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Health Unit Pilots IUD Placement in Sexual Health Clinics

July 4, 2023

The Leeds, Grenville, & Lanark Health Unit has recently hired a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in their clinical services department. NPs are advanced practice nurses with an expanded scope which allows them to assess, diagnose and treat a broad range of health concerns (NPAO, 2020). The focus of the NP role will be to improve access to timely equitable health care with a focus on community members who experience systemic barriers which has traditionally impacted their access to healthcare.

One of the NP’s new initiatives is the implementation of IUD placement at the Health Unit. Long-acting reversible contraception such as IUDs are some of the most effective forms of birth control (SOGC, 2015). In addition to their efficacy, IUDs are also generally well tolerated, require no ongoing maintenance, are effective for 3 and 10 years, and have no long term effects on fertility (SOGC, 2015). In Ontario, IUDs are covered through OHIP+, so they are free to individuals under the age of 25, or receiving Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program. To increase sexual and reproductive health care equity, and empower people to be able to decide when or if they want to have children, Public Health strategies concerning contraception must involve improving the uptake of the most effective forms of contraception.

“Our sexual health clinics aim to provide testing and treatment for STIs as well as to facilitate access to other public health related needs,” says Cathy DelMei, Manager in the Clinical Services Department. “We have seen a significant rise in the rates of STIs over the past few years and the complexity of our clients’ needs increasing. We are thrilled to have Gabrielle Deschenes on staff as a NP here at the Health Unit. She is a very skilled, knowledgeable and professional while also being supportive and approachable.”

This IUD placement service is currently available to sexual health clinic clients who do not have alternative reasonable access to care. Clients can self-refer by calling the Health Unit at 1-800-660-5853 and booking an appointment at the Brockville Sexual Health Clinic (open Mondays 1-5pm and Thursdays 2:30-7pm). This service will start in Brockville but will be expanded to Smiths Falls in the near future. Providing this service at the Health Unit will reduce the wait time to care and provide this service in the community, improving access to highly effective contraception for priority groups.

Access to timely and appropriate health services is a critical social determinant of health (Mikkonen & Raphael, 2010). Sexual and reproductive health is a critical part of physical and emotional health (Ontario, 2018). One piece of sexual and reproductive health care is the provision of information and services related to contraception, and pregnancy counselling (Ontario, 2018).  Everyone has the right to decide when, if ever, they want to have children and the timing/spacing of those children (WHO, 2023).

In Canada, 40-50% of pregnancies are unplanned and half of these unplanned pregnancies are a result of contraception failure (SOGC, n.d.). Unplanned pregnancies have a significant impact on the wellbeing of individuals and families and are costly to the health and social system in Canada (SOGC, n.d.; McCrory & McNally, 2013). In Ontario, Public Health Units are required to assess and provide service based on population health needs, including at cost or free contraception for priority populations (Ontario, 2019).

Visit one of the sexual health clinics and speak with a Public Health Nurse about any of the following services: free/low-cost birth control; condoms at no cost; emergency contraceptive pill (Plan B); free pregnancy testing; pregnancy counselling and referrals; pap tests (ages 25 to 29); sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment at no cost; counselling about relationships and sexual health decision-making; immunization if eligible (HPV, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B). Sexual health clinics offer non-judgmental and youth-friendly information and support. Services provided are strictly confidential. All ages, genders and sexual orientations are welcome.

For public health updates, you can also follow @LGLhealthunit on Facebook, Twitter and @lglhealthunit.z on Instagram.


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