Health Care Heroes: Welcome Home program|
July 13, 2012
At Mount Carmel Health System, the final phase of care after the birth of a child occurs in an unusual setting – the patient’s home.
The health system sends nurses into private homes to do a follow-up evaluation of mom and baby within the first two weeks of discharge.
The Welcome Home visits give new moms the chance to ask questions, have their baby weighed and receive personal attention from a health-care provider, said Mary Jo Dickinson, clinical manager for the program. The nurses take the vital signs of mom and baby.
Most moms really appreciate that a nurse is coming to their home ready to answer questions or listen to their concerns, she said.
“Having a professional come into your home and say ‘You’re doing a great job,’ means a lot,” she said.
The visits typically last between one and two hours. Dads, grandmothers or other family members are welcome to sit in on the visit. They often cover eating, breastfeeding, car seat safety and postpartum depression.
“We want moms to be aware of the signs and signals of depression. What is normal baby blues and what is not,” Dickinson said.
The nurses try to find out whether the new moms have enough help managing an infant, Dickinson said. It may be the case they are alone in caring for their newborns.
“Sometimes we find moms don’t have a lot of support,” she said. “We refer them to community agencies that can help the mothers. We know that moms do better with support.”
The ability to visit with new parents in their homes often gives the nurses the opportunity to spot potential problems.
“When you are walking into homes, you can see a red flag that you can’t see at a pediatrician’s office,” she said.
Most mothers in the program receive only one visit but the nurses will return if there are issues with baby’s weight gain, mom’s blood pressure or a concern about depression.
Last year, nurses visited more than 1,200 mothers. Since the program began in 1988, nurses have paid calls on more than 15,000 families, according to Mount Carmel.
The program was originally funded through government grants that no longer exist. Today, the Mount Carmel Foundation funds the program.
The change in funding has allowed the hospital system to send nurses into other counties and make return visits to the patients they met with when it is deemed advisable.
“We’re thrilled to be able to continue this program,” Dickinson said. “This is the last step of having a baby at this hospital system.”