Accessible and Affordable: Options for Students

Gunnison Public Health offers income-based care for family planning

Bethany Eveleth / Staff Writer

 Map Courtesy of iMaps
Map Courtesy of iMaps

College, although challenging and stressful at times, is full of wonderful opportunities to make memories, often in settings other than the classroom. When the fun gets out of control, or new needs arise, sometimes it can be hard to seek care. Medical care is expensive, and confidentiality can be hard to come by in a town as small as Gunnison. Students do have options, though.

Located less than two miles from the campus on Pine Street, Gunnison Public Health Family Planning offers low to no cost services for community members to take advantage of. They offer everything from birth control options, to well woman exams (Pap smears), and sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening. They can also provide care for urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and vaccinate for human papilloma virus (HPV), as well as provide low or no-cost emergency contraceptives.

“We base everything on income, so depending on where your income falls on the Federal poverty level, we have free or low cost services,” said Family Planning Coordinator and registered nurse, Emily Fitzgerald. “Most college students qualify for free services, and should they have to pay, most visits will cost less than 35 dollars, depending on what they need.”

Family Planning bills a variety of insurances, so that is an option, and when insurance can be billed, patients often will not have to pay a co-pay. If, for whatever, reason, a patient wishes not to have their insurance billed, they are still eligible to have their income evaluated for the sliding pay-scale.

“We will never tell somebody no, the most important thing is someone getting what they need,” Fitzgerald said. “Price shouldn’t stand in an individual’s way.”

Everything is 100 percent confidential, and patients can usually get in quickly. So there is no need to worry about anything being publicized to the school or community. The office is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as two Mondays a month. Payments can be made with cash, check, or credit card. Depending on the type of exam or service, results are generally pretty fast.

“If you’re coming in and want to get on birth control, we’ll chat about different methods, and I’ll do a brief physical exam, and then often you can start that same day,” Fitzgerald said. “For STD testing, we’ll screen to decide which tests to run, and usually there is a seven day turn around for results.”

Fitzgerald is even willing to sit down and talk to individuals who have questions or want more education without being checked. Family Planning used to run some events for Western, such as STD clinics, but have recently been limited to onsite testing only. Currently, they are working on many internal projects, which limits outreach opportunities.

“I would be open to education programs in something like a dorm setting,” Fitzgerald said. “Especially if there is a particular interest about anything. I wouldn’t want to come present on the same things that everyone has heard about all through school, though.”

Students and community members are encouraged to get what they need, and practice self care. For more information, or to set up an appointment call 970-641-0209.