Nursing department hosts Women’s Reproductive Health Panel

Cabrini Rudnicki, News Editor

On Feb 15, the nursing department held Wilkes University’s annual Women’s Reproductive Health Panel, discussing and educating members of the community on reproductive health. Topics included STDs, community health services, and contraceptive measures.

Dr. Maria Grandinetti, an associate professor in the nursing department at Wilkes University, started the presentation with a slideshow of quick information on reproductive health. Grandinetti’s presentation gave information on the different kinds of STDs and contraceptives.

“I just want to let you know, it’s your body and it’s your choice. It’s your right to say yes or no. You have one life and one future, so think about all these things. Protect yourself.”

The panel also had a visiting representative from Maternal and Family Health Services, or MFHS. Mickey Davis, a reproductive health educator who works for the Wilkes-Barre office, showcased the services MFHS and Planned Parenthood offer, including things like STD testing, contraceptive treatment, and family planning.

The two companies, which often work together, have different goals in dealing with women’s reproductive health. Maternal and Family Health Services is a non-profit that focuses on women and children’s health and nutrition needs, while Planned Parenthood is a non-profit based on reproductive health.

“Planned Parenthood, in my opinion, is more about helping people avoid the things they aren’t ready for,” said Davis. “I think of them more as preventive measures.

“Many people have the perception that the centers help just women, but both MFHS and Planned Parenthood have services for male and female-bodied people.”

“[Planned Parenthood] is really good for people with little to no insurance,” she explained. “They are open to literally everyone. In Pennsylvania, people 14 years and older can get reproductive health care from the center without parents’ permission.”

The presentation also included a representative from Caring Communities, named Sharon Whitegarden.

Caring Communities is a public health agency which started from the AIDS crisis of the early ‘90s. They have multiple offices throughout Northeastern Pennslyvania, including Hazelton, Towanda, Bloomsburg, and Wilkes-Barre.

Although they started with AIDS, today they focus on things like STD testing.

“We don’t do many tests in the offices, most of our tests are done in the community,” she explained. “We were given a contract by the state of Pennsylvania to give STD tests to those least likely to access tests on their own.”

The clinic targets particular populations by holding HIV testing clinics in places such as drug and alcohol facilities and areas with high engagement by homosexual people, such as gay bars or Pride Fest.

“There was such a demand for testing at Pride Fest last year that eventually we had to shut the operations down and start making actual appointments for people,” said Davis. “People have a tendency to access services when the services are brought to them instead of having the responsibility to go out and access them on their own.”

The clinic also has programs such as the Linked Care program, which helps people newly diagnosed with HIV.

“There are many people who decide to not receive medical care when they become diagnosed with HIV. This program acts as a way to hold someone’s hand and help them process what is going on in their lives,” she explained. “It’s a nice program because it’s not anything that’s forced on the individual.”

Sharon also revealed that Luzerne County is ranked No. 38 out of 200 counties in the country that are most likely to experience a severe HIV epidemic.

“Let’s not make that disconnect. When we are talking birth control, you have to make that plan for STD prevention.”

“One take home point, as an educator, is don’t assume people know things just because you know things,” Davis said.