Free Condoms: UCLA’s Ashe Center Experience

Walking into the UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center I am greeted with two punch bowls full of condoms and toothpaste –– the two products I think many college students neglect most. The party hosts are two nurses dressed in scrubs who are more than happy to answer my cascade of questions. I glance over and smile at the diverse assortment of wallflowers that are patiently waiting. I take some party favors and sit down alongside my fellow students, plopping down on the comfy brown benches, beaming from ear to ear and excited to meet my general clinician for the year.

Okay, I know that this seems like a stretch, but what can I say? After not having health insurance for a year, I was ecstatic to be able to finally be seen by a clinician; especially as UCLA has a reputation for excellence (Voted Best Hospital in the West!)

After spending some time trying to navigate the Ashe student portal, I was amazed at how many services the center offers to those who have USHIP, UCLA’s student health insurance, as well as other services that are offered to all UCLA students at compromised or no cost.

You know you’re becoming an adult when you find out that you’re going to be covered by Anthem Blue Cross, Blue View Vision and Delta Dental–it’s enough to make your week. As one who is on a steady stream of prescription drugs, the $5 dollar copay for generic prescriptions was a smooth sigh of relief.

The Ashe Center can help with most medical needs and will find you a place to go that is covered if they do not have the resources that you need.

From specialty doctors at UCLA’s medical center to learning disability testing centers, individual student needs are addressed and seem to be a top priority. .

My clinician did a thorough job, referring me to all appropriate doctors and making sure my immunizations were current but I had one question… what about my woman’s health needs?

According to a 2004 Daily Bruin article, most UCLA students were unaware of their health care privileges at UCLA, but in the last ten years the center has made huge advances. UCLA devotes extensive effort to make sure their female clients are taken care of, providing a warm and welcoming environment that is judgment-free.

As a young woman who has frequented Planned Parenthood, it felt nice to finally be able to talk to a doctor on my own outside the clinical setting. Not that I don’t completely love Planned Parenthood, but convenience-wise, the Ashe Center is a great choice for me in Los Angeles and a good option for women’s health needs at UCLA.

UCLA’s Women’s Health Clinic not only offers patients a “well-woman exam,” but “birth control advice, pregnancy testing and counseling, screening for sexually transmitted infections, and a diagnosis of gynecological disorders (including pap smears and breast examinations).”

Appointments can be made via online portal, in-person or over the phone.

The Woman’s Health Clinic specialty staff members are Cathy Couture, NP; Kristin Gelineau, NP; and Beth Kautzky, NP. After making an appointment, students are expected to fill out a questionnaire so their clinician will be able to help out as much as possible. The clinicians are attentive (once again, I’m sensitive to this after the rush of the underfunded Planned Parenthood system).

My clinician, Cathy Couture, NP, really wanted to understand all my relevant history and help me make the best choices about my contraceptive use. Whether or not you have USHIP, I encourage you to do more research into the services the Ashe Center offers and how these services can be utilized within your health care situation.

And another awesome thing? There is no copay for contraceptives for USHIP students, unlike other prescriptions, and it felt pretty great seeing the $300 I saved on my 4-month pack of birth control pills. But what felt better was the peace of mind to have a genuinely concerned health care professional help me make educated decisions and to know that everything was all good with my health.

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