February 16, 2017 at 12:45 p.m.
As of this week, though, Outlook Clinic unveiled a stand alone, visible presence in Chisago City. It has relocated out of the Fairview campus, into space east of Northern Tavern and Grill on the Hwy 8 corridor. Tuesday was the opening day.
Outlook Clinic exists to provide contraceptive services and devices for all.
It screens for, and then helps to treat, sexually transmitted diseases that have plagued populations for centuries that public policymakers have targeted for eradication-- chlamydia, warts, HIV, syphillus and more. The family planning services include patches, IUD insertions and other long acting reproductive controls.
The quartet of clinics in east central Minnesota are a public health operation, made possible by state and federal funding streams. Along with Chisago and North Branch there are also sites in Cambridge and Mora.
Outlook Clinic Executive Director Betty Nelson is exactly the type of care provider you would hope to encounter if you were ill or just anxious about somethng going on with your body related to sexual activity. She is low key, bright, kind and nonjudgmental. She jokes that ladies who clandestinely sought out “free clinic” services in college, are now the parent or even grandparent who openly accompanies incoming male and female patients at Outlook.
Nelson said, in the early years Outlook Clinic patients would not have had insurance, or even have access to it. The Affordable Care Act has helped with that problem recently, but costs or deductibles for STDs and/or contraception remain beyond reach even for insured citizens.
Outlook Clinic cares for anybody of any age on a sliding fee scale tied to income. There was a 15 to 50 year-old restriction, but that was recently rescinded by legislators, said Nelson. You can fill out an income form to qualify for totally free services and products coverage. Either way, you will receive immediate care and hear back later on your application, from the state. The clinic’s regular charges are much less costly than many private providers’.
Nelson said this is an interesting time in healthcare and she is watching what happens with the ACA and Planned Parenthood in Congress. Should access to facilities that offer contraception or healthcare become restricted, or if Planned Parenthood is defunded, it could increase the demand for care by facilities like Outlook Clinc.
For the record Outlook does not perform abortions and “stays away” completely from that, Nelson stressed.
Over her many years of being involved in this area of local healthcare there is some good news to share.
Very little HIV has shown up in her experience and there’s less prevalence of genital warts, thanks to the improvement in the use of HPV vaccinations. Herpes, she added, is the most frequently detected when testing for STDs.
Outlook Clinic is a non-profit organization. Contact the office for an appointment for an initial intake, at 257-8802. Chisago City only has open hours on Tuesdays and the other sites have the other days.
Its website is at outlook clinic.org.
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