BEND, Ore. - The Redmond Medical Staff is donating $10,000 to Deschutes County Health Services' Nurse Family Partnership, a program that introduces vulnerable first-time parents to caring maternal and child health nurses in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties.
In past years, the staff has awarded small scholarships to Redmond and Crook County high school students planning to pursue careers in the health field, said Dr. Nathan Boddie, a hospitalist with St. Charles Medical Group. This year, the medical staff decided to also fund a public health program as part of the health system's broader efforts to improve the overall health of the community.
"I approached the Deschutes County Health office and we identified a few programs that were either in their early phase or would benefit from some additional funds," Boddie said. "I think we see many marginalized families in Redmond — people who, for financial or social reasons, are challenged by first-time pregnancies. It just seemed like a good way for our donation to maximally benefit the community."
Since 2011, the Nurse Family Partnership has allowed Central Oregon nurses to deliver the support first-time moms need to have a healthy pregnancy, become knowledgeable and responsible parents and provide their babies with the best possible start in life. To date, the program has served 175 families.
"We were thrilled to hear of the contribution — not only because of the generous amount, but also because it seemed like a vote of confidence in this evidence-based program in which we really believe," said Kate Moore, program manager for maternal child health at Deschutes County Health Services.
The donated money, she said, will be used to help cover the cost of client incentives — small gift cards, for example — that help build a trusting relationship with women and keep them engaged in the program. It will also be used to pay for a mother or child's unmet basic needs for which there are no other resources.
"The medical literature has shown that this sort of financial incentive and social support is the best way to influence population health and improve individual health outcomes," Boddie said.
The Nurse Family Partnership receives referrals from community partners and area physicians. There are currently more than 100 women on a waiting list for the program, which triages patients and serves those who are at highest risk first.
"It's really about changing the life course for the mother and the baby," Moore said.