Archive for the ‘ Organizing Your PRC for Success ’ Category

Part I: Ethical Standards for Organizations Serving At-Risk Women

You and I know that the abortion industry has not identified nor do they use proper ethical standards of care when serving women facing unplanned pregnancy. Not necessarily news to you is it? Because of that the likelihood of a woman being victimized by the political and financial interests of those providers is drastically increased. It is unjust and upsetting and reveals an opportunity.

Are You Following Your Standards?

And what about the Pregnancy Resource Center movement? Have we clearly identified proper ethical standards of care for medical services and counseling? For example, let’s say that your Pregnancy Help Clinic provides pregnancy testing. And let’s say a woman comes in who is seriously considering an abortion and your organization provides her with one. Assuming that it takes just 4 minutes for you to get a result on the pregnancy test you decide to ‘counsel’ the woman for 30 or more minutes about the negative aspects of abortion. This could be considered an unethical use of the trust a woman is giving you by withholding critical decision-making information while you offer her what could be considered ‘your agenda’ about what she should do. This is a grey area but could be interpreted as ‘moral entrapment.’ What is the ethical standard you are using to defend the particular way your organization delivers pregnancy tests?

Anytime a group of people interacts with a person or another group of people that interaction should be governed by practical, ethical standards of care. Those standards which could be called ‘normative ethics’ are designed to insure the person or people receiving the service from you because of their distinct need are protected from any harm that could from exposure to the selfish intentions or personal agendas of the people providing the service. You may say, “Since we are Christians and mean only to help a woman considering abortion this is not a problem for us.” To that it must be said, “Abortion providers could also say they have only the best of intentions.” And it is because of the abortion industry’s lack of ethical standards of care we have an opportunity to set a national standard for all organizations serving women facing unintended pregnancy.

But first we must identify them, agree to them, and prove that we follow them in the pregnancy resource center movement. We are not talking about ‘Commitment of Care’ documents. We are talking about something much more specific.

To learn more about developing a system that will help to insure and optimize ethical standards in your Pregnancy Center go to www.compasscaretraining.org.

Update:  See Part II:  Ethical Standards for Organizations Serving Abortion Minded Women.

Dodging the Bullet of State Legislation

Its coming . . . more and more attempts to regulate pregnancy centers with State legislation. So far most of them have failed but the abortion industry is getting better at figuring out our internal weaknesses in an effort to limit women’s access to pregnancy centers. Some think that negative regulatory legislation aimed at Pregnancy Centers may happen as early as next year!

All the abortion industry needs is one State to pass restrictive legislation and it could pave the way for other States to follow in their steps. The last thing we want is for the State to begin regulating what Pregnancy Centers do. What we really need is to show the States that we follow standards of our own.

Up until last week Washington State was one of those States. From what I understand the legislation would have made it possible for a woman to sue a pregnancy center ‘for damages’ if she simply did not like what she was told while there. Also, if the Pregnancy Center for some reason were to win the lawsuit it would have made it illegal for them to recover their legal costs from the plaintiff. So not only could they be sued but if they won they would still have to pay for the cost of an expensive lawsuit themselves.

New York Pregnancy Centers have been the target of several pieces of legislation designed to hinder their ability to free speech in marketing as well as limiting their ability to provide limited medical services like ultrasound. In 2006 New York’s Representative Carolyn Maloney introduced a federal bill restricting the free speech of ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ that was actually backed by the ACLU, an organization committed to the broadest interpretation of free speech.

Virginia just a few days ago let a bill die as the legislative session ended for the year without a vote. The idea was to set standards for pregnancy centers to follow informed by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). They even performed an undercover investigation and wrote a report on it (click here to see that report). See their YouTube video about it below.

What is the solution? We need a return to excellence. We need documented ethical standards of our own. Furthermore, we need documented processes outlining the way we serve every pregnant woman including what we say as well as when it is said and by whom. We need to show that the way we provide medical services to women facing unintended pregnancy is the highest and only standard of care and that even abortion-providers should follow our protocols . . . because they are right, they don’t just feel right. Do you know what is being said to each woman when the door to the counseling room is shut? Do you know for sure that your nurses are not using medical tools to intentionally manipulate women’s emotions. Do you know for sure that your counselors are not dispensing any type of information that could be considered medical in nature? Do have people without a medical license running pregnancy tests? What exactly is being said to women when they are scheduled for an appointment? If all you have to go on is one person who says something like, “We have good counselors . . . they would never say anything they are not supposed to say” then you as an executive can be fairly certain you’ve got problem.

Here is the Acid Test to know if your organization is doing the right things in the right way: Everything you do is written down in a book that everyone follows, parts of which are even memorized as scripts. If you can’t point to that book, and I’m NOT talking about a Policy manual, then it is impossible for your organization to consistently meet any ethical standard. If by some stretch of the imagination your organization is so well run that you hit the bull’s eye let’s say for 1 ethical standard you could not prove it in a court of law without that book and the documentation that each person was trained in doing their job exactly according to the book AND that you have documentation that they followed their training with each and every patient. That is standardization.

“But abortionists don’t do that why should we?” you might ask. It is because they don’t regulate themselves that it is imperative we do. Once we have a clear, well thought out, ethical application of information and medical services aimed at helping women facing unplanned pregnancy to make a truly informed decision then we will have the high ground, then we can begin to see legislation drafted and passed regulating the irresponsible, self-interested, unethical abortion industry. But this will take commitment on the part of the executive, a commitment to applying a linear services model, to changing the way things are done. To learn more about implementing a written, linear service model click on the new CompassCare Training Website here: www.compasscaretraining.org

Eliminate 90% of Board Dysfunction: 5 Simple Steps

Have you ever experienced difficulties interacting with your Board of Directors? If the answer is no then you should read this post to keep it that way. If the answer is yes then this post will help put your relationship with the board back on a healthy path.
Tension between the board and the executive occurs for lots of reasons.  But that tension reflects a dysfunction and thankfully paves the way for a solution. Dysfunction between the board and executive reveals the need for your board to establish a process for how to interact with you the Executive in a healthy way. It is extremely important for the board to establish a process of how to interact with the Executive in a healthy way because the future health of the organization depends on it. Too many organizations have been badly damaged because boards and executives simply did not follow a healthy process or misunderstood their role. A healthy executive/board relationship should be moderated by what is called an ‘Executive Review Committee’ or ERC. The ERC is usually populated by the Executive Director, the board chair, and at least one other person of the Executive’s choosing. The primary function of the ERC is to review the Executive’s performance annually as well as determine a compensation package to recommend to the board. The performance evaluation along with the compensation package serves as an annual contract with objectives to be measured for the coming year. Compensation should include 1) pay, 2) outline of health and other benefits, and 3) determination of vacation and time off which includes a list of paid holidays. I always recommend to the organizations with which we work for their ERCs to meet at least monthly so that the ERC can develop a strong rapport with the executive, know the executive’s mind so that the ERC can not only hold the Executive accountable better but also so that the ERC can advocate on behalf of the executive to the board at large.
If you do not have an ERC or if you do not have an annual performance review that outlines benefits now is the perfect time to do that. It will serve to keep the relationship an executive has with the board healthy as well as fulfill one of the primary fiduciary responsibilities of the board; to hold the executive accountable. If you develop the ERC it has been my experience that 90% of your unhealthy board/executive dynamics dissolve.

What to do next? Follow these 5 simple steps and it will safeguard your organization’s future:

1.  Make sure the board understands their role. Click the following document that defines the primary duties of a Pregnancy Center Board:  Governing Board Requirements and Agenda Template

2.  Make sure you understand the Executive role:  Executive Job Functions Self-Evaluation

3.  Have the Board commission an Executive Review Committee:  Board Resolution to Start Executive Review Committee

4.  Set ERC meeting schedule (I suggest 1 time per month but if your board meets monthly then have the ERC meet 1 time per quarter.

5.  Begin the annual review process by scheduling the review date and agreeing on the document that will be used to evaluate the Executive’s performance.  The following document is my recommended template:  Annual Executive Review Template

For more information on how CompassCare Training has positively impacted the executive leadership of other Pregnancy Centers go to www.compasscaretraining.org.

Women’s Choice; an Ethical Perspective

Recently I posted the following response on the topic ‘Blog for Choice Day’ on an interesting blog called Women’s Health News.  See the blog roll to the right. I think it is important as responsible leaders and citizens to engage each other on the issue with relevant and straight talk. It is the only way that we will forge a new, better path to solving the abortion issue on a per woman basis rather than a legislative or otherwise agenda driven basis.

Some practical observations about women’s choice as a person who has run a medical office specializing in helping women seriously considering abortion explore all her options: We understand that choice is a fundamental part of being human. Respecting a woman’s autonomy is the only way true trust can be established. Believing in a woman’s ability to make the best choice for her is critical to our ability to provide ‘objective’ information and service about the nuances related to the two basic options available to a pregnant woman (pregnancy termination or birth). Pregnancy termination has options depending on gestational age (how far along in the pregnancy she is). Birth has options too such as choosing to parent or choosing to place the child for adoption.

It has been our experience in the 10 different sites operating our system in 8 different States including 2 in CA and 2 in NY that women seriously considering abortion don’t really ‘want’ one but feel like they ‘need’ one. They are so overwhelmed with the multiple extenuating circumstances associated with the pregnancy that they feel an extreme sense of urgency to solve the dilemma (flight or fight). Supporting a woman’s autonomy through meaningful and customized solutions that address the issues driving her sense of entrapment reflects true empathy and responsible community service.

Without tangible information and support good will and high ideals degenerate into a tool for propagating a political agenda and the further exploitation of vulnerable women. It is my contention that the only way to insulate a woman from overexposure to the polarizing politics associated with abortion is if women’s health service organizations (e.g. abortion providers as well as pro-life Pregnancy Centers) hold themselves and their staff accountable to follow protocols of service designed to deliver those services and information ethically, objectively, the same way every time. This would serve to mitigate personal agendas from manipulating women to either have an abortion or not placing the decision squarely on her shoulders where it has always been.

However, there are two primary barriers to seeing true choice supported each one unique to the political bent of the organization: 1) abortion providers have a vested financial interest in a particular choice unless they offer abortion services for free and do not bill insurance companies for the ‘community service’ and 2) pro-life pregnancy centers while usually free are often emotionally blinded by their religiously driven ethic responsible for their existence ironically blinding them to an ethical application of the services they provide such as ultrasound technology. Only after we begin to believe in the validity of a woman’s decision-making ability after all the options have been put on the table, including long term support structures should she choose to parent (something both sides have trouble doing by the way) will the infiltration of the political debate become obsolete where organizations touch lives.

I’d love to hear your thoughts . . . .

PRC Vulnerabilities: Lack of Accountability and Mission Focus

Have you ever felt out of control not knowing what your counselors are saying in the counseling room or on the helpline?  Do your nurses feel insecure regarding what is being said or not said by the counselors?  What you may be experiencing is a lack of organizational accountability.  And often a lack of accountability can be traced back to a lack of mission focus.  Listen to Jim Harden as he trains other PRC executives regarding these two common pitfalls.

Moral Entrapment: A Major PRC Flaw

Not many people or training organizations have addressed the issue of moral entrapement in the medical pregnancy resource center.  Yet it seems to happen on a regular basis in the prc movement both in the counseling room and with medical services.  If you don’t know what it is the chances are high that this dangerous and organizationally compromising tactic is happening in your organization.  Listen to Jim Harden define moral entrapment and passionately provide real examples calling the movement back to integrity and excellence.  Every PRC Executive needs to hear this as it is not being adequately addressed.

2 Key Vulnerabilities: Misinformation and Misrepresentation

Listen to Jim Harden give a straight shooting talk to medical pregnancy resource center executives regarding two common areas of internal vulnerability; misinformation and misrepresentation.  Executives can learn what the terms mean whether or not your organization is vulnerable in these areas.

Results in Casper, Wyoming

I just compared the number of abortion-minded patients we have seen at our clinic January through June of 2008 with the number of abortion-minded patients for the same period last year and discovered that we have experienced an increase of more than 300%!  We more than doubled our advertising budget this year to include radio ads using scripts we received as part of the Optimization Tool.  I have also tracked hits on our website and find that the majority of the hits come when the radio ads are running.  Now, those are some great results!!  Best of all, 82%-85% of our patients choose to carry to term after seeing their unborn on the ultrasound.

How Mature Is Your PRC and Is Leadership Related?

Listen to Jim Harden coach medical PRC executives regarding understanding overall organizational maturity, leadership and calling.  This is the fourth podcast in a series being released the second week of August.  Some of what Jim says could be considered controversial so feel free to post your comments.

Strengths of the PRC Movement

Investigations of pregnancy resource centers (PRC’s) have been attempted in New York and Oregon recently!  We know that the PRC movement has several strengths such as resources, passion, and positioning for rapid growth.  But for all that, could our vulnerabilities hinder us from accomplishing our mission to erase the need for abortion if an investigation at a state or federal level were to occur?  What are those vulnerabilities and how can we fix them in order to safeguard the future of our organizations?  Click on the link below to listen in on the first of several in a series of talks as Jim describes the strengths and vulnerabilities of the PRC movement.