• Watermark Health

Same Mission. New Service.

Updated: Nov 1

Through the generosity of the body of Christ, Watermark Health now has the opportunity to serve the community through sonogram services.


God’s word reveals the intrinsic value, dignity, and worth He gives life, both inside and outside the womb. To affirm that value of life, Watermark Health serves over 11,000 uninsured/underinsured patients from 129 countries per year. Through no-cost urgent care services, staff and volunteers care for the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of each patient.


One to two times per week, Watermark Health medical providers deliver the news of a confirmed pregnancy. Women in those moments often experience a variety of emotions and the team at Watermark Health hopes to create a safe place for women to process those emotions.


“Engaging in conversations about God’s value of life is not a new area of ministry for Watermark Health,” said Samantha Parsons, Skillman Clinic Director. “The new sonogram machine is an additional tool to help the team confirm the value of life in those conversations.”


“This service connects women without a women’s health specialist to medical resources and serves women who are under-resourced, under-supported, or abortion-minded with an opportunity to be connected to a support system who will mentor them through their pregnancy,” said Parsons.


Since the soft launch of sonogram services in April 2021, Watermark Health has served over 20 expecting mothers with on-site sonograms.


A Full Circle Moment

“From the very first patient, it was clear that God would use medical visits as a way for members of His church to engage in conversations to affirm the value of pre-born lives. He's called us to support moms and families who feel overwhelmed by their circumstances,” said Parsons.


“On the opening day of our first urgent care clinic in 2013, there was a young woman who was doing her laundry at the laundry mat next door. She was not feeling well and learned that her symptoms were a result of her pregnancy,” said Dr. Matt Bush, founder of Watermark Health. “Little did she know, she and her unborn child would be our very first patients. The staff created a safe place for her to process the news, and despite her fear, and initial request for abortion services, we had the incredible privilege to see her decide to keep her child. The team would continue to walk with her throughout her pregnancy, even throwing her a baby shower at Denny’s next door. The way they cared for her built trust, and she brought her child to be seen as a patient multiple times.”

“It comes full-circle. I have seen where this team has stepped in to offer a place other than the ER for women to find out they are pregnant,” said Bush. “Thinking back on our first day, even if we would’ve never gone on to serve thousands of patients, the way we got to care for our first two patients made it all worthwhile.”


Behind the Scenes

At Watermark Health, urine tests and lab work have historically been the primary methods for pregnancy diagnoses.


According to the Guttamacher Institute (a pro-abortion organization), 55,440 abortions were provided in the state of Texas in 2017. That same year abortions in the state of Texas represented 6.4% of all abortions in the United States. [1] For abortion-minded and abortion-vulnerable patients, sonograms can be an effective tool in a decision towards life.



According to Heartbeat International, the average woman choosing abortion makes the decision within a day of confirming her pregnancy and obtains an abortion within the next week [2]. Watermark Health attempts to schedule patients with confirmed pregnancies for a follow-up visit within 48 hours.


While many patients were able to connect with and be cared for well by local pregnancy resource centers, there was no way for the team to know if abortion-vulnerable patients ever took that next step. There was still a chance that patients could leave the clinic, become too overwhelmed by their circumstances, lack of support, or fear of raising a child and decide to end the child’s life before seeing a sonogram.


Chermak explains how this equipment is so much more than a machine. A sonogram is a way for Moms to see the miracle, reality, confirmation of life in their womb and make a medically informed decision.


“We know there are a variety of circumstances that lead to moments of panic with an unplanned pregnancy; we hope this tool allows staff and volunteers to stand in the gap during those times,” said Chermak.


“While abortion might sometimes seem like a fast solution for a scary time, we knew that at its core, abortion isn’t only ending the life of a child but also contributing to negative emotional and medical outcomes for the mother,” said Chermak. “A way we show compassion for that woman is help her see that we’re not just advocating for the child, we are also concerned about her future physical and mental health.”


God’s Provision of Resources

Any time a pregnancy is confirmed on-site, the patient is connected to referrals for low-cost prenatal care and given a packet with educational content about nutrition, safe medications, stages of development, and how to treat morning sickness.


Parsons explains how God has provided a team of on-call pastoral care volunteers that are available to be paired with patients with unexpected pregnancies during their follow-up visits. These volunteers meet patients in their crisis moments and so they can start to build a support system around them. The long-term goal with these pastoral care volunteers is connecting them The Life Initiative at Watermark.


“In tandem with God aligning the pieces for us to offer sonograms, Watermark’s Life Initiative ministry has developed a robust and growing mentor program that connects women and men with one-on-one mentors to walk through appointments, encouragement, and support with resources,” said Parsons.


Partner with Watermark Health

“The Lord has not only provided people who support this service with their generosity of financial resources, but He also has provided volunteers with women’s health specialty backgrounds to help launch the service,” said Parsons.


Lindsay Silberstein, a Certified Nurse Midwife, volunteered as a nurse at the clinic from 2014 to 2017. Her experiences as a labor and delivery nurse paired with her service at the clinic motivated her to go back to school to become a midwife. In 2021, she was able to get plugged back into the ministry to help launch sonogram services.


“The medical part comes easy,” said Silberstein, “It’s easy to give medical advice and say here's what this is and here's what you do. One of the reasons I decided to become a midwife was to have the opportunity to have spiritual conversations with the families I serve. Having deeper relationships and conversations isn’t always easy, but it is way more fruitful.”




“Sonograms at Watermark Health is just one of the many ways the Church is stepping into the arena of the abortion crisis,” said Chermak. “While we pray for a day in the future that abortion isn’t desired, we will continue to seek the Lord for the guidance of how He would want to serve His people. We get the privilege of meeting women and families where they are at, with a next step medically, and a system of support and resources to come alongside them.”


Services like sonograms would not be possible if it weren't for the generosity and support from the body of Christ. Watermark Health aims to see members of the local church deployed using their expertise or experience to serve this mission.


“Sonogram services are just one of the ways this team has explored innovative ways to serve patients through medicine,” said Chermak. “At the beginning of the service line, Watermark members who are OBGYNs gave guidance and helped our team build the service. We would love to see more partnerships like that.”


If you have specialty women's health medical experience or skills in prenatal or OB services, we would love to hear from you. Visit watermarkhealth.org/serve to learn about ways you can partner with us as we share the hope of Christ through medicine.




Sources:

1. Jones RK, Witwer E and Jerman J, Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2017, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2019.

2. https://www.heartbeatservices.org/images/HeartbeatServices/WhitePapers/UnderstandingAbortionStatistics.pdf