Innovative Nurse-Family Collaborative Improves Newborn Health in Contra Costa County
Monday, March 23, 2015
As her due date approached, Megan Reynolds faced the prospect of delivering her baby without a reliable partner, income, or housing.
But two years later, Megan has a job, an apartment and a happy, healthy toddler named Benjamin, thanks in part to Nurse-Family Partnership, a Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) program that connects first-time mothers with specially trained nurses who provide resources, information and support.
The program recently celebrated a milestone when its first group of moms and babies graduated from the intensive, multi-year program, including Megan, who was paired with nurse Jaime Baculpo.
"There were times when I was literally just walking down the street with our suitcases, with no place to go," Megan said. "But each time Jaime and I met, we were talking about the next step, and how we were going to get it done."
The program, funded through the Affordable Care Act, is intended to improve newborn health among low-income Contra Costa families. Each mother served by the program is partnered with a registered nurse from CCHS' Public Health Division who makes regular home visits during pregnancy and throughout the first two years of the newborns' lives.
The nurses tailor their support to the individual, providing advice on topics such as nutrition, breastfeeding and postpartum health, and connecting the families to resources ranging from health referrals to safe child car seats.
Jaime met Megan in a Concord restaurant that became a regular meeting spot, as Megan lacked stable housing. Jaime coached Megan on keeping healthy and raising her baby, but also helped her look for housing, work and other basics she needed, and provided emotional support.
"She would always say, ‘You know everything!'" Jaime said. "Really I didn't have all the answers, but I was willing to work with her right there to figure out the next step. Sometimes that's all the motivation we need to get started."
Nurse-Family Partnership is an evidence-based, national model for improving community health implemented by Contra Costa County in 2012. Data collected by the program's national service office show participating families demonstrate significantly improved prenatal health and better post-birth health outcomes for both mother and child.
In Contra Costa, where CCHS continuously enrolls 100 women in its local version of the program, 94% of babies born to participants were full term and of a healthy weight, and 100% of mothers initiated breastfeeding.
"We are extremely proud of all our moms," said program director Dawn Dailey. "They have stuck with us for a long time, and it is so rewarding to see them all with their beautiful, healthy children."
To learn more about the Contra Costa Nurse-Family Partnership program and other perinatal services offered by CCHS, visit cchealth.org/perinatal, or call 925-313-6920.
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- Karl Fischer, 925-313-6832