The Wyoming Health Council exists to offer Wyoming residents a number of different services designed to help them make informed decisions about their health and the health of their current and potential future families.
Title X Family Planning is the core service. Title X, according to the WHC website, is “the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with voluntary, client-centered, comprehensive family planning and related preventative health services.”
The Wyoming Health Council became the statewide grant administrator of the federal Title X Family Planning Program in 1990. Included in the council are eight different agencies with 10 clinics across Wyoming. These clinics serve more than 4,600 clients annually, including both adults and adolescents. The Wyoming Health Council provides these clients, especially those with low incomes who may not have health insurance, with a variety of family planning services.
“We firmly believe that family planning services are critical to our overall population,” said Rob Johnston, the current executive director of the Wyoming Health Council. “It helps people. Our clinics help people with decision-making as to whether or not they want to pursue a family and, if they are, how to best do that. If they don’t want a family at this time, what are their options related to birth control? Our clinics, through the communicable disease section with the public health office, also offer HIV and STD testing and screenings.”
The clinics that make up the Wyoming Health Council offer a broad range of family planning and reproductive services. They do not perform abortions, but they do go over reproductive health options and provide referrals as requested by the client.
Clinicians help clients consider their health, educational, career, financial and relationship goals when it comes to family planning, and they help clients determine the best steps moving forward.
“Our experienced staff and clinicians will provide you with education and information to support you in making informed choices based on your reproductive life plan,” their website states. “Wyoming Title X clinics provide comprehensive, high-quality family planning and reproductive health services for all adults and adolescents.”
The Wyoming Health Council is able to offer these services due to a grant that comes from the Office of Population Affairs, which is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Since 1990, WHC has been the Title X provider and, with that, they receive close to a million dollars a year to provide these services.
Because of the grant, they are able to offer these services to a number of different clients, many of whom may not have health insurance or financial means to receive service elsewhere.
“Our services are geared towards anybody,” Johnston said. “We do accept insurance plans, so people with insurance can also get the services, but we’re really geared primarily to those people with very limited resources — either in terms of income or insurance. We see everybody who comes to us, and we utilize a sliding fee scale to minimize their costs.”
The Wyoming Health Council and the clinics that make it up want to help people. That is their goal and their purpose. The family planning services that are offered, according to the WHC website, include but are not limited to:
- Contraceptive services to help you prevent pregnancy until you’re ready to have children.
- Pregnancy testing and the opportunity to receive non-directive counseling and information about your options.
- Sexually transmitted infection services to protect your reproductive health.
- Preconception care to support the healthiest outcomes for you and your baby (e.g., nutrition, physical and mental health, and safety), if and when you’re ready.
- Basic infertility services and counseling are provided for both partners facing difficulties in achieving a pregnancy.
- Related preventative health screenings (e.g., cervical cancer screenings)
- Other preventative health screenings (e.g., screening for lipid disorders and checking blood pressure)
- Counseling for adolescents regarding family participation, ways to resist sexual coercion, confidentiality and mandatory reporting requirements.
These services could help so many people, but many don’t even know they exist — let alone that they’re being offered right in their own communities.
“The truth of the matter is that being able to offer these services to our clients is our driving force, every day,” Johnston stated. “Everything we do — from our website to our Facebook page or our Instagram or any other social media presence — is geared towards getting the word out that there are ways that people can take care of themselves and we have the services to help them do that.”
It’s not just the services, either; it’s also the people. The Wyoming Health Council and all of its clinics are made up of men and women who are proud to serve their communities. Their purpose, every day, is to help their neighbors find and utilize the services that they need to live happy, healthy lives. The staff throughout these clinics have a heart to serve, and that’s especially true of the Wyoming Health Council’s executive director.
Currently, Johnston occupies that position, but he will be pursuing retirement soon and the WHC is currently searching for his successor.
Johnston has spent decades of his life serving the communities in Wyoming, and he is looking for an heir apparent who brings the same knowledge, passion and, most importantly, heart to the position.
“I have loved serving as the executive director of the Wyoming Health Council,” Johnston stated, “but it’s time for me to retire. My commitment to the organization is that I would stay through the end of our grant year, which culminates at the end of March. We’re hoping to get somebody hired for this position before then so that we can work together on that transition.”
The transition will be an extensive one, but it will also be a worthwhile one. As the proverbial “face” of the Wyoming Health Council, the executive director will perform a variety of functions that serve both the WHC team (as well as its subsidiaries) and its clients.
“The primary responsibilities of the executive director involve working with the staff and looking at what direction they’re going in, making sure that we’re providing cost-effective resources for our sub-recipients, in order to help them do the work that they’re doing in their communities,” Johnston said. “I’m also the liaison here with our federal office and other federal entities that we receive funding from. We look at the issues that are going on nationally and figure out how we can address those issues state-wide.”
The executive director will also do a lot of networking throughout the state. The position is based in Casper but there is some travel, as the executive director will partner with the Clinical Director to perform site visits to the various clinics across Wyoming. The executive director ensures the quality of services being offered at the clinics and makes sure that they are meeting federal requirements. The ED will also coordinate fundraising efforts and will outreach to other funding sources in order to augment the funds needed to provide the services that the Wyoming Health Council offers.
The position is 40 hours a week, Monday–Friday. It’s a big job and it requires an immense amount of dedication and passion. But it is also a job that can yield incredible results. The executive director, and the staff that he, she, or they oversee, have the opportunity to serve their community in a real, tangible way. They have the chance to change lives. They do so with their Title X Family Planning services and every other service that they offer. They provide education, resources and actual healthcare to clients who really need them but can’t always afford them. It’s an important job and it’s one that Johnston hopes will be just as fulfilling for his successor as it was for himself.
“I’ve been the executive director for the Wyoming Health Council for five years,” he shared. “Previous to that, I was on the Board of Directors. When the previous director left, they asked me if I’d be willing to take on this job. I said yes and I’ve never had a moment of regret. It’s an incredible staff that I have the opportunity to work with. We know what we’re doing and we know that our clinics are doing good work. We know that the needs are there and we are honored to help cater to those needs.”
To learn more about the job or to apply, you can view the job listing or visit the Wyoming Health Council website.
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