Posts Tagged ‘ serving at risk women

Determining Abortion Risk

How can a medical pregnancy center determine the risk a woman has in getting an abortion? If a woman arrives for her appointment and she says, “I don’t want to get an abortion” is that enough NOT to consider her part of the population of pregnant women at risk for abortion? If a boy living in inner-city Chicago says, “I don’t want to be part of a gang,” or “I don’t want to do drugs” is that enough to convince us that he is not at risk for gang violence or drug abuse? There are a list of pressures and influences in that boy’s life that typically drive him to make decisions he would not in other circumstances choose for himself. Things like having no father, having friends that are involved in gangs, being in a school that is saturated with drug use, living in a neighborhood riddled with crime, etc.

Objecitvely Assess a Woman\’s Abortion Vulnerability

The same is true of women facing unplanned pregnancy. Not a sane woman alive actually ‘wants’ to have an abortion. So why are they having them? Circumstances and pressures that are common to most women who get an abortion present in her life. The question then becomes, “What are those pressures and how many of them does she have?” Often when a woman arrives for her initial appointment at a pregnancy center she has not had to face the mountain of pressure waiting for her when she leaves. This means that it is up to the pregnancy center to know and objectively understand the pressures unique to her life to accurately determine her vulnerability of having an abortion. At CompassCare we use a measurement tool that takes into consideration 7 primary risk factors that are typically found in the lives of women getting abortion. We call this an abortion-vulnerability rating scale.

The following can be used as a tool. The idea is to identify how many of the risk factors are present and then add them up and use the scale at the end to determine the rating. It takes all the guesswork out of it for the advocates and nurses.

Abortion Vulnerability Rating

Risk Factors

 Still in school (H.S./college/grad)

 Between 17 and 26 years old

 Father of baby in favor of abortion

 Parents in favor of abortion

 History of abortion

 Financial pressure

 Single

** Patient states intention to abort=(AM, regardless of other risk factors)

Total # of Pressures ____
Abortion Vulnerability Rating____
(Abortion Vulnerability Key: 0 = CTT, 1-3 = AV, 4-7 = AM)

 

For more information on CompassCare’s linear service model go to prcoptimizationtool.com.

Improving Mission Effectivness for 2011

As executives we face a myriad of daily challenges. Everything from dealing with individual client issues, staffing challenges, donor communications, media inquiries, to running board and committee meetings, etc clamor for our time. If we are not careful we will miss doing what only you and I as executives can do for the organization; maintaining focus on the mission. As management guru Peter Drucker says, “Every non-profit institution exists for the sake of performance in changing people and society. But how often do we make decisions about what we do from day to day based on the medical clinic or pregnancy center’s performance?

Drucker goes on to say, “The most important task of an organization’s leader is to anticipate crisis.” He says this for several reasons. First, a crisis is always looming on the horizon. To think otherwise is unwise. We may not be able to avoid it but at least we can anticipate it. Anticipation allows for better preparation. Our organizations can never be fully prepared which is why leadership amidst the crisis is so critical. Second anticipating a crisis forces innovation or what is often called continuous improvement. We begin to ask ourselves, “How can we keep accomplishing our mission in a down economy?” or “How can we continue to provide the same services under greater governmental restriction?” It forces us to work ‘on’ the ministry rather than working ‘in’ it. It forces us to empower others to do the tasks that others can do so that we can focus on what no one else can do for the organization. Third, anticipation provides the necessary courage for us to make the hard choices of trimming the services that are not getting the results we need to get for the mission while at the same time providing clarity to communicate rationale to the organization’s constituents why certain decisions have to be made.

Of course, to effectively anticipate a crisis so as to avoid it or weather it one must be the steward of a mission that is laser focused. Without a laser focused mission it becomes virtually impossible to anticipate crisis. One might even be tempted to say, “Only God knows the future!” and go on doing the 501 piranha school of tasks nibbling for your time. This is the path toward organizational mission drift and in the end will result in a museum of service rather than a mechanism for service. But a very focused mission such as to reach and serve women at risk for abortion and help them have their babies raises the executives vision high enough to see the challenges over the horizon.

Mission Focus Gets Results

So, to improve Pregnancy Center mission effectiveness in 2011 one must begin by reviewing the organization’s mission statement for clarity and focus. Then review all the activities of the organization to see if they immediately apply or are if they are helpful but non-essential to the mission. Finally, begin to think through a plan to improve either first by focusing the mission or asking questions of the organization to understand if it can get better at reaching more abortion-minded women and serving them in a way that more effectively helps them have their babies.

Remember executives are obsessed with results. If the organization is not getting the results it should something must change and that’s why you are there.

For more information go to prcoptimizationtool.com.

New Washington State Law Makes Planned Parenthood Accreditation Agency?

To be accredited means that your organization holds to a set of standards of practice within its own industry. Those standards have to be visible in the daily provision of services in the form of documented process and protocols.

The Washington State legislation that was apparently passed recently provides immunity from liability to abortion providers as well as sets up Planned Parenthood as an accreditation agency. This is a potentially disturbing issue. Making an organization with a subjective, financially vested interest in the abortion business an accreditation agency is the classical ethical conflict of interest. First, it is assumed that the organization has documented standards of care for helping women through the decision-making process knowing full well that if they decide to do anything other than have an abortion the organization looses money and hurts their PR campaign. Second, assuming they have documented standards of care the question becomes whether or not they in line with proper medical and counseling standards. Third, can they actually prove that they uphold their standards on a case by case, patient by patient basis? Fourth, what happens when they are asked to be the accreditation agency for women’s health organizations with differing philosophies of service, say pregnancy centers for instance?

This is a perfect example of how at risk the pregnancy center movement is. If the pregnancy center movement cannot demonstrate that it regulates itself according to current professional codes of ethics in the fields of medicine and counseling/psychology the government will be tempted to create regulation for it. If the movement lets this Washington State legislation pass without identifying and holding to our own documented standards that are in line with current medical and counseling ethics the pregnancy center movement may very well be regulated right out of existence. The best way to meet this challenge is with a comprehensive linear service model.

Click CompassCare Ethical Standards for Organizations Helping Women 6-8-10 for CompassCare’s Standards for Organization’s Helping Women. To know that these standards are being observed in your organization a linear service process is necessary. For more information on a complete linear service model go to CompassCare’s Training website.

A Pregnancy Center Executive’s Journey to an LSM: Wisdom Part B

Walking into the office on his first day George was met with two very valuable surprises.  The first was a phone message from a local doctor saying she wanted to somehow be involved in the organization not knowing in what capacity a non-medical facility could use a medical doctor.  The second was a business card that was given to him by the organization’s client services director, Val.  She had heard this man speak at a conference from which she had recently returned and thought that he may be someone that could be helpful.  His name was Bob.  As George read the card he realized that he knew this man.  Coincidentally, eight years earlier his wife had once worked for Bob in a CPC in the southeast as a counselor coordinator.

Wasting no time George made the call.  “Hi, Bob?  You may not remember me but my name is George Knight.  My wife . . . .”

With that Bob interrupted saying, “Oh, yes, George, how is your wife, Linda?  I really appreciated her servant’s heart.  We miss her around here.”

Surprised by the immediate and warm reception of this most certainly very busy man, Bob asked George to explain the events that led to his being hired as the Executive Director of a CPC in the northeast.  George described how after finishing their master’s degrees in Chicago they moved to Florida so that he could take a position as the pastor of a small church north of Tampa.  George describes, “Bob, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  The church was fraught with issues including moral ones that needed to be addressed.  When I attempted to address some of those issues, the people that held most of the influence pushed back telling me to leave things alone.  Finally, it became clear to me that at the next church business meeting I would have to make a decision about my tenure there.  One of the hot button issues was going to be decided upon and if the church voted the wrong way I would have to choose to either stay and look the other way knowing that something was gravely wrong or take a stand and ultimately resign my position.  The church business meeting was scheduled for the next Wednesday.  That Monday, just two days before, I received a call from the interim executive saying that the board of Crisis Pregnancy Services had received and reviewed my resume wondered if I was available for a conference call interview that same day.  In describing the situation to the interim executive saying that my preference was to remain as pastor bBut if the situation did not change I could not in good conscience do so.  We both agreed that a board interview would not hurt anything.  To make a long story short the board unanimously decided to extend an offer to me that evening should God free me from my current situation.  Two and a half weeks later we had moved.

With that Bob exclaimed, “George, welcome to the club.  How can I help you?”

“Well, here we are in a medium size town with a small operation.  Furthermore, I know virtually nothing about running a pregnancy center.  What do you think is the first thing I should do?” asked George.

“First let me take a minute and applaud the fact that you are seeking wisdom.  In the Bible the book of Proverbs 4:7 says, ‘The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.’  George, to me the fact that we are even having a conversation says that you are off to a great start.  Keep seeking understanding about what it is you should do and you will be rewarded.  Never stop seeking wisdom because you will never have enough. The world continues to change around us and the understanding you had yesterday will not be enough to handle tomorrow.”

“Thank you for your encouraging words, Bob.  But you know, I truly feel at a loss as to where to even begin.”

“Well,” began Bob, “your staff are key to your organization’s success and there are two things you must never fail to do for them; a) provide them with the resources they need to do their jobs and b) provide them with clear direction.  You can start by spending a little money on showing them how much you appreciate them.  Do you have any money in the bank?”

“A little.”

“If your organization is anything like the other organizations I’ve seen in the past the staff does not get paid very much.  So do whatever you can to thank them for their dedicated service.  It is they who will be accomplishing the mission.  Give them bonuses, buy Christmas gifts, and take them out to lunch.  Do as much as you can within reason to show them you really appreciate the sacrifices they have made for the organization.  It will be worth every penny in the moral boost you will gain from it.”

“O.K.,” George scribbled down another note on a piece of paper a little reticent about spending the precious dollars he new they would need in the not-so-distant future.  “What next?” asked George.

“Then,” said Bob, “you need to start digging.  If you are going to provide direction for your staff you need to know more about what it will take to get where you want to go.  Do your homework about what it will take to add a medical service to your operation in your State.  It would be good to locate a doctor that would be willing to work with you.”  George smiled at the note on his desk from the doctor offering to volunteer.  “Other than that, just settle in and start to get to know some of your donors.  You’ll need money pretty soon in order to sustain a more professional service like medical care.”

After a few more miscellaneous questions the conversation ended with Bob expressing confidence in George’s ability to accomplish the lofty task of moving toward a medical model of service leaving the door open for George to call again any time.  George new that the wisdom he had just received was solid gold and he wanted more.  He looked down at his notes after he hung up the phone and reviewed what he wrote.

See the post next week for Executive application of Wisdom virtue for a linear service model or click HERE to go to the CompassCare Training website for a suggested reading list.

A Pregnancy Center Executive’s Journey to an LSM: Wisdom Part A

Two months in to his new role as Executive Director at Crisis Pregnancy Services George Knight sat starring down at the city street from his second floor Executive office.  It was a nice office but the walk up the cavernous lonely stairwell from the busy city sidewalk felt a lot like being transported into a private detective novel where the PI’s office was in an old ACME building complete with metal desks and Spartan wooden chairs.  A chill wind was blowing and somehow managed to find its way through the failed molding of the big windows that were part of the old 1900 brick façade.  It was only 3 P.M. and already it was starting to get dark there up near the boarder of Canada.  The cloudy sky did not help to brighten things up.  Sitting there he wondered what it would really take as an Executive to turn around this small, fledgling non-profit Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC).  He wondered . . . would a handful of volunteers, no professional services to speak of, few clients being served from day to day, and just three part time staff be enough to bring the organization to a new level of professional medical service?  Not to mention the fact that the annual budget was just a little over $100,000 supported by a couple hundred small but committed donors.  Yet they did have $48,000 in the bank to invest in rejuvenating the organization.  Secretly though George wondered if it would be enough.

Balancing What You Have with Where You Need to Go

The Board of Directors brought George on with the primary commission of converting the operation from a traditional lay counseling CPC to one that offered professional medical services to women facing unplanned pregnancy.  The board felt that the organization was not reaching the women the organization was created to help; pregnant women who were at risk for an abortion.  They reasoned that adding a professional medical service like ultrasound technology could be the one thing that may make the organization appear more relevant to the women they needed to reach.  George did not question that assumption at first.  However, adding medical services was not an easy task especially in a State where this was uncharted territory as well as a State that seemed to over legislate everything.  Added to that the town had a history of being pro-abortion, and currently housed 13 practices that provided abortion with an estimated 8000 abortions occurring in town annually.  The competition for the attention of the women facing unplanned pregnancy was almost overwhelming.  Additionally the organization and its supporters were grieving the untimely death of the previous executive who George was replacing.  But George felt a deep sense of commitment, as if God Himself had called him to this mission of reversing the abortion trend in the community.  And therefore in his more optimistic moments believed that the resources he had at his disposal would be enough to get that little organization where it needed to go.  Two things George new for sure: 1) He did not know enough to get this job done on his own and 2) He knew some people that might be able to help.

For case studies of pregnancy centers that have implemented a comprehensive linear service model click here.

Virtuous Leadership and a Linear Service Model Part 1

Virtuous Leadership and a Linear Service Model (LSM) Part 1: As goes the Executive so goes the organization.

Virtuous Leadership=Focused Organization

In the process of both running a medical PRC and helping others to develop and operate their medical PRCs it occurred to me that there are certain questions all of us PRC Executives need to have answered.  Questions like:
-How can we get more abortion-minded women to call our center?
-How can we get more abortion-minded women who call to schedule an appointment?
-How can we get more of those who schedule an appointment to show?
-How can we get more of the women we see to have their babies?
-How can I as an executive get more control over the organization and out of the daily grind of wondering just how effective our counseling methods really are and know for sure?
These questions are linked to each other and often if you answer one you solve another.  The good news is that the answers to these questions are available.  Even better than that many center executives are experiencing the freedom and comfort that comes with knowing that their organization is accomplishing the mission of reaching and effectively serving women at risk for abortion better than they ever dreamed they could right now.  The next few posts are written to address these questions.  It is my hope they will help propel you as an executive as well as the organization which you lead to a higher level of effectiveness than you ever let yourself believe was possible.

In the process of thinking through how to convey the answers to the most pressing questions every PRC executive seems to share, something occurred to me; there is only one guarantee for success.  I have seen many organizations face the difficult questions, make difficult decisions about how to answer those questions, and go on to greater effectiveness at reaching and serving women facing unplanned pregnancies, while others do not.  At first glance the organization that ultimately succeeds at that worthiest of all goals versus the one that does appear the same.  But after having observed and worked with both types of PRCs over the years, a key difference began to emerge between them.  But that key difference was not manifesting as the usual suspects such as a specific type of operation.  It was not that one offered a specific service like ultrasound technology and the other did not. Nor was it dependant on access to money.  It was not even that the successful organizations had developed a strategic plan, because unsuccessful ones had too.  What we began to notice was that while the organizations that were effective and gained greater effectiveness at reaching and serving women at risk for abortion were the ones that were committed to sticking to their strategic plan and creating systems of service to intentionally improve (LSM), there seemed to be an underlying driving force to that commitment.  These organizations had the fortitude to do the really, really hard work of facing their brutal reality and creating a new reality through focused action.  Incidentally it is difficult to have consistently focused activity without a strategic plan driving the development of the approaches that are taken to accomplish the mission. But the specifics of a strategic plan seem to be secondary.

Admittedly, I was a little surprised at the revelation that the specific details of a strategic plan were secondary to just simply having and religiously sticking to that plan.  The end result is almost always some level of a step by step Linear Service Model. You must forgive my bias toward the value of the CompassCare LSM.  However, once my proverbial eyes adjusted to the light of this new revelation we started asking ourselves:  “What made some organizations able to pursue a strategic plan while others seemed content to let their strategic plan, if they had one, sit on the shelf?”

Over time we began to observe a common element in pregnancy centers that continued to get better and better at their mission.  At the heart of the organizations that were able to purse a strategic plan and enjoy the resulting benefits of a more or less linear service process for reaching and serving the high risk abortion-minded woman was the activity of a particular person; the executive.

We began to realize that the activity of a PRC, over the course of time, reflected the behavior and expectations of the person who occupied the  executive director position.  In fact this realization became so obvious that we began using the following phrase in all our PRC Linear Service training:  “As goes the executive so goes the organization.”

In part 2 we will discuss the role of personal virtue in executive leadership and what its practical implications are for developing and implementing an effective linear service model (LSM).

Check out the results of a pregnancy center in Omaha, NE after their executive, Michelle Sullivan, decided to implement a Linear Service Model by clicking here.

Optimized Linear Service Conference Review

Thank you to all the Executives that attended the April conference!

After some time to process the executives that attended CompassCare’s high impact conference in Rochester, NY came away with some valuable tools for continuous improvement when using a linear service model. How to know if doing something new is the right thing for the pregnancy center (A.K.A. innovation) is an extremely important part of keeping our pregnancy centers on the cutting edge.

Conference attendees were given principles and tools including a hands on workshop to help them navigate the sometimes difficult waters of knowing what to do next, how to go about doing it, and assessing whether or not it is helping the organization accomplish its mission of reaching and serving more efficiently women at risk for abortion. The tools included how to effectively:

  1. Assess
  2. Plan
  3. Do
  4. Reassess

Executive attendee Becky Wood made the following comment: “Regarding the OT Conference, it was more than I imagined, not just professionally, but also spiritually where it counts for eternity.

I loved the actual hands on experience of putting into practice the things we discuss about innovation, research, etc.”

Thanks, Becky and all!

For more information about CompassCare’s Linear Service Model call the Optimization Tool go to www.compasscaretraining.org

Part II: Ethical Standards for Serving Abortion-minded Women

The only way to ensure that your pregnancy help medical clinic’s good intentions actually are provided in a way that is consistent and ethical requires that we as Executives know what our ethical standards are and that those ethics are applied with every step of a client/patient interaction. Just because we believe in the good intentions of our volunteers and staff does not necessarily mean that they are interacting with our clients in an ethical manner. Being a Christian is not enough for ethically delivering services medical or otherwise to women facing unintended pregnancy.

Upholding Ethical Standards of Care

Sadly, you and I know that a woman’s decision about the outcome of her pregnancy is so often fraught with irrational fear, inadequate information, little to no counseling, sales tactics from financially vested interests, and coercive pressure from self-interested others that a woman does not feel like she has any other choice. In a 2004 study published in the Medical Science Monitor 84% of the American sample of women said that they did not receive adequate counseling before receiving an abortion. Additionally 64% felt pressured by others which would include boyfriends, parents, spouses, etc (Medical Science Monitor, 2004; 10 (10): SR5-16, Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women; Vincent M. Rue, Priscilla K. Coleman, James J. Rue, David C. Reardon).

Given these considerations and the importance of insulating women facing an unplanned pregnancy from intentional or unintentional negative influence, all organizations seeking to assist these women should employ 3 categories of ethical standards in their delivery of services: A) Supportive Decision-making, B) Informed Decision-making, and C) Transparency.

A.  Supportive Decision-making:

To respect and enhance a woman’s ability to make decisions regarding pregnancy outcomes, organizations should help by using these important pregnancy decision-making tasks:

Assessment of woman’s current social situation including relationship support structures (i.e. father of the baby, parental involvement, etc)

  1. Assessment of woman’s current social situation including relationship support structures (i.e. father of the baby, parental involvement, etc)
  2. Identification of circumstantial pressures (i.e. finances, education, unsupportive relationships, medical care, child care, age, long-term goals, etc)
  3. Careful exploration of the full range of available options including abortion, birth, and adoption.
  4. Careful consideration of potential short and long-term physical, social, and emotional outcomes of each available alternative.
  5. Maintain a safe environment that helps a woman firmly resist pressure from self-interested parties.

Update:  See Part III:  Ethical Standards for Serving Abortion Minded Women

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.