Pregnancy center launches services on wheels

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Nurse manager Michelle Earling monitors the new Alpha <a class=Pregnancy Center mobile medical unit in Merced. Earling will lead the mobile unit.” title=”Nurse manager Michelle Earling monitors the new Alpha Pregnancy Center mobile medical unit in Merced. Earling will lead the mobile unit.” loading=”lazy”/>

Nurse manager Michelle Earling monitors the new Alpha Pregnancy Center mobile medical unit in Merced. Earling will lead the mobile unit.

Andrew Kuhn

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Alpha Pregnancy Help Center in Merced expands service reach with new mobile office.

The center provides confidential services, including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, peer counselling, parenting classes and post-abortion support, at its office at 700 Loughborough Drive. Now on wheels, the center will be able to bring some of these services to outlying areas of Merced County.

Carrie Alexander, the center’s executive director, said the mobile unit will begin regular services to Los Banos and Winton in mid-March. Although an exact date has yet to be established, staff also plan to take the unit to Atwater and Planada.

The goal, Alexander explained, is to promote good prenatal care and optimal health outcomes for mothers and their newborns in rural areas where needed services are not as accessible. Currently, the clinic receives an average of around 300 client visits per month, but staff members believe there are many more people who need services who do not come to their office.

“Many of our customers in these (rural) areas cannot get to the center because of transport. … A few years ago we started to feel that need, Alexander said.

The new bus, she added, is the first to be licensed in California for pregnancy-related services. The bus is much smaller than most mobile medical units, she says, but it is more economical.

“It’s like a condensed version (of the clinic); the most necessary (equipment) is here, ”said Alexander. “We had the idea to go mobile a few years ago and then we started researching our options. This bus was available and we thought it suited our needs.

The mobile facility includes an ultrasound machine, bed, video monitors, adjustable seats and a toilet. Nurse manager Michelle Earling, who will be in charge of the mobile unit, said changes to the interior design are always possible, but for now only the most essential equipment is on board.

The bus was purchased with funding from various organizations. Most recently, the center received a $15,000 grant from the Dignity Health Foundation, which will be used for unit operating costs, Alexander said.

Once the wheels start rolling, services will be available at the following locations:

Oasis Community Center, 1005 I St. in Los Banos

Lifeline Community Center, 7081 N. Winton Way in Winton

2100 Fruitland Avenue in Atwater

Planada Community Church, 9182 E. Stanford Ave. in Planada

For more information about Alpha Pregnancy Help Center mobile services, call (209) 383-4700.

This story was originally published March 2, 2015 2:10 p.m.

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