Following several months of planning and generating community support, Indian River Healthy Start recently announced that it launched the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) program in
August, which will locally serve 25 first-time mothers in the Gifford area. The Nurse Family Partnership is closely aligned with the nonprofit organization’s mission to establish and support a local system of care that optimizes the health of moms, babies and their families living in Indian River County, Florida.

The impetus to bring Nurse Family Partnership to the community was brought about to focus on a need identified by the Indian River County Community Needs Assessment, which
demonstrated tremendous needs in the area of maternal and infant health for black women in the county. Program goals specifically address improved access to high quality preventive care and
improved access to high quality services that promote healthy habits and decrease infant mortality.

As part of this launch, Cheryl Martinez R.N. has joined Healthy Start. In her role as NFP Nurse Practitioner, Martinez will provide services that empower first-time moms to transform their
lives and create a better future for themselves and their babies. This is accomplished through one-on-one home visits provided by the R.N. from early prenatal (preferably first trimester) stages through the baby’s second birthday. Families receive home visits at different levels throughout the three-year period with weekly visits in the first trimester of pregnancy and first six weeks following childbirth and transitioning to biweekly and monthly visits until the child reaches two years old.

“Cheryl’s clinical background in maternal health provides an ideal foundation for the Nurse Family Partnership,” explained Andrea Berry, CEO of Indian River Healthy Start Coalition.
“She will address not only the medical aspect, but the social component of family structure. Through a close mother-nurse relationship, first-time mothers will gain the necessary skills to
maintain a stable family and home environment and the confidence to put them into action.”

Although establishing the program in Indian River County required a multi-county effort, including Martin, Brevard and St. Lucie counties, to secure incentive funding, each entity established matching grant funding resources within its own community along with local partnerships and key collaborators. Locally NFP is supported through grants from United Way of Indian River County, John’s Island Community Service League and Indian River Hospital District.

The Nurse Family Partnership is located at The Gifford Health Center, which has undergone a transformation from a pediatrics center to an all-inclusive center for women and children,
bringing together pediatrics, prenatal care and mental health. Healthy Start Coalition’s Education Services will also be included under one roof at the Center.

Indian River Healthy Start Coalition, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, was founded in Vero Beach in 1993. Its vision is to see that every infant has the opportunity for good health and
positive early learning experiences that unfold within strong family relationships. To learn more about programs available for every mother, family and baby born in Indian River County, visit
irchealthystart.org.

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