GALION — The Galion Sexual Health Clinic held its ribbon cutting on Tuesday, becoming the first facility of its kind in the Mid-Ohio region.
Health Commissioner Trish Factor, Division Disease Intervention Specialist Tina Nichols and Nurse Practitioner Sarah Miley were there to answer any questions and showcase their new sexual health clinic. Galion City Council member Tammy Siclair-Erlston stopped by the clinic and emphasized its importance for Galion.
“I think it’s a need we’ve had in our town for a long time,” Sinclair-Erlston said. “They’ve actually been doing it for seven months, and without any advertising we’ve had a strong response.
“In talking with them and prior to the ribbon cutting and finding out all the services they offer, it’s amazing to me that in this small town we are able to benefit the people of our community with such a wonderful program."
The clinic provides STD/STI Testing & Treatment, condoms, HIV testing, HPV vaccinations and more.
In Galion, the top communicable diseases are gonorrhea and chlamydia. In recent years, there’s also been a recurrence in syphilis.
Jessie Furner, executive director of the Bucyrus Area Chamber of Commerce attended the event in support of her friends and to learn about the clinic and pass on the information for Bucyrus residents who may need help.
“I think it’s interesting, and we don’t have a clinic like this in Bucyrus so I want to be able to refer people here if I should have the opportunity,” Furner said.
The clinic is available to anyone, including teenagers under the age of 18. It's not just for those around Galion, but serving Crawford, Marion, Wyandot, Seneca, Erie, Huron, Richland, Ashland and Knox Counties as well.
Miley takes pride in teaching youth about the importance of sexual health.
“They’re hard conversations to have, but I think I’m immune to talking about it, and I think I try to develop comfort with people so that they’re willing to open up and talk to me about it,” Miley said.
After receiving state funding through two grants (STI prevention and HIV prevention), Factor and her colleges started working on getting the clinic built in 2019.
“We wanted to do it right, so we took baby steps and built it up and were able to see our first patient in the summer of 2019,” Factor explained.
One of the biggest goals for the clinic is to redirect people going to the ER for treatment and make them feel comfortable trusting in a professional to give them the information they need for future prevention, according to Miley.
“We don’t judge these people. We want to meet them where they’re at and get them pointed in the right direction,” Miley said.
So far, the clinic has treated over 50 patients and provided Pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP) for five to six patients at risk for HIV.
As the Galion Sexual Health Clinic grows in town, Sinclair-Erlston hopes to broaden the scope and reach other counties in Mid-Ohio with the same need Galion had for so long.
“Usually this is something you need to go to Columbus or Cleveland to find, so the fact that they’re able to offer this is really a wonderful thing,” Sinclair-Erlston said. “I’m happy to hear we’re doing this for our community and that they’ve had such a great response.”