Proven Program for Improving Lives Comes to Waco!
by Daryl Meyer
My days are filled with the welcoming of newborns, listening to children laughing and talking– and the occasional cry– as my office sits inside the Pediatric Unit of Baylor/Scott and White Hillcrest Medical Center. Children are a gift – they represent new beginnings, hope, a fresh and innocent outlook –but not for everyone. Part of my day includes rounding on the unit to visit with the new mothers and I witness a myriad of other emotions – worry, fear, and anxiety, generally feeling overwhelmed –as they want to be the best parent they can be, and provide more opportunities for their child then what they may have had. Some feel ill-equipped for this task –partially because close to 40% of these new mothers are under the age of 21.
“Children having children” was just media garble until I took on this role as Coordinator for Nurse-Family Partnership. On my first day of work, a young girl- age 16 – came to labor and delivery to give birth to her second child. Yesterday, I visited with a very pretty, very smart and very scared 8th grader who will deliver her first baby in August. Last month at Hillcrest we celebrated the delivery of nearly 250 live births. 62% of those births were to women living below the poverty level and 9% of those babies needed time in the Neo-Intensive Care Unit. As a facility that cares for women and children, our goal is to improve the overall health of mothers and infants, and now through a relationship with the Waco Foundation we have begun the implementation of a program proven to do just that.
Nurse-Family Partnership is an evidence-based community healthcare program that empowers low-income, first-time mothers to become confident parents and strong women by partnering with nurse home visits. Nurse home visits begin early in the mother’s pregnancy and continue visitation until the child’s second birthday. Nurses provide support, resource connections, education and counseling on health, behavioral and self-sufficiency issues. NFP is one the most rigorously tested programs of its kind—randomized, controlled trials conducted over the past 30 years demonstrate positive multi-generational outcomes for families and their communities. These include improved prenatal health, fewer subsequent pregnancies, increased maternal employment, improved child school readiness, reduced criminal involvement, and less child abuse, neglect and injuries.
The Nurse-Family Partnership program makes a difference today and for generations. A report from Harvard University and the Center for Developing Child studied the extent to which very early childhood experiences influence later learning, behavior and health. It supports positive results when skilled home visitors interact with vulnerable families expecting their first child, and continuing during that first 30 months of a child’s life. Basic brain functions related to vision, hearing and language development can be hugely impacted during this window of opportunity – and will impact the future of both mother and child.
Our NFP program at Baylor/Scott&White Hillcrest Medical Center is scheduled to begin accepting clients in October, and will utilize a nurse supervisor and 6 Bachelor Prepared RN’s to visit clients within McLennan County. Partnering with other local social agencies targeting women’s health- like those who are part of the Healthy Babies Coalition – and collaborating on important resource referral tools with the Texas 211 program and Baylor Social Work interns –we can ensure teen mothers get the right care, at the right time, through the proper agencies –to produce a healthier outcome and future.
How does all of this affect you? Independent analyses have shown that communities benefit socially and financially when they invest in NFP; the RAND Corporation calls Nurse-Family Partnership “a wise choice” that has favorable economic return to communities of up to $5.70 for every public dollar invested in the program. At this time we will have grants and state funding to finance our model but our five year strategic plan includes sustainability campaigns to support growth and capacity building.
Please visit the website www.Nursefamilypartnership.org
or feel free to contact me [email protected] or 254-202-1130
Daryl Meyer came to Waco 16 years ago when her husband accepted a position at Baylor. She is a mother of two daughters and grandmother to 3 dogs! She has worked as a patient advocate for the past 15 years and has her certification as a Recreation Therapist, Senior Advisor, a Licensed Nursing Facility Administrator, and an Early Childhood Educator. In her free time she enjoys cooking, volunteering, and watching Baylor sports.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.