Bethlehem News

Published on November 6th, 2017


Pennsylvania Auditor General Praises St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale visited St. Luke’s University Health Networks’ Nurse-Family Partnership, learning how the innovative program helps prevent child abuse and build healthy families.

St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership connects local mothers living in poverty to a personal nurse, beginning in early pregnancy and continuing over the first 1,000 days of the infant’s life to assess and aid in quality of life issues.

“What I learned today is that there is hope,” DePasquale said. “While the child-welfare system is reactive to abuse and neglect, the Nurse-Family Partnership is proactive in preventing maltreatment from ever occurring.”

St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership is the local chapter of the national non-profit Nurse-Family Partnership, and relies on public support to positively impact quality of life issues for impoverished mothers and their new children.

In addition to staff and board members of St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership on Monday, DePasquale met with Dr. David Olds, who founded the national program. The visit was part of DePasquale’s tour following his 80-page “State of the Child” special report, which found that Pennsylvania’s child-welfare system is broken.

Through the program, nurses conduct home assessments, along with providing critical education on health, parenting, child development and setting life goals. Among those who spoke with DePasquale were two mothers who have been through the program and the nurses who worked with them.

“This program model is heavily research based and has been proven to help break the cycle of poverty and child abuse,” DePasquale said. “Prevention is truly one of the best ways to save children’s lives.

“I wholeheartedly agree with something the nurses in the program say: ‘It’s easier to build a healthy child than to fix a broken adult.'”

St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership received $965,000 in state grant money during the 2016-17 financial year to account for approximately three-quarters of the program’s $1.3 million budget to aid 250 first-time families in Lehigh and Northampton counties, making it one of the largest Nurse-Family Partnership providers in the Commonwealth.

St. Luke’s Outcomes:

  • 90% of our mothers initiated breastfeeding
  • 90% of babies born to mothers in our program were born at healthy weights
  • 100% of children in our NFP program at 24 months were up to date on immunizations
  • Of the mothers who entered the program without a high school diploma or GED, 78% had either received their GED or high school diploma or were enrolled to complete it at the time they completed the NFP program
  • 70% of our mothers 18 and older were working at the time of graduation of the NFP program
  • 86% of our moms graduating our program postponed having their second baby beyond 2 years

St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership, a program of the Visiting Nurse Association of St. Luke’s formed in 2001, first focused solely on Bethlehem, but the home-centered program expanded services to include Easton and Allentown in 2008.

“The St Luke’s Network is strongly committed to the goal of creating healthy communities which begins with improving the health and well-being of women, infants, children, and families,” said St. Luke’s NFP Program Manager Tiffany Grabinski.

Since its formation in 2001, St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership has enrolled more than 2,500 mothers and graduated 744 families from the program. First-time, low income mothers less than 28 weeks into their pregnancy are encouraged to apply for the program.

See the Auditor General’s news release about the visit.

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