It’s an honor and a privilege to be welcomed into the home of a young parent, mentoring them as educator and counselor through a healthy pregnancy and into a new life as a family unit. This is the work of nurse home visitors in the Detroit Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) and the work at which Maria Lebron, B.S.N., excels in.
Her colleagues at Authority Heath voted her Employee of the Year for 2016.
Ms. Lebron joined the Authority Health NFP program in 2015 as one of ten nurse home visitors. The program serves up to 250 first-time mothers in Detroit.
Ms. Lebron received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Wayne State University, where she graduated summa cum laude from the Irvin Reid Honors College.
“I love that every day I get to partner alongside families as they transition toward an experience as monumental as parenthood,” she says. “I have the privilege to meet a woman in the prenatal period and support her alongside her journey until her child turns two years old.” She enjoys educating her clients and identifying resources to help overcome barriers to meeting the needs of their lives. “The best part of my work is the long-term nature of my care and the frequency I get to see my clients.”
A significant aspect of the Authority Health mission involves promoting the health of vulnerable populations, one of which is low income young pregnant women and their babies. Assuring access to maternal health care is essential in combating infant mortality and early childhood development. “I can further my clients’ care by stressing the importance to obtain prenatal care, connect them to transportation or housing resources, and give them well-rounded holistic care,” she says. “This ultimately decreases health disparities within our community. The evidence behind NFP points toward achieving improved prenatal health, fewer childhood injuries, and enhanced economic self-sufficiency for families.”
NFP nurses initially meet with their clients on a weekly basis, then bi-weekly for the majority of the program. The final months are on a monthly basis. They are available by phone and can increase their visit schedule should clients need enhanced support at any time during the program. The nurses look after their clients’ clinical and social needs, but “sometimes people need someone who has faith in them and simply makes that message clear. I have faith in every client I meet and I feel lucky to cheer them on the whole way as they realize that they are indeed doing great.”
She says that “whether it’s teaching about safe sleep or supporting my client as she makes goals for her educational aspiration, I feel honored to do this work. This is important because these women are making decisions that are impacting not only themselves but their child – and this, in turn, is creating a powerful change in the next generation.
“I get to see my clients take a life-changing experience like pregnancy and turn it into a life- improving experience. My clients take their pregnancy as an opportunity to improve their health, their lives, and set a new life for themselves and the new life they’re bringing into the world. I get to see women become mothers, men become fathers, and children be born into a life that is built on the foundation of hope.”