Moms in Lamar County Get Support Through Case Management ProgramPrint This Post
BY DIANA ST.LIFER
Few things give Naomi Hartman more pleasure than seeing a healthy, thriving baby, especially one who came into the world underweight. “It’s fantastic to see these kids who were so small and at such a disadvantage doing really great,” said Hartman, a registered nurse at Upson Regional Medical Center and case manager for the Low-Birthweight (LBW) initiative in Lamar County.
Hartman recalls one baby who was born weighing less than two pounds. “He had to go to all kinds of medical specialists for vision problems and developmental delays,” she said. “Now his eyes are fine and he’s walking and talking, and even fighting with his brother.”
But not all babies are so lucky, which is why the case management program is such an integral part of Lamar’s LBW initiative. The program is funded through the March of Dimes and has been in full force for just over a year.
Hartman makes home visits to women who have had LBW babies or are at high-risk for a LBW delivery. She’s working with 17 mothers who have delivered a LBW baby in the past two years, and 12 pregnant women who are at risk for a LBW delivery. The goal is to follow up regularly with the women and their families for up to two years during the program and provide them with ongoing health education related to birth spacing (waiting at least two years between pregnancies), pre-conceptual health for the woman, and overall health for the family.
“People learn best where they are most comfortable,” Hartman said. “Most moms feel safe in their homes so they are more open to absorbing the information and education.” Being in the home also gives Hartman the opportunity to see for herself what may not otherwise be communicated. “Even though I’m there primarily to help the women make healthier choices, there’s also a social services piece to what I do. If I’m in the home I can smell for tobacco use and see for myself how the baby is doing and if the other children look well nourished.”
The women come into the program through the Health Department and are tracked throughout their pregnancy and several months after birth.
“We already have a large data base that includes the women’s age, educational level, and medical history,” Hartman said. “We are getting a rich set of demographic information that will help us with research down the road.”
When she’s not meeting or talking with the women in the program, Hartman is reviewing the data. “We want to have a better understanding of why these babies are born underweight,” she said. “What do the mothers have in common?”
One 31-year-old mother in the program said she is happy to be contributing to the effort to decrease the number of LBW babies in the county. Both her daughters were LBW. Now 4 years old and 17 months, both girls are doing well. Their mother, who asked to remain anonymous, is grateful for her interactions with Hartman, particularly when she was having issues nursing her younger daughter. “She helped me a lot during that time,” she said. “She gave me a lot of support and was there to listen what I was going through.”
Diana St. Lifer is a professional writer with more than 25 years’ experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications, a post-B.A. certificate in child advocacy, and is a certified professional life coach who specializes in teen and adolescent issues.
If anyone knows that healthy women have a better chance of giving birth to healthy babies, it’s Sherry Farr. As the nurse manager for the Lamar County Health Dept., Farr has seen her share of Low Birthweight (LBW) babies born in a county that has struggled for years with a LBW rate higher than the state’s.
Read “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies.”
Low birthweight, childhood obesity, and a literacy gap are serious threats to the well-being of Georgia’s families and children. Recognizing the impact these pressing issues have on the state’s health, safety, and ability to prosper, Georgia Family Connection Partnership has launched three initiatives dedicated to developing and implementing strategies that address these key indicators.
Read “Eleven Family Connection Collaboratives Team Up to Tackle Key Indicators of Child and Family Well-Being.”