Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous Indiana donor, the Fort Wayne Health Center can offer all types of birth control for free. Any patient can receive any type of birth control at no cost because of this wonderful program – the Fort Wayne Family Planning Access Fund.
Modeled after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Safety’s program, which offers free Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs) to all Colorado state residents, the Fort Wayne program was at first restricted to these devices, which include IUDs, IUCDs and IUCs.
After Planned Parenthood received the funds, Health Center Manager Michelle Jolas, Area Services Director Lolita Kinsey-Brown and Nurse Practitioner Bonnie Wellman worked together with Clinical Services, Finance and Fundraising departments to allow the fund to seamlessly cover LARCs for Fort Wayne patients.
However, during the first year of its implementation in 2020, many patients at Fort Wayne expressed that they preferred other types of birth control, and they declined the offer for a free LARC.
This was information communicated back to the donor, and the program was expanded to include all types of contraceptives in August of 2021. Jolas and Kinsey-Brown helped to expand health center infrastructure and processes to link the access fund to a broader range of services.
Bonnie Wellman, an Indiana-based Nurse Practitioner at PPGNHAIK, explained that patients utilized the access fund more once it was expanded: “Every patient has different reasons for wanting different types of birth control. Education is key in these visits to make sure we are helping them get the right type.”
Wellman expressed several times that it is exciting for her as a provider to be able to offer free birth control to everyone who enters the Fort Wayne health center. “I have seen patients act as though a literal weight was lifted from their shoulders when they hear they can get a $2,000 device for free.”
She added, “I recently had a patient come in who was facing financial difficulty. Her water had been recently shut off. She assumed that she would have to choose the cheapest birth control option... but when I told her that we could give her free birth control of any type, she burst into tears. She thanked me over and over and asked that I personally thank the donor for her. I was able to insert an IUD for her and give her piece of mind about reducing her chance of getting pregnant by 99%. This for me as a nurse practitioner is the greatest kind of reward.”
Wellman, Kinsey-Brown, Jolas, the entire staff of Fort Wayne health center, and all of Planned Parenthood are extremely grateful for the generosity of individuals that make programs like the Fort Wayne Family Planning Access Fund possible.