This Center in South Jersey Is Improving Healthcare for Women with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

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Not only is Rowan-Virtua Regional Integrated Special Needs (RISN) Center South Jersey’s first primary care practice that serves people with complex special needs, but now the group will do even more to improve healthcare for women who need special attention.

Rowan-Virtua launched an initiative to improve sexual and reproductive healthcare for women with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Services will range from routine health exams to more in-depth personalized care.

The RISN Center’s IHC initiative will offer Pap Camp so that women with IDD can talk to a health professional about their concerns, and what to expect during a gynecological exam; a series of accessible, easy-to-understand resources about women’s health topics; and specialized training for medical students, residents and practicing healthcare providers.

The Inclusive Healthy Communities (IHC) grant comes from the New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Disability Services, and the goal is to eliminate healthcare disparities by reducing the stigma associated with sexuality education, de-escalating patient fears, addressing potential histories of sexual trauma, and empowering patients to participate in their own healthcare decisions.

“Individuals with intellectual disabilities have the same gynecological health issues as people who don’t have a disability, but are less likely to get these healthcare needs met,” says Wendy Aita, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and co-director of the Rowan-Virtua RISN Center. “Sometimes this is related to the stigma associated with sexuality or the misconception that individuals with disabilities don’t need to have reproductive healthcare exams. Sometimes it’s related to a healthcare provider’s lack of training or experience with people who have intellectual disabilities.”

Women age 18 and older who have a physical, intellectual or developmental disability can call 855-932-RISN (7476) to schedule an appointment. Once established with primary care physician at RISN Center, women will have access to Rowan Medicine’s network of specialists. Most major insurances, including Medicare and some NJ Medicaid plans, are accepted. Locations include Stratford, Mount Laurel, Hammonton, Washington Twp., Vineland and Sewell.

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