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ETSU garners $3.3M for program to help new moms

JOHNSON CITY (April 7, 2017) – Leaders in East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing recently began recruiting low-income, pregnant, first-time moms to take part in a program that aims to provide women with support to improve health outcomes for themselves and their babies.

“We’ll be working with these first-time moms throughout their pregnancies and up through when the children turn 2 years old,” said Dr. Patti Vanhook, associate dean of practice for the ETSU College of Nursing and director of the pilot program. “The goal is to ensure healthy pregnancies and healthy children.”

Through a $3.3 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services, the Nurse Family Partnership program at ETSU takes a two-generational approach to breaking the cycle of poverty. More than 40 years of evidence shows that Nurse Family Partnership has been successful in improving birth outcomes, child health and development, and the family’s economic self-sufficiency. It emphasizes providing the mothers with opportunities in four key areas – education; economic supports; health and well-being; and social capital.

“We are talking about things like educating the moms on responsible and competent care, helping them find employment, ensuring good preventative health practices during pregnancy and after, and helping them build a support network,” Vanhook explained. “We really want to help the women develop their skills and grow.”

A registered nurse will be assigned as a case manager for each of the participating women, making weekly visits during pregnancy and on a regular basis once the child is born.

“Essentially, they can have their own nurse throughout their pregnancy and those first two years of their child’s life,” Vanhook said. “In our research, we have seen that moms often wind up getting themselves out of poverty because they have that extra support, and, ultimately, they break the cycle of poverty for their children. It’s really a great program.”

The program is available for free and on a volunteer basis to low-income, pregnant, first-time moms in Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties. The ETSU College of Nursing is undertaking the effort in conjunction with ETSU’s Center for Community Outreach and Applied Research. A community advisory board also has been developed to help guide the program.

To learn more about eligibility or for more information, contact Trish Furches, nursing director, by calling or texting 423-900-3160.

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