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Coby Hymes (CH): My name is Coby Hymes. I’m an Advanced Practice Nurse at PPMW and I'm board certified in Women's Health. I’m a float clinician which means I work at all three of our health centers as needed.

PPMW: Tell us a bit about your background.

CH: I grew up in Texas, in the Dallas area, and actually completed all my school there from elementary through college. Through my nurse practitioner training I  was assigned to a Planned Parenthood in Dallas. And I was very fortunate that when I graduated from my program, they hired me. I worked at Planned Parenthood in north Texas for three years before moving to Las Vegas, then eight years at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains before coming to DC where I’ve been for three years.

PPMW: What kind of care are you providing folks who come to PPMW?

CH: I provide care for teenagers coming in to look for birth control options. For young adults needing STI screenings, and PrEP medication to prevent HIV. I provide transgender care hormone therapy. I also provide medication abortion to patients, and do routine screening, pap smears, and breast exams. So it's just the whole gambit there.

PPMW: Over the last two plus years with the pandemic, things have shifted in terms of a lot of our in-person care moving to telehealth. Do you find yourself doing more telehealth now and what are your general thoughts about how that's affected the delivery of care?

CH: Oh, yes definitely doing a lot more telehealth which we weren't doing before the pandemic, even though it was on the radar to do in the future. So the pandemic just kind of made it possible to speed up the application of telehealth. I'm probably doing at least one to two telehealth schedules a week. It's really great to be able to provide that service to our patients where they don't have to come into the health center to get the care that they need. 

PPMW: Can you talk to us a little bit about medication abortion? How has this changed things for folks?

CH: It's definitely given our patients a whole other option. Patients can come into the office, take one pill from us, and then complete the rest of the medication in the privacy of their home. It's wonderful to give women that option, especially in an early pregnancy, and they don't have to go through a surgical procedure if they don't want to. We also offer direct to patient medication abortion when we do the visits by telehealth and then mail the abortion pill to the patient's home.

PPMW:  Texas is in the news right now as the legislature passed an incredibly restrictive law prohbiting abortion after an embryo’s cardiac activity can be detected  — generally around six weeks and before many folks know they are pregnant. As someone who grew up and practiced in Texas, what are your thoughts about this situation?

CH: It's really unfortunate that my home state has done this to women of Texas. Personally, I've known friends of mine in Texas, that their daughters have had to go to Oklahoma to have abortions. As a clinician here in DC, I've had patients actually fly up from Texas to have abortions with us. It really just puts an undue burden on women financially, to have to travel out of state, and take off work. I just feel really sad that women in Texas have had their rights taken from them through this kind of political environment.

PPMW: This summer, the Supreme Court is going to rule on a case from Mississippi, which could essentially overturn Roe v. Wade, the court case guaranteeing abortion rights in the U.S. And there are a number of states that have laws that will automatically outlaw abortion if Roe falls. What would happen if that were to occur?

CH: Well, if that were to happen, here in  DC and Maryland — we don't know what's going to happen with Virginia — we could see patients coming from all parts of the country. And there could be long wait lines for care which will be unfortunate because then a pregnant woman is having to wait until she's further along to have an abortion. It's sad to go back to where we were 50 years ago before it was legal.

PPMW: In closing, what should folks be assured of when they're coming in to have a meeting with a health care provider like yourself?

CH: Just that I'm here to provide comprehensive health care, compassionate care, non-judgemental care and understanding. 

PPMW: What else can you ask for?

CH: That’s right. Compassion, understanding, and care.