VNA And Hospice Receive Early Maternity Discharge Grant

SPRINGFIELD — The MassMutual Community Fund of the United Way of Pioneer Valley has approved a $10,000 grant to the Visiting Nurse Assoc. and Hospice of Western New England to enhance its Early Maternity Discharge Program for high-risk teen mothers and their babies. 

The new funding will provide social work interventions for the most at-risk teenage mothers and their babies.

“For high-risk teen moms and their babies, home visits provide a unique opportunity to assess the new family in the home environment, to identify potential or current high-risk behaviors, and to initiate interventions for both the teen mom and baby at the earliest possible time,” said Laurie Bowers-Kane, clinical director of the Visiting Nurse Assoc. and Hospice of Western New England. “Most of these young moms are not connected to either medical or other support services such as social work, and our Early Maternity Discharge nurses are often the first opportunity to initiate intervention on their behalf.”

The Early Maternity Discharge Program provides postpartum care to new mothers and newborns following discharge from Baystate Medical Center’s Wesson Women and Infants Unit. Visiting nurses perform newborn assessments, including hydration, reflexes, jaundice, and more on the baby. In addition, the nurses assess the young mother’s physical and mental health and provide instruction about breastfeeding, nutrition, safety, and signs of illness or dysfunction.

With the new funding, Early Maternity Discharge nurses will continue to make the first home visit and will request social worker intervention for the most troubled new families. Social workers will assess the functioning of the family and explore the high-risk behaviors that put in jeopardy the health and future of both mother and baby. The social worker will then develop an intervention plan utilizing existing community services. During the second visit, the teen mother and social worker will review the intervention plan, and the social worker will obtain permission to proceed with referrals.