By Naeisha Rose
The Langston Hughes Cultural Center in Corona hosted Oct. 26 its eighth graduation of first-time mothers who were paired with nurse home visitors through Public Health Solutions’ Nurse-Family Partnership program.
One of the largest health nonprofits serving New York City, Public Health Solutions’ initiative pairs women of color or low-income women who had their first child with professional nurses who provide support to mother and child, according to PHS.
Selene Alatorre, 24, of Rego Park, was one of the young moms to complete the program and with the help of her nurse partner, she learned that that her son was on the autism spectrum.
“I learned the different milestones that my son had to go through,” said Alatorre. “That is how I noticed that my son has a delay. I realized that there were certain things that he wasn’t doing when he was supposed to be doing it.”
By learning that her son was on the autism spectrum, she was able to act fast and get emotional support from her nurse, Lauren Brown.
“Speaking to Lauren has made my husband and I stronger,” said Alatorre. “We were able to go through the steps of putting him in early intervention and getting him the help that he needs.”
With Brown’s help, Alatorre and her husband Fidnceo Mendoza learned how much of what type of healthy food her son needed to eat and how to cook it.
“We try to stay away from sour foods like pineapples,” said Alatorre. “There were some things like broccoli, that I didn’t like myself that I learned to cook to make it with a little salt.”
Alatorre, who is a teacher’s assistant, was also able to get back to work without feeling the pressure to stay home.
“I got back to work and Lauren helped me in not feeling guilty for leaving my son after six months,” said Alatorre. “She made me feel proud of that. Some moms just want to be home, but I’m not that kind of person. I’ve always been that kind of person that always wanted to work.”
Brown, Alatorre’s nurse who has been a part of the Nurse-Family Partnership for six years was also at the graduation.
“The nurses here visit first-time moms from pregnancy until their child turns two,” said Brown. “We do biweekly visits with mom, baby, and also dad or any other partner who is involved.”
The NFP program focuses on wellness and preventative care, and nurses in the program screen for post-partum depression or post-partum anxiety, Brown added. They also make sure pregnant mothers are eating the right foods and that babies are eating the right food as well.
The nurses help mothers who want to go back to school or work and are also able to screen children for developmental disorders, according to Brown.
“One of the big benefits of the program is that if there is a developmental issue, our moms tend to find out much sooner than a mom who doesn’t have a nurse,” she said. “One of the greatest things about nurse visiting is that the nurse is in the home and is in the environment.”
The Nurse-Family Partnership began 15 years ago with the city’s Health Department, according to Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the acting commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The program has lead to good birth outcomes, and more breastfeeding for mothers, which means better immunization for children. The program has also resulted in children having less emotional and behavioral problems as they develop.
“Since that time we have provided services for over 16,000 families,” said Barbot. “Evidenced-based leads to better outcomes for children and mothers.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose