President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York
What She Does
She’s got a plan for female health. Laura McQuade is the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, and while we WFH, she’s working to provide accessible care for millions. Here’s what she wants you to know about pap smears, prescriptions, and the challenges facing women’s wellness right now.
8 A.M. I’m in a cab while leading our first conference call of the day, where we troubleshoot anything we can get ahead of. As I get out of the car, I usually see protestors outside our doors. Yes, even now. But they are definitely not standing six feet apart.
9 A.M. Like everyone else, I get my temperature taken before I’m allowed in the door. Then there are screening questions: Are you coughing? Can you smell and taste? If you’re showing any major symptoms, whether you’re an employee or a patient, you get referred immediately to urgent care.
10 A.M. We’re meeting with our core clinical team… People are surprised we’re still taking walk-in patients, but of course we are! We have to meet the community. That’s our whole job. If you come to our door and you don’t need to be sent to urgent care because of COVID-19 symptoms, we will fit you in.
11:30 A.M. I brief our board of directors. Our full telehealth program launches this week, so you can call or FaceTime remotely. The biggest thing people call us about is birth control. The second is sexually transmitted infections… The reality is, people are staying inside all day, sometimes with new sexual partners, and we’re seeing a spike in STIs.
12:30 P.M. We talk a lot about what care can be delayed and what can’t. If you have to push an annual women’s wellness visit, that’s one thing. But if you’re in any type of pain, we want to help you now, not when it becomes an actual emergency… For instance, if you have a UTI, please don’t just chug cranberry juice instead of calling a doctor. If you delay care, you could infect your kidneys and end up in a hospital… which needs to focus on COVID-19 right now. The way to help others is to first take charge of your health. Please ask for medical help as soon as you need it. That’s why we’re here! For UTIs, we even have an app. You can get help very easily.
1:30 P.M. We order lunch from every small business that’s still open. Prince Street Pizza is famous, and usually has a line around the block. Now we can get it in five minutes. We also love Cafe Angelique and our local delis. The employees there are heroes!
2:30 P.M. We talk about mental health, too. I’m hearing from women—especially, it seems, women [in their 20s] like my nieces—who are going a little overboard. They think self-isolation means they can’t leave the house. You need to understand, this is not a two-week thing. This is a longer-term situation, and for the good of our communities, we have to come out of this crisis ready to function and strong enough to help each other. You can’t do that if you haven’t left your bedroom in two months. It’s okay to go outside as long as you’re maintaining physical distance. Please take a walk.
4 P.M. We do another logistics call. Do we have enough medical supplies? Is our staff healthy? Do we need to change or fix anything? We’re incredibly busy because hospitals and private practices can’t provide abortions right now. They can’t remove your IUD. They’re entirely focused on COVID-19… but reproductive health is time-sensitive and life-or-death. It’s an essential part of healthcare, and we’re the main provider right now for millions of women.
5:30 P.M. My last call of the day is with our government relations team. What’s happening in Albany? What is the governor doing and saying? What are we discussing with Medicaid, and with the Department of Public Health? How can we make healthcare as accessible as possible, and as safe as possible, for all women?
7 P.M. I take the subway home. Sometimes I’m the only one in the car the whole way uptown. The platforms are empty. It’s eerie, but I’m glad so many people understand they need to flatten the curve by staying home. I love New York. I love New Yorkers. They get it.
8 P.M. We have a family hour at our apartment. I have a 10-year-old and a 17-year-old, and we do an activity all together. Board games are really good for de-stressing; we laugh a lot. My husband and I taught the kids to play Hearts, and I can tell how tired I am by how badly I do! But even when I lose, I’m a pretty good player. It’s a game of strategy, and I know a lot about thinking on your feet.