What is IRHI, you ask? It stands for: Island Reproductive Health Initiative. IRHI’s primary mission is to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) on Orcas Island. Through partnership with island clinics, affordable and confidential health care is available for teens and many adults – both women and men – of reproductive age on Orcas Island.
What services does IRHI fund? At the clinics, this includes several types of office visits for sexual health care, lab tests (like STD testing, pap smears, pregnancy tests), and oral and injectable contraceptives, including emergency contraception (Plan B). IRHI also provides free condoms at various locations around the island.
How do you know who’s eligible? “Many islanders may not realize they’re eligible for free sexual health care services through IRHI,” says steering committee member, Alison Shaw. “IRHI recently loosened eligibility requirements so more people can have access to care.”
For youth under 21 years who are uninsured, or have insurance with a deductible at $250 or more, office visits, lab tests, and contraception are free. However, regardless of health insurance status, the patient’s need for strict confidentiality also qualifies for free services. (Clinic bills for services are sent directly to IRHI, not to the patient’s insurance or home.)
For folks 21 years and older, who are uninsured or have insurance with a deductible at $250 or more, a brief office visit is covered, and contraception is free. Some lab tests may be discounted for this age group, depending on the clinic’s arrangement with its lab.
IRHI would like to stress the importance of sexual health care and screening tests for STDs. Most STD infections show no initial symptoms and can go undetected for years. However, while most STDs can be easily cured, many can cause serious health problems if they are left untreated. The full course of vaccinations for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is also highly recommended (check with your doctor).
For more information, please check IRHI’s website at: www.irhiorcas.weebly.com. Further questions can be addressed to Alison Shaw (376-2695) or Jean Henigson (376-6549).