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Community health centres provide access to sexual health services

Self-referrals are how community health centres ensure people have access to sexual health services.

Chad Daigle, manager of Horizon's Hartland Health Centre (HHC), said people in the area may not be aware, but they can self-refer themselves to the nurse practitioner - whether they are a client of the health centre or not.

"Sexual health services are one of the only services we provide for any person who is not a patient of our centre," Chad said.

Crystal Broad, nurse practitioner at the health centre, said sexual health services are available to adolescents and adults of all ages and genders and are addressed as quickly as possible.

"We perform Pap smear tests, breast exams, sexually transmitted infection testing, with treatment when required, and provide contraception counselling. We offer prescribing and insertion of IUD (intrauterine device) also," Crystal said.

Chad said a woman had expressed she was concerned to have her male physician conduct a pap test.

"I told her that the Hartland Health Centre provides this service if she would like to meet with a female nurse practitioner," he said. "She did follow-up with me that she had scheduled an appointment and found it very beneficial."

Crystal said when she does a Pap, she can copy the patient's primary care provider on the results.

"This way, the provider is aware. Sometimes providers refer their patients to me specifically for anything related to a patient's sexual health," she said.

Crystal said self-referrals allow for more timely care and better accessibility to services when needed.

"We don't offer walk ins, but we see people quickly," Crystal said. "This is important because it can be stressful for someone if they are concerned they may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI)."

Crystal said the self-referral process lets people take their sexual health into their own hands and helps prevent the spread of infection.

"Sometimes, we'll have a call from someone who just wants to ensure they are free of STIs, and sometimes women just want to have a pap done by a female," Crystal said. "And of course, all encounters are completely confidential… always."

Chad said in the sexual health services are provided out of Horizon's Hartland Health Centre as well as Horizon's Tobique Valley Community Health Centre (TVCHC) in Plaster Rock.

Sexual health services are available through many of Horizon's community health centres and clinics, and there is no referral needed. Talk to your health care provider or call your local health centre for more information.

Anyone in the Hartland area who's interested in sexual health services can call the HHC at 506-375-2700, and anyone in the Plaster Rock area can call the TVCHC at 506-356-6600.

While walk-ins are not accepted, appointments are available on short notice.

Crystal Broad joined Horizon in 2010. She graduated from the Fredericton University of New Brunswick (UNB) School of Nursing in 2001. She credits the Bath Hospital nursing staff for inspiring her and showing her how to truly care for patients.

Following stints in Presque Isle, Maine as a Registered Nurse as first assistant in surgery, and serving as an operating room (OR) manager, Crystal returned to Carleton County to work at Horizon's Upper River Valley Hospital in the OR as a surgical assistant. At the same time, she completed her Masters in Nurse Practitioner (NP) at UNB Fredericton.

For the last 10 years, she's worked as an NP at Horizon's Tobique Valley Community Health Centre, in Plaster Rock, and now works at Horizon's Hartland Health Centre, servicing the health care needs of her community.

She is passionate about primary health care and providing sexual health services to the community.

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