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As Fears and Temperatures Rise, Legacy Community Health to Provide Zika Prevention Paks to Pregnant Patients

Preventative measure comes as Congress votes on emergency funding

HOUSTON – Legacy Community Health, one of the nation’s largest community health centers, today began providing its pregnant patients at all 22 site locations with free Zika Prevention Paks, each of which includes one can of insect repellant with DEET and three condoms.  The precautionary move comes following one of Legacy’s pregnant patients testing positive for the mosquito-borne virus.

“Prevention of the Zika virus means putting on both bug spray and condoms,” said Dr. Ann Barnes, chief medical officer at Legacy. “Our Zika Paks are for the most at-risk group – women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant – but also for their sexual partners. We are taking this proactive measure since Houston sits in the virus’ crosshairs, given our location on the Gulf Coast and prevalence of mosquitos.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said definitively Zika causes microcephaly, or severe birth defects.

OB/GYN specialist Dr. Juan Franco appears in a 60-second PSA aimed at pregnant women in Houston. The health center sees about 300 pregnant women per day, many of whom travel to countries where there is currently a Zika outbreak.

Three months after the Obama Administration requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding for Zika preparedness, such as speeding a vaccine and mosquito control, the U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote on funding measures this week, with varying legislative packages in each chamber.

“At this 11th hour, it is our hope that a spirit of bipartisanship and desire to help avert a serious public health situation takes us over the funding finish line,” said Legacy CEO Katy Caldwell, who sent a letter to members of Congress in April about the funding matter. “Texas needs this money.”

Legacy Community Health, a not-for-profit Federally Qualified Health Center, provides comprehensive care to over 85,000 community members regardless of their ability to pay. The agency, a United Way of Greater Houston agency, provides adult primary care, HIV/AIDS care, pediatrics, OB/GYN and maternity, dental, vision and behavioral health.