Northwest Colorado Health: Nurse-family partnership program helps families thrive
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Being a first-time mom is a lot to handle. Having a personal nurse to help answer questions, provide advice and help make healthy choices is proven to help young mothers become relaxed and confident parents.
Nurse-Family Partnership is a free program, offered through Northwest Colorado Health, that helps women pregnant with their first child, who financially qualify, become the best mom she can be. Each expectant woman connects with her own personal nurse who works alongside her throughout her pregnancy until her child’s second birthday to help her accomplish her goals and give her child a healthier start.
According to Natalie Brooks, nurse home visitor with Northwest Colorado Health’s NFP program, the best part of being a nurse with NFP is the long-term interaction with the moms and the opportunity to build a relationship with clients over two years together. “The transition to parenthood is such a transformative time, and I feel lucky to witness that journey with clients. Oftentimes in health care, we only get to see people for a snapshot in time; with NFP, we get to see our clients on a regular basis and deepen our understanding of their values and aspirations.”
As an in-home nurse visitation program, COVID-19 required NFP nurses to shift quickly to be able to continue to connect virtually with families throughout the pandemic.
“Having a way to connect with my clients was an immediate challenge, especially in a rural area where phone and internet access are not necessarily readily or consistently available to these moms,” Brooks said. “The pandemic amplified the social disparities and infrastructure inequities that we saw play out across the country. Access to health care was no exception, and we had to rapidly adapt to bridging the gap in order to use telehealth.”
“For the day-to-day as nurses, we had to adjust to learning how to navigate new technology and learn strategies to make the most of video and telehealth,” Brooks said. “The challenges of the pandemic were bigger than us, and overcoming them took a lot of generosity and grace from all levels. Our clients were patient, our organization supportive, and we received some generous financial support to help bridge the technology gaps.”
After more than a year of supporting local mothers-to-be virtually, Northwest Colorado Health is celebrating the return of in-person visits for nurses and participants in the Nurse-Family Partnership program.
There are currently 36 families participating in Nurse-Family Partnership at Northwest Colorado Health in Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Jackson counties. Each NFP expertly trained nurse guides the expectant woman to improve her prenatal care — helping the new mom to have a healthy pregnancy, improve birth outcomes and her child’s health and development.
The nurse also supports the new mom to become economically self-sufficient — encouraging her to continue school and pursue her career goals. By strengthening families, Nurse-Family Partnership sparks multigenerational change and helps break cycles of poverty.
“Nurse-Family Partnership makes a long-lasting difference in the lives of children and families. It saves money, and communities are healthier and stronger for many generations,” said Susan Madigan, NFP supervisor with Northwest Colorado Health.
Over 40 years of evidence show that Nurse-Family Partnership improves birth outcomes, child development and school readiness, reduces child abuse, neglect and juvenile crime, among other outcomes.
Expectant women can contact Nurse-Family Partnership to see if they qualify for this program by visiting NorthwestColoradoHealth.org/nfp or by calling 970-871-7686.
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