Teen birth rates and the chronic disease rate for women in Highland County are both above the state average, according to a report from the Center for Community Solutions, a nonpartisan think tank focused on solutions to health, social and economic issues in Ohio.
The report said that Highland County has an average of 39.1 teen births per 1,000 girls and women between the ages of 15 and 19. The state average is 24.8 per 1,000. The chronic disease rate for women in Highland County, the report continued, is 487 women out of 100,000; the state rate is 416 women out of 100,000. The report also said that 40 percent of cervical cancer cases in Highland County aren’t caught until they are late stage.
Ada Amburgey, the director of Family Health Services at the Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. (HCCAO), told The Times-Gazette, “People do have options. We do have clinics here. I know many people don’t have physicians or transportation or money. Even with insurance, it can be difficult to come up with that deductible, but that doesn’t have to stop people from getting care.”
Amburgey said that HCCAO encourages women to start getting pap smears, which screen for cervical cancer, after they turn 21. Amburgey said the frequency a woman will need to get a pap smear will depend on her age, history and the results of her pap smear.
”You would get your annual pap smear, and then it may be three years until you get your next one, if a woman’s a certain age and if the results have been normal,” Amburgey said. “You would still come in annually because you have to get your breast exam and annual wellness exam.”
Amburgey said HCCAO offers women’s health services — pap tests for cervical cancer, or a colonoscopy for women with irregular pap results and breast exams — as well as a range of contraceptives and testing for sexually transmitted infections, which are available for both men and women.
“We do also see males,” Amburgey said. “A lot of people think family planning clinics are just for females, but the fellow needs to be involved, too. Maybe she’s not on birth control, but is he ready for a baby? If she doesn’t want to be on birth control, then he has to take precautions. We also do STI testing and HIV testing for males.”
Amburgey said that HCCAO offers these services on a sliding scale fee.
”Most of the patients who come here don’t pay anything,” Amburgey said. “If they can’t afford to pay, we serve them regardless. Money shouldn’t be the priority. It should be the care.”
For more information about the services Highland County Community Action offers or to schedule an appointment in Greenfield, Hillsboro or Wilmington, call 937-393-3060.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.