ETSU’s college of nursing receives $3.3M grant to help low-income, first-time moms

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Leaders at East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing recently began a pilot program that aims to help low-income, pregnant, first-time moms.

The program recently received a $3.3 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services. The fund goes directly to the Nurse-Family Partnership program at ETSU.

Its aim is to provide women with support to help break the cycle of poverty and 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.”

ETSU says more than 40 years of evidence shows that its Nurse Family Partnership has been successful in improving birth outcomes, child health and development, and the family’s economic self-sufficiency.

The program focuses on offering moms support in the following key areas — education; economic; 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.”
How does it work?

A registered nurse is assigned as a case manager to 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 free and is available on a volunteer basis to low-income, pregnant, first-time moms in Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties.

This effort is in conjunction with ETSU’s Center for Community Outreach and Applied Research. The program is guided by a community advisory.

To see if you are eligible or for more information call or text nursing director Trish Furches at 423-900-3160.

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