It’s National Women’s Health Week and while some believe it’s just an annual check-up, the experts say it’s so much more.

Sanford’s Dr. Jessica Sedevie is an OB-GYN who sees women on a regular basis.

She says yearly preventive care is key to catching illnesses early, but she says it also allows women to open up about daily health concerns.

“One of the more is concerns about periods, whether they’re heavy or irregular. Most commonly, breast and pelvic health in general. But once I get patients established with me I get calls just about anything,” explained Sedevie.

But she says optimizing your health should go beyond the doctor visits.

“30 minutes of moderate activity, most days of the week for as often as you can, trying to get enough rest, which I know is sometimes one of the first things to go when you get too much on your plate,” says Sedevie.

She says over the last year since the start of the pandemic, more patients have brought up mental health concerns as they navigate through life.

“You add a lot of different elements. People’s schedules were changed or how they interact socially were changed, especially right away you know. If a patient deals with their anxiety by going to the gym and then everything shut down. So I’ve had a lot more patients who I think opened up about discussing anxiety or depression,” explained Sedevie.

The increase has caught the attention of the North Dakota Department of Health, now looking to extend Medicaid coverage for up to one year after the birth of a baby.

“They lose access to care. So they lose access to contraception care if they don’t want to have another child right away. They lose access to mental health services because they drop off of Medicaid once they’ve delivered. that’s one of our main things,” explained Amy Burke, a registered nurse with the NDDoH.

The department is establishing a pilot program with a pediatric clinic to conducting depression screening for all mothers.

The hope is to expand to clinics throughout the state.

The department is also teaming up with Women’s Way for an outreach community campaign to encourage women’s preventive care for minority and low-income women.

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