Spirit of Maryville 2019: Nurses for Newborns

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Nurses for Newborns was born out of a need to prevent infant mortality, child abuse and neglect in low-income neighborhoods where resources are scarce. Since its founding in the early 1990s, it has employed a successful home visitation model — sending specially trained pediatric nurses to the homes of pregnant women, as well as parents of infants facing medical, social or environmental risks. Referrals come from physicians, clinics and social service agencies as well as from families themselves.

Initial home visits include health and developmental assessments of both mothers and children, and screening for additional risk factors like maternal depression and domestic violence. Nurses then prepare a plan of action designed to ensure the baby’s health, safety and development. In subsequent visits, nurses monitor the infant’s health and progress, while also providing educational tools to support the family and improve parenting skills. They also assist with access to necessities like diapers, formula and safety equipment.

To date, Nurses for Newborns has successfully assisted more than 110,000 infants and their families, in eastern Missouri and mid-Tennessee. Among other honors, program founder Sharon Rohrbach, RN, was presented with a Use Your Life Award by Oprah Winfrey in 2001.