Preg­nancy cen­ter opens in down­town Elkton

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JES­SICA IANNETTA jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

ELKTON — Her­itage Preg­nancy and Fam­ily Health Cen­ter opened in the down­town ear­lier this month with the goal of pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tional and prac­ti­cal as­sis­tance to preg­nant moth­ers, fa­thers and fam­i­lies.

The non­profit, faith-based cen­ter opened on Nov. 6 at 103 E. Main St., which had pre­vi­ously housed Khan Pe­di­atrics. The goal of Her­itage, which is run com­pletely by vol­un­teers, is to pro­vide both ed­u­ca­tional and prac­ti­cal as­sis­tance not only to preg­nant moth­ers but to fa­thers and fam­i­lies in gen­eral, said Lisa Tall­man, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the cen­ter.

“We de­cided we wanted to broaden the scope of the ser­vices the com­mu­nity has avail­able,” she said. “We serve preg­nant women but it’s also fam­ily health, which in­cludes the fam­ily as a whole.”

While the cen­ter’s goal is pri­mar­ily ed­u­ca­tional, be­cause of Elkton’s cur­rent mora­to­rium on med­i­cal prac­tices, the town had been look­ing into whether Her­itage would be al­lowed to open. Since Her­itage signed its lease in Au­gust, be­fore the mora­to­rium was im­posed on Sept. 28, the town al­lowed the cen­ter to open, said Charles Bromwell, Elkton’s di­rec­tor of build­ing and zon­ing.

“It’s a gray area with the med­i­cal prac­tice, but be­cause the lease was signed in Au­gust, we’ve al­lowed them to open,” Bromwell said.

The cen­ter opened as sched­uled on Nov. 6 and cur­rently of­fers al­most 300 ed­u­ca­tional classes, cov­er­ing top­ics such as preg­nancy, fe­tal growth and de­vel­op­ment, child growth and de­vel­op­ment, dis­ci­pline, re­la­tion­ships and prac­ti­cal fa­ther­hood. Those who take the classes can then earn points that can be re­deemed for a va­ri­ety of baby-re­lated items, in­clud­ing di­a­pers, for­mula, blan­kets, new and used cloth­ing for new­borns to 5T and other baby equip­ment, ex­clud­ing car seats. While any­one can take the free ed­u­ca­tional classes, those who wish to re­ceive the do­nated items must take the classes and also need ei­ther a re­fer­ral from an­other com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tion or a birth cer­tifi­cate or other sim­i­lar doc­u­ment prov­ing they have a child.

The classes con­sist of both videos, which are part of the Earn While You Learn cur­ricu­lum, and some dis­cus­sion time, Tall­man said.

Her­itage also pro­vides free, self-ad­min­is­tered preg­nancy tests as well as in­for­ma­tion on the adop­tion process and on abor­tion. The cen­ter also hopes to even­tu­ally part­ner with other lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide re­sources for those strug­gling with post­par­tum de­pres­sion and those who are breast-feed­ing. Start­ing in Jan­uary, Her­itage also hopes to start of­fer­ing some ed­u­ca­tional play groups, Tall­man said.

And while some of the ser­vices Her­itage of­fers are sim­i­lar to other lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions, Tall­man said there’s al­ways a need for more ser­vices and pointed out that Her­itage hopes to broaden the scope of re­sources avail­able by in­clud­ing men and fam­i­lies as a whole. In the end, the cen­ter’s goal is to in­spire growth and change in those who take its classes or walk through its doors, she said.

“That’s our mis­sion, to cre­ate a de­sire in peo­ple that they want to grow and change and then turn around and in­vest in the com­mu­nity them­selves,” Tall­man said.

The cen­ter is grate­ful for the sup­port it has re­ceived from in­di­vid­u­als, churches and busi­nesses in the com­mu­nity so far, said Linda Arches, pres­i­dent of the cen­ter, though more vol- un­teers and do­na­tions — both mone­tary and oth­er­wise — are al­ways needed. Her­itage will hold its first classes this week and plans to add more of­fer­ings as its vol­un­teer base so­lid­i­fies — cur­rently the cen­ter has about 14 vol­un­teers, she said.

While the cen­ter gets its staffing set, Her­itage will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon­days through Thurs­days and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fri­days, with the goal of even­tu­ally be­ing open un­til 6 p.m. How­ever, un­til then, Her­itage will sched­ule classes at 5 p.m. by ap­point­ment only.

To regis­ter for a class, make a do­na­tion or find out more about the cen­ter, call 667-215-0143, visit the cen­ter’s web­site, www.her­itagepfhc.com, or stop into the cen­ter on Main Street.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IANNETTA

A paint­ing of the Her­itage logo, which was done by Se­van­nah Arches, adorns a play­room at the cen­ter on Main Street in Elkton.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Her­itage Preg­nancy & Fam­ily Health Cen­ter opened at 103 E. Main St. in Elkton on Nov. 6.

The lobby at Her­itage Preg­nancy and Fam­ily Health Cen­ter is ready for clients.

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