Helping hands: Nurse Family Partnership gives assistance to first-time moms
By Patricia Doty

Nurse Family Partnership is a life-changing program that combines compassion with science. Operating quietly within Home Nursing Agency are three dedicated nurses who have embraced this idea. Kim Bahnsen, Tammy Hughes and myself are Centre County’s stewards of the program. NFP is a nationally recognized, evidence-based community health program for soon-to-be new mothers.

“All mothers have questions. ‘What is normal in pregnancy? How do I care for my baby? Where do I get help?’ These questions are even more important when that new mother may lack adequate support or resources,” said Bahnsen, who is the program supervisor.

The NFP nurses can provide answers to the questions new mothers have and help expand their access to resources. For a vulnerable family, the NFP nurse can reach out in ways others cannot. Nurses are trusted, respected, accessible figures with specialized health care knowledge. The program allows the nurse time to get to know each client. Visits typically last an hour, during which the nurse approaches the client without judgment or personal agenda, listening to her concerns.

The nurse-family relationship begins as early as possible in the mother’s pregnancy. Nurses visit clients regularly throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the child’s first two years. During visits, the nurse helps the mother to identify her goals and provides information on how to meet those goals.

“It is a privilege to help mothers achieve a healthy pregnancy and baby, support the baby’s growth and development and improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family,” Hughes said.

The nurse also helps the mother build a strong network of support, make her home safe and provides referrals for healthcare, child care, job training and other support services.

Supported by 30 years of randomized controlled studies, NFP is much more than a heartfelt social program. Research has shown less child and substance abuse, higher rates of employment and better school outcomes for families who participate. David Olds, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado and founder of Nurse Family Partnership, summarizes the program, “Terrible things can be prevented and good things can be made to happen with the involvement of nurses with these families early in their (babies’) lives.”

In addition to Centre County, Home Nursing Agency implements the program in Blair, Huntingdon, Cambria, Clearfield and Jefferson counties. More information about NFP can be found at; www.homenursingagency or by calling Home Nursing Agency’s Nurse Family Partnership at 800-315-4358.

Patricia Doty, RN, MSN, is a home nurse visitor with Nurse Family Partnership.