Northampton, Hertford get major program

Published 10:36 am Friday, August 17, 2012

A luncheon officially announcing Nurse-Family Partnership’s launch in Hertford, Northampton, Halifax and Edgecombe counties was held on Tuesday at the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center. Pictured from left are Jehan Benton-Clark, Kelly Traylor, Sue Gay and Laura Louison who spoke during Tuesday’s event. NFP is a evidence-based program that targets low-income, first time mothers to improve pregnancy outcomes, promote healthy child development and improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family.

JACKSON – Low-income, first time mothers and their families in four local counties stand to benefit from an evidenced-based public heath program new to the area.

On Tuesday during a luncheon at the Cultural and Wellness Center, healthcare and community leaders announced Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) will launch its service in Herford, Northampton, Halifax and Edgecombe counties. The Northampton County Health Department will administer the program.

NFP, based in Denver, Colo., is one of the nation’s oldest nurse home visitation programs. Through regular in-home consultations, registered nurses work with first-time moms to improve pregnancy outcomes, promote healthy child development and improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family. Home visits begin early in the mother’s pregnancy and continue until the child is two years old. The program also encourages participation from fathers and other family members.

Those eligible for the program must be pregnant with their first child, meet certain income requirements or be Medicaid eligible and must enter the program prior to their 28th week in pregnancy.

“We feel like this is a step in the right direction,” said Northampton County Health Director Sue Gay.

Gay said bringing the program in the area has been two years in the making and has taken a lot of hard work, thinking and creativity from the four counties involved.

She noted how those from the counties involved worked well together.

“That tells you our hearts are in the right place in these four counties,” she said.

Gay emphasized the NFP is evidenced-based and research has been done over the past 30 years on the program.

“This means this (program) works,” she said. “It’s been done in areas throughout the United States, and so it’s been proven that it works, it’s not a pilot program.”

The results of that research, according to NFP, has been a 79 percent reduction in preterm delivery for women who smoke; a 50 reduction in language delays of the child at 21 months; a 48 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect; a 46 percent increase in the father’s presence in the household; 32 percent fewer unintended subsequent pregnancies; and a 20 percent reduction in months on welfare.

Kelly Traylor, Northeast Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program supervisor, will oversee the team of four RNs who will carry out the program with a caseload 25 clients each.

“The nurses will help the mothers provide a better life for their children and work toward achieving their personal goals,” Traylor said. “Whether the mother wants to return to school, find a job or simply create a stable home environment for her and her child our team will work to help NFP moms achieve their goals and create stronger families.”

Traylor noted the need for NFP in the area as Herford, Northampton, Halifax and Edgecombe exceed the state-wide average in several risk indicators, including first time births on Medicaid, low birth weight for infants (5.5 lbs or less), teen pregnancy and child poverty.

She introduced the team of nurses that will service the coverage area: Kathy Vick (Hertford and Northampton), Tia Alfonso (Halifax County), Carissa Smith (Halifax and Edgecombe) and Sylvia Britt (Edgecombe). Teresa Stansbury will serve as the program’s data entry clerk.

Laura Louison, North Carolina MIECHV Program director, said she is looking forward to seeing the Northeastern North Carolina site grow in serving families in the area.

Louison said the expansion of NFP was made possible through a portion of $3.2 million in federally funded grants awarded by the NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health for the implementation of the MIECHV Program, a provision of the 2010 Affordable Healthcare Act.

“North Carolina and this part of our state was in need of an evidence-based program that could turn the tide on poverty and poor maternal and child heath outcomes,” Louison said. “As a result of our efforts to secure these funds, Nurse-Family Partnership has expanded to six new counties in North Carolina and will allow two existing counties to serve more families by hiring additional nurses.”

Buncombe, Columbus, Gaston and Robertson will also benefit from NFP’s expansion.

Louison said in addition to the federal funding, NFP is supported by a statewide public-private partnership of organizations, including The Duke Endowment, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. and Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.

“Without the support of these organizations we never would have had the infrastructure in place to secure additional funding for counties like those here in the Northeast and we are all so very appreciative of their support and partnership,” she said.

Louison said statistics from established programs in North Carolina show NFP is working with 89 percent of babies being born full term and born at a healthy weight. She added 44 percent of mothers who enter the program without a high school diploma or a GED earn one while participating in NFP and another 26 percent are working to obtain one. Additionally, 73 percent of mothers have no subsequent pregnancies when they complete the program.

Jehan Benton-Clark, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust program officer, said the organization shared in the excitement of the launch of NFP in the four counties.

Clark said the Trust first became interested in NFP through its first site in Guildford.

“Based on the strength, longevity and accomplishment of the Guilford Nurse-Family Partnership site, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust joined other leaders from public and private foundations across the state to form an alliance to give more North Carolina families access to NFP services,” she said.

That public-private partnership allowed initial expansion of the program to five counties. NFP’s is now present in 16 counties state-wide.

“We’re so pleased to be a part in this large effort to help families in and across our state,” she said. “Nurse-Family Partnership will truly change the lives of families in Northeastern North Carolina.”

Congressman G.K. Butterfield also addressed the crowd choosing to use his time to address the nation’s deficit and discretionary funds.

“Nurse-Family Partnership has a rich history, rooted in decades of research and positive outcomes,” Butterfield said in a NFP press release. “The federal government got it right when it recognized that an investment in this program will make a real, measurable difference for generations to come. Washington politics aren’t perfect, but today I am reassured that supporting the Affordable Care Act is the right thing to do because it invests in proven programs like Nurse-Family Partnership. I am proud to see that this program is being expanded to my home community.”