Women’s wellness, sexual health services expanding
Women’s wellness and sexual health services for all Islanders are expanding to rural communities, enhancing access to care and support.
Community-based services offered as part of the Women’s Wellness Program are now available in Souris, O’Leary, and Alberton in addition to Charlottetown and Summerside. Islanders can access the services without referral by calling the Women’s Wellness Program toll-free at 1-844-365-8258 to make an appointment.
“The Women’s Wellness Program is providing person-centred care for Island women in need of specialized reproductive and sexual health services,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. “By expanding access to this program into communities like O’Leary, Alberton and Souris, we are better meeting the needs of rural Island women seeking safe, confidential, supportive health services in their local community.”
Services offered at all locations include:
- sexual health services for all genders;
- contraception counseling, prescribing and follow-up;
- IUD insertions;
- pre-natal care for women without a primary care provider;
- perinatal and postpartum mental health support;
- pregnancy loss support; and
- menopause care for women without a primary care provider.
Through the Women’s Wellness Program, Health PEI is also making the drug mifegymiso available for early term medical abortions, as per Health Canada’s approved use of the drug.
“We’ve taken the time to explore how best to offer mifegymiso for medical abortions, ensuring that women are fully supported with counseling services and follow-up care,” said wellness program manager Rachelle Pike. “We’ve worked closely with our team of medical professionals to ensure they’ve received the proper training as recommended by Health Canada so that they can best support Island women opting for this service.”
Costs for mifegymiso will be covered when accessed through the Women’s Wellness Centre at Prince County Hospital. Plans are underway to expand access to community-based sites of the Women’s Wellness Program in the near future. Women accessing this option outside of the program through their primary care provider or physician specialist will be responsible for the drug cost.
“This is a significant step forward in providing important and enhanced health care options for Island women and ensuring women’s equality rights in our province," said Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Paula Biggar.
Additional community-based services will be introduced over the coming months, including infertility support (information, navigation and coordination of fertility services). Health PEI is also looking to further expand services to other communities across the province.
"Women should have as many options as possible when facing a difficult time in their lives, which is why we fully support steps taken to roll out access to the medical abortion pill in PEI," said Jillian Kilfoil, executive director of Women's Network PEI. "We are also very happy to see sexual health services and other women’s wellness programs extended to more regions. Expanding services to rural areas is key to access, as rural women living in poverty or facing other barriers often struggle to access safe and reliable transportation."
Preliminary site preparation work is now underway at Prince County Hospital to accommodate an expansion of its ambulatory care centre that will include the new dedicated Women’s Wellness Centre. Site construction is expected to be completed in early 2019.
For more information about the Women’s Wellness Program, visit www.healthpei.ca/womenswellness.
The Women’s Wellness Program provides a variety of reproductive and sexual health services across the Island to individuals of all genders, orientations, and ages. Services are either 1) hospital based or 2) community based.
1) Hospital-based services are delivered at Prince County Hospital and currently include:
- First-trimester bleeding care
- Sexual health education and counseling, including contraception
- Sexually transmitted blood borne infection screening, testing, treatment and follow up
- Pregnancy testing and options counseling
- Menopause care for women without a primary care provider
- Post-partum and peri-natal mental health support services
- Pregnancy loss support
- Contraception counseling
- Surgical abortions (up to 12 Weeks, 6 days) and follow up care
- IUD insertions
2) Community-based services are offered in Souris, Charlottetown, Summerside, O’Leary, and Alberton.
Women’s Wellness Program statistics - January 31 to October 31, 2017:
- Surgical abortions completed: 116
- Pregnancy options counseling: 160
- Sexual health services:
- IUD insertions: 216
- Testing for sexually transmitted infections: 170
- Prenatal care for women without a primary care provider (since April 30): 92
- Perinatal and postpartum mental health support (since April 30): 146