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Hope Pregnancy Center Guarantees Privacy And Confidentiality, Education And Support

on September 27, 2017 - 5:39pm

Client Services Administrator Joanne Lestone at Hope Pregnancy Center at 1183 Diamond Dr., Suite 3, has been involved with the Center for eight years. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com

Hope Pregnancy Center Director Kim Ferguson. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com

 

By MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos Daily Post

When you step in the doorway at Hope Pregnancy Center on Diamond Drive across from Los Alamos High School, you will immediately be struck by the cheerful serenity of the office. The Center is a safe place for women experiencing a planned or unplanned pregnancy.

The first thing Center Director Kim Ferguson and Client Services Administrator Joanne Lestone do is make a quick assessment of the visitor’s needs. From there they give the woman an over-the-counter pregnancy test kit and explain how it works. Someone stays with the woman when she gets the results.

The Center also has volunteer advocates who assist the staff.

“Some people really want a positive result and some people have no idea what their next step will be if they are indeed pregnant,” Ferguson said.

The Center guarantees privacy and confidentiality to women. There are two client rooms, which can be used for everything from consultations to watching pregnancy or parenting materials and resources from prenatal to toddlerhood.

There is no cost for any of the Center’s services. In fact, mothers can earn “baby bucks” by participating in programs at the Center and use them to “buy” items from the onsite boutique, which has everything from diapers to clothing as well as books and other materials to help women understand their pregnancy.

The Center is a point of contact for people who need additional services from groups such as Self Help, Inc., the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, First Born, Family Strengths Network and the Domestic Violence Task Force.

“We like to stay aware of the services that are out there in the community for our clients so that we can provide a holistic approach for them. Pregnancy can be a stressful time. Women may or may not know how to move forward,” Ferguson said. “We verify positive test results and talk them through them, helping them to identify their strengths and their support system.”

Center staff help clients to assess how the choice they make for their baby will affect them long-term and short-term and how the choice will affect them personally. They explain the risks and consequences of abortion using standard medical and scientifically-based information.

They also give referrals to organizations in New Mexico that will help with adoption plans if that is something the woman is considering. They will provide a list of agencies but don’t facilitate contact or recommend specific places. Staff also help women to be aware of what is physiologically occurring with the baby. They don’t provide or refer women for abortions but if someone is considering that as an option, they try to make sure it is a well thought out decision.

The Center provides full confidentiality for young women who are pregnant due to a consensual relationship unless they are under the age of 14. Ferguson and Lestone both say the law pertaining to mandatory reporting is complicated, often depending on the relationship involved.

In cases where a woman’s partner may not want a baby, Center staff encourage honesty and can facilitate conversation in the office if necessary. Although they work solely with the client, they particularly encourage a healthy relationship between young women and their parents.

The budget for the Center is roughly $90,000 a year, which is mostly raised from the community. Funds also are raised through the Los Alamos National Laboratory payroll deduction program where the Lab matches employee donations as well as through Smith’s Earn and Learn, and Amazon Smile.

“We are very blessed to have the contingent of churches and other donors that we have,” Ferguson said. “We have a wonderful contingent of 11 volunteers who have contributed more than 320 hours already this year.”

Lestone said there are many volunteering opportunities available ranging from becoming a trained client advocate to data entry, helping with mailings and keeping the building ready for clients.

Other Hope Pregnancy Center activities include a community baby shower for people who do not have family in the community. One such shower involving five babies was held at the White Rock Baptist Church, which hosted the event and provided refreshments.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church has sponsored a program at various times where parishioners contribute baby items to fill a chest of drawers for an expectant mother. Bethlehem Lutheran Church and Trinity on the Hill Church run diaper drives, particularly in conjunction with the Epiphany. La Vista Church of the Nazarene in White Rock also conducts diaper drives. Individuals and various churches provide food and clothing for families that need help.

Ferguson is particularly proud of the Center’s partnership with Care Net Pregnancy Center’s Stork Buses. The buses have a fully-functioning examination room on wheels. They provide ultrasounds for women with confirmed pregnancies as well as screening for sexually-transmitted diseases. The ultrasound is a limited early obstetrical ultrasound, which is not diagnostic but further confirms the pregnancy and due date. Clients can also have an early pregnancy health assessment and have their glucose and protein levels checked.

A Stork Bus visits Los Alamos once a month on the second Tuesday. Clients should make appointments through Hope Pregnancy Center. Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church sponsors the monthly visits.

Ferguson, a Texan, has a degree in communications and always wanted to work in the nonprofit field.

“I love helping people. I am a firm believer that it is our job to love others in a way that helps them to be as successful as possible. I have always had a heart for people in crisis,” she said.

Lestone worked as a volunteer at the Center for three years before becoming an employee five years ago.

“I love seeing women or families who were in a difficult place in life make successful choices for themselves. And of course, I love seeing the babies growing up,” she said.

For more information about Hope Pregnancy Center, call 505.662.2300 or visit hpcla.com. Center hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

 

One of two client rooms at Hope Pregnancy Center. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com

The Baby Boutique at Hope Pregnancy Center. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com

Some of the supplies available through programs at Hope Pregnancy Center. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com


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