Coastal Pregnancy Center Expands Services With Mobile Unit – Washington Daily News

Coastal Pregnancy Center expands services with mobile unit

Published 12:14 PM Friday March 17, 2023

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The Coastal Pregnancy Center and the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, March 16. The ceremony celebrated CPC’s expansion into surrounding counties and provided women with resources and materials as they make informed pregnancy decisions. (Holly Morgan/WDN)

The 29-foot RV is equipped for limited ultrasounds and has pregnancy tests and prenatal vitamins. On board will be a Registered Nurse and an Obstetrician/Gynecologist to provide physical care and emotional support to women facing a pregnancy decision. (Holly Morgan/WDN)

The ribbon cutting ceremony was well attended by CPC volunteers, elected officials from the Chamber of Commerce and members of the community. (Holly Morgan/WDN)

The ribbon cutting ceremony was well attended by CPC volunteers, elected officials from the Chamber of Commerce and members of the community. (Holly Morgan/WDN)

The Coastal Pregnancy Center (CPC) in Washington is expanding its services with a 29-foot mobile home that is now a mobile facility that provides information, supplies and limited ultrasounds to women facing a pregnancy decision.

CPC provides its clients with evidence-based pregnancy and parenting courses and material support free of charge. They also offer “unjudgmental and emotionally secure support” to women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and want to make an informed decision, according to the nonprofit.

The RV will be used by Julie Joyner, RN and Dr. Jackie Thompson, OBGYN on board who can perform ultrasounds that can confirm an intrauterine, viable pregnancy and measure gestational age so a woman making a decision knows how far along she is. The RV will be stocked with pregnancy tests and a three-month supply of prenatal vitamins.

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For pregnant women, the US Office on Women’s Health explains that prenatal care is important because it keeps you and your baby healthy.

“Babies born to mothers who do not receive antenatal care are three times more likely to have low birth weight and five times more likely to die than babies born to mothers who do not receive antenatal care,” according to the US Office on Women’s Health. “Doctors can detect health problems early if they see mothers regularly. This allows doctors to treat them early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others. Doctors can also talk to pregnant women about what they can do to give their unborn babies a healthy start in life.”

CPC Executive Director Laura Strabley said: “Research shows that inadequate prenatal care is associated with poorer health outcomes and higher maternal and infant mortality. Therefore, early intervention and referrals for care can help reduce this risk in the lives of the people we serve.”

Prenatal care can become a challenge when a pregnant woman lives in a rural area where medical facilities are far from home. Not only that, having a medical facility further away makes a high-pressure situation like the start of labor that much more stressful.

Jerlisha Bond, of Williamston, is four and a half months pregnant with her third child, a boy. She came into contact with the Coastal Pregnancy Center through the Martin County Health Department.

Bond said she had to travel to Edenton, an hour from her home, for her third child to have an ultrasound done.

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“I definitely hate that I have to travel so far…as opposed to having the help we need where we are,” Bond said of the lack of medical facilities around her.

“Having a baby in Edenton wouldn’t be so good,” said Bond with a nervous laugh.

Bond went on to say of the healthcare industry: “They need to be a little bit better at bringing help and keeping help in that area because we have people who may not be able to travel but as yet may not have the money to go to a doctor visiting and things like that.”

She gave birth to her first baby in Williamston, which is a ten minute drive from her home. however, she delivered her second to ECU Health Beaufort which is a 20 minute drive away. With her second, she booked a hotel room for one night in Washington so she could be closer to the hospital.

As anyone who has had a baby knows, most babies come on their own schedule. Bond went home from the hotel thinking their baby wasn’t coming anytime soon. The next morning she went into labor and had to drive back to Washington hoping the driver wouldn’t have to stop so she could deliver her baby on the side of the road.

“You still have to go from the light to the hospital, so it’s like, ‘Will I make it? I’ll make it,” Bond said.

She went on to say it was “a bit awkward” to come to Washington. The Williamston medical facility, where she had her first, was ten minutes from her home.

According to NC Health News, there have been 13 closures of either a maternity unit at a hospital that remains open or the entire hospital shut down in rural parts of the state.

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A maternity ward at Martin General Hospital closed on October 21, 2019, and in January this year ECU Health announced the closure of a family medicine clinic in Aurora and a women’s nursing facility in Williamston. According to a January press release from ECU Health, Aurora employees would relocate to ECU’s family medicine clinics in Chocowinity or ECU Health Physicians East clinics. Williamston employees would relocate to either the Washington or ECU Health Physicians clinic.

The former Vidant Pungo Hospital closed on July 1, 2014; However, in June 2016, a multi-specialty clinic was opened in Belhaven, offering prenatal care.

“With the recent news of the closure of ECU Health clinics in Williamston and Aurora, we believe God has preempted increased resource needs in the areas where we seek to minister,” Strabley said.

The RV will initially extend CPC’s coverage to Martin County. The non-profit organization wants to partner with agencies and find locations to set up the RV. Her goal is to be on the road with the motorhome once a week.

According to Strabley, the RV is valued at $80,000 and was paid off thanks to donations.

The next project CPC will be working on is the expansion of their current John Small Avenue office space into the former CVS pharmacy next door. This gives CPC more office space and allows them to build a boutique for the families they serve. They also received grants for new signage that will accompany their expansion.