DANVILLE — The sheer volume of women needing support services has stretched the Women's Care Clinic.
The clinic saw a 40 percent increase in client numbers from 2009 to 2010. The first six months of 2011 also had a 17 percent increase over the first six months of 2010.
Kim Paden, clinic executive director, said several things are contributing to the increase.
"With the Vermilion County Health Department no longer offering pregnancy testing and Aunt Martha's only able to handle a certain number of clients, women have been trying to figure out where to go and are finding us. We've had some doctor referrals as well," Paden said. "The continued increase we feel is because women we serve are referring their friends to us."
Paden said the clinic is still able to serve clients without too much delay.
"I feel the increase in use of our other services, like limited obstetrical ultrasound to verify pregnancy, is because the pregnancy testing is the gateway for women who decide to keep their babies to gain access to our other services," Paden said. "Our BRIDGES program is full and has a waiting list."
The BRIDGES pregnancy support program allows women to earn points by completing acts of self-improvement in each of five major life areas: relationships, physical health, material and financial needs, spirituality, and career and education.
Participants attend a monthly meeting with a speaker and hold small-group discussion time. Each client who attends has the opportunity to "shop" with her earned points in the clinic's "Market." Clients are encouraged to work toward and complete goals they set at the program's orientation.
The Market is stocked with maternity clothes, baby clothes and furniture, diapers, car seats and more for women and their babies. Items come from a budget line item, "baby showers" put on by churches and individuals, and other fundraisers, such as jeans' days by businesses.
"We currently have four groups with 12 women in each group," Paden explained. "With the two coordinators and a speaker, there is no room for anyone else in our meeting room."
The clinic, which opened in 1992, provides free services to residents of the Vermilion County area. The increase in women seeking services, having to create a waiting list for the BRIDGES program and clinic space, in general, having to serve a number of dual purposes has caused the clinic's board to look at a bigger space.
"The board is actively looking for solutions for overcrowding through leasing, purchase or even building new," said Dale DeNeal, board president. "We feel it is beneficial to keep all the services in one building. When a client seeks initial service, we are currently able to show them the other services we can offer. Location is also obviously a consideration. It needs to be convenient to bus service and having visibility is important as well."
DeNeal said the board is seeking a minimum of 8,000 square feet as opposed to the 2,500 square feet that currently houses the clinic at 200 W. Williams St.
"The building we have was donated to us," Paden said. "Even if we should be that lucky again, modifications would have to be made to almost anything we were given, so any move is expected to take some time one way or another."
The clinic receives monthly donations from several organizations, churches and individuals. It also raises money through an annual walk and a sponsor banquet for its operating expenses.
The Walk for Life is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 24 beginning at Lincoln Park on North Logan Avenue with check-in beginning at 8 a.m. The walk is about two miles long with a stop at the midpoint.
The clinic's goal for the walk is 500 sponsored walkers to raise $100,000, which will go to operating expenses as well as some money being set aside for the new building fund at the discretion of the board.
Anyone wishing to participate can call the clinic at 431-0987, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to register and get a sponsor sheet. Walkers who raise $250 or more will receive a free T-shirt.