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Healthy partnership: program pairs up new moms, nurses

Bethany Hagman, background, watched fondly as her daughter Kennedy greeted nurse Lois Peters during a recent home visit. Peters visits the Hagmans on a regular basis as part of the Supporting Hands Nurse-Family Partnership program.

Thanks to a program that partners registered nurses with new moms, first-time and single mother Bethany Hagman is parenting her daughter, Kennedy, with confidence.
Hagman, of Lester Prairie, became pregnant when she was 17 years old.
“Yeah, I was scared,” said Hagman.
Although she had grown up with younger siblings, whom she helped care for, Hagman didn’t feel she was entirely prepared for motherhood on her own.
Her doctor referred Hagman to the Supporting Hands Nurse-Family Partnership program, which pairs up first-time parents with a nurse, who provides health, emotional and educational support for the first two years of the child’s life.
Karol Kiefer, an outreach worker for the Nurse-Family Partnership, said the program is geared toward low-income mothers.
“Evidence shows that low-income, first-time mothers don’t have much support or opportunities,” said Kiefer. The goal of the partnership program is to change that — to provide new mothers with the tools they need to become successful parents.
Kiefer said the program has proven itself — mothers who participate have improved pregnancy outcomes, better child health and development and improved economic self-sufficiency of the mother and family.
In fact, the program has shown:
• A 48 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect.
• A 56 percent reduction in emergency room visits for accidents and poisoning.
• A 59 percent reduction in child arrests at age 15.
• A 67 percent reduction in behavioral and intellectual programs at age 6.
• 35 percent fewer hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
The service is free — paid for through county, state and insurance programs, and is confidential and non-judgmental.
It’s a federal program, and there are 12 nurses available in a 20-county coalition in the southwest part of the state, which includes McLeod County. Mothers are referred through Social Services, their health care practitioner, WIC and other programs.
For more about the program, see the May 16 print edition of The Chronicle.