Family Care: Nurses for Newborns
Adjusting to life with a baby can be difficult for any new parent, but especially for those who don’t have the necessary emotional and financial support. Nurses for Newborns (NFN) is here to help local families. The nonprofit provides in-home nurse visits, health care assistance, education and connections to resources. “The bottom line is that we want to make sure babies arrive at their first birthdays happy and healthy, and parents feel supported in their roles,” says CEO Melinda Ohlemiller.
Families are referred by local hospitals, clinics and social service agencies, or they come on their own. “We work to help any family that has a baby and needs support,” Ohlemiller says. “Most of our families have low incomes, but it’s not required.” The program offers home visits from nurses highly trained in mother-baby health. They perform health assessments, prepare a plan of action for the baby’s caregiver, and educate the parents for up to two years after the child’s birth.
Parents are instructed by NFN nurses on topics like infant CPR, feeding, and safe sleeping. Throughout a family’s time with NFN, the baby’s growth is monitored, and developmental screenings make sure everything is on track. The mother’s mental and physical health is also a priority, and screenings address any possible issues. Nurses also help the family access resources when needed. And parents don’t have to wait until the baby is born to receive services. NFN will connect mothers with prenatal health care and prepare them for the baby’s arrival.
To continue its care for the community, NFN has several important partnerships. “Our families have a lot of needs to address so they can be safe and comfortable,” Ohlemiller says. “Our partner organizations provide services and resources we don’t.” Partnerships include local hospitals, the Fathers Support Center and United Way. NFN works with the 24:1 Initiative to help families living in the Normandy School District. The program works to build a strong community, create engaged families and help children be successful. The nonprofit also partners with Parents as Teachers at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for the Raising St. Louis program, which helps build strong family units, reduce the infant mortality rate, promote literacy and increase access to health care. “We support infants and their parents, but the foundation we establish carries throughout childhood and hopefully beyond,” Ohlemiller says.
Currently, there is a wait list for some NFN services, but Ohlemiller says this is unusual, and the organization is working to help everyone as quickly as possible. “Babies really can’t wait; this is a critical time in their development,” she says. Such a demand makes the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser, Night for Newborns, even more important this year. The gala will be held Feb. 17 at The Sheldon and will be a lively evening of music, auctions and the presentation of the Champion for Families award. As Ohlemiller explains, the formula is a simple one: The more money NFN raises, the more moms and babies it can serve.
Nurses for Newborns provides a safety net for at-risk families to prevent infant mortality, child abuse and neglect by providing in-home nursing visits. Its annual Night for Newborns Gala will be held Feb. 17 at The Sheldon, and David and Thelma Steward will serve as honorary chairs. Pictured on the cover: Lupe Murillo Wink, LMSW; community health worker Mia Turner; Jennifer Crowell, RN; Gwen Stubblefield, RN, MSN. For more information, call 314.544.3433 or visit nursesfornewborns.org.
Cover design by Julie Streiler | Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography
Pictured above: Gwen Stubblefield, RN, MSN
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography