CHICAGO – Headlining with syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, the 2017 Heartbeat International Annual Conference kicks off Wednesday and runs through Friday, and is expected to draw over 1,200 guests from 15 countries to Chicago’s Hyatt Regency near O’Hare Airport.
The conference is the 46th in Heartbeat International’s history, this year taking place in a state where pro-life medical professionals—including many who work and volunteer at nonprofit pregnancy clinics—are fighting a recent change to state law signed into effect by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Gov. Rauner signed a legislative change to Illinois’ Healthcare Right of Conscience Act midway through 2016 that would force doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to refer their patients for abortions against the deeply held religious conviction of those professionals. The law, which also applies to nonprofits that expressly exist to offer alternatives to abortion and receive no government funding, is being fought in state and federal courts, with one judge granting a temporary injunction against the law in late 2016.
The location of the conference—which varies each year—comes at the perfect time, says Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey, who has called upon affiliates in the state to defy the law.
“We plan these conferences several years ahead of time, so we feel particularly energized and encouraged to see all the pieces fall into place for Chicago in 2017,” Godsey said. “We’re looking forward to seeing great things happen with our speakers, ministry partners and special guests all week.”
A member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors, as well as a Fox News contributor, Cal Thomas is a past recipient of the William F. Buckley, Jr., Award for Media Excellence. He will be speaking Wednesday afternoon ahead of Ryan Bomberger, an Emmy® Award-winning creative professional who is an outspoken leader within the pro-life movement after having been conceived in rape and going onto become an adoptive father.
The keynote lineup also includes David and Jason Benham, former professional baseball players and successful realtors whose HGTV show was canceled in 2014 because of their candid Christian beliefs. Jill Stanek—a former RN in Oak Lawn, Ill., who resigned her position when hospital administrators would do nothing to stop infants born alive during abortions from being left to die—will also speak at the event, along with Dr. William Lile, an ob-gyn who bought out an abortion facility in South Florida and has spent the last two decades educating audiences on abortion procedures.
In addition to the keynotes, the conference includes 90 workshops and 15 full-day courses, including over 20 learning opportunities approved for nursing contact hours by the California Board of Registered Nursing.
“Pregnancy help centers and medical clinics are good for America,” Godsey said. “This is a primary opportunity for those of us within this vital community to link arms and better equip ourselves to save lives in a life-changing way.”
About Heartbeat International
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and the largest network in the world. With 2,100 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.
Tweet This: @HeartbeatIntl's Danielle M. White brings experience from @AllianceDefends, @ThomasMoreSoc
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Joining a team that serves a network of nearly 2,000 affiliated pregnancy help organizations and over 8,500 pro-life pregnancy help individuals worldwide, Danielle M. White, J.D., has been named legal counsel for Heartbeat International.
White replaces her predecessor, Ellen Foell, who served in the capacity from 2012-15. A member of the Ohio State Bar Association, the Columbus Bar Association, and the Christian Legal Society, White also serves as an Allied Attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom.
A recipient of the prestigious Blackstone Fellowship while a law student at Ave Maria School of Law, White studied the bioethical issues surrounding a recently developed human cloning procedure in London. She also gained experience as a summer associate for the Thomas More Society, which defends the traditional family, religious liberty, and the right to life.
“We are very pleased to welcome Danielle to our team,” Vice President Jor-El Godsey said. “Her credentials speak for themselves, but what has impressed us more than anything is Danielle’s heart for pregnancy help. She is truly committed not only to the cause of life, but to serving the women and families our network works so tirelessly to reach.”
White first became involved in the pro-life movement when she began attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C., as a middle school student. She subsequently joined the pregnancy help community at centers and maternity homes in Ohio and Florida while an undergraduate at Franciscan University and a law student at Ave Maria School of Law.
White, who served as senior editor for the Ave Maria Law Review in law school, will oversee the content development for Heartbeat International e-publications On the LeaderBoard and Capitol Matters, which are targeted to affiliated individuals of Heartbeat International.
by Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel
I like watching sports but I don't really follow them very well. I watch with my son who is an avid sports fan and knows all the rules and all the terms. Sometimes when we watch a game together, I get confused because I don't know why a nice young man is in the penalty box. It just sounds so harsh. And I don't understand what it means that someone gets checked when it looks like the other person was not checking anything at all. Or, why can't the person who hits a ball hard enough that it bounces off the wall just keep running; why is it only a double?
I would probably enjoy the games more if I understood the terms and rules.
This is true in life generally.
Sometimes, in the pregnancy help world it helps to take a moment to understand some of the terms that are used. This month, we are looking at the terms privacy, confidentiality, and privilege. What is the difference? Does it make a difference if there is a difference?
If nothing else, if we understand the meaning of the terms, we can use them appropriately in the correct context.
In the Commitment of Care and Competence, affiliates agree in Tenet 5 that "Client information is kept in strict and absolute confidence. Releases and permissions are obtained appropriately. Client information is only disclosed as required by law and when necessary to protect the client or others against imminent harm." This tenet does mention confidentiality, and though it does not specifically mention privacy and privilege it does address both privacy and privilege.
Privacy: noun pri•va•cy \ˈprī-və-sē, especially British ˈpri-\ : the state of being alone : the state of being away from other people; the state of being away from public attention. Full Definition of PRIVACY: 1a : the quality or state of being apart from company or observation : seclusion b : freedom from unauthorized intrusion <one's right to privacy>
The genesis of the legal right to privacy is found in Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) and, of course, sprang forth fully grown, just as the goddess Athena sprang forth from the head of Zeus, from the collective mind of the Supreme Court of the United States in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). The progeny of Roe vs Wade has populated every area of our culture as it became fashionable, legal, and acceptable to hide all manner of behavior behind the right to privacy curtain.
What is the right to privacy?
Privacy is what you and I enjoy.
We all possess information, data, if you will, about ourselves which we may choose to disclose or not disclose. We get to decide to whom such information is disclosed, if at all. Justice Brennan penned "If the right to privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion." It is however more than that.
A right to have private information is the right of the individual to be free from the snooping nose of the neighbor, from the employer who is given boundaries on what the employer may learn, to be limited in what can be learned about us by the general public.
It is the right of the individual to choose what other people know and do not know about us. Thus, when our patients come through our doors, they come having information, data, some of it very personal data, some of it identifying data, i.e. home address, telephone number, a date of birth, or perhaps, even a picture of herself, which they choose to disclose to your organization, specifically, the intake person.
Now that someone has entrusted you with this information, this data, about themselves that they might normally not give to another, what do you do with it?
According to the CCC, you promise to keep that information confidential.
Confidentiality: noun classified, concealed, hidden, not for publication, not to be communicated, not to be disclosed, not to be quoted, not to be spoken of, privacy, protected, restricted, revealed in confidence, secrecy, secret, spoken in confidence, told in confidence, top-secret, unmentionable, unrevealed.
Confidentiality is the duty your organization has to keep the private information, or data, given to you, confidential. In other words, private information, entrusted to you, is given to others on a need to know basis only.
An organization should maintain appropriate precautions to keep the information confidential. Simple precautions include keeping patient files in locked cabinets, or closets, restricting access to those who need to know, if the data is on a computer, ensure that the computers are password protected, and are timed out after a specific time period. Files should be kept in the organization.
If an organization is pursuing these simple precautions, confidentiality is more likely than not to be ensured.
Further, a patient coming to your organization will want to know that the private data she is sharing with you will be kept confidential.
It is impossible to talk about the duty of confidentiality without also talking about breaches of the duty of confidentiality. A breach, or breaking, of confidentiality is an agreed to breaking of the promise of confidentiality (a release or permission) or a legally mandated breaking of the promise (mandatory reporting). The duty of confidentiality is strict and absolute, as stated in Tenet 5, unless the patient agrees to let the organization use the data or information in some specific way or manner, or the organization is compelled by law to release the private information.
The latter situation, in which an organization is compelled in certain circumstances to disclose private information, is typically disclosed to the patient on the patient intake sheet, and often also verbally explained to the patient.
This exception to the strict and absolute duty of confidentiality is called mandatory reporting. It permits a "breach" of the duty of confidentiality for the purpose of protecting the patient, from harm to self or others or another identifiable person from imminent harm, including communicable diseases.
Who is a mandatory reporter is determined by state law. For a complete listing of state by state listing of mandatory reporters click here.
In such a scenario, society places a higher premium on protecting the patient or another person from imminent harm than it does on protecting the private information, data, of the individual.
The second "breach" of confidentiality is the situation in which a patient allows the breach. Thus, if an organization takes a picture of the patient (a piece of private identifiable information) and would like to use the image in a newsletter or brochure, the organization may ask the patient for permission to use the private data. The patient gives that permission, if she chooses to, by way of a written release or permission given to the organization for specific and limited purposes, i.e., to use the image for the brochure.
There is a third "breach." That is the breaking of the duty of confidentiality under court order-a subpoena. If a subpoena is delivered to an organization, the organization should seek to cooperate with civil authorities while also protecting the interests of the patient. An organization may notify a patient that the subpoena has been received so that she has an opportunity to challenge the subpoena if there is legitimate basis to do so. An organization should also have the subpoena reviewed by its own attorney to explore whether the organization has any legal basis to object to the subpoena.
This leads us to the third term...what is privilege? Is it the same as confidentiality? After all, privilege usually protects private information.
Privilege - Privileged Communication: "A communication between persons in such a confidential relationship, be it attorney and client, physician and patient, or confessor and penitent, that public policy prohibits the disclosure thereof by the person to whom it was made as a witness testifying in an action or proceeding, upon objection thereto by the person who made it."
Ballentine's Law Dictionary, The Lawyer's Cooperative Publishing Company, 1969.
Private information is different from a privileged communication. A privileged communication is information that is disclosed in the context of a special and specific relationship, i.e. priest-penitent, attorney-client, doctor-patient, husband-wife. In some states, the law also gives a privileged status to communications between a psychotherapist and a client, a social worker and a client or a reporter and the source of information.
Because of the special intimacy of those relationships, the expectation of confidentiality within those specific relationships, and the desire of society to encourage truthfulness and candor in those relationships especially, society has chosen to allow those relationships a "privilege."
Thus, the privilege is such that no one can simply demand that a priest divulge the private information entrusted by the penitent, nor can a doctor simply decide that the patient's private information is up for the public grab. The privilege belongs to the spoken to spouse, the patient, the penitent, and the client and only that party can release the other person in the special relationship to disclose the private information.
In order for private information in those relationships to be considered privileged the communication must usually be made in a private setting (that is, in a context where confidentiality could reasonably be expected). The privilege is lost or waived when all or part of the communication is disclosed to a third person.
Think of a privileged communication as private information on steroids.
Remember, patients come to you holding private and personally identifiable information or data. Because the patient values the services your organization provides, the patient gives you the privilege to hear and hold that private data about the patient. You, as the clinic, agree to hold that communicated information in confidence in keeping with the Commitment of Care and Competence.
by Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
Have you been hearing about those emails between the Montgomery County Council and NARAL published last week by Dustin Siggins at LifeSiteNews.com, and wondered how those emails were discovered?
Mr. Siggins took advantage of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was enacted in 1966, to request them. (The Freedom of Information Act allows full or partial disclosure of information or records from government agencies.) Journalists aren't the only ones who can request information through FOIA. In fact, NARAL recently requested emails from the Ohio Department of Health in relation to Ohio Right to Life (read here). But is it only organizations and journalists who can make these kinds of requests?
The answer is: No, anyone can request information from any federal, state, or local government agency under this or similar state and local level laws!
Do you suspect there's similar collaboration between pro-abortion groups and public officials in your area? You can file a FOIA request today to find out.
Still have questions? Here are some answers that might help clear things up.
Who can make a FOIA request?
According to FOIA.gov, "The general rule is that any person – citizen or not – can make a FOIA request. It's easy to do so." (click here for source) All it takes is a written request to the agency you want the information from, with your specific request spelled out.
What do I need to include in a FOIA request? Is there a form or something?
You need to "describe the information you want, and the format you want it in, in as much detail as possible." (FOIA.gov) That's it. No special form, just an email, fax, or letter requesting the info you are looking for. For example, in the NARAL request to Ohio Department of Health, they requested "emails exchanged with people whose email addresses end with 'ohiolife.org [and employees at the Ohio Department of Health].'" (click here for source)
What should I expect to get from a FOIA request and how quickly?
The records you receive will be raw data. Agencies will not do any analysis, research, or creating of new records. They will only give you what they already have available, and it might take a while. The standard timeline is one month, but if there is a backlog of requests, an agency may have to notify you in writing that they need an extension. (FOIA.gov)
Is there a cost?
In theory, there is no fee for making a FOIA request, but in some cases, if the time required to search for the information requested or the pages of records needing duplication are beyond certain limits, there may be fees. However, you can always request that these fees are waived and/or limit the amount you are willing to spend in your request. (FOIA.gov) Great examples of language for this type of request can be found in the example letters at nfoic.org.
Why does any of this even matter?
We've been suspicious for years that NARAL and other abortion advocacy groups have been colluding with the government at various levels to shut us down and keep themselves in governmental good-graces. Now, thanks to Mr. Siggins and LifeSiteNews.com, we know we were right.
If you suspect similar activity in your area, you can find out if something dubious really is going on.
Suspicious about government-abortion lobby collusion going on in your area? Leave us a tip at PregnancyHelpNews.com!
Did you catch Peggy's response to this discovery yet? Click here.
Come gather 'round people Wherever you roamAnd admit that the waters Around you have grownAnd accept it that soon You'll be drenched to the bone.If your time to you Is worth savin'Then you better start swimming Or you'll sink like a stoneFor the times they are a-changin'
It's an old Bob Dylan song but I don't even think poor Bob could have imagined how much the times were changing...or how fast. Times change, and, as culture-shapers, we all need to keep up. We need to know what is changing legally and culturally, how it impacts our centers and how to respond.
For instance, did you know that"[b]efore the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Oct. 6, 2014, declining to hear cases on same-sex marriage, 31 states had either constitutional or statutory provisions that explicitly defined marriage as between a man and a woman and just 19 states and the District of Columbia allowed same-sex marriage? Now, at least 36 states and D.C. recognize same-sex marriage." (click here, accessed 01.15.15) For a map reflecting the status of the sanctity of marriage in each state, click here.
You probably already knew the status of same sex marriage in your particular state. Knowledge of the legislation or judicial decision isn't enough.
Yawn, ho hum...it won't touch my center. Maybe it affects photographers, bakers, florists, bed and breakfasts but really? A pregnancy center?
Do you know how the redefinition of marriage affects your center? Your hiring and firing practices?
How does it affect service of clients? Do your staff know what to say or do if a nontraditional couple come in for parenting classes?
At a high level, has your Board set into place a statement of faith which reflects its view of marriage from a Biblical perspective?
Is your organization classified for IRS exemption purposes as a religious organization? Does that make a difference? How do the state by state changes affect the day by day work of your center?
To really understand what this means for you, it will take a hard look at your state's laws. This isn't something that we can decide on a national level and leave at that.
Still, Heartbeat International is going to share all the information and resources we can get to help you stay prepared. Heartbeat Academy is offering a webinar on January 29th entitled Changing Definitions of Marriage & Your Pregnancy Help Organization. This webinar will focus on laws affecting Minnesota, but it is a great starting point for anyone who wants to be prepared in these changing times. (Click here for more information)
The times are changing, brothers and sisters, and we must respond lovingly, wisely, and intentionally.
Come senators, congressmen [and PHOs], Please heed the callDon't stand in the doorway Don't block up the hallFor he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalledThere's a battle outside ragin'.It'll soon shake your windows And rattle your wallsFor the times they are a-changin'.
By Jeanneane Maxon, Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Counsel, Americans United for Life
Attacks against pregnancy centers across the country have been widespread, and many of you have personally experienced them. In recent years, over a dozen states and localities have considered legislation promoted by NARAL designed to drive clients away from pregnancy centers and the life-saving help you provide.
Such bills typically include ridiculous requirements, such as disclaimers like, "This center is not required to provide you factually accurate information." In many instances, centers would be required to include such inaccurate and burdensome disclaimers in all client advertising, sometimes in 24 point font, and in Washington State, in five languages including Laotian.
If this sounds absurd to you, you are not alone. Every court that has had to consider such legislation has found it to be not only absurd, but unconstitutional. In fact, just this year, a court found an anti-pregnancy center ordinance imposed by Montgomery County, Maryland to be so inappropriate that it ordered the county to pay $375,000 in attorney's fees, costs, and nominal damages to the plaintiff pregnancy center.
Although they have been successful, efforts to defend pregnancy centers have cost time, energy and critical focus away from the women you serve. As Christian ministries, pregnancy centers should be strategic and prepared to defend themselves in the most efficient ways possible. We are called to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16. Proactive efforts, therefore, should be bathed in prayer and approached with strategic steps to make victory come easier.
As one strategy to shield these attacks, Americans United for Life (AUL) drafted a Joint Resolution Honoring the Work of Pregnancy Resource Centers which provides state legislators, as well as county and city officials, an opportunity to praise pregnancy centers. In 2010, following the launch of state-based attacks in Oregon, AUL published this resolution and began working for its passage.
To date, 23 Pregnancy Center Resolutions have been passed in 17 states (some states passed the resolution in multiple years) including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska (by way of a "proclamation"), New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Currently a resolution is also under consideration in Ohio.
As a first benefit, the resolution gives PRCs the ability to publicly highlight the work they do for their community. When a resolution passes, pregnancy center directors and volunteers are often invited to the statehouse and photographed with the Governor and/or significant government leaders. Additionally, many states also provide copies of the resolution for the center suitable for framing and display. Such an endorsement adds credibility in the minds of donors, clients and other influencers.
Additionally, when pregnancy centers are praised by a state or representative body of the people, the attacks on pregnancy centers lose credibility. For example, in 2010, Virginia legislators were so appalled by harassment NARAL inflicted on pregnancy centers through hostile legislation attempts, that they not only refused to enact NARAL's legislation, but turned around and passed the resolution praising the centers two weeks later.
Likewise, West Virginia has been on the forefront supporting the work of their pregnancy centers by way of a resolution. This state has consistently honored pregnancy centers every year since 2011. In 2012, the resolution became particularly meaningful when a hostile state legislator inappropriately wrote a letter to all the pregnancy centers demanding they supply him with confidential center files for a make-shift unofficial "investigation."
The pregnancy centers were able to respond simply by reminding this official that both the West Virginia House of Representatives and Senate had passed the resolution praising pregnancy centers for their outstanding service to the State and their communities. Presumably in embarrassment, the legislator stopped his harassment campaign and nothing more has been heard from him.
The impact of these resolutions is so profound that Heartbeat International and AUL believe that every pregnancy center should have a resolution passed in their state.
We can assist pregnancy centers in doing so. Pregnancy Center Action kits (with tools and instruction on passing the resolution) will be available to pregnancy centers in February, and the resolution and its corresponding policy guide is currently available at http://www.aul.org/legislative-resources/order-model-legislation/ (select Joint Resolution Honoring Pregnancy Resource Centers), or by contacting AUL at 202-741-4901.
We are privileged to stand by pregnancy centers that are doing the frontline work of helping women choose Life for themselves and their unborn children. We pray that this work carries on, uninhibited, until all are welcomed in life and protected in law.
by Ellen Foell, Heartbeat International Legal Counsel
I love to study the Bible. There are two rules I try to follow in studying or teaching.
1) I try not to take verses out of context when I am teaching.
2) I try not to build a teaching around one verse.
Today I am breaking both rules. I break the rules, because I think you, dear pregnancy help organizations across America, are worth it.
This is the verse: but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. (Daniel 11:32)
This issue of Capital Matters is a call for you to rise up, display strength and take action. The November elections, whether by whim or by design, whether in retrospect or foresight, sent out a very clear clarion message across America...the people of America are more pro-life than the media, the left, the White House and pro-choice politicians like to think. Pro-life politicians have taken the Senate and kept the House. Who would have thought it?
As the proverbial saying goes, strike now, while the iron is hot.
Friends we have an opportunity. You have an opportunity in your state to display strength and take action. Jeanneane Maxon from Americans United for Life has written an article on Pregnancy Center Resolutions, their efficacy, the process, and the benefits to a center. Further, her article makes it abundantly clear that such a resolution can be reality in your state.
The positive pregnancy help center resolution is a wonderful and effective tool to wield. It worked as a shield in West Virginia in 2013 when State Delegate Stephen Skinner sent a letter to almost every Crisis Pregnancy Center (his terminology) in West Virginia demanding documentation and answers to a span of questions to be answered within thirty days. Heartbeat International's Action Alert went out to every affiliate advising that the letter was not a subpoena and further recommended that centers who received the letter could send a copy of the 2013 Pregnancy Center Resolution to Mr. Skinner. His inquiry went no farther. What would your center do if you received a letter similar to Mr. Skinner's?
Tweet this! You may ask, if the resolution is such a great idea, why doesn't every state have one?
You may ask, if the resolution is such a great idea, why doesn't every state have one? Great question! Here are the top six reasons given:
It's political so it is illegal and will threaten my 501(c)(3) status.
The PHC resolution commends the work of pregnancy centers. It highlights the good works done and the help in the communities served by centers. Communications with a legislative body on matters that directly affect the existence and mission of your organization is acceptable and not considered to be influencing legislation.
I don't have time to spearhead another project.
This is probably true...no one has time. Maybe your center can recruit someone who wants to volunteer to coordinate with AUL. Maybe there is a coalition whose director would like to undertake this project. This isn't just another project. It is a fairly uncomplicated and fairly inexpensive way to create an effective shield in your arsenal of defense weapons against the ever increasing attacks of the pro abortion forces.
It is expensive.
Not really. See Jeanneane Maxon's article.
It makes pregnancy centers a target for the pro-abortion lobby.
Don't look now. Your center already is on their radar, and a resolution can be the best shield against an attack.
There is no point to it.
It stopped a possible disaster in West Virginia.
It is too complicated.
AUL has taken the complication out of it.
Friends, the time is now. You have at your disposal a tremendous opportunity to rise up, display strength and take action.
“Women deserve better than abortion and the predators who profit from this deadly practice.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday | December 15, 2014 CONTACT: Jay Hobbs, Director of Communications & Marketing (media@HeartbeatInternational.org)
COLUMBUS, OH – Responding to breaking news over the weekend of eight additional victims coming forward against the alleged Dr. Nareshkumar Gandalal “Naresh” Patel in Oklahoma City, Heartbeat International has released the following statements:
“Women deserve better than abortion and predators who profit from this deadly practice,” Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., said. “The shared story of these eight women points to the very reason Heartbeat International’s network of pregnancy help centers, maternity homes, and non-profit adoption exist, which is to provide a pregnant mother with all the information she needs to care for herself and her family during an unexpected pregnancy.
“Women deserve to know the whole truth. Abortion facilities—Mr. Patel’s is merely the example of the day—often leave out the truth, putting abortion profits above what’s really best for mothers and their babies.
“Our network of pregnancy help organizations offers free services because the life of a mother and her baby are worth more than an abortion facility’s bottom line,” Hartshorn said. "It is tragic, in the case of these eight women, that they were reached by a preditory practicioner in an hour of great vulnerability, rather than a life-affirming voice in a local pregnancy help organization."
Patel was arrested Tuesday, Dec. 9, on charges of “fraud for prescribing abortion-inducing drugs to patients who are not pregnant,” according to a press release issued by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. While further investigation is ongoing, Patel’s original charges could result in a three-year jail sentence and a maximum fine of $15,000, according to the press release.
by Jay Hobbs, Communications and Marketing Director
"Julie" went through the usual rounds of interviews. With every phone call, background check, in-person visit, and interaction, it was clear God had shown the board of Anytown Pregnancy Resource Center their next executive director.
Though the first three years brought with them their typical bumps and bruises, by years four and five, Julie and the board had a smooth working relationship. The board trusted Julie with the day-to-day business of the organization, while she welcomed their leadership and support.
Preparations were in the works for an early summer banquet when "Shelly," the board chair, answered a phone call she never thought she'd have to take.
Julie was resigning, effective immediately. But those words had hardly reached her ears when the reason why cascaded down on her: Julie wasn't just resigning, she was being arrested.
As the days and weeks progressed, it became apparent that Julie had fallen into a pattern of using her Anytown PRC credit card for personal purchases, to the tune of $30,000 over more than a year's time.
The board, according to Shelly, had grown lax on holding Julie accountable for her spending, forgoing procedural structure in the name of trust and friendship.
"One thing still baffles me," Shelly, who has served on the board of directors for close to a decade, says. "When we hired Julie, her testimony and fervent desire to do God's will seemed very real.
"Each meeting began with a short devotion and prayer or around the table prayer time at which time most if not all, not only thanked and praised God, but asked for wisdom and guidance which is why I made the first statement. We trusted and had faith but didn't follow through on our responsibility of accountability."
In the wake of the jarring news, Shelly and the board scrambled to respond. The first orders of business were to postpone an upcoming fundraiser and break the news to volunteers in an impromptu meeting.
The following days were filled with an unfortunate list of to-dos, including notifying local ministers and supporters while, most painful of all, closing the doors to the center while a forensic audit took place and legal details were being sorted out.
It was during this time that Shelly and the board realized they had made another oversight in the years leading up to Julie's arrest. After its long-time legal advisor retired, the board had failed to replace him, leaving a painful gap at a time when legal advice and even representation were suddenly at a premium.
Now several months removed from the initial crisis, Shelly and the board have found a local pro-life attorney who not only provides Anytown PRC with the necessary counsel, but who has become an energetic partner in the ministry.
Meanwhile, Shelly has seen to it that board meetings moving forward take on a distinct, far more diligent tone, which will include reviewing each credit card statement and receipt as a group.
"We made a decision for the board to meet and take turns reading and discussing each policy and procedure, and the by-laws as well," Shelly says. "Reading and knowing plus understanding are very different. Also, we now have more than one person to have access to our tracking and reporting systems to increase accountability across our organization."
Moving forward, Shelly hopes the struggles her board, staff, volunteers, community members, and clients have had to endure serve as a clear cautionary lesson to other pregnancy help organizations.
"My advice is to put good policies and procedures in place, and then adhere to them," she says. "Have accountability in place. Empower multiple people to access the systems your organization uses for both donor tracking and accounting purposes."
The above is a true story with actual quotes from the involved chair of the board of directors. The names, organization name, and location have been changed to protect privacy.
"The Nurse Practice Act does not provide a list of procedures that may or may not be performed by licensed nurses. The scope of practice for a licensed practical nurse is located in Section 4723.01(F), ORC. A licensed practical nurse with the necessary knowledge, skill, and competency, under the direction of a registered nurse or a physician, is not prohibited from performing limited obstetrical ultrasounds. The regulations pertaining to licensed nurses performing nursing tasks beyond basic nursing preparation are located in Chapter 4723-4, OAC. A licensed nurse providing care beyond basic preparation for a licensed practical nurse must obtain education from a recognized body of knowledge relative to the nursing care to be provided, demonstrate knowledge, skills, and ability to performthe care, maintain documentation satisfactory to the Board of meeting the requirements to provide the care, and have a specific valid order or direction, from an individual who is authorized to practice in this state and is acting within the course of the individual's professional practice.”
“The Nurse Practice Act and the administrative rules adopted thereunder are available for review on the Board's website: www.nursing.ohio.gov in the "law and rule" section.”
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