For decades, Carle’s Community Health Initiative has provided a safety net for people who experience inconsistent access to healthcare and services. As the initiative continues to expand, programs like Healthy Beginnings and the Mobile Health Clinic (MHC) go one step further and meet more of those most in need close to home.
Summer can be an especially important time for the Healthy Beginnings and mobile clinic teams to connect with potential patients as community members interact with neighbors, family and friends at events and focus on getting kids back to school.
Healthier beginnings, healthier families
In its almost two years, Healthy Beginnings provided in-home support to help improve the health of not only 335 mothers and babies but the entire participating family.
“We focus on small changes, which eventually lead to big changes. Often the small things take time to build on each other,” Healthy Beginnings nurse supervisor Sarah Lindstrom said. “When you are able to look back over a year or more, and see how far a client has come, you know the work you are doing – and the way you are doing it – is necessary.”
Due to the positive reputation the Healthy Beginnings is building, nearly 80 percent of eligible referred mothers enroll in the program – a huge success for such a new service. Lindstrom and her team know more than just their skilled training and compassionate care prompt this success.
“Every single person is 100 percent committed to making a change in this community one family at a time,” Lindstrom said.
The team tunes into the most helpful resources and support. Many clients weren’t considering using All About Baby prenatal education. Although courses are free or fees waived based on need, many Healthy Beginnings participants feared judgment from others in the classes. So the team brought All About Baby to them.
Urbana’s Ashli Anda who recently took the breastmilk pumping class, and said the information is valuable.
“The class was a good balance of the science of it all and practical tips to make it go smoothly,” she said. “We explored the parts of the pump. It was very hands– on and she offered many resources.”
Having worked in childcare for years, she said she knows how to care for babies and children but wasn’t sure how to be a mom. Her Healthy Beginnings nurse Anne helps.
“My relationship with her is wonderful. She’s a mom and a former Labor and Delivery nurse, so she walks me through what to expect and helps me plan,” Anda said. “I didn’t even really know what a birth plan was until she introduced it. Anything I don’t know, I just ask instead of scouring the internet.”
Anda is expecting her first baby – a boy – in October.
“Healthy Beginnings moms receive the same parenting education, but have the comfort of a smaller group and a familiar team,” Lindstrom said.
With direct health outcomes like increased prenatal care, increased well-child visits and immunization rates, it’s also important to address harder-to-measure areas like healthcare literacy and domestic violence.
“This information doesn’t end with our families. Our moms are sharing this information with their neighbors or other family members who aren’t in the same home, and this is exactly what we hoped would happen,” she said.
The Healthy Beginnings team has a keen understanding of how direct access to care can make an impact on the community.
Learn more next week about our Mobile Health Clinic.