Elkhart pregnancy center will offer free ultrasounds on RV

The goal is to “go to the outer edges of this community and meet people where they are.”

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 5:41 p.m.

Mondays are busy at the pregnancy center in downtown Elkhart.

A couple moms, with children in tow, browse through racks of baby dresses in the family store. They earn coupons to buy these items by taking parenting classes offered by RETA (Reason Enough to Act) staff.

48 percent of all pregnancies in Indiana are described as “unplanned,” according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The classes are popular, says executive director Roxana Konopinski, and so are the other programs at the faith-based nonprofit — but it’s time to make a change.

RETA is forging beyond its existing support groups and basic pregnancy tests and will be officially diagnosing pregnancy by doing ultrasounds.

The organization is raising money to buy an RV outfitted with ultrasound equipment, and a registered nurse already has been hired.

If everything goes well, RETA will hit the road by next summer, driving around to different Elkhart County neighborhoods and offering free ultrasounds to the women who live there.

The goal, according to Konopinski, is to “go to the outer edges of this community and meet people where they are.”

RETA staff hopes women will decide to keep their baby rather than getting an abortion after seeing the baby move during an ultrasound.

She suspects many women in Elkhart County facing an unplanned pregnancy are underserved by other pregnancy centers, especially women living in more rural areas.

There’s no space for ultrasound equipment at RETA’s center downtown, and even if there was the organization doesn't want to duplicate the services of the Women’s Care Center just down the road.

The RV is manufactured by Elkhart RV company Newmar and it will be part of ICU Mobile’s fleet of ultrasound vehicles, Konopinski said.

Here’s a video tour of what RETA’s mobile ultrasound unit will look like:

RETA needs to raise $158,000, which is the cost of the whole unit including the ultrasound equipment. That doesn't cover ongoing expenses for supplies or staffing, which Konopinski estimates will be between $60,000 and $70,000 per year.

But she thinks donors will support the idea.

After mentioning the mobile ultrasound unit casually and giving few details at RETA’s annual banquet in March, more than $6,000 of donations came in.

"It looks like the doors are opening, people are interested and we have more women to get to who aren't coming here,“ Konopinski said.

RETA also is partnering with physicians at Fair Haven Obstetrics, who have agreed to provide medical guidance in the nonprofit’s new endeavor.

You can find out more about the mobile ultrasound unit by calling RETA at 522-3888 or donate towards helping RETA buy the mobile ultrasound unit on the organization’s website, retaforlife.com.

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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