After 10 months of work, Anne Ehrlich, Vice President of Student Development, has formed a partnership with Cottage Hospital to bring contraceptive services to campus.
Though students previously only had treatment plans with Family Planning in Galesburg for women’s health needs, STI testing and birth control, these services will now be available on campus as well. As of now, Bethany Glaser, OB/GYN and Physician Assistant, will be on campus once a month, on every last Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Like other services in the health center, basics like exams, consultations and in-office testing will be covered by the college. Students will only have to pay out-of-pocket — or have their insurance billed — if tests or other services like x-rays are needed.
“Even when I was interviewing [at Knox], I was hearing from students that they really wanted this service on campus, and it was something they had wanted for a while, and I heard [that] loud and clear again when I got here, so we started working on a way to bring this service to campus right away.But it takes a while to find the right relationship, and there’s a contract, and there’s insurance and all of those things,” said Ehrlich.
According to Ehrlich, it took so long to get these services on campus because it’s a business arrangement, and one that Knox is planning to take very seriously.
“We’re not just going to bring in anyone, or bring that service on campus without thinking it through really thoroughly.”
As the Knox health center already had a relationship with OSF, they reached out to them first and then to Family Planning in Galesburg, but an arrangement could not be reached with either of those facilities. Their next step was to reach out to Cottage to see if they were interested in a partnership. They then had to find a practitioner that was the right fit.
“It’ll be helpful for younger students especially, because I didn’t know you were able to get free birth control and all that until last year, and that’s because someone was tabling and I stopped at the table. It’s a step in the right direction,” said junior Esther Trujillo.
Ehrlich’s biggest hope for this new partnership is that students will use the services.
“I certainly believe that it’s a service, as a residential college, that we should be providing, and I hope students take advantage of it,” she said.
If there’s more of a demand, the hours will be increased, and if the current schedule doesn’t seem to work well for students, Cottage will do their best to change days and times that the services are available.
“I hope that the demand exceeds the hours we have, because it’s a service that 18 to 22-year-olds should be using, so I hope we have to bring more hours on campus,” said Ehrlich.
Junior and SHAG (Student Health Advocacy Group) member Jeri Rosenbloom also believes this is a step in the right direction, but still has concerns about the partnership.
“I really hope that they have the right people, because when I went to get my throat tested for strep, they asked me if I was pregnant, which doesn’t have anything to do with that. I hope they get people that aren’t slut-shamers,” said Rosenbloom.
As students regularly make use of SHAG’s “condom hotline,” she thinks it will be good to have another option on campus to get contraception, as well as women’s health services.
The first date Glaser will be on campus is Jan. 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the health center. Students can schedule an appointment in advance by calling 309-341-7492.