Memphis Health Center, Inc. graduated from the Alliance’s Program for Nonprofit Excellence during a ceremony held at BRIDGES on February 16th, 2012 along with Delta Arts, Memphis Area Legal Services, & Synergy Treatment Centers. The Alliance Program for Nonprofit Excellence (PNE) is a nationally recognized initiative that transforms participating nonprofits into high-performance organizations through a rigorous multi-year curriculum.
Community Health ‘A step ahead’
Nonprofit organization offers community support for women
Claudia S. Haltom is president and CEO of A Step Ahead Foundation, a new nonprofit organization that offers women free, long-term, reversible contraceptives in hopes of helping high-risk youth get ‘a step ahead’ in their life choices.
Medical assistant Lucia Acosta (left) and family nurse practicioner Carmetra Avery attend to patient Shiela Phelps at the Memphis Health Center.
Dr. Vanessa Givens (left); Dr. Barry-Lewis Harris, chief medical officer; CEO Willeen Hastings; and Claudia S. Haltom, president and CEO, discuss health care at the Memphis Health Center.
Claudia Haltom noticed an entry-level pattern in the youth she encountered during her career as a judge at Memphis Shelby County Juvenile Court for 17 years, and in mediation, where she served after retirement. This pattern was that most juvenile offenders were young parents or parents of multiple, unplanned children. Haltom felt the young offenders could have better life options by being able to plan and be in control of their future through contraception. The use of contraception would put these high-risk youth “a step ahead.”
Thus, in August 2011, Haltom formed A Step Ahead Foundation with a mission to provide free, long-term, reversible birth control to women who wouldn’t otherwise have access. But the planning for this foundation started long before August 2011. Haltom found resources to distribute information and access to the program through partnerships with Le Bonheur home nursing program, the Exchange Club, Agape, Porter Leath, Department of Human Services and the St. Jude HIV clinic. Additionally, Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital, Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women and the Regional Medical Center at Memphis provide information to new mothers regarding spacing children through one-on-one consultation with a health care professional.
Partnering with health care clinics that could perform and prescribe the necessary birth control methods also was crucial. Haltom found willing participants within the Memphis Health Center and Christ Community Health Services.
Haltom found that common barriers to effective use of contraception are access and ease of dispensation. For example, TennCare contraceptive participants must first see a health care professional, get a prescription for the Depo-Provera shot, take the prescription to the pharmacy to be dispensed, and bring the contraceptive back to the clinic to be administered. Birth control pills are also a popular method of contraceptive with TennCare. Both methods require multiple steps — steps that often fall by the wayside at some point, providing ineffective results.
The A Step Ahead Foundation provides a physical, pap smear, pregnancy test and a long term contraceptive instrument. Depending on the chosen method, “long-term” can mean up to 10 years.
Haltom quotes her motto, “Being abstinent is the best method, unless you are not. And if you are not, we’re here to help.”
This motto is followed closely by, “Plan your life (career), your family (choosing a father for your children — one that deserves you), and then plan your babies.”
A Step Ahead Foundation is funded solely through the generous support of people in Shelby County. For more information, to make an appointment or donation, call (901) 320-7837 or go to a step ahead.me.
To learn more about A Step Ahead and its free long-term birth control options, choose one of the two videos below. To schedule an appointment or to ask additional questions, please call A Step Ahead at (901) 320-STEP (7837).