For many medical clinics and ministries, the weeks of social distancing brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in drastic reductions in the number of people helped.
But the workers at Human Coalition, a multi-site crisis pregnancy ministry with facilities around the country, found themselves serving even more clients through their virtual clinic.
Angie Ivey, director of the virtual clinic, said the brick-and-mortar locations in Texas were already utilizing a virtual model in conjunction with their physical services, but when the statewide shutdown was declared in March, the organization worked to expand the virtual capabilities to other locations as well. Rolling it out to all locations was done over the course of just one weekend, Ivey said.
Serving communities in Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania in addition to the clinics in Dallas and Fort Worth, Ivey said clients phone in to the virtual call center and are directed to the clinic nearest them for care from social workers, nurses and clinic staff and volunteers.
According to Ivey, Human Coalition was the first crisis pregnancy center to transition to a virtual model, and the results have been encouraging.
“It has really proven to be very successful and has been a very exciting journey,” she said.
With 165 employees across all locations, Human Coalition saw an increase in clients during the months of economic shutdown — a 45 percent uptick in March alone. Many clients were experiencing the stress of an unplanned pregnancy on top of job loss and health concerns.
Ivey said having nurses and social workers available just to talk to women who do not know what to do, to help them understand their options and provide resources and community support has a significant impact, even when done remotely.
Ivey recounted the story of one client who called in after she lost her job and, due to marital problems, her place to live. Though homeless and unable to find a job because of COVID-19, she wanted to keep her child. Human Coalition social workers were able to help her with a resume and secure her a job working for a hospital. The woman chose life for her baby because she was able to support herself, Ivey said.
Ivey said many expectant mothers have experienced job displacement because they worked in the food service industry. The remote platform is ready to help women in all sorts of difficult situations.
Although the physical clinic locations have not yet reopened, Ivey said Human Coalition is continuing to think through ways to innovate to better serve women at the local and state level.
Tess Schoonhoven is a Baptist Press staff writer.