Case History of Options for Women Pregnancy Help Center

(Formerly Pregnancy Help Center of Lakeland, Inc.)
4435 Florida National, Lakeland, FL 33813
Mary Rutherford, Executive Director

 The Challenges:

Options for Women started as The Pregnancy Help Center in Lakeland in 1998 and converted to a medical clinic in 2004. The expectation in making this medical transition according to Mary Rutherford, the center’s Executive Director, was to see an increase in the number of abortion-minded women. This did not happen. Mary says, “I was dissatisfied because I thought ultrasound would increase the number of abortion-minded women served.” She was concerned, “Why were we not serving more abortion-minded women?” Mary came to the conclusion that the reason for this problem was the ministry model they were using. The Pregnancy Help Center was providing as many services as possible to as many women as possible. Their services were diffuse and haphazard. Their belief was that the greater the menu of services offered, the more effective they would be at reaching and serving women at risk for abortion. Services like material assistance, Earn While You Learn, abstinence education, and counseling were still being done like they had always been done and medical services were treated like just another service option they could offer women. Mary realized that while she added medical services, she did not change the ministry model to fit those new services. The traditional Pregnancy Center model of service Mary was using is called the Global services model. Mary goes on to say that the reason they were not able to reach more abortion-minded women was because “Many of the services we offered were designed to assist women who had already decided to have their babies, and because many of the women we were serving were not abortion-minded and probably not even abortion-vulnerable.”

The following is a snapshot of the Pregnancy Help Center according to Mary before they implemented CompassCare’s OT:

  • Most clients were Walk-ins or counseled over the phone ‘hoping’ the client would come in
  • The staff and volunteers worked independently of each other to meet the needs of the woman during her appointment
  • The information given to women varied
  • The appointment time varied, sometimes lasting up to two hours
  • The services provided varied widely from client to client and from volunteer to volunteer
  • There was a steady traffic of women seeking material goods, sometimes taking priority over pregnancy counseling
  • Just 50% of our patients tested positive for pregnancy
  • The definition of abortion-vulnerability was vague and was left up to the discretion of the counselors to determine on a per client basis
  • There was random marketing to reach at risk women
  • A lack of systematic service (not doing things the same way every time) prevented PHC from measuring the effectiveness of the services provided

The Discovery:

Mary heard about the CompassCare Optimization Tool in 2007 after working with one of NIFLA’s consultants and was excited about the fact that CompassCare had created a system developed specifically for Pregnancy Help Medical Clinics designed to effectively reach and serve women at risk for abortion using a very predictable 15-step patient flow process.

The Solution and Results:

After the Pregnancy Help Center implemented the CompassCare Optimization Tool, Mary says it helped their organization in several ways;

  • Appointments are being scheduled and patients are actually arriving for those appointments
  • We deliver services as a Team which includes receptionist, advocate, nurse, and sonographer, instead of haphazardly
  • Information provided to each patient is scripted to insure that the same information is presented to each patient, which has the additional benefit of safeguarding the organization against liability of misinformation.
  • Patient appointment time is a little over one hour and always includes:
    • A Pregnancy Options Consultation
    • Pregnancy Testing
    • Ultrasound exam
    • Selected STI testing
    • Personalized Solutions Assessment (PSA) which is the basis for a 12-month follow-up process, providing a roadmap of community referrals and helpful information including agencies providing material assistance.
  • At least 80% of our patients are testing positive for pregnancy versus our previous high of 50%.
  • The Abortion Vulnerability Rating Scale (AVRS) based on specific risk factors is used to objectively evaluate each patient and does not depend on what the advocate or patient may think or say at the time.
  • Marketing to at risk women is based on focus groups and patient surveys.
  • The systematic service process allows accurate measurement of activities and results, leading to improving the effectiveness of existing services.

The following chart indicates a dramatic increase in women at risk for abortion and in the number choosing to have their babies after implementing the Optimization Tool.

Lakeland Metrics Chart Update 2014.pdf


Mary says that, “On a scale from 1-10 I would rate CompassCare’s OT a ‘10’ definitely. CompassCare has made all the difference in our ability to accomplish our mission more effectively than we ever dreamed. The numbers don’t lie. I really can’t believe it. For the first time ever I really believe we are erasing the need for abortion one woman at a time!”