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Maternal Support Program Pays Off for Moms, Kids, Hospital

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, July 15, 2014

A nurse CEO describes the "good investment" her hospital has made in a 20-year-old program that sends specially trained nurses into the homes of low-income women during pregnancy and early childhood.

The nurse CEO at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis knows firsthand the power of nurses working in the community.

"There's a great deal of need with young mothers and their children suffering from lack of prenatal care," says Meri Armour, MSN/MBA, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital's president and CEO. "Every family should have a nurse in it, just to be the interpreter."

In the late 1980s, Memphis was one of the first cities to pilot the Nurse-Family Partnership, a program that sends specially trained nurses to visit low-income women in their homes during their first pregnancy and throughout the first two years of their children's lives.

When Armour stepped in as CEO in 2007, she wanted to bring the program to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. It's been in place there since 2010.

"We think that is a good investment," Armour says. "If there are good moms, there will be good kids eventually. There will be a trickle-down effect."

The Nurse-Family Partnership at Le Bonheur is free to participants, who must be first-time, low-income, pre-natal mothers who reside in Memphis/Shelby County. It's funded by Le Bonheur and by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Health.

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