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Friday, November 27, 2020

New sexual health resources available

Many Pierce students worried about their sexual health may gain more peace of mind through a new program that addresses several needs virtually.

Family Pact is state funded and allows access to sexual health services at no cost.

If a household income qualifies for the program, the student has access to birth control, condoms, STD testing and other sexual protection necessities.

Beth Benne, the director of the Student Health Center (SHC), said in a Zoom interview that Family Pact also provides something that many students find important.

“Let’s say you are 18 and are sexually active,” Benne said. “If you want to go on birth control because you don’t want a pregnancy but you’re concerned about your parents, you would qualify for Family Pact because you need confidentiality.”

Benne explained that the signup process is simple. After completing an application and answering a few questions, the office managers at the SHC can learn within minutes whether or not students qualify for the program.

From there, they would be referred to a nurse practitioner to discuss concerns or possible needs. Because of the restrictions made on campus, the SHC has been able to adjust to the changes and offer the program virtually.

Nurse practitioners are currently able to meet with students through Zoom calls, where they can order or request birth control, condoms and various types of STD or STI testing.

Although the program has become helpful to many at Pierce, Benne hopes to assist more students who are unaware of it.

“It’s huge,” Benne said. “It’s our population. Young people are sexually active and they run the risk of pregnancy and STIs.”

Kira Shteyman, a nurse practitioner at Pierce, said in a Zoom interview that this program is important to have especially on a college campus with a majority of young students.

“It’s safe, confidential, convenient and we are always right there and you can always stop by,” Shteyman said.

In addition to the program’s perks, Shteyman also said that a qualification from Family Pact can allow students to access other clinics. This can be useful considering that practitioners are currently unavailable to meet with students in person.

“Clinics, or even planned parenthood,” Shteyman said. “That insurance or plan can help you access other services that we would usually provide.”

Shteyman’s overall goal is to inform students at Pierce that this service is available and that it’s important to take precaution to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

“I always tell my patients, please be proactive,” Shteyman said. “If you are sexually active, please get birth control, so you can concentrate on school and other aspects of your life.”

Deborah Sargent, another nurse practitioner at the SHC, also wants to remind students that her referrals to other clinics can provide services for free because of the Family Pact.

“I have really good clinics that I have a hookup with,” Sargent said. “I have had nothing but excellent reports, so I usually send my students there.”

Although nurses at the SHC do make referrals for students to receive abortions, Sargent said she aims to promote safety and prevent unwanted pregnancy in a cost-effective way.

“We don’t want people having abortions all the time,” Sargent said. “We want them to get protected first. It’s so imperative to me to have Family Pact so we have a place to send students.”

For more information on how to sign up for Family Pact, visit the Pierce College Student Health Center website.

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