The Highs And Lows Of 2021

It is hard to believe that we’re already in December. It truly feels like this year has flown by, a year marked by some highs for Upstream As we reflect on the year and take stock of our impact to date, we find that across Upstream states we’re serving nearly 800,000 women. Here in North Carolina, we worked alongside the North Carolina Pharmacy Association, Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and Power to Decide to push for passage of H.B. 96, a bill that allows pharmacists to prescribe and dispense birth control. On the program front, five partners graduated this year and we welcomed three new partners who will begin programmatic work in 2022. Even in the ongoing battle against COVID-19, our partners continue to speak to the importance of making sure that women have the access to the contraceptive of their choice.

But with the highs also came lows. As I am sure you have seen by now, Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown passed away before Thanksgiving after a multi-year battle with cancer. It’s hard to articulate all that Dr. G-B meant to me, Upstream, and the healthcare community as a whole. She served as Upstream’s Chairwoman and Executive Ambassador of the North Carolina Advisory Committee. She also was a member of the National Upstream Board. Her wisdom, drive, and love of the mission were apparent in everything she did. She was a part of Upstream’s program in North Carolina from the very beginning, guiding us through our early work and supporting us as we grew – she will sincerely be missed.

As a mother, grandmother, physician, minister, and an advocate for the health and well-being of the world, I can envision the benefits that will come from empowering the women of North Carolina to make safe and effective choices about their reproductive health. Together, we will have the opportunity to witness history first-hand; to see wheels of change, to enforce the freedom of choice, to witness each definition of success, to feel the energy of love and to show patients that caregivers truly do care. (1943-2021)

As we move into 2022, we will continue to tap into the words of wisdom that Dr. G-B has given us. We’re looking forward to connecting with our partners and continuing to work with agencies as we pivot and adapt our program based on the pandemic.

We wish you a happy, safe, and healthy holiday season.

Tribal Advancements

Our work with Tribal communities continues to be a top priority for us. We’re proud to announce that Jenny Slagle will serve as the Director of Tribal Partnerships & Community Engagement. She will work beside Rebecca LaClaire, NC Tribal Liasion.

Did you miss our blog post on Indigenous Peoples’ Day? We interviewed Rebecca about the unique issues that Native American women in North Carolina face when it comes to their reproductive health. You can read it here.

Thank You Sec. Cohen

Dr. Mandy Cohen recently announced that she will be stepping down from her role as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Sec. Cohen has been incredibly supportive of our mission from the very beginning, including speaking at our 2020 Reproductive Life Planning Summit. We are incredibly grateful for her time, support, and guidance. Thank you, Sec. Cohen for your work in bettering reproductive health services for the people of North Carolina.

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