If you call the family planning health centers in Waterville and Skowhegan, Leanne Clark is probably the voice you’ll hear on the phone. As Site Administrative Coordinator for these two FPA locations, Leanne is usually the first person to make contact with patients who call or come through the door.
I had lunch with Leanne at a nearby Waterville restaurant and we chatted about her family planning work. Here’s what we talked about.
You’ve been employed by family planning for just over 10 years. How did you get into this work?
I was graduating from Thomas College with my associates degree and moving out of my parents’ house. I needed a job, quick. I heard about this job at KVCAP Family Planning and I applied. I never intended to stay with family planning so long; this was the job I was supposed to have until I got my real job.
Why did that change?
I just love my work. It’s different every day; you never know what kind of needs people will bring. Patients come in needing help with very personal issues and no one gets turned away without some course of action. If we can’t solve the problem, we refer them to someone who can. When I’m on the phone with someone, I don’t hang up without offering something. Even if I have to do a Google search to find a resource; I make sure they have a place to turn.
What are you most proud of in your family planning work?
We work really well as a team. Even after 10 years, I’m still the rookie; other staff – Colleen Taylor, Nurse Practitioner; Jean Finley, Patient Care Specialist; and Rhonda Woodman, Medical Billing Manager – have been here much longer. It’s really important that, as the front desk person, I understand what goes on out back so I can make sure they patient sees the right person.
We work hard to overcome the notion that family planning is not a “real” doctor’s office. We’re specialists in what we do. Patients know we’re not judgmental and we are accepting of everyone who walks in the door.
How have things changed in the 10+ years you’ve been doing family planning work?
Patients come in knowing a lot more about reproductive health than they did in the past. Often, they’ve looked things up on the internet. Sometimes they might have gone to a website that’s not based on the facts and we need to undo the “learning” they’ve done.
Also, young people don’t seem as scared about talking with their parents. That’s definitely changed for some patients.
How has becoming a mom changed your thinking about family planning?
My son is two-and-a-half years old and being a mom makes me think about the parents who get upset when their kids come to us. I feel like working here will make me a more open parent. When I started working here I was pretty young and I had “black and white” views about the world. Working in family planning, I have learned that not everything is so black and white. I’ve become more open and understanding of our patients’ situations. And I’ve learned how important family planning services are to so many people.
What gives you the most pleasure in your work?
Being able to help people with their problems is the main thing. When they check out at the end of their visit, I like making sure their questions have been answered and they got the services they needed.
What would you like our readers to know about the work of the FPA?
We see all different types of people; we’re not just here for teens or for people without insurance. We are a professional medical office, not some scary, dark place. We are specialists and we’re really good at what we do.
~ Nancy Audet