Regular gynecological screenings and comprehensive wellness visits are important for women’s short- and long-term health. However, there are significant barriers to accessing comprehensive, preventive health screenings in under-resourced communities.ev
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing and Cooper Green Mercy Health Services launched a new faculty clinic in February to expand access to women’s health resources for residents of Jefferson County.
“Many women in our area do not receive any gynecological or women’s health services they need due to lack of insurance, but the screenings are vital in early detection and prevention of a variety of diseases and cancers,” said Kelley Borella, DNP, assistant professor and director of the Nurse Practitioner Pathway-MSN.
Borella, who previously worked at Cooper Green as a women’s health nurse practitioner, will provide gynecological services such as Pap smears, mammograms and family planning. Besides expanding women’s health care, the clinic will help connect patients to other health care resources.
“It is important to remember that some patients come in for a women’s health issue but have other health concerns,” Borella said. “The clinic is another opportunity for patients to see a health care provider and be connected to additional resources outside of women’s health care.”
Borella will also train other providers in advanced procedures and provide a clinical experience opportunity for students to learn how to care for vulnerable populations.
“Working at Cooper Green taught me how to think of the patient more holistically — What is their situation? Can they afford medication? Do they have transportation for additional appointments?” Borella said. “I also learned it often takes time and patience to build trust with patients so they know you have their best interest at heart, and that lesson has stuck with me throughout my career.”
The faculty practice women’s health clinic will be open Thursdays at Cooper Green. To access women’s health services, a patient must be a Cooper Green enrollee. Enrollees are assigned a primary care provider who serves as the primary coordinator of care. Through the primary care provider, patients are referred to all other needed services, including the women’s health clinic. To enroll with or get more information about Cooper Green, call 205-930-3377.