Converge Attends the Mississippi Health Disparities Conference

June 2024

BILOXI, MS-

On last week, Converge attended the Mississippi Health Disparities Conference in Biloxi, Mississippi. This year, Mississippi Health Disparities partnered with Empowering Communities for a Healthy Mississippi to make this conference a success. Our team members were able to make a number of connections while promoting all the available training courses we offer through our Converge Connect Management System.

We enjoy making our rounds in Mississippi and Tennessee at various conferences and health fairs. If your organization has an event that may call for reproductive and sexual health exhibiting, please contact our Community Engagement Director, Jazamine Hoskins at jhoskins@convergeaccess.org


Converge Advocates for Family Planning on Capitol Hill

May 2024

WASHINGTON, DC-

While Converge was in Washington, DC attending the 2024 National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association Conference, members of our team were afforded the opportunity to visit Capitol Hill.

During this visit, Converge spoke with United States Representatives from Mississippi about various Title X updates and advocate for those in Mississippi and Tennessee. Advocating on the Hill was an important stride in our work as we continue to ensure our patients continuously receive quality care in our states. We look forward to continue our advocating efforts to make family planning a top priority within legislation.

We were even featured within NFPRHA’s social media highlight video. Check it out below.


Converge Hosts the Second Annual Title X Convening

April 2024

JACKSON, MS-

Converge held its annual Title X Convening on April 10th and 11th in Jackson, MS. Over 70 guests from Mississippi Title X Clinics and potential Tennessee Title X clinics were invited to Jackson to gain knowledge on Converge, Title X, and receive resources that can further assist them giving quality sexual and reproductive care to their patients.

Although the bad weather halted the full experience, our guests did enjoy a full day of information regarding Title X requirements and resources. They also participated in trainings focusing data and evaluation, as well as a training on Nexplanon implementation.

The Converge staff had a second day of events planned for the participants, however the staff extended its gratefulness to the attendees for their understanding and patience in regards to the bad weather.

We thank them for trusting us in knowing their safety was a top priority. We look forward to next year’s convening and continuous expansion with Mississippi and Tennessee.


Packard Foundations Highlights Converge Co-Founders

March 2024

JACKSON, MS-

Paying homage during Women’s History Month, the Packard Foundation highlighted the work of various woman-led organizations in which they partner and support. Converge is proud to say Co-Founders/ Co-Executive Directors were among the list of admirable women.

Just like Converge, the Packard Foundation is committed to advancing gender equity and reproductive rights globally. Author Caroline Roffee stated, “In this future, women are not just beneficiaries of change, but the head architects of what comes next. We know that this future is possible because we see it evident ever day in the remarkable women we partner with. When we ask ourselves what the future we envision looks like, it’s a simple answer…..”

Caroline was right; It looks like Jamie and Danielle, two friends who took matters in their own hands to improve the reproductive healthcare system for Mississippians. Jamie and Danielle saw the problems at the health department and in 2018, Converge was born. Since then, the organization has continued to flourish fighting for quality sexual and reproductive healthcare for those in Mississippi and now Tennessee.

To read the full article, please click the link below:


Converge Submits Comment to the Health Resources and Services Administration

February 2024

JACKSON, MS-

Vice President of Measurement, Learning and Evaluation, Dr. Ellie Smith, recently submitted a public comment on behalf of Converge to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) regarding a recent Program Assistance Letter (PAL) regarding changes to Uniform Data System, which impacts our Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHCs) partners in our Title X clinical network.

Our letter commended the proposed changes while providing context and suggestions regarding implementation and reporting requirements. Specifically, we highlighted the importance of including reporting measures that include all reproductive and sexual health services needs and not just pregnancy intention. We hope our letter will ultimately support FQHCs in their data requirements, improve the reporting process, and increase person-centered care by centering all of patients’ health care needs.

To read the full public comment, please clink the link below:

https://convergeaccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/Response_HRSA_UDS_Changes_Final.pdf


Converge Staff Updates

February 2024

JACKSON, MS-

Converge is excited to announce the promotion of three of our current employees.

Join us in congratulating Jazamine Hoskins on becoming the Director of Community Engagement. Jazamine began her journey with Converge as an intern in 2021. She then served as the Community Engagement Manager and has done a tremendous job partnering with other organizations and working to ensure Converge is always represented around the state. As we expand our work, Jazamine will continue the work of engaging communities and ally organizations to ensure Converge’s work is shared widely.

We would also like to congratulate Dr. Ellie Smith on becoming the Vice President of Measurement, Learning, and Evaluation. Ellie has been a vital part of our growth as an organization. She joined the team in 2022 as the Director of Measurement, Learning, and Evaluation and has since taken her department to the next level. Her  background in academia has worked hand in hand with the way she has created and elevated our training and evaluation programs. In her new position, Ellie will continue to lead the Measurement, Learning, and Evaluation team with excellence..

And, finally, congratulations to our Vice President of Finance, Jennifer Byrd. Jennifer joined the team in 2023 and immediately developed strong internal and external financial controls and systems, setting Converge up to be a leader in administering large, complex federal grant awards.

Congratulations to these team members.  Converge is thankful to have each of you.


MS Black Women’s Roundtable Day at the Capitol

February 2024

JACKSON, MS-

Converge and members of the Patient Experience Council were thrilled to stand alongside the Mississippi’s Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) as they hosted a Day at the Capitol. This was a time for community leaders, advocates, and supporters to come together to voice their concerns to legislators. The BWR has been consistently vocal about the topics they are most focused on this session: Healthcare, Workplace Justice, Voting Rights, Racial Discrimination, and Criminal Justice.

Converge is proud to stand with BWR  as a supporter and a partner in the fight for justice. We know that there is power in numbers when it comes to advocating for those in our state. We would like to thank the many legislators who stepped in to assure us that we were heard and recognize that we deserve a seat at the policy table.


ReproDay at the Capitol

January 2024

JACKSON, MS-

Converge staff and members of our Patient Experience Council gathered for “Repro Day at the Capitol” hosted by Mississippi Votes (MS Votes) and Planned Parenthood Southeast PPSE). This was an opportunity for allied organizations to come together and advocate for reproductive rights within our state. During this visit, MS Votes and PPSE led an informative discussion on the legislative process and how to lobby and/or be an effective advocate during the session.

We were honored to have Representative Zakiya Summers and Representative Timaka James-Jones share information on relevant reproductive health legislation, including:  The Contraceptive Act (House Bill 1154), Medicaid Expansion (House Bill 1146), the Crown Act (House Bill 955) and more.  As a nonprofit fighting for quality reproductive and sexual healthcare for all, we prioritize supporting allied organizations in advocacy as well as remaining aware of the impacts proposed legislation could have on our work.


From Intern to Employee; Converge Welcomes Carmen Cummings.

January 2024

Carmen Cummings joins the Converge Team.

Carmen is originally from Oakland, California, and was a student at Jackson State University when she joined the team as an intern last fall. Carmen excelled in her studies, receiving her Master of Public Health after the completion of her internship with us.

When asked why she chose the public health field she responded, “When starting out my career, I initially wanted to become a nurse because of a family member who suffered from many illnesses and became dependent on pain medication. I wanted to work in the medical field to be of assistance to patients who did not see or know of any other resources to holistically manage their health. I then chose to enter public health to continue to offer this same information but from a community/population standpoint, instead of focusing on the individual.” She went on to explain how everyone has a right to information in knowing what resources are available to them. It is equally important that the community has input on changes they’d like to see to have some autonomy in managing their health; public health seemed like the best route to take to do so.

Carmen was eager to learn about Converge while using her expertise from her studies to support the Measurement, Learning and Evaluation team. As Converge continued to expand, Carmen jumped in and supported new Converge programs. She updated the clinic locator as Converge expanded to Tennessee and created training materials and presentations.

As her internship ended, we asked her about her Converge experience. “It was a pleasure being able to assist with providing and presenting information on contraceptives, as well as, researching accessible family planning clinics for patients to visit for needed services. I learned more about reproductive justice and how important it is to include the patient in decision making for their health, the importance of community partnerships, and some of the ways nonprofits can contribute to making a difference.”

Carmen will be joining the Converge team as a full-time employee in February. She will be the Monitoring, Learning, and Evaluation Manager (MLE Manager) working with our MLE team to support Converge’s data collection and training programs.

Converge is lucky to have Carmen on our team!

We also would like to thank our Community Engagement Director, Jazamine Hoskins, for spearheading our partnership with Region IV-Public Health Training Center and working diligently to ensure our interns have a great experience with Converge. It’s truly a full circle moment; Jazamine, too, began her Converge journey as an intern and has continued to excel within this organization ever since.

Converge Submits Comment on Insurance Coverage for Contraception Provided Over the Counter.

December 5, 2023

Comment for Insurance Coverage of Over-the-Counter Oral Contraception

Thank you for this opportunity to share information regarding the need for insurance coverage for over- the-counter (OTC) contraception. Equitable access to contraception is critical now more than ever, particularly due to the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, which secured individuals’ right to abortion access. This devastating loss to reproductive autonomy has even further limited individuals’ ability to self-determine how and when to raise child(ren), a core principle of Reproductive Justice. Provision of OTC contraception without a prescription or cost-sharing is the next step in ensuring equitable access to contraception and supporting reproductive autonomy and Reproductive Justice.

Previous research conducted by Sundstrom and colleagues supports a robust body of research indicating individuals face barriers to receiving a prescription for contraception including time, transportation, cost, stigma, embarrassment and clinician refusal on the basis of religion. These barriers are particularly heightened in rural communities, communities or color, and LGBTQ+ identifying individuals. I have experienced these barriers firsthand, being from the South, a conservative geo-political climate that undermines and discourages comprehensive sexual education, leaving me with little knowledge of my contraceptive options. Further, as an individual who grew up without health insurance, requiring a prescription for contraception incurred additional costs associated with my method choice by requiring a physical exam.

These barriers are echoed by my colleague:

“Growing up as a young person in the Mississippi Delta, sex education was non-existent. Most of the information I received was from my peers, which often consisted of myths, half-truths, and a lot of horrific traumatic experiences they encountered. The lack of sexual education resources and deep generational trauma associated with sexual reproduction in the Black communities of the Delta gave me the courage to become an advocate for many young people who looked just like me.


It’s remarkable that we’ve come to the point in our country where we are prioritizing access to sexual reproductive products. OTC [contraceptive] pills being available in communities all across the US means removing one of the many barriers that so many people face just to get access to a medication. It would be a significant setback to require a provider prescription for these products. We have a duty to offer more access to contraceptives, especially after the overturn of Roe v. Wade and how that decision has fractured the progression of choice and freedom in our country. The ask is simple: make OTC [contraceptive] pills affordable and accessible to ALL people.”

In sum, providing insurance coverage for OTC preventive products without requiring a prescription can remove barriers to access, empower autonomy in healthcare decisions, and it make it affordable for individuals with and without insurance. Providing insurance coverage for OTC preventive products is a proactive approach to reducing additional related healthcare costs and can potentially decrease the financial burden on both individuals and the healthcare system. By discussing the importance of affordable access, patient autonomy, and the potential for cost savings that result from insurance coverage for over-the-counter preventive products, we can begin to unpack similar upstream factors that improve outcomes and reduce barriers in other areas of healthcare as well.