PPLM consistently delivers affordable, compassionate, and timely care to patients throughout Massachusetts, drawing on its expertise and the resiliency of its staff, volunteers, and supporters. When COVID-19 infections began spreading in our state, PPLM quickly shifted gears in order to continue providing care safely to anyone who needed it.
In the Health Centers
When the pandemic hit, PPLM immediately focused on protecting the safety and health of patients and staff through precautions that included pre-screening anyone entering the health centers for COVID-19 symptoms, redesigning waiting rooms to accommodate social distancing, and limiting the number of patients and staff in the health centers. These measures ensured that essential in-person services, such as abortion, were available without delay. Patients were also seen in person for time-sensitive care, such as birth control implants and IUDs, HIV prevention, STI treatment, and urgent health issues.
Telehealth Comes of Age
PPLM swiftly launched a telehealth program that enabled clinicians to provide expert, confidential care virtually for thousands of new and existing patients who live in all corners of the state. Practitioners offered contraception consultations, prescriptions, and problem-based and follow-up care, and also prescribed PrEP and PEP, two medications that prevent HIV infection. A record number of patients receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) were instructed remotely on self-injection, and patients with STI symptoms received, at no additional charge, at-home STI test kits that replicated the tests a practitioner would conduct on site.
PPLM’s Sexual Health Counseling and Referral Hotline provided crucial information and resources for callers with questions about their sexual and reproductive health and how to access care safely during the pandemic. Working remotely beginning in mid-March, experienced volunteer counselors answered more than 13,000 calls last year, providing free, confidential guidance, accurate health information, and referrals to needed resources.
An outside evaluator’s survey of satisfaction among Planned Parenthood patients identified seven PPLM clinicians in the top ten percent of providers nationwide. Patients cited the excellence of clinicians’ communication, provider’s role in supporting decision making, and follow-up care.
“In many ways, telehealth is improving the health of those otherwise left out of the health care system.”
Molly N., clinician at PPLM’s Boston Health Center
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