Full interview about the history of Greene County Family Planning featuring Barbara Bird, Barbara Caldara, and Laura Churchill.
Greene County Family Planning opened in 1973 as part of Greene County Memorial Hospital. Barbara Bird, a registered nurse from Indiana filled out the first grant application to the federal Title X program. At the time, many people doubted that the funding would last more than a year.
Barbara Bird became the clinic’s first director and was one of the first eight certified Nurse Practitioners in New York state. To this day, the Family Planning is a nurse practitioner-run clinic. Under her direction, the clinic became one of the first in the state to be able to test for chlamydia through a PILOT program with the state Department of Health.
The clinic’s mission was to provide birth control information and services, primarily to women from low-income households. Initially, these services were offered at no charge but it eventually switched over to a sliding scale, which is still used today for uninsured patients. About 45% of our patients are under 100% of the federal poverty level.
In 1984, the hospital closed, and Greene County Public Health Department absorbed the Family Planning clinic. Barbara Caldara, who began working with Family Planning in 1974 under Barbara Bird first as a family planning aid, then a registered nurse, completed her training as a nurse practitioner and became director, as her mentor moved on to a position with the state Health Department.
During the height of the HIV epidemic, Family Planning changed its procedures to include wearing gloves for blood draws, a practice that is now commonplace. With help from the state, the family planning aides integrated counseling and testing for HIV into their care. Originally, the nurses needed permission to test for HIV, but now this test is included in a standard STI panel unless the patient opts out.
2004 brought a lot of changes to Family Planning, including Laura Churchill coming on board as director.
HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) became available around this time to patients who are at high risk of contracting HIV. The clinic also began billing third-party insurance for contraceptives in 2004, but insurance providers were not required to cover birth control until 2012. The passage of Expedited Partner Treatment in 2010 allowed clinic to prescribe antibiotics for STIs to a patient’s partner (as well as the patient) without having to examine them.
Greene County Family Planning offers affordable, confidential and essential health services to men, women and teens in Greene County and beyond. The clinic is open to all, regardless of your county of residence or your ability to pay. Walk-ins are welcome, and we also offer telemedicine appointments.
Over the past 50 years, advances in medicine and changes in legislation have allowed us to expand our services immensely.
Family Planning also provides health services for men. About 18% of our patients are men, who come in for STI screening, HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Medication-Assisted Treatment. We are also able to provide routine blood pressure and cholesterol screenings and skin checks, which is helpful for patients without a primary care doctor.
With better education and access to contraceptives, including long-acting contraceptives such as IUDs, teen pregnancy has steadily declined. Greene County has a lower teen pregnancy rate than our surrounding counties. About 25% of our patients are under the age of 24. By preventing unintended pregnancies, the clinic also reduces the number of abortions. Family Planning does not and has never performed abortions, but provides neutral options counseling to pregnant women about their choices.