Spectrum Health Care reopens after months-long hiatus
A long-time Columbia clinic which provides critical care for mid-Missouri's LGBTQ+ community is open again after a months-long shutdown. Spectrum Health Care offers primary care, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and emergency contraceptives.
"We've had a large volume of patients who were ready to come back to us," Shawna Woofter, the new program manager at Spectrum, said.
The clinic shut down abruptly in February due to funding issues, leaving patients devastated. Spectrum stayed shut for months until it secured money from the nonprofit Missouri Foundation for Health, according to Woofter.
Spectrum has gradually started to reopen and getting in contact with past patients. The clinic fills a crucial need for mid-Missouri's LGBTQ+ community, Woofter said.
Over 70% of Spectrum's patients are HIV-positive, according to Woofter. She said many of their patients have been with Spectrum for years and require intense treatment.
"It's very important to us to give that kind of comprehensive care," Woofter said.
Spectrum opened as the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network in 1992 during the the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
But, the clinic isn't limited to HIV patients. Spectrum launched a program which offers birth control at little or no cost. The Right Time program runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Spectrum's offices on Wilkes Boulevard.
Patients receive counseling on which method of birth control is best for them. If patients don't have insurance, they can receive birth control for free. The program is funded by the Missouri Family Health Council, a Jefferson City nonprofit.
Woofter said Spectrum has distributed more than 600 emergency contraceptives since August.
Spectrum also re-introduced a sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinic that's popular with college students, Woofter said.
MU freshman Dorion Bailey visited the clinic Thursday afternoon to get tested.
"I know that my sexual health is important," Bailey said. "And it's important that I take care of myself now that I am mostly independent out here by myself."
Woofter said roughly 90% of the Spectrum's patients previously received care at the clinic. But Woofter said she's seen an increase in new patients, like Bailey, who said he learned about the clinic on Instagram.
Woofter said she hopes Spectrum will continue to grow.
"We've been taking it slowly, doing it step-by-step so that we can put a very strong foundation underneath us," she said.
Spectrum Health is located at 1123 Wilkes Blvd. Suite 110, in Columbia.
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