Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does, Part 17: Primary Care Services

doctorWelcome to the latest installment of “Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does,” a series on Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s blog that highlights Planned Parenthood’s diverse array of services — the ones Jon Kyl never knew about.

The following guest post comes to us via Morganne Rosenhaus, community engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona.

Feeling a little under the weather with a sore throat, aches, and stuffy nose? In need of a medical professional to tell you what the rash all over your arms might be or help you make a plan to stop smoking? These are the moments when you visit a primary care physician, right?

Planned Parenthood Arizona now provides primary care, a necessary service for the community.

Well, what happens when you can’t find a primary care physician in your area or you find one but he or she isn’t taking any new patients? What happens if you don’t have insurance to cover the visit in the first place? You might get some over-the-counter medication to help with the stuffy nose, you might go to the hospital because that rash is not looking any better, but emergency department visits can be expensive. Or maybe you don’t do anything at all.

Starting this month, you have another option. Planned Parenthood Arizona will be offering primary care services at our Central Phoenix location.

You might be thinking … Why now and why would Planned Parenthood be providing these services?

Let’s start with the “why now” question. There is a growing primary care void, both in the United States and Arizona, that needs filling. Since 1997, the number of U.S. medical students who decided on primary care as their area of expertise has dropped by more than half. In Arizona specifically, the deficiency of primary care providers is even more apparent. A report by St. Luke’s Health Initiatives found that the state of Arizona had a mere 88 primary care physicians for every 100,000 residents. That figure is far below the national average of 105 primary care physicians per 100,000. Along with this downward trend in primary care providers, there is less focus on prevention, more visits to specialists, and overall fragmented care.

Next up, why would Planned Parenthood Arizona be the one to fill that void? Take a moment and think about the services we provide — services like STD testing and treatment, contraception, Pap testing, and breast exams are all cornerstones to preventive health care. It turns out that Planned Parenthood is an expert when it comes to providing preventive health care  — 90 percent of the care we already provide is preventive. We are excited to make the care we deliver to patients even more comprehensive! Ideally, patients already coming in for a birth control prescription or an STD test can also be screened and treated for high blood pressure or obesity, all in the same visit. Being able to screen and treat high blood pressure means one less visit a patient will have to make while she also finds the perfect form of birth control for herself.

The addition of primary care to Planned Parenthood Arizona’s health care services adds continuity to the care patients receive from us, leading to better health outcomes for more Arizonans. So next time you feel sick, don’t give up when you can’t get an appointment with your primary care provider, try dialing us instead at 602-277-PLAN (7526).

P.S. Although we are only offering this service in the Phoenix area, we are hopeful to expand this service throughout the state in the future, so stay tuned for more primary care services coming your way!

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