NorthShore promotes healthy pregnancies- Free programs focus on preventative care for all

Written by Carl Kurek. Posted in Community News, Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on July 16, 2014 with No Comments

Most educational programs offered through NorthShore Health Centers are held in the conference room of their Lake Station offices, located at 2490 Central Ave. in Lake Station, although some are held at off-site locations like Babies R' Us.

Most Northwest Indiana residents are familiar with NorthShore Health Centers because of the affordable healthcare they offer to the uninsured and underinsured in our area. However, since March the staff at NorthShore has put an emphasis on increasing the number of educational and preventative programs they offer, especially when it comes to prenatal care.

After taking on the position of Prenatal Care Coordinator Nurse Manager at NorthShore, Evelyn Turner made it her mission to build up the Prenatal Care Program and organize free prenatal educational classes that were open to anyone, not just patients of the clinic.

Turner credits her passion for prenatal care and education to the time she spent working in an area hospital. She said during that time she came to realize that the foundation for pregnancy education needed to begin during a patient’s prenatal care visits with their provider.

“Providers are on a time schedule, making it difficult to accomplish all of the educational needs that occur throughout pregnancy,” she said. “By building our Prenatal Care Program and partnering with various organizations, we are giving our patients every opportunity to gain this much needed knowledge.”

Family Care Coordinator Michelle Higel feels there is still a great deal of misunderstanding or lack of knowledge related to caring for an infant, specifically regarding babies sleeping with an adult in an adult bed, feeding babies solids too soon, and not seeing the pediatrician as often as is recommended. But she said families are responding very well to what they are learning in the programs.

The program for expecting mothers starts off with an initial visit that can either take place at home or in the office. Then during the first trimester, the focus is on providing as much in-home education to the expecting mother as possible. The second trimester is filled with fun and informative activities that are held at either the NorthShore offices or another location such as Babies R’ Us. During the third trimester, the mothers-to-be are treated to a baby shower-themed event and sent home with gifts.

As part of the programs, families are also connected with a variety of community programs and agencies that help address other non-medical needs.

“There is nothing more frustrating than lacking a basic need, like food or shelter, and not know where to start looking for help. Add the stress of caring for a newborn and these families quickly become overwhelmed,” Higel said. “Through our educational programs, families can do what they do best – care for their own.”

Turner said their objective is to promote early intervention in the hopes of reducing preterm deliveries, low birth weight infants and infant deaths. However, she knows that those things are still a reality, so she has plans to introduce a Bereavement Program by the end of the year for those patients who miscarry or have a stillborn.

“Unfortunately, there are situations that occur with pregnancy that are beyond our control, no matter how much educational support we provide,” Turner said.

“My mind is always thinking of new programs that I would like to see implemented to better service our prenatal care patients.”

NorthShore’s program offerings do not stop with pregnant women and new mothers, though. The clinic recently held an informational class for grandparents to ensure that those who are caring for their grandkids know the best practices according to the most recent research. They also hold monthly “Family Chats,” which are support meetings focusing on a different topic each month related to child development, parenting, wellness, nutrition and safety.

Higel personally understands the importance of bringing patients together who are experiencing similar needs in order to offer additional education, support and resources in a group setting.

“My daughter was born 16 weeks preterm and spent three months in a neonatal intensive care unit,” she said. “I attended a weekly family meeting that provided me with much needed support and education and I felt less alone, less afraid. I became a better parent because I was prepared and knowledgeable about the needs of my child.

“I am honored to be a part of each of our families’ journey into parenthood and strive to assist them with feeling confident in raising a healthy family.”

She has even developed a Facebook page titled “NWI Family Support” that allows her team to share information, discuss topics and answer questions with their families on a daily basis.

For more information on the services and programs offered through NorthShore Health Centers, call 219-763-8112 or visit www.northshorehealth.org.

Upcoming Events

Back to School Health Fair – July 14th – August 8th

No more than $25 out of pocket for School Physicals, Sports Physicals and Immunizations. Medicaid is no charge. Free Backpacks plus School supplies with School Physicals.

National Health Center Week – August 10th – 16th

Focus on Patient & Employee Appreciation. We will be offering free services such as Dental, A1C, Lipid, Bone Density and more. We will also be offering Health & Wellness mini sessions such as Healthy cooking, exercise and meat the Doctor education classes. At the end of the week, we will have a Fun Patient Appreciate Health Fair with hot dogs, popcorn, bouncy house, games as well as free blood pressure checks, dental screenings & more. For Employee appreciation we will be providing lunch and ice cream for our employees as well as play NorthShore trivia throughout the week with gift cards for the winners.

Q4 Events

Q4 events are still in the works, but we will be focusing on Breast Cancer Awareness in October, National Diabetes Month in November and Family Care Holiday Event in December.

Prenatal Care/Family Care Events – Our prenatal care program offers education to not only moms but anyone who will be involved in the baby’s life. That’s why we offer different education classes in a fun setting to teach mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, etc. the best possible care during pregnancy and baby’s first year.

Back to School for the Whole Family – July 16th

Baby Basics - July 29, 2014

Breastfeeding Class - August 14, 2014

Let’s Grow (Stages of Child Development) – August 20th

Pregnancy Care Movie Day - August 29, 2014

Daddy Class - September 4, 2014

Grandparent’s Class - September 17, 2014

Babies R Us Events – We also do education courses at our local Babies R Us.

Baby Basics – July 22nd

Breastfeeding Workshop – August 5th

Baby Basics – August 19th

Breastfeeding Workshop – September 9th

Baby Basics – September 23rd

Prenatal and Pediatric Dental Care – September 24th

Diabetes Education Group – We have month Diabetes Education Group sessions focusing on Diabetic management and health. Each participate receives a free pedometer, exercise band and healthy snack while learning more about how to manage their diabetes.

Dates through the end of the year

July 22nd

August 26th

September 23rd

October 28th

November 18th

December 16th

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