A year full of challenges, and hope

Two thousand and twenty — a year full of extraordinary challenges for all, and yet opportunities to reflect, adapt and grow for Upstream. We are thankful for our health centers, state partners, and each of you across the country. Despite the resounding hardships of this year, Upstream has partnered with over 80 agencies across 5 states that serve more than an estimated 600,000 women annually, and we are well on our way to reaching our goal of transforming contraceptive care for more than 1 million women annually.

Though this year has proven to be more challenging than years past, there have been bright spots. We have new adaptations in our training model, entirely converted to a virtual program model, that have continued to see gains in clinician and support staff knowledge as compared to our renowned in-person training model. Here are just a few of the brights spots from across our work this year:

Expanded Patient Choice and Access in North Carolina

In North Carolina, our most recent state to begin implementing Upstream’s contraceptive care model, a patient at Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) was asked whether she wanted to get pregnant in the next year — a standard screening question across all the health centers we work with. After learning that the patient’s birth control method was not meeting her needs or goals, the patient and provider found a new method that better fit her pregnancy goals during the same-day visit. This was not only a win for patient-centered care and method choice, but it also eliminated an unnecessary return visit — essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This early success story is just the beginning for CHA, and soon patients all across North Carolina will have similar access. We’ll continue monitoring all of the data and our progress, including measuring patient autonomy and decision-making.

Sustained Impact in Delaware

In Delaware, where we’ve now completed our statewide project and have exited the state, we heard from our health center partners that Upstream’s impact sustained – and even deepened – throughout the pandemic. Dr. Rose Kakoza, Clinical Director of Community Health & Equity for Primary Care and Community Medicine, Christiana Care Health System, shared the following reflection:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our institution has remained committed to ensuring access to reproductive health services for our patients. As we have accelerated virtual care, for example, we felt it was critical to prioritize incorporating the pregnancy intention screening questionnaire in our virtual care workflow in primary care. This allows our providers to continue to identify and address the reproductive health needs of our patients, regardless of whether the visit is in person or virtual.”

Launched New Patient Education Materials

Lastly, we were thrilled to introduce Upstream’s patient education materials, researched, designed, and tested with a diverse group of patients and healthcare teams from across the country. As these materials make their way into the field, we will gather more learnings so that we can continually refine our approach — emphasizing choice and options throughout.

Thank you for your support in a challenging year. I hope you are as optimistic as we are about the coming year and what we can learn and accomplish together.

If you’d like to support Upstream to continue this work, please click here to make a 100% tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!

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