Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pregnancy Decision Health Centers

Pregnancy Decision Health Center is where I’ve been a volunteer for the last 5 or 6 years (don’t remember when I started but there was a big ice storm and I had to cancel my first day).  It provides women with pregnancy tests and ultrasounds (all free, no government money). It also provides counseling, material aid, educational materials, parenting classes, maternity clothes, layettes of beautiful new clothes and hand made things by church ladies.  It educates the community and has teams that go into the high schools to talk about being sexually responsible.  PDHC also has a fatherhood project to promote two parent families and the benefits of monogamy. There is also an emergency hot line.  All this was started about 40 years ago by one woman who began with a hotline in her home after the Roe v. Wade court case.

There are four locations in central Ohio, all with a nurse-director, para-professionals, interns, volunteer counselors most with degrees, and greeters, which was my position. We do the clerical stuff, entering records on the computer (when I began the files were paper and in a file cabinet) and greet the people with a clip board and instructions, like you would see at a doctor’s office. I also search the internet for any recalls on baby equipment that is donated like strollers, bouncers, bathtubs, write thank you notes for donations, insert educational material into packages which are given to each woman. I unpack and sort baby clothing donations, some of which has to be washed, and some of which comes from Catholic ladies who buy or make them, and pack.  I think that organization is about 100 years old.

Our clinic on West Broad Street has a pleasant lobby with comfortable chairs,  two counseling rooms nicely furnished, an education room with tables, chairs, video, etc.  A “store” with maternity clothes, free children’s clothes for older children in the family, diapers, books, etc., and an ultrasound room, plus 2 restrooms. A certain amount in the store is free, others can be earned by attending classes. Some of the locations, like on the OSU campus, offer STD testing, but we don’t. All the ultra-sounds are read by doctors who volunteer their time.

I’m a greeter, but have been on the prayer team for 18 years. Each week or so we get an e-mail list (without names because God knows) of about 10 requests for prayer as these women make the decision to either parent or abort.  I think I’ve only seen adoption a few times in all those years, although that may be because the decision has been made.  Not every woman is seeking an abortion; some need the documentation to qualify for government benefits. But our staff provides follow up anyway, and at the end of their pregnancy they can still have a layette.  Also if there is a miscarriage, grief counseling.  Some don’t have a doctor and need a referral.

Private contributions are 65% of PDHC’s support, grants 18%, churches direct contributions 12% and investments 4%. There is no government funding.  The current budgeted income is about $1.4 million. In 1981 309 clients were served; in 2017 the number served was 4411. 71% of those who seek help have incomes of less than $15,000.

One surprise for me was the list of local resources we compile and hand out—local, state, federal, non-profit, church, etc. It’s extensive and very specialized, like beds, or scholarships, or free clinics, or low cost housing, or food pantries. The bed ministry is from churches—ours has one.  It’s surprising (to me) how many families don’t have beds, or the women have fled abuse with no furniture, or the house was treated for bed bugs, and all the mattresses were thrown out. For a child to have his own bed is something really special. 

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