initiative and a student double majoring in health, society and policy and gender studies, said they found a coverage gap for young adults in their research.

On April 26, student researchers presented the results of the pilot survey at the 2019 Utah Public Health Association Conference in Ogden, UT. From left Grace Mason, Catherine Castillou, Alyssa Brown, Carleigh Ashnault and Dr. Kyl Myers. (Photo courtesy of Grace Mason)

“We’ve identified this need that young adults are consistently in this coverage gap, where they can’t access [contraceptive] methods. They face stigma from their parents who may not want them to be sexual before marriage,” Mason said.

According to a study conducted by CCI, 66% of students who stated discomfort with their parents knowing about their services reported difficulty accessing these same services.

The campus contraceptive clinic which is a student-led organization is connected with the Family Planning Division —  a statewide initiative to provide conceptive care and training at community clinics throughout the state of Utah. Together, student researchers and providers from the family-planning division work to provide care. 

According to the Women’s Health Policy study, the cost is often a barrier to accessing reproductive care. In Mason’s research, one of the main things they routinely found was the cost was a major barrier for students. 

Mason said it wasn’t surprising, knowing how expensive sexual reproductive health care already is within the state, but also within the country. Without insurance, contraceptive methods such as IUDs can cost up to $1,200.

“I think a lot of people can say that $1,200 isn’t that easy to find. And it’s hard to find that support, especially with federal funding being pulled from organizations like Planned Parenthood. We wanted a place where students could go… regardless of where their socio-economic status was,” Mason said. 

Sarah Elliot, the operations manager for the Family Planning Division, said the COVID-19 pandemic made the clinic more sustainable to access through telehealth. 

“We’ve come out with a program that is even more sustainable. And that really addresses, I think, some needs that have come to light during this pandemic. So we were able to fully shift the initial appointments to telehealth appointments for the contraceptive counseling and any prescription methods,” Elliott said. 

After receiving counseling, students interested in long-term methods would then head to the clinic which is located on the second floor of the University of Utah Hospital. There, students can go to get a device implanted or removed, depending on what their needs are.

Elliott said most of the clinic’s funding comes from pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, Cooper Surgical and Bayer Pharmaceutical Clinical Innovations who provide free contraceptive methods for the clinic. Other donations supporting the clinic come from the 2020 February U Giving Day and the Family Planning Division.

The campus contraceptive clinic opened in November 2020 and will be taking appointments throughout the winter break. All students need is their Uid number in order to access care. 

Students who receive prescriptions for pills, patches, rings or any barrier will receive these methods through one of the two in-person pickup locations — the university pharmacy or Sugarhouse clinic — these services can be delivered through mail-orders.

Students can call in and set up a virtual counseling appointment with providers to discuss different contraceptive methods and options at no cost.

 

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