Over five million women across the United States have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic, according to a Center for American Progress study.
In turn, many women lost access to insurance provided by employers. Without health insurance, costly co-pays for obstetrics and gynecology services – ranging from routine checkup appointments to emergency visits – prevented women in need of these services from having easy and affordable access to them.
After over a year of preparation, Axia Women’s Health opened its Access Now clinic to the public in Sewell in mid-May. Axia representatives said they opened the clinic to fill the gap left by the closure of other women’s health centers in the area.
Axia Women’s Health is a networked women’s healthcare organization consisting of almost 500 providers across almost 200 women’s health centers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, according to a news release.
“We honestly believe that women deserve more,” said Dr. Leisa O’Flynn, vice president of Axia’s Medical Affairs for Southern New Jersey. “So, you know, we really advocate for a more caring, connected and progressive healthcare system for our women in the area.”
O’Flynn hopes to combat access and cost barriers that women typically face when seeking care through the myriad of accommodations provided by Access Now. The clinic accepts most insurances, and all Medicaid plans. There is also a staff member at the clinic specifically tasked with helping underserved women to find insurance or enroll in Medicaid. Additionally, there are self-paying rates at a reduced rate for women who visit the clinic.
“Nobody is turned away,” O’Flynn said.
Access Now offers a walk-in evening and weekend care program in order to give an alternative to missing work or having to cut corners to receive health treatment during the workweek or traditional business hours. The clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
The clinic currently has six per diem nurse practitioners, a medical director, nurse midwives and OB-GYN providers who are there seven days a week and available for walk-ins, as well as those who make an appointment.
Women can receive care for urgent needs, such as urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted disease checks and pregnancy confirmation visits. Patients can go to the clinic for their annual checkup, or visit the clinic for a procedure. The clinic is opening a mammogram suite and is equipped with a pelvic ultrasound facility.
The clinic also has a full range of phlebotomy services, and will be able to offer some surgeries in the near future, O’Flynn said.
“It will hopefully be a one stop shop for many women to go to in the evenings or at the weekend,” O’Flynn said. “It’s not just to service after-hour Axia patients; it’s to service the community. Non-Axia practices, family doctor patients, any patient that wants to go there can also see a provider there for services all the time.”
For those enrolled in the Axia Women’s Health Network, such as patients from other nearby care centers like Garden State OB-GYN or Cherry Hill OB-GYN, Access Now will have access to their medical records through the network’s Electronic Medical Records system.
Axia uses the connected EMR system to provide network patients with the ability to receive care at either their regular OB-GYN or Access Now, where either provider can easily view their records.
If patients want to make an appointment instead of a walk-in visit, they can access information such as provider backgrounds on the clinic’s website and make an appointment online or over the phone.
So far, O’Flynn has received positive feedback from the community and is looking forward to the clinic’s continued development in South Jersey.
“If we see a great success, we will try and drive that in Central and North Jersey and other states where we have Axia practices,” she said. “Right now, we’re just confined to South Jersey. Our hope is if we get great feedback, and it gets busier, we will plan to develop this further in other areas.”
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Sarah Dolgin may be reached at [email protected].