Knights of Columbus helps women’s center in Dillon buy ultrasound services
May 4, 2017
The Women's Resource Center in Dillon recently partnered with the Knights of Columbus to provide new ultrasound services.
The nonprofit center, which helps to provide information and some health services to women with unintended pregnancies, had previously been sending its patients over to Swan Mountain Women's Center for a free ultrasound. But women often had difficulty setting up appointments or would avoid going entirely.
"That was a wonderful partnership, but we found that it was not always effective because many women did not feel comfortable going to an outside location," said Ann Hunsinger, the executive director of the Women's Resource Center. "Many women, even if we would schedule them a free ultrasound, they often didn't make it over there. So having the service right there in house is much better."
Hunsinger said that obstetrical, or prenatal, ultrasounds are important because they help women confirm their pregnancy. Home tests only verify that pregnancy hormones are present. Ultrasounds can help detect the baby's heartbeat and can help doctors determine how long a woman has been pregnant.
The Knights of Columbus has a national Ultrasound Initiative Program. Hunsinger estimated that the program has helped place 700 ultrasound machines in women's centers across the nation. The Knights helped the Women's Resource Center to raise funds and then eventually buy the equipment for $30,000. The machine was bought at a discount through the Knights, which also helped to provide the necessary training to use it. "The Knights recognize the importance of the ultrasound in helping women with unexpected pregnancies to better understand the life that they're dealing with and choices that are available to them," said Bob Lowe, a member of the local Knights council.
Sonographer training for staff at the Women's Resource Center began in July. Since October, the center has performed 10 free obstetrical ultrasound scans on both models and clients.
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A blessing ceremony will be held at the center on May 12 at 5 p.m. to celebrate its new expanded services. Clergy from Saint Mary's and Our Lady of Peace, as well as other local churches, will be present. The center's annual fundraising event will be on May 20, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco.
It has been one of the goals at the Women's Resource Center to have its own ultrasound equipment since opening in May of 2008. Hunsinger was a founding board member of the center for several years before becoming the executive director in 2013.
As a small facility, the center offers limited medical services, instead focusing on counseling for women, as well as having pregnancy tests and now ultrasounds. The center helps to provide women with information on what options they have once they become pregnant, including adoption and pregnancy termination, as well as information and classes on parenting for both men and women. As a Catholic organization, the Women's Resource Center works with women in the hopes that they will not terminate the pregnancy. However, it offers resources to educate women on different termination options such as abortion. Hunsinger said that they also partner with other organizations such as the Summit County Community Care Clinic as well as Advocates for Victims of Assault in order to aid women in abusive situations, or who need additional medical care.
Mary Beth Gilligan, the vice chair of the board at the center, said that they want women to understand that they don't have to make a decision right away on whether or not they want to carry the baby to term. She added that she knows of a lot of women who have come to regret their decision to terminate a pregnancy.
"We're a center that is there to help women be able to take their time and make a decision with something so major as becoming pregnant when it's unintended, (or) unexpected," she said. "We have a big population of sexually active young adults here and sometimes those things happen, and we just want to be a resource for women up here."
Hunsinger said that they hope to eventually expand services further to provide testing for sexually transmitted diseases, as well as other medical options. Keeping more services in house helps to provide more people with free reproductive health care.
"Many of them are here from out of town, working at the resorts and they don't know what services are available," she said. "A lot of what we do is just giving them someone who has time to listen to them, to sit and talk and help them to process."