Get Healthy Carson City: Family planning services integral to Carson City clinical services

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This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

In the lobby of Carson City Health and Human Services’ clinic, a young woman, “Sarah” (name and narrative adapted due to the importance of patient privacy), waits for her appointment to be seen by the nurse practitioner. She’s interested in starting a new birth control method and wants to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sarah isn’t ready to become pregnant, and she wants to find out about all her family planning options.

Because Carson City Health and Human Services accepts a wide variety of insurances and offers and income-based fee scale, she’s able to afford this visit.

For women like Sarah, the clinic offers many services. Birth control, clinical breast exams, Pap smears, pregnancy testing, and health counseling are all available in the clinic, as well as testing and treatment for STIs and tests for HIV.

Family planning and reproductive health services have become one of the mainstays of services provided at the clinic, in addition to immunizations. The clinic staff is well informed on women’s health issues and is happy to answer patients’ questions and address concerns. Regular training keeps the nurses and administrative staff up-to-date on a range of topics, such as the latest on birth control methods.

Once Sarah is in the exam room, the nurse asks Sarah about the reason for her visit and screens for risk factors, including smoking, drug use, and abuse. Sarah takes a simple test to screen for STIs. She’s able to talk to the nurse confidentially about some of her concerns.

Sarah explains she’s in a committed relationship, but she and her partner want to make sure they are having protected sex. They’ve been using condoms, but after a recent pregnancy scare, she wonders if there’s a birth control method that’s more effective. Sarah is in college, and even though she wants to have a family someday, she’s not ready now. The nurse goes over several safe and effective birth control options with Sarah, explaining the effectiveness and possible side effects. Sarah then decides on the one that best meets her needs.

After selecting a birth control method to try, the nurse explains to Sarah the method she has selected doesn’t protect against STIs or HIV. Sarah and her partner will still need to use condoms. The nurse mentions it’s recommended her partner also be screened for STIs, and Sarah says she’ll encourage him to get tested.

Before leaving the clinic, the nurse gives Sarah an informational brochure about her chosen birth control method she can share with her partner. The nurse lets Sarah know she can call if she has any questions or concerns, if she’s unhappy with the birth control she selected or experiencing any side effects. If her circumstances change in the future and Sarah decides she’s ready to start a family, the nurse at Carson City Health and Human Services is happy to help make sure she’s ready for a healthy pregnancy.

The caring staff at Carson City Health and Human Services’ clinic is always ready to help with family planning needs. The clinic offers Family Planning visits Monday-Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1–5 p.m. by appointment. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 775-887-2195. For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at, or “like” us on Facebook at


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