Women’s Health Month: Health Care Services for All Ages

May is Women’s Health Month, and providers at Missouri Ozarks Community Health want women to prioritize their health no matter their stage of life. Taking care of yourself includes caring for your mental health, eating healthy foods, being physically active, and keeping up with routine healthcare screenings.

All women are encouraged to schedule a well-woman visit with their provider each year. “We start screening for cervical cancer at age 21 using the pap test,” said Shari Cook, a family nurse practitioner at the MOCH clinic in Ava. “But we always recommend annual well-woman exams, whether you need a pap or not at that visit.” Well-woman exams can be covered under the Show Me Healthy Women (SMHW) program. It offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings to women who meet the following guidelines:

  • Income at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level for household income and
  • Age 35 to 64, or older if they do not receive Medicare Part B, and
  • No insurance to cover program services

If you are unsure about your eligibility, MOCH can help with that. Brandi Linder is the community health coordinator and SMHW coordinator at Missouri Ozarks Community Health. “I can help women determine their eligibility for the program,” said Linder. “There is also the WISEWOMAN program, which aims to decrease the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses among women. We can help with that as well.”

While all women need to keep up with these annual exams and screenings, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant will need to see their provider more frequently.  There are several screenings pregnant women should receive for sexually transmitted infections. And women may need to get their vaccines updated.

May is also Preeclampsia Prevention Month. Preeclampsia is high blood pressure and signs of liver or kidney damage that occurs in women after the 20th week of pregnancy. “The symptoms that can indicate that preeclampsia may be occurring is elevated blood pressure, seeing spots in your vision, headache that doesn’t go away with pain relievers, sudden severe swelling of the hands or feet or face, and right upper abdominal pain,” said Cook. Risk factors can include obesity, a previous history of hypertension, gestational diabetes, or the age of the woman. Cook said it is important to schedule an appointment to see a provider if you are pregnant. “We can evaluate their risk and come up with a plan for their prenatal care,” said Cook.

For older women who are at or nearing the age of menopause, there is also help. Many women may believe that they must suffer through the symptoms of menopause, but Cook said that is not true. “I am a North American Menopause Society certified provider,” said Cook. “There are treatments available. There are a lot of lifestyle modifications we can talk about and try. But there is medication management, including hormone replacement therapy options available.”

All primary medical care providers at Missouri Ozarks Community Health can provide pap tests. Currently only the Ava clinic is offering prenatal care. To learn more about insurance coverage for well-woman exams, please call Brandi Linder at (417) 683-5739, ext. 1415. To schedule a well-woman exam, you can reach the MOCH clinics at the numbers below:

  • Ava Clinic: (417) 683-5739
  • Gainesville Clinic: (417) 679-2775
  • Mansfield Clinic: (417) 924-8809
  • Cabool Clinic: (417) 962-5422
  • Mountain Grove Clinic: (417) 926-1713
  • Houston Clinic: (417) 967-0772
Files under: News and Events

Media Contact:

Lacy Monteleone

(417) 683-5739, ext. 1422

[email protected]