Published: Dec. 22, 2008
Updated: Apr. 27, 2010
By Carol Harbers
Healthy babies, informed parents, a more prosperous community, and free diapers. What’s not to love?
Durham Connects, which aims to help bring all of those things to Durham County, kicked off in August 2008 and began sending nurses out to visit Durham County newborns and their parents in their homes. The program, supported by Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy and is funded by The Duke Endowment, is available to all families residing in Durham County whose baby is born in Durham County.
In its early days, a similar program served only at-risk families. “But the issues are universal,” says Jeannine Sato, director of community resources for Durham Connects. “Ken Dodge, director of the Center for Child and Family Policy, and The Duke Endowment devised a plan and partnered with the Durham County Health Department to expand the protocol, expand the visit, and make it universal.”
The result? When a child -- every child -- in Durham County is three weeks old, his parents receive a free visit from a nurse who does a physical assessment of mom and baby and offers answers, encouragement, information, and a bag of supplies including a thermometer, diapers, and literature. The nurses generate a letter after every visit and give it to the child’s pediatrician.
“This is community health at its most basic level,” says Sato. “This is a chance to help shape the future of your entire community. The sooner you get kids what they need, the better chance they have of growing up to be healthy, productive citizens.”
Sato says the program has been well received by parents and doctors alike. “The nice thing is that a nurse spends a couple of hours in the home discussing everything from breastfeeding to finances to social isolation,” she says. “Pediatricians don’t have that kind of time.”
Durham Connects is launching in phases and currently serves babies born on even days of the month. The program hopes to expand to full capacity in 2011. For more information, visit durhamconnects.org or call 919-668-3279.