The Community Health Center of Yavapai offers an affordable prenatal program for uninsured women who meet income criteria
By Hilary Dartt
Science shows that prenatal care improves outcomes for babies and mothers. It lowers the risk of premature birth and low birth weight and can give doctors an opportunity to offer early treatment to cure and prevent problems.
Yet, for many women with lower incomes and without health insurance, finding affordable prenatal care can be tough.
That’s why, in accordance with its mission statement, “Where compassion meets quality care for everyone,” the Community Health Center of Yavapai County offers a prenatal program for uninsured women who meet certain income criteria.
Dr. Josephine Kim, the obstetrician-gynecologist who sees patients in the program, said, “We are here to help the community out.”
Because they don’t know the options available, pregnant women without health insurance may forego prenatal care. When they arrive at the hospital’s labor and delivery department ready to give birth, the on-call provider doesn’t know the important details about the pregnancy, such as an accurate gestational age, whether the mother has any bacteria she could pass to the baby, or if the baby may require extra care.
The county’s program includes prenatal and postpartum visits, a 20-week anatomy ultrasound, prenatal vitamins, an annual flu shot, and normal pregnancy lab work. The cost of the program is the same, no matter when someone enrolls. Patients in the program can also apply for emergency AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System) coverage to get help with hospital costs.
The earlier women begin getting prenatal care, the better, she said.
“A lot of people come in during the second semester,” Dr. Kim said, “but we want to see them in the first trimester.”
Dr. Kim helped start the county’s prenatal program in 2007 after she left private practice so she could spend more time with her young daughter. At the time, the county offered gynecology but not prenatal care. Dr. Kim knew a need for this type of program existed in the community … and she knew she wanted to continue seeing pregnant women in her new role.
Her favorite aspect of her work: “It’s the relationship.”
A gynecologist may see a patient once a year, she said, but an obstetrician sees patients regularly over the course of a year. While some sad things happen, most of the time she’s discussing happy things like the gender of the baby or whether the parents have felt the baby move. And of course, seeing the babies back in the office is fulfilling, too. She recently ran into a patient she saw 16 years ago when she was pregnant herself, and it was fun to catch up. Sometimes she sees patients at the Community Health Center who she saw in private practice. It’s these ongoing relationships, she said, that she cherishes.
Because her work is so fulfilling, she doesn’t plan to leave the Community Health Center any time soon.
In addition to the prenatal program, the Community Health Center offers a Well Woman HealthCheck Program as part of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection program. Some women qualify for free cancer screening (call 928.442.5491 in the Prescott area or 928.634.6835 in the Verde Valley).
Primary care services, dental care, behavioral health, pediatric services, and gynecology are also available. Visit https://chcy.org/Services for more information.
To learn more about the Community Health Center, visit https://chcy.org.