With the Department of Defense putting a renewed focus on women’s health, Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River is reminding beneficiaries of the services available to them here on base.

The clinic offers well-woman exams, gynecological exams and pap smears. It recently began a Walk-in Contraceptive Clinic every Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. It’s a one-stop-shop for contraceptive needs, including birth control pills, implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and barrier methods. No appointment is required.

Women who utilize the new service can walk-in, learn about their options, receive any necessary testing and start their selected contraceptive method right away. Active duty receive priority, but non-active duty beneficiaries will be seen if space is available.

In March, it will move to Fridays from 8-10 a.m.

The Walk-in Contraceptive Clinic at Pax River started in November under Capt. Jeremy Hawker, commanding officer of Naval Health Clinic (NHC) Patuxent River and its branch health clinics. Naval Branch Health Clinic Dahlgren also offers a weekly Walk-In Contraceptive Clinic on Thursdays from 1-3 p.m.

“Access to women’s health care and contraception is essential for Navy readiness,” said Hawker. “It’s also important for family readiness as our service members make decisions surrounding deployments, reenlistment, moves and retirement.”

Women are the fastest growing percentage of the armed services, making up about 18% of the total, according to the DOD. In the Navy, one in five active duty service members are women.

Women’s health is a passion for the Women’s Health Services Champions at NHC Pax River: Lt. Laken Koontz, a family medicine physician, and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Victoria McPhall. They sat down and answered some questions about women’s health and available services at the clinic:

What women’s health services are available at Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River?

We offer same-day contraception management. We provide IUD insertion and removal; Nexplanon insertion and removal; Depo-Provera shots; prescriptions for pills, patches and NuvaRings; birth control consultation and education; sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing; and pap smears.

What is the most common concern that you hear from female patients?
Heavy or irregular periods. This is far more common than you may think, and there are a lot of options for managing it!

What is the most common question that you get from female patients?
The most common question we get is, “What birth control is best for me?”. And the answer depends on your body, your goals and your medical history.

What barriers do you see to women receiving care?

Women’s health is a topic that historically has not been discussed openly, and so females are often hesitant to express their concerns. Many women do not feel comfortable discussing this topic with male providers (and there is nothing wrong with that!), which is why we will always have at least one female staffing our weekly Walk-in Contraceptive Clinics, whether is it the provider, nurse, corpsman or all three.

Why is it important for women to receive regular health care screenings, especially pap smears and mammograms?

These health screenings are performed for early detection of cancers. With early detection, we can now treat these cancers much earlier in their course and save lives.
What are the benefits of the Walk-in Contraceptive Clinic?

Our weekly Walk-in Contraceptive Clinic provides on-demand women’s health care with shorter wait times and more allotted time with each patient.

What do you wish more women knew about their health?

Family history and past medical history are key factors in women’s health. It is imperative for women to know their own bodies and ensure that they are taking the right steps to prevent health issues. If you know what is normal for your body, you can recognize what is NOT normal, which will help in early detection and better treatment.

What advice would you give to women who may be nervous about coming in for an exam?

All women handle exams differently. Being nervous, uncomfortable or afraid are all valid feelings. Our job as providers is to make sure that our patients understand why these exams are important for their health, and how the exams will be performed. Please be open with your provider about any fears you may have, and if the exam is too uncomfortable or painful, please let your provider know!

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Both of us are passionate about women’s health care and we are honored to be able to take part in this new weekly walk-in clinic. Our goal is to normalize women’s health care and provide care that will positively impact our patients. If you are in need of any of the services we provide, please come in during our walk-in clinic hours and we will be happy to help!

In addition to the weekly Walk-in Contraceptive Clinic, patients can also make an appointment using the TRICARE Online Patient Portal or by calling the One Number Appointment Line at 855-227-6331. For more information, visit paxriver.tricare.mil/health-services/womens-health-pregnancy.

The clinic website – paxriver.tricare.mil – is also the best place to find up-to-date information on hours and services.

Date Taken: 02.02.2023
Date Posted: 02.02.2023 11:23
Story ID: 437699

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