|Heartbeat of Toledo was founded in 1971 by Dr. John F. Hillabrand and Mrs. Lore Maier. Dr. Hillabrand, a prominent obstetrician and gynecologist, saw the need for a place like Heartbeat years before, when in his busy practice he began seeing the daughters and granddaughters of his patients who were having unplanned “crisis” pregnancies.
After determining that a young woman was pregnant, Dr. Hillabrand felt there was inadequate time to comfort and help her sort through all the emotions facing her in her crisis—much less finding all the right solutions. There were, of course, adoption agencies and maternal homes, but he felt another step was needed before either of these decisions could be made.
Mrs. Maier, who was the only survivor of a family of six from Nazi Germany, had recently lost her husband. Dr. Hillabrand asked if she would help him in the formation of an Emergency Pregnancy Service (EPS). His plan was to form a service which would help girls and women facing the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy. It would be the first place she might call to see if she was pregnant; a place where there was help in finding positive solutions for her and her baby.
This was the grassroots beginning of the emergency pregnancy service.
Dr. Hillabrand and Mrs. Maier recruited a handful of volunteers who began meeting weekly for training classes covering such topics as telephone techniques, fetal development, and counseling techniques. These volunteers also learned about maternal housing, adoption services, legal aspects, and community services already available for pregnant women. Experts from all these fields gave of their time to educate those first volunteers.
Heartbeat opened for the first time on May 17, 1971. Heartbeat of Toledo was the first center set up and was then used as a model for the subsequent centers. Today, Heartbeat International (now located in Columbus) has more than 1,800 affiliates in 40 countries.
Heartbeat of Toledo’s first office was in the First National Bank Building. It was soon moved to the Hillcrest Hotel. Today, Heartbeat’s office is located at 4041 W. Sylvania Ave., Suite LL4, Toledo, OH 43623.
In 2005 Heartbeat started Heart to Heart, a prenatal and parent learning center which serves about 500 moms and dads and their babies each year. In 2011 Heartbeat began Your First Look, a Women’s Center offering free pregnancy tests with ultrasound confirmation and the opportunity to consult with a registered nurse. Your First Look East Toledo Women's Center (101 Main St) opened in 2014.
Heartbeat opened an office in East Toledo in July of 2015 offering prenatal and parenting classes and emergency assistance.
In the fall of 2016, Heartbeat will offer a mobile women’s center that will be available at area free clinics, universities, and more.