Providing “practical help and hope to women facing pregnancy decisions.”

Half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended and many people, when they do find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, do not know where to turn for help, said Elizabeth Lunsford, M.D. of Riverside Partners in Women’s Health in Gloucester. But thanks to Care Net Peninsula, there is a place locally that provides practical help – and hope – to women facing pregnancy decisions, Lunsford said. Following two years of active volunteer work, Lunsford was named Medical Director of Care Net Peninsula in June 2016.

Originally from Charlottesville, Lunsford completed her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and earned her medical degree from the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk. She joined Riverside’s Partners in Women’s Health in 2014 and began treating patients in Gloucester as the health system’s full time OB/GYN physician on the Middle Peninsula.

Located in Newport News on Jefferson Avenue, Care Net Peninsula (the center) offers free laboratory pregnancy tests, ultrasounds to help determine how far along a pregnancy is, consultations for those facing unintended pregnancy, parenting support and post-abortion recovery services. The center has served the region – Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Poquoson, Gloucester, Yorktown and James City County – since 1986 thanks to private donors who fund its operating costs and volunteers who help staff the services offered.

“I got involved because Care Net Peninsula exists to provide a variety of services to women in difficult situations in a non-judgmental, caring atmosphere,” Lunsford said. “Patients have the opportunity to have an ultrasound and see the pregnancy developing so they can make an informed decision.” Lunsford began working with the Center roughly two years ago, volunteering to perform and read ultrasounds for women. As Medical Director, Lunsford will continue that work, as well as ensure all ultrasounds performed meet standards, remain available for medical needs that arise with patients and review medical policies and charts.

“It is such an emotional time for most women,” Lunsford said. “A positive pregnancy test can result in a feeling of great joy or overwhelming fear and anxiety depending on life circumstances. These mixed emotions are not unique to the mother. Many times the father of the baby is also wrestling with what this is going to mean for his life. “In fact, the center,” Lunsford said, “is working to reach out to more men for that very reason. The center exists to provide a safe place for men and women to work through these feelings before they make life-altering decisions.”

“Sometimes we treat pregnancy as a one sided unilateral issue,” Lunsford said. “Certainly women share a great deal of responsibility, but many men also want to be involved in pregnancy decisions. The center has raised funds to meet growing demand for ultrasound services and to add another counselor to incorporate more services for men.”

Lunsford’s work with patients at her Riverside practice and now also with women and men at the center helps fulfill her dedication to families, she said. “I wanted my life to be used by God to be a blessing to other people. I thought the best way to affect somebody’s life in a positive way and see results was to go into medicine,” Lunsford said. “I chose OB/GYN because it’s such a wonderful and diverse field where you can help through so many transitions of life.”

ABOUT CARE NET RESOURCE PREGNANCY CENTER:

The Care Net Resource Pregnancy Center is located at 11747 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 3H, in Newport\ News. All services are provided free of charge. The Center is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help with clerical work, counseling, outreach, fundraising, and prayer support. For more information, to volunteer, or to make a private appointment, please call 757.591.8141 or visit www.carenetrpc.com. Appointments are scheduled Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 pm.

Published: February 10, 2017