Member Spotlights

Maternal and Family Health Services, Inc.

Pottsville, PA

Forty years ago, Maternal and Family Health Services (MFHS) was created with a vision to improve the quality of family life, promote responsible parenthood and coordinate effective service delivery in Pennsylvania. Today, MFHS has not only realized the vision of its founders, but has grown to become one of the largest nonprofit agencies in the region, providing innovative health and human services to women and children in 16 of 67 counties in the state of Pennsylvania. MFHS was founded in June 1971 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, by a small group of citizens interested in addressing the need for subsidized family planning and maternity services in northeastern Pennsylvania.

MFHS’ Family Planning Program was launched with a $281,000 grant from Title X to provide family planning ser­vices to women in need in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. As the Title X grantee for northeastern Pennsylvania, MFHS established and operated family planning projects offering a broad range of effective family planning methods and services. Within six months of receiving its first funding, this new agency, then named Maternal Health Services of Northeastern Pennsylvania, started delivering services at two sites in Luzerne County to 98 individuals.

By 1974, MFHS expanded its family planning services from Luzerne County to include 12 Pennsylvania counties, and within 10 years the agency was serving 33,000 patients per year in 15 counties. The agency created partnerships with numerous contract service providers to expand the network of health centers throughout the region.

In 1973, MFHS began offering maternity services in Luzerne County in response to a need for obstetric care in the area. The following year, the agency added the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Chil­dren, more commonly known as WIC. MFHS was one of the first agencies in Pennsylvania to administer a WIC program, and one of the first 100 WIC pilot projects in the United States. MFHS now oversees the largest geographic WIC service network in Pennsylvania, serving more than 59,000 people each month.

In the decades that followed, more programs were added to meet the needs of women, children and families, includ­ing: the Healthy Woman Cancer Screening Program; the Nurse-Family Partnership; the Healthy Beginnings Plus Prenatal Program; the Safeteens Initiative; a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program; and several other grant-related initiatives.

As one of four Title X grantees in Pennsylvania, today MFHS funds 17 delegate agencies and a staff of more than 240 people. Its Title X-funded network of more than 40 health centers includes Rural Health Centers; hospital sys­tems; college campus health centers; private physician offices; Planned Parenthood affiliates; local health departments; and community-based nonprofit organizations. MFHS also operates six direct-service family planning sites which are staffed and operated by MFHS employees. The organization also receives significant funding through the federal WIC, Title XX Social Services Block Grant, Title V Maternal and Child Health and Medicaid programs; Susan G. Komen for the Cure; the Nurse-Family Partnership; and the Pennsylvania Department of Health Cancer Screening program.

In 2010, 35,798 women received reproductive health care services through MFHS’ network, with a total of 81,764 family planning visits. Ninety-four percent of the women served by MFHS reported an income of less than 200% of the FPL, meaning they earn less than $21,780. The managers and staff at each of the health centers in the MFHS network are connected to the communities they serve through outreach, referrals and involvement with community partners. The staff targets outreach efforts to areas of high need specific to each community, such as teens, minori­ties, migrant workers and the newly unemployed.

MFHS’ Safeteens Initiative targets teens through a website and hotline that connects them to family planning centers in their communities. There are monthly Teen Nights at the family planning centers that create a comfortable and safe environment for teens to visit the health centers for services, counseling and education.

Over the past several years, MFHS has created a robust cross-referral program. This program gives staff the tools and talking points to refer clients who are already receiving services from the WIC and Nurse-Family Partnership programs, and to encourage patients to have family planning visits as well.

MFHS works to promote its services across the communities where its health centers are located. MFHS has inter­active kiosks at public locations that provide information about the variety of services it provides. The agency also reaches out through different social media avenues including Facebook, Twitter, websites and blogs. Additionally, MFHS is in the process of developing an application for smart phones to connect people to services within their own communities.

The success of MFHS is due in large part to the partnerships that the agency has formed over the past four decades with organizations, government agencies and individuals that all share common goals, values and dedication to high-quality service for all. As community providers with decades of experience on the front lines of preventative care for low-income and uninsured individuals, MFHS is well positioned to serve the populations who will be seeking pre­ventative care as a result of new access to insurance coverage through the ACA, and to remain a safety-net provider for people seeking access to family planning, sexual health and nutrition care. As MFHS reaches its 40th anniversary, it will continue to provide high-quality, compassionate care, and will seek new opportunities to provide innovative service delivery, build strategic partnerships and connect with its community.

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National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association

1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-293-3114  |  info@nfprha.org

© 2011 National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association