FCI Voices: The Importance of Nurse Home Visiting & its Role in Detecting Birth Defects

Universal nurse home visiting for newborns and their families is our priority at Family Connects International. We have made it our mission to strengthen connections for families with newborns and link them directly to health and community care resources. Learn more about Family Connects International today!

In our last blog featuring FCI Voices, Family Connects Pierce County shared their journey to certification through Family Connects International. But what is the role of community partners and why is the work they do imperative to ensuring equitable care for every family and newborn? In this blog, we will learn from FCI’s Acting CEO Jenny Jensen, MSN, MPH, RN, just how important community partners and nurses are to providing postnatal care, including detecting birth defects and connecting all families to needed resources.

Acting CEO Jenny Jensen, MSN, MPH, RN

What role do our community partners and nurses play in detecting birth defects and providing resources for healthy families?

When we do a home visit, we get to spend 1.5-2 hours with families. We are fortunate to not be rushed like you often feel in a clinic environment, so there’s plenty of time for families to share their concerns and for us to do a very thorough exam. For example, I once detected an unusual heart sound during a Family Connects home visit and notified the baby’s pediatrician, who ended up referring the baby to a cardiologist. Family Connects nurses are also experts on community resources and benefits, like care coordinators for babies with complex medical needs and early intervention services for those with developmental delays. If families are interested, we will help them connect with these services.

How does FCI’s universal home visiting model contribute to equitable outcomes for every newborn?

Family Connects is available for every family. We know that everyone needs support when they bring home a baby, whether it’s help with physical recovery, breastfeeding, dealing with postpartum depression, or accessing practical needs like food and diapers. Family Connects support is tailored to the needs, priorities, and preferences of each family.

What is your vision for FCI and its community partners? Where do you hope to see FCI going to expand its universal care approach?

I want FCI to continue to develop innovative ways to provide high-quality support for our community partners. That is what helps to enable our partners to provide innovative and high-quality support for families and communities. I am incredibly proud of our organization and the ways that we are continually improving our matrixed support for partners. In just the past year we have enhanced our customized database, launched webinars and annual awards programs, developed a policy dashboard, and instituted regular nursing office hours. As we innovate, I am committed to being responsive to the requests and priorities of our community partners.

I think the next phase of universal care is to not only offer Family Connects to every family in a community but also offer Family Connects to every community! We are operating in a few dozen counties and cities across 19 states, but most Americans do not yet have access to Family Connects. We need policymakers, health systems, and payers to commit to a new system of care in the fourth trimester that provides access to evidence-based nurse home visits for all families.

Thank you, Jenny! Interested in launching a Family Connects Partnership? Visit FamilyConnects.org today to learn more!

This Friday, February 2nd, Jennifer Jensen will be presenting alongside Lori Sprecher and Pilar Olivo (Family Connects Frederick) at the 2024 National Home Visiting Summit! The 60-minute workshop session, “Redesigning Postpartum Health Care to Include Universal Nurse Home Visits.” Register today to attend!

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