Public Health Nurses Go Wild after Catching MCH Fever!

Submitted By

Kathy E. Loughrie and Kathryn C. Boylan
Elyria CIty Health Department and Lorain City Health Department, Ohio
January 6, 2014

Passionate about Public Health? Think Women and Children are OUR Future? Have BIG IDEAS on how to make a difference but Little Money to do SO? DON’T GIVE UP! Dream Out loud and on-paper: Write a NACCHO Grant! Don’t be afraid to hold the Money Men/Decision Makers Hostage for an hour or so to make your case for change….YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

The cornerstone of a community’s health is reflected in the health and well being of its women and children. Public health nurses have long focused on these our most vulnerable members of our community. As nurses in local public health departments we have given birth to prenatal care, vaccination clinics and prenatal care coordination home visits. Our rich history of service for women and children must be recognized and serve as a catalyst to propel today’s practitioners into the next frontier of service. For the past 20+ years, the Child and Family’s Health Consortium (CFHS) has focused on direct care services….as the shift away from direct health care has occurred in Public Health, the CFHS Consortium has decided to drive looking ahead into the windshield at the health care landscape instead of driving through the rearview mirror. The success of this project lies at the core of this premise.

Women leaders from various arenas of practice came together to look at launching a Maternal and Child Health web site specific to Lorain County that would increase linkage between parents, providers and practitioners at all levels. These women started a dialogue amongst themselves that spread to other community partners which began with a “what if, how can we and what’s next” conversation. Together the group championed the MCH.Net/PH.Net project and encouraged local proprietary partners to participate in educational sessions related to launching a PH.Net web site. Their outreach included multiple conversations with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) as to how we can make this happen.

At the time of this writing the group has a “promise” from the Ohio Department of Health to purchase PH.Net for each local health department is spring 2014. When this occurs, the group will garner local funding to support the building of a bookshelf for the MCH population that will specifically address this population on the web site. Their collective “excitement” has meant that the group has come together to explore other funding opportunities to advance the needs/health issues of the MCH population and they are currently working on collaborating on a HRSA grant application to do just that.

Collaboration, coordination, and sharing are essential in Public Health. Public Health Nurses have, can and do make a difference in the lives of the community that they serve. We can not afford, however, to perform our work n the same manner. We must learn from our rich history of service and move towards working not harder or with less but differently....and that may mean rethinking our practice, embracing not balking at change and sharing limited resources. We Can Do It!

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