Ribbon cut for Monroe County family planning clinic entrance art

Speaking into a PA microphone Friday afternoon, standing just south of the 7th and College intersection in downtown Bloomington, Penny Caudill said, “We walk into work and we smile!”

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On Thursday (Aug. 1, 2019), artist Gypsy Schindler, applies a clear coat to her mural along the entrance ramp to the lower level of the Monroe County Health Building, which stands on the southeast corner of 6th Street and College Avenue. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Caudill, who’s Monroe County’s health administrator, was talking to artist Gypsy Schindler, who just recently completed a mural on the wall that leads along the ramp to the lower-level entrance of the county’s health building. The art depicts kids playing—riding bicycles, kicking a soccer ball and jumping rope.

A ribbon cutting for the mural was the main event for the health department open-house on Friday. It was part of the “Ramp Up Awareness” project for the Futures Family Planning Clinic, which is housed on the lower level of the health building.

Before the ribbon cutting, small-talk among the crowd—a couple dozen county staff and elected officials—was sprinkled with favorable reviews of the mural for the way the art pulls the eye towards the entrance and says, “This is the way.”

The day before, Schindler was putting the final clear coat on the work to protect it. In the short while the mural has been in place, Caudill told Schindler at the ribbon cutting, “Every day you make us smile!”

Schindler’s design was chosen from submissions that the health department received after a call for proposals was made. Caudill gave a shoutout in her remarks to Sean Starowitz, Bloomington’s assistant director for the arts, for his guidance in putting together the call. Bloomington Paint and Wallpaper got a thank-you for donating the paint and supplies for the mural.

For her work, Schindler was presented on Friday with a poster-sized check for $579.35. Caudill said in her remarks the funding came from the Sophia Travis community service grants that were  decided last year.

The announcement of this year’s Sophia Travis grants came at the county council’s meeting in late July.  In deliberations about those grants, the county’s family planning clinic got some discussion from county councilors Marty Hawk and Cheryl Munson.

Hawk mentioned the county’s own family planning clinic as a possible resource—as part of her explanation why she would not vote in support of grants to Planned Parenthood or All Options Pregnancy Resource Center. They’re organizations that support abortion as an option, which Hawk said she would not support.

Munson responded to Hawk by saying that the county’s Futures Family Planning Clinic could no longer provide referrals to abortion providers. That’s because of the new rules announced this spring by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which took effect July 1. The rules prohibit family planning clinics funded by the federal Title X program from making abortion referrals.

Inside the clinic on Friday, nurse practitioner Liz McGlothlin and other staff told The Beacon the new HHS rules meant the clinic had done a purge of the literature that it distributes. Responding to a question from The Beacon about whether the HHS rules had impacted the way they interact with clinic patients, McGlothlin said it hadn’t yet come up.

The clinic sees over 1,000 visits a year. Services offered at the clinic include annual exam and pap smear, birth control counseling, STI testing and treatment, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, health education. According to the pamphlet distributed by the clinic, parental consent is encouraged, but not required.

The clinic accepts state and commercial insurance, and for those without insurance, the services are available on a sliding scale.

Here’s some additional photos of the mural and ribbon cutting:

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