2013: Women to Watch

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Many people seek to change the world.

For Kelly Traylor, Nurse Supervisor for the Northeast Collaborative Nurse-Family Partnership, she intends to do so in her own home area one young mom at a time.

In a little less than a year Traylor has been on the job she has seen improvement in the lives of the mothers and their children the nationally recognized, evidence-based program serves in Hertford, Halifax, Northampton and Edgecombe counties.

“I think everything has gone great,” she said. “We’re at about half way to the maximum case load. We can serve 100 moms currently with the staff that we have and we’re over 50. We’re steadily enrolling.”

Traylor added many of the young moms are going back to school, to college, have graduated from education programs, getting jobs and the children’s fathers are involved as well.

“Women have made progress over the years, obviously, but there’s still in this low-income population; all they know is the system,” she said. “What this program does is help empower these moms that there is life past that, that you can provide for yourself and your family, you can be a leader.”

Nurse-Family Partnership (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 Medicaid eligible and must enter the program prior to their 26th week in pregnancy.

Last August, the program was officially launched in the four counties (the first-four county initiative in the country) through the Northampton County Health Department, which administers the program. The Northeast Collaborative NFP site 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.

Traylor said she first found out about NFP while doing research in college.

“I ran across it and it was actually in Greensboro, the program that I looked at, and I always thought it would be in a big city,” she said. “I never thought it would be something rural, so it’s great that we have this resource.”

The Littleton native was urged by her late grandmother, Christine “Tina” Traylor, to get into the medical field.

Traylor said her grandmother was in the hospital a lot and encouraged her granddaughter to be a doctor.

“And finally I said, ok, I’ll compromise I’ll be a nurse,” she recalled. “That’s been my driving force for all my education,” she said. “She was definitely a big influence on my nursing.”

Traylor attended East Carolina University and graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

After graduation she worked in-patient hospital nursing as well as travel nursing.

“I actually spent time in Flagstaff, Arizona working with the Hopi and Navajo (Native American) population. That was pretty interesting and I really enjoyed that. So when I came back home my intentions were to find something in public health so that’s what I steered my focus towards,” she said.

She went on to graduate from George Washington University with a Masters Degree in nursing with a concentration in clinical research.

“So I was searching for something that was going to be challenging and yet very beneficial to the public,” she said. “I have a passion for public health and ran across Nurse-Family Partnership. I actually ran across the website first and saw where they had the opening here. …It being an evidence-based program I thought it was right up my alley.”

Traylor came on board with the Northampton County Health Department in April to supervise the four nurses who work with the clients.

In her role as supervisor, Traylor meets with the nurses each week to give them guidance and support. She also keeps the staff updated on any new or already existing resources from which the moms and babies can benefit.

In addition to working with the staff, Traylor is essentially the face of the Northeast Collaborative Nurse-Family Partnership. She goes out into the community to meet with different partners and educate them about the program.

“It’s a lot of outreach,” she said. “It’s a lot of staying connected.”

Traylor also finds ways to reward the young mothers as they reach goals they have set.

Working with positive discipline and creating that bond between mother and child as well as mother and nurse are key to building the young women’s confidence as mothers.

“The nurses are not only nurses, they’re life coaches, they’re friends, they’re support where these moms don’t have support,” she said.

Traylor said the nurses meet with the clients either weekly or biweekly, sometimes monthly depending on what the mom has going on.

Through those home visits the nurses build that connection and work with the mother on having a healthy pregnancy and focus on goals like going back to school getting a job, working on the father’s relationship with the family.

“There are so many things a new mom wants to know,” she said. “It’s a really great time to make that connection when these moms are so open to learning this and seeing them and the connections that they make.”

Since NFP began in North Carolina in 2000 the program has served thousands of mothers and is operated in 18 counties in the state. In North Carolina, 89 percent of babies born to NFP moms were full-term and at a healthy weight.

Additionally, 72 percent of mothers enrolled in NFP have no subsequent pregnancies at program completion (more than two years).

“It’s showing that they don’t go into the court system, they have increased distance in between birth spacing, they get off welfare sooner,” she said. “The big thing for me is the development piece. The kids come into kindergarten more prepared and it’s a constant progression, a constant learning and they have the confidence. It’s about breaking those cycles which you would expect from a kid whose mom was low-income, didn’t have the support and now that mom has paved the way for her children to have a better future.”

Traylor also noted the benefits of NFP goes beyond the moms, children, but to the community as well.

“The financial return is amazing,” she said. “For every $1 spent on this program it yields over $5 in return.”

Being from the area and being a mother to a toddler herself, Traylor knows the need for the program in the area. 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.

Traylor credited Sue Gay, the Northampton County Health Director, for fighting to get this program in the area.

“Thank goodness she (Gay) did because it’s a huge, huge need,” she said. “It motivates me more being from here. You want to win, you want to be the best.”

Just recently the program expanded to partner with Northampton County Schools to help young women continue their education while handling the duties of being a mother.

Student mothers that meet NFP requirements and attend Northampton County Schools will be able to receive one elective credit for their participation in the program.

“Around last August and September we, Sue and myself, started having the conversation because I heard about other sites that had it and we wanted to figure out how to get it here,” Traylor said.

Traylor put together a 500-page packet and proposal as to why the program should be considered a curriculum. Gay presented it to Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy and the idea became the first of its kind in the state.

The young ladies that participate will have to complete 14 home visits and pass 11 of the 14.

“With the home visits we go over facilitators and go into a lot of detail and there’s fill in the blanks and different activities that encourage that learning of the material,” Traylor said. “The nurse will leave the facilitator with the mom to complete and then go over it the next time.”

As for the future of NFP in the area, Traylor hopes to continue to stay involved and that the program will continue to grow in the state.

“This is kind of paving the way—small steps,” she said. “It plants that seed, it empowers that mom at different intervals in her life and in turn will make her a strong woman in the community to help other moms eventually. That’s what we want, to break that cycle of dependency and start this independence.”