The health care system has experienced unprecedented disruption during the COVID era. In addition to new virus-related challenges, long-standing health equity issues were magnified by the pandemic. For the Foundation’s The Right Time initiative, which aims to increase access to quality contraceptive services, this difficult time also presented a unique opportunity to learn from the changes that COVID suddenly brought about.
Modifications to the health care system usually move gradually, with progress around topics such as contraceptive access advancing at an even slower pace. But during the pandemic, new strategies and approaches that would have been difficult to enact under normal circumstances were suddenly authorized. Temporary changes like the pause in Medicaid redetermination and expanded flexibility of telehealth services meant continuous health care access for seeking postpartum contraception and greater convenience and privacy during contraceptive counseling.
In addition to policy changes, clinicians and clinic staff found creative ways to better serve their clients safely and accessibly, including implementing drive-through contraceptive clinics, providing extended contraceptive supplies, and partnering with community organizations to holistically address their communities’ essential needs by offering contraceptive outreach at food distribution events.
These COVID-related adjustments highlight that shifts at the policy, provider, and community levels have the potential to improve contraceptive access for people in Missouri well beyond the public health emergency.
To learn more about other changes that can expand contraceptive access, check out The Right Time’s Improving Contraceptive Access report, which is based on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also visit TheRightTime.org for more information about the initiative and to find a clinic near you.