An effort to grow in step with its community’s needs that’s been years in the making came to fruition this past summer for a Texas pregnancy help organization (PHO).
FirstLook Sexual Health & Pregnancy Center in Waxahachie has been serving the community of Ellis County and the surrounding area, many among which have faced unplanned pregnancies, for more than 25 years. The pregnancy help medical clinic has been working to double its capacity to serve clients.
After six years of careful groundwork, Firstlook opened its new facility on July 1, 2021.
Donna Young, CEO of Firstlook for over 14 years, commented on the new facility and its offerings.
“From the beginning, our vision for the new center was a beautiful, comfortable, welcoming facility to convey our core message that every life, every person, is valuable and made in the image of God,” Young said. “Our previous center, besides limiting growth and outreach, did not convey that message very well, especially from the curb. But our new home reflects who we are and the quality of our services.”
The new center has made a marked difference for both FirstLook’s clients and staff.
Young recounted some client reactions:
“Our clients say things such as “this is like home; this is beautiful; is this FirstLook? Can I move in? I don’t want to go to an OB office; I want to come here.”
“And the staff say that the home-like, safe atmosphere has resulted in a more comfortable, open conversation when discussing options and struggles, and sensitive personal matters,” she said. “It’s a wonderful place to offer hope and support.”
FirstLook’s new center is 11,000 square feet, with four exam rooms, four consultation rooms, two of which have ultrasound capabilities, space for meetings and administrative office space, a demonstration kitchen, ample parking space, a baby boutique, classroom, and chapel.
The level of growth is remarkable, as back in 2016 FirstLook was operating out of a roughly 3000 square-foot facility where a converted closet served as a desk area for all the nurses to share.
Now, the new center is equipped with 14 employees, three nurses, two doctors, and 15 volunteers. The new 11,000 square foot center was built on land donated by The Avenue Church in Waxahachie.
Young remarked on how trust and support came together for the new center.
“Our donors shared our vision and were faithful to give,” she said. “The first gifts came in 2015 when we had nothing but an idea and a bubble diagram of the design we dreamed of.”
“Here we are, almost six years later,” she added. “After years of waiting, God fulfilled our vision in the midst of a pandemic, during our 25th anniversary year.”
Despite the limits of the previous center, FirstLook has offered professional care all along for clients regardless of their individual circumstances.
“Our services are unique in Ellis County in that they are without cost regardless of income,” Young said.
“We are staffed with licensed registered nurses who are practicing within their scope of practice under the direction and supervision of licensed physicians,” she continued. “We support our patients with a full team of loving and caring individuals. Trained men and women offer a holistic approach to care, including medical, educational, emotional, and spiritual support, care management, and material assistance.”
The need in the area continues to increase, as data from the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and Ellis County Department of Development has Ellis County projected to grow by 150% to nearly 500,000 in 2050.
The county’s health care needs are also anticipated to dramatically increase during that time, FirstLook said in a statement on the new center.
The PHO had seen an increase of 60% in clients from 2019-2020 alone.
The services provided by FirstLook are extensive, and include pregnancy testing, diagnostic ultrasound up to 28 weeks, STI testing and treatment, Abortion Pill Reversal, counseling, mentoring, doula support, healing after abortion, and more.
FirstLook also offers a range of labor and delivery, prenatal, parenting, life skills, adult and infant CPR classes, and Bible study.
The need for the services the center provides is apparent, according to the data provided by FirstLook:
● In 2020, the clinic had 2,221 visits, a 60% increase over the 1,391 visits in 2019.
● Of the visits in 2020, 413 pregnancy tests were administered, 347 ultrasound images were shown, and 237 clients were tested for STIs. -
● Roughly 60% of FirstLook clients range between 20 and 30 years of age, while another 20% are over the age of 30
Young told Pregnancy Help News that the center had not seen anything significant in terms of client traffic or changes in services sought directly related to the state’s hotly contested heartbeat law. September and the beginning of October have been a bit slower than normal, she said, but sometimes this occurs for unknown reasons. Some abortion-minded women have referred to the law when requesting an appointment, she said, but then have not shown for appointments.
FirstLook is the only clinic of its kind in Ellis County, which was the first Texas county to declare itself a “sanctuary for the unborn." The designation was approved by County Judge Todd Little in January 2020 and backed by the Ellis County Commissioners.
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"FirstLook is a place of hope and peace,” Little said. “Patients with an unplanned pregnancy can go to FirstLook for counseling and guidance as they discuss their choices. The Ellis County Commissioner's Court is proud to help fund this initiative to improve access to women's health, and we hope they will choose life.”
Tweet This: "FirstLook is a place of hope and peace”
In the same vein of life-affirming work, Young explained the heart behind this expansion to better offer varied health and pregnancy services for the community.
“God has called us at FirstLook for such a time as this,” she said, “to offer life-affirming alternatives to the tragedy of abortion, while respecting a woman's decision without ridicule or rejection,”
“We are here in our community to serve,” Young added, “to make a difference one person at a time, one life at a time, one baby at a time, one dad, one mom, one family.”
After years of dedication, hard work and faith, FirstLook has doubled in capacity, and is now equipped to serve others in a more comprehensive way.