To provide more healthcare and social services for those most in need, the Nurse-Family Partnership program in Snohomish County, Wash., is widening its reach. From 57 young, first-time mothers in 2011 to 150 this year, the program will grow to 200 clients in 2013.
Several grants will fund salaries for two full-time RNs and one part-time supervisor to provide preventive and educational health services for mothers whose children are at risk in the county.
“More than 500 first-time moms under age 21 could qualify for and benefit from this program in Snohomish County,” said Terry Clark, MEd, executive director of the Little Red Schoolhouse, which oversees this program.
Last fall, when LRS took over the program from the Snohomish Health District, they hired more RNs to connect with pregnant and post-partum women. Next year, additional funding will allow 50 more mothers to join.
Each mother is assigned an RN who builds a relationship with the client, aiming to impart healthy and positive prenatal, self-sufficiency and parenting skills.
Elizabeth Kang, RN, MN, said she finds the work satisfying. “I really believe in the NFP principles and think this is the best way to practice community health nursing,” Kang said. “Its very holistic. It incorporates all the other disciplines of health.”
Kang said the program focuses on building a personal connection with the clients, which lead to positive, evidence-based outcomes for mother and child.
A growing need
The countys Nurse Family Partnership — one of the first in Washington — launched in 1999. During the federal funding process, the Department of Health determined 32 areas had the highest need for this service, Clark said. Snohomish County was in the top three, based on factors such as the number of pre-term births, percentage of mothers without prenatal care, rate of crime and poverty and other criteria.
Young women who join NFP are low-income, first-time mothers younger than 21. In Snohomish County, the median age of moms in the program is 17. Statewide, 91% of mothers in NFP are unmarried; 78% receive Medicaid.
Nurses lend support
Nurses and clients meet weekly at first, Kang said, as the expectant women learn how to have a healthy pregnancy. They receive information about giving birth and managing life with a newborn. The frequent meetings “build the trust between us and lead to the positive outcomes were seeking,” Kang said. Visits become less frequent once the relationship is established, until the birth, when the nurse visits more often again.
Referrals come from physicians, midwives, Department of Social and Health Services, schools and other agencies. Ally Martinez of Mountlake Terrace was 16 when WIC referred her to the program and she met Trish Dauer, RN, BSN.
“Trish was the only support I had while I was pregnant,” Martinez said. “She was always there for me.”
The nurse-client bond held tight as Martinez birthed her daughter, Kelly, in August 2011. Martinez said Dauer encouraged and instructed her through the postnatal and early infancy stages.
Dauer also inspired Martinez to complete her GED and begin taking nursing assistant classes at a community college, with the long-term goal of becoming an RN.
“Working with Trish was part of that [career] decision,” Martinez said. “I would love to help other girls the same way Trish did, giving me help and advice.”
With the anticipated additional funding, several dozen more women in Snohomish County will receive personal instruction and healthcare each year from nurses who inspire, encourage and coach young, first-time mothers to successful parenthood.