Deborah Bunn, Executive Director at Northeast Nebraska Family Health Services
For the past 30 years, Deborah has worked with low-income women and families at the Northeast Nebraska Family Health Services (NENFHS), a non-profit organization. “A large focus within our organization has always been birth defects prevention, and in the past couple years, our health care providers have begun educating all women about how to reduce their risks for birth defect-affected pregnancies,” says Deborah.
This past year the NENFHS was awarded a Title V, Maternal and Child Health grant through which they will distribute free folic acid supplements to all women they serve. “This grant program is extremely important to us since 95% of the women we see are low income women, and 60% are below the U.S. poverty level,” says Deborah.
The goals for the grant program are twofold. The first goal is to reduce the number of preterm births and low birth weight infants in the community by providing outreach to pregnant women. The program will assess risk factors and provide appropriate information and interventions to reduce those risks. Local health departments and physicians will provide continued prenatal care to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and a positive birth outcome.
The second goal is to implement a preconception care model targeting all women of childbearing age. “Seventy-five percent of the clients we serve are under 30 years of age, thereby falling into the category of women of childbearing age,” says Deborah. All women visiting the clinic for an annual routine exam or a pregnancy test will receive a preconception care packet that contains a questionnaire on their reproductive plan and educational materials on the importance of taking folic acid daily; maintaining a healthy weight; abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs; and making sure that diabetes is—and stays—in control before and during pregnancy. Folic acid supplements will also be provided to these women. A health care provider will go through the packet with each woman and answer any questions the woman may have concerning preconception health care.
“Over the past three years we have used a lot of the CDC folic acid educational materials. That will increase even more now since the educational materials in the preconception care packet on the importance of folic acid are from the CDC,” says Deborah.
Besides the Title V grant program and the Title X Reproductive Health Program, Deborah stays busy by administering the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Program and hosting a successful support group for pregnant teens. According to Deborah, “Our support group had 55 young women participating last year, and all of the women had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. This group has served as a focus group for our preconception care strategies.”
The Title V Maternal and Child Health grant program will be launched January 1, 2009.
For more information on NENFHS or to contact Deborah Bunn, please visit their website at http://www.fremontfamilyplanning.com/.