By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
New mothers will have continued support to bring healthy children into the world through a new county program. At-risk women can enjoy long-term family improvements in health, education, and economic self-sufficiency through the Nurse-Family Partnership program.
“This program makes the family more cohesive by providing help with parenting, sustainability, education and beyond,” Genesis VNA and Hospice Community Health Supervisor Michele Cullen said. “It’s a great opportunity for Clinton and Scott counties. We see this as a great resource for our community.”
The partnership is part of an evidence-based federal program designed to help transform the lives of vulnerable mothers pregnant with their first child. Each mother served by NFP is partnered with a registered nurse early in her pregnancy and receives ongoing nurse home visits that continue through her child’s second birthday.
These home visits offer low-income, first-time moms the care and support they need to have a healthy pregnancy, provide responsible and competent care for their children, and become more economically self-sufficient, according to the Nurse-Family Partnership web site.
While the program will help first-time mothers of all ages, the issue of teen pregnancies is prevalent in Clinton County. In the 2012 County Health Rankings, the county had one of the highest teen birth rates with 44 per 1,000 females ages 15-19, high above the state rate of 33 and the national benchmark of 22. Only 10 of the 99 counties in Iowa reported rates above 44.
The county also ranks 14th in teen birth rate among all counties in Iowa and sixth among Iowa’s 29 counties with populations from 20,000-100,000 people, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Cullen has spearheaded the partnership for Clinton and Scott counties that is set to begin in late March. The county currently has a maternal health program that addresses teen mothers still in school. This partnership will offer a more in-depth and personalized approach for first-time mothers through a continuation of home visits.
“I’m looking forward to offering education and nurturing,” Nurse Beth Meyer said. “There really hasn’t been anything like this. It’s great to be able to reach out right when they find out their life is going to change.”
The program will employ three nurses; so far Cullen has hired two. Through the collaborative efforts of this program and teaming up with Lutheran Health Services of Iowa, the team of professionals will be able to serve 62 women in Clinton County and 294 women in Scott County.
“It will be great to get going and provide resources,” Nurse-Family Partnership Supervisor Yolanda Podolski said. “This is a great opportunity starting for a community from the ground up.”
To be eligible for the program, clients must participate voluntarily, meet the low-income criteria, be a first-time mother and enroll in the program early in her pregnancy, receiving the first home visit by no later than the end of week 28 of pregnancy.
Nurse home visitors and nurse supervisors must complete core educational sessions required by the Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office and deliver the interventions with fidelity to the Nurse-Family Partnership model. They will use professional knowledge, judgement and skill to apply the Nurse-Family Partnership guidelines, individualizing them to strengths and challenges of each family and apportioning time across defined program domains.
Setting the standard for excellence, Nurse-Family Partnership transforms lives through the power of relationships serving every eligible family in every community, according to the program’s vision statement. Staff at Genesis and LSI are eager to get the program started and begin helping new mothers as soon as possible.