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Nurse-Family Partnership to expand

Nurse-Family Partnership to expand
November 08
05:00 2017

Now in its fifth year, the Nurse-Family Partnership has secured permanent funding and is looking to expand its effort to improve pregnancy outcomes.

The Nurse-Family Partnership is an initiative of the Forsyth County Health Department following a national model in which nurses visit the homes of vulnerable first-time mothers living in poverty. The visits start early in pregnancy and continue until the child’s second birthday, with the goal of improving pregnancy outcomes, child health and development and family self-sufficiency.

The program, which has reduced preventable deaths and improved health outcomes in both mothers and their children, celebrated its fifth anniversary yesterday with a program at Forsyth Medical Center. Since 2012, the program has received over 1,200 referrals, conducted more than 7,400 visits and helped 271 participants.

Currently, the program has five nurses that can serve 125 mothers at a time. The program will be adding three more nurses that’ll be able to serve 75 more mothers, which will clear or reduce the program’s waiting list.

“It’s great because we do have this great community need and with this new expansion we’ll be able to serve more families,” said Nurse-Family Supervisor Christine Wanous.

Up until this summer, the program was mostly funded by a five-year grant from Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust that’s come to an end. This summer, Forsyth County commissioners approved $338,000 for the program, which is expected to be reoccurring annual funds. The state approved grant funding for the program with $608,000 for this fiscal year and about $503,000 for subsequent years. Health Department Director Marlon Hunter said he’s hopeful that Reynolds will also commit to two more years of funding.

“It speaks to the value of our nurses and the type of work they’re doing in our community,” said Hunter about the fiscal support for the program.

This expansion comes after the county saw a rise in 2016 infant mortality, which is when a baby less than 1 year old dies. When the Nurse Family Partnership began, the county had a rate of 10.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Since then, it’s dropped to a historically low 6.4 in 2014 and 7.1 in 2015. Hunter said that programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, Pregnancy Care Management, Care Coordination for Children and Healthy Start/Baby Love Plus have played a large part in that.

“It’s had a huge impact,” said Hunter. “I really feel like that is why we’re seeing a decline in the African-American infant mortality rate from first-time moms, it’s because of some of those case management programs we now have in place.”

The infant morality rate for 2016 was 9.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. Hunter said that while the African-American rate has been falling, the rate in the Hispanic community has increased to 13.0 and is a big part in the overall countywide increase.

“The same type of outreach we did in the African-American community, we’re going to have to do a better job in the Hispanic community,” Hunter told county commissioners in a briefing last month.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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