Photo courtesy of Olga Montes. Montes is the community and engagement manager of Planned Parenthood.
BY NANCY MAZMANIAN
On Oct. 20, College of the Desert hosted another one of its informative “COD Talks” events. This time Olga Montes, the Community Engagement Manager at Planned Parenthood, talked to students about health services that the non-profit organization offers at their centers around the country and globally.
Montes is a trained sexual health educator with Planned Parenthood and has coordinated education programs and worked with diverse populations throughout the Coachella Valley. She is also an adjust trainer with the Sexual Health Educator (SHE) Training Program of the California Department of Public Health STD Control Branch.
For over 100 years Planned Parenthood has offered patients a variety of services, including, comprehensive reproductive information, health services, sexually transmitted infection testing, treatments, services for transgender students to receive hormones or testosterone, birth control, sterilization services, pap smears, genealogical exams for cervical cancer, breast exams and much more.
“We have all birth control methods available at our clinic….We also do STI testing and treatments. Not all can be cured, but all can be treated,” said Montes.
Montes said it’s important for individuals to become educated and aware of the risks and options that come with the possibility of having an STI, “There are 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections in the U.S.”
Planned Parenthood offers free or low priced testing. It is followed by a consultation with trained professionals and an option of treatment, if positive.
“We provide broad, public access to reproductive and sexual health through direct service. We have two clinics in the valley, one in Coachella and one in Rancho Mirage. Through education and training, which are our programs, we go into schools. We have programs for adults and parents and advocacy services. We work with our legislators to make sure these kinds of programs are available.” said Montes.
All of these services are confidential as Planned Parenthood is said to be aware and respectful of individual personal situations, especially young teens. At times people may be put at risk or would prefer to keep things private when dealing with sensitive matters.
The LIFT program, Linking Family and Teens, is another service of Planned Parenthood that delivers teen pregnancy prevention education to 9th and 10th-grade students as well as parents and caregivers living in rural communities.
“LIFT encourages communication between a parent or a parent-teen adult.” said Montes, “We know that not every youth has a biological parent in their life, but they do have a supportive person/adult in their life. This is to encourage talking and support to talk about some difficult things like sexuality.”
Along with health services, Planned Parenthood is an advocate for legislative work in sex education and funded health services to individuals as a right, not as a privilege. The organization advocated for the California Healthy Youth Act bill that has been active for three years.
“California Healthy Youth Act has been in effect since January 2016, which makes it mandatory for students to receive comprehensive sexual health education. Between grades seventh through twelfth, they need to receive this at least once through middle school and once in high school. Before that, school districts were optional. It is comprehensive, so everything must be talked about. It is mandatory that it is LGBTQ inclusive, discussing healthy relationships, and to encourage students to communicate to a trusted adult,” said Montes.
For more information, visit www.plannedparenthood.org, make an appointment at 888-743-7526 or visit them at their Coachella or Rancho Mirage location.