New ultrasound machine is a game changer


OKEECHOBEE — The Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee has been a part of the Okeechobee community for many years, serving those who are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant or are already parents.

An ultrasound is often one of the most exciting experiences a woman has during her pregnancy. She can see her unborn child before birth, sometimes so clearly you feel you could reach out and hold the baby. Ultrasounds have changed a lot over the years. In the 80s, you really just took the technician’s word for it that you were looking at a head or a foot. Now, they make a 4D ultrasound which shows a live video of your baby. Sometimes you can even see the baby yawn or smile or suck its thumb.

The Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee was the recipient of an ultrasound machine many years ago, and when that one became a little outdated, they were able to get another one through the generosity of anonymous donors. They gifted the old machine to a clinic in Haiti. Recently, another donor provided the funds to upgrade again. This new machine is one of the 4D machines, and with it, you can see what your baby is doing inside your womb at the exact moment the test is done. The new machine is named Maggie in memory of the donor’s grandmother.

Dr. Trinidad Garcia, who heads up the wellness program at the center, was excited to discuss the machine. She said often during an ultrasound is when a woman first realizes her baby is a real person.

Robyn Garner, assistant director of the pregnancy center, said they hope to start a satellite pregnancy center in Clewiston and will donate the old ultrasound machine which still works really well to them. At this time, pregnant women in Clewiston travel to Okeechobee to use the pregnancy center here, she said.

“We just needed an upgrade. The old machine was 2D. Why not show a mom early on her baby in the womb if you can?” asked Lindsey Lumpkin, who manages social media for the center.

Garner said, “When someone is abortion-minded, this can be a game changer. Once they see that baby and hear the heartbeat, it moves them. She said she saw one woman who had three abortions in the past. When she saw her baby on the ultrasound screen, she was shocked. She said they told her it was not a baby but just tissue.”

Ultrasound technician Michelle Anderson said she has been enjoying using the new machine. She volunteered for the pregnancy center many years ago and has been working there for two years.

The pregnancy center also offers wellness exams to those who are uninsured, age 18 or older, who have had no exam in the last year and who have a valid U.S. government identification or other proof of Florida residency.

They offer breast exams, pelvic exams, pap smears and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing.

STI testing is also offered to pregnant women and their partners. This service is free to anyone in the community regardless of their insurance status or income level. If a client tests positive for an STI, they are referred to the health department for treatment as well as for contact tracing.

The wellness end of the program is open to uninsured women aged 18 or older and consists of a complete physical, breast exam, pelvic exam, blood work and pap smear. If a pap smear comes back abnormal, Dr. Garcia can provide treatment at the pregnancy center free of charge.

If a patient needs a mammogram and has no insurance, she is referred to Open Hands Health Care. Open Hands is a free clinic in Okeechobee.

The Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee is located at 808 NE Park Street. The phone number is 863-467-8748. They can also be found on Facebook or at their website

Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee