Dr. Trinidad Garcia retired from her gynecology practice in December 2022 after nearly 50 years serving women of Okeechobee. The doctor had served on the Pregnancy Center's board for many years. Within weeks of her retirement, she was approached to join forces with the Pregnancy Center and head up their wellness program. Never one to sit on her laurels, Garcia immediately said yes.
Wellness exams are available to those who are uninsured, age 18 or older, who have had no exam in the last year and who have a valid U.S. government identification or other proof of Florida residency.
Robyn Garner, assistant director of the pregnancy center, explained their center is part of a program called the “Florida Pregnancy Network Center.” Jeb Bush started the program to counter Planned Parenthood. The program was offered to every pregnancy center in Florida and helps fund these non-profit organizations.
A couple years ago, they added a new program called “Women’s Wellness Center.” This new program is offered to help women be healthy and to live healthy lives, she said. They offer breast exams, pelvic exams, pap smears and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing.
STI testing is also offered to pregnant women and their partners. This service is free to anyone in the community regardless of their insurance status or income level. If a client tests positive for an STI, they are referred to the health department for treatment as well as for contact tracing.
The wellness end of the program is open to uninsured women aged 18 or older and consists of a complete physical, breast exam, pelvic exam, blood work and pap smear. If a pap smear comes back abnormal, Dr. Garcia can provide treatment at the pregnancy center free of charge.
On May 26, the center held an open house to introduce the public to the new services.
So far, they have had nine women come in as wellness center patients. Four of those women had abnormal pap smears and were able to receive treatment. Dr Garcia explained there are often no symptoms, and the only way women know there is a problem is if they have a pap smear.
If a patient needs a mammogram and has no insurance, she is referred to Open Hands Health Care. Open Hands is a free clinic in Okeechobee.
At this time, Dr. Garcia is in the office on Thursdays and has availability up until 7 p.m. if the woman cannot get there earlier. She can add Friday mornings to her schedule when it is needed.
The Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee is located at 808 NE Park Street. The phone number is 863-467-8748. They can also be found on Facebook or at their website www.okeepregcenter.com.