The 3rd Coast Clinic, a reproductive health service-focused extension of the Cudahy Health Department, is in full operation.
Cudahy’s Health Officer Heather Puente said there is a need for sexual health services in the South Shore area because the next nearest clinics offering such services could be an hour bus ride away for some.
“There isn’t much in the way of access,” she said, adding that increases in sexually transmitted infections in the area underscore the need for such facilities. “While these issues impact the entire community, existing resources have been largely concentrated in the central city. This clinic fills a gap by bringing these needed services to the South Shore communities that had been previously underserved in this area.”
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The now rebranded clinic, located inside the health department at 5050 S. Lake Drive, is open for walk-in visits but also offers scheduling for in-person and virtual visits. The hours are essentially the same as the health department, typically 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Staff will stay late, if needed, for a patient, Puente said.
The clinic is the result of a multi-year effort and a late 2019 grant for $1.2 million from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The clinic opened in June 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all clinic resources diverted toward the Cudahy Health Department’s pandemic response.
Despite this, the clinic never stopped offering services though they were primarily virtual or curbside.
“The Cudahy Health Department and 3rd Coast as we know it never closed,” said Tia Medley, family nurse practitioner for the clinic. “We did screen people as they came in but offered many different services to support where people were.”
The clinic offers holistic health services including “routine exams and screening, rapid testing for pregnancy or common STIs, treatment for STIs, gynecology services, family planning including birth control, general health/wellness exams, sports physicals, and more,” according to a news release.
While the clinic offers a traditional “sliding scale” fee which looks at income and bases pay on a specific portion of that income, the clinic does accept private insurance. Medley said that the clinic offers “a more responsive set of services” including pre-exposure prophylaxis (using medication to prevent the spread of disease in those not yet exposed to a disease-causing agent) without preapproval of insurance.
“Our goal is to provide inclusive comprehensive services that make people feel we are responding to their needs and not a laundry list of services that can be obtained at other STI and primary care clinics,” Medley said. “We try and are successful in providing client-oriented services and care. Inclusivity is not an afterthought; it is what we do.”
Puente said one of the main things that sets this clinic apart is that inclusivity focus.
“We have a very welcoming environment; it has a very different feel and that has been the biggest feedback,” she said. “(The staff) is dedicated to the community and the work they are doing and I think that’s why word of mouth has been one of the huge referral processes because it has become one of those trusted spaces.”
For more information visit www.3rdcoastclinic.com.
Contact Erik S. Hanley at (262) 875-9467 or [email protected]. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter at @ES_Hanley.
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