The dedicated Healthy Start team members at UF Health are creating healthier communities by working to improve maternal and infant health outcomes and promote positive parenting skills in Northeast Florida. The Healthy Start team members at UF Health meet with clients in the prenatal clinic, the postpartum unit, and at outreach events in the community.
As a National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps member serving at UF Health - Healthy Start, I have the opportunity to attend outreach events throughout Northeast Florida. I have quickly learned how important outreach events are when trying to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. Outreach events provide public health professionals the opportunity to promote health services, encourage disease prevention, and educate underserved or hard-to-reach populations.
During outreach events, I educate women about many pregnancy-related topics, such as the importance of prenatal care, the benefits of breastfeeding, the dangers of smoking, and safe sleep practices once the baby arrives. I also get to provide women with community resources, such as information about childbirth classes, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Medicaid transportation to help both during and after pregnancy.
The training I received from NHC FL has greatly helped me to run an effective table at outreach events. The training that stands out the most to me was when I learned about the specific health disparities that impact Health Zone 1 in Jacksonville, Florida. This training was incredibly beneficial to me because it provided me with the knowledge I needed to go out into the community and provide meaningful health information in a culturally competent way. This training also helped me to better understand how important it is to serve the community members in Health Zone 1 and continue to increase access to health-related services.
Outreach events are particularly important when trying to improve maternal and infant health because during these events health professionals are able to reach many different people in the community, such as women of childbearing age, grandmothers who give women advice during pregnancy, younger siblings who interact with the baby, neighbors who babysit, and all other members of the community who will have an impact on both the mother and the baby. Outreach events can be a great tool to make sure the impact is positive!
This blog post was written by NHC FL AmeriCorps member, Tess Kurcera.
Tess serves at UF Health- Healthy Start as a Care Coordinator.