Medical Clinic Conversion
Finally, after 13 years of providing free pregnancy testing, counseling and referrals, we are in the last phase of converting to a clinic that will provide free sonograms to all our pregnant clients. This has been a goal of our ministry since we opened in 1998, but it is an expensive proposition, both in terms of equipment and trained personnel.
As always, God’s timing is perfect. When we closed the downtown center in August 2010 (see Our History) we had no thought of becoming a medical clinic. At the annual Care Net conference the following month, however, our executive director struck up a conversation with a representative of Focus On The Family. When she returned to San Antonio, she received a call from this organization. Budgetary constraints were restricting the number of grants they could offer pregnancy centers, but would we consider accepting one of the few remaining, worth $40,000, to train us to become a medical clinic? It would also pay for either 80% of a ultrasound machine (average cost ~$30,000) or the training of up to three nurses in limited ultrasound techniques. Either way, we would still have a significant burden of the cost to carry. We would need a larger facility with associated finish-out costs and increased rent/utilities. And where would we move to?
Enter the Knights of Columbus who, as it happens, were looking for a local pro-life women’s resource center to provide them with a fully paid for ultrasound unit. We fit the description. At this very time, a space in the same strip center where we were currently located became vacant that would meet our greater space needs beautifully. We could go from our 1,500 square foot location (See old suite pictures) to one with 3,200 square feet just 125 steps away (See new suite pictures). But there would be significant finish-out and furnishings costs that we had not budgeted for. Total cost was estimated at ~$50,000. When the word of our need got out, skilled craftsmen and generous benefactors came to our immediate aid and four months later we had our physical plant ready to go, at a cost of $27,000.
As of November 2011, we are poised to open the clinic, awaiting only the training of our nurse volunteers. We should be scanning our first patient in January, fulfilling the ministry’s long-held dream of demonstrating the human life growing within our pregnant patients. This advancement will dramatically increase the number of babies saved from abortion. Bexar County has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any county in the country and one of the highest abortion rates in the State. Studies show that when an abortion-minded woman sees her baby on ultrasound, there is an 85-90% probability that she will opt for life for her child. We will be making a significant impact on the abortion rate in San Antonio in the very near future!
STI/STD Testing and Treatment
Why offer STI/STD Testing?
Just who is our target demographic? Who are we encouraging to come through our doors? They are those young men and women in their early to late 20’s who are responsible for the majority of the abortions being performed. They are called the Millennials, AKA Generation Y’s. Their values, expectations and life pursuits are dramatically different from those of the Baby Boomers or even the Generation Xers who succeeded the Boomers. They were raised in a post-modern society where old-time values and absolute truths no longer hold sway. Everything is suspect; little is trusted without peer verification. “Hooking up”, friends-with-privileges and lax sexual morals are the norm. Yet, despite their sexual freedom, most remain woefully ignorant of the downside of their behavior, namely sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and pregnancy.
Agape’s primary mission is to save the lives of preborn children, but this becomes an impossibility if we never see the people having the abortions. We cannot offer alternative lifestyles and present the Gospel to our lost generation, if we don’t have something they want. So what do they want? They want a trusted, comfortable place where they can get tested for STI’s at a bargain price. This is the place we are in the process of becoming.
We have already secured a highly competent OB/GYN physician to act as our medical director. We have redesigned our reception area to include free Wi-Fi, a coffee bar and a décor the appeals to the younger generation. We have relocated off-site our Mommy and Me Boutique, since the majority of our clientele are turned off by anything that suggests babies and parenthood. And we will be initiating, finances permitting, an advertising blitz on our local college campuses that announces confidential, free or low-cost, STI testing AND treatment. With the help of state programs, we will be able to offer screening—and treatment, when available—for more than a dozen STI’s at little or no cost to our clients.
As previously mentioned, STI/STD testing will attract the exact group of people who are responsible for the thousands of abortions performed in Bexar County annually. Historically, our model of offering pregnancy testing and counseling has provided our client advocates with a single opportunity to present the Gospel and offer alternatives to the girls’ current sexual life style. It is rare that an advocate sees a client more than once, unless she is pregnant and chooses to enroll in our Earn While You Learn parenting skills program. The STI program ensures that the client will be seen at least twice: once to provide the sample for testing and again, about a week later, to obtain the results of the testing and initiate treatment, if necessary. This repeat contact offers greater opportunity to develop a relationship with the individual and potentially influence behavior in a positive direction. As important as this is, a second major advantage of STI testing is that it also brings in the males that pregnancy testing alone does not. We will now have access to the other half of the problem.