How the Clinic Pays for Sanitary Products

Isabelle Harrel, Staff

Tampons and pads are items that every girl needs at some point or another. Unfortunately, there are times when girls forget their feminine hygiene products at home and find themselves unprepared at school. Luckily, they can stop by the nurse’s office and pick up the products they need.

The way that the clinic gets ahold of pads and tampons has changed over the years.

“When we first started Mill Creek, the way we got our tampons and pads is one of the [feminine hygiene] companies sent enough packets for each eighth grade girl, and it had a couple tampons in it, a couple pads in it, and it also had a coupon in it,” Mrs. Fleming, the school nurse, said. “[With the coupons], you could get a free box of tampons and a free box of pads.”

“Instead of the coaches giving those out to every eighth-grade student, what they would do it donate them to the clinic,” Fleming said. “That way, nobody had to pay for them.”

“Every time I’d go to the grocery store, I’d pick some up for the clinic,” she said. “Those actually lasted until a couple of years ago, and then, we ran out of pads.”

Tampons and sanitary products are taxed because they are not seen as necessities. According to Woman&Home, “Tampons and other ‘sanitary protection products’ are currently classified as ‘luxury,’ ‘non-essential’ products.”

Currently, Fleming pays for tampons and pads with the budget that the school sets aside for the clinic.

Knowing that sanitary products are expensive, Fleming decided to charge a small amount when people get them from the clinic.

“[Pads] are really expensive, so we thought we’d just charge a nominal fee of a quarter,” Fleming said. “It was just to help with the cost.”

Fleming knew that there would be a lot of questions when she first began to ask people to pay for sanitary products.

“I knew the first year I’d get a lot of questions about [asking people for a quarter],” she said. “At first, I thought it was just about the money. Then, I discovered that it’s a good way to make people responsible. If you need a pad or tampon, bring one from home.”

“But I’ve always gone back and said, ‘I’ve never denied anyone a tampon,” Fleming said.

“They called me in Dr. Cypert’s office one day, and there were four girls in there,” she said. “They said a girl came in and said [that] you wouldn’t let her have one. I said, ‘If that ever happened, then it was a mistake.’”

The clinic began charging quarters just to cover the cost of sanitary products. Although there is room in the clinic’s budget to help pay for them, that money alone isn’t always enough to cover the cost. There is one main purpose for charging students: to help provide females with the sanitary products that they need.