Nurse-Family Partnership combating Cuyahoga County's infant mortality rate

CLEVELAND - Cleveland has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. The rate is so high in fact, that between 2003 and 2013, the infant mortality rate increased by 24%.

That’s why Nurse-Family Partnership, a community health organization was started at MetroHealth last year. Nurse-Family Partnership works by having trained nurses regularly visit first-time mothers. The visits begin in early pregnancy and conclude by the child’s second birthday.

The goal is to support and guide the mom in having a healthy pregnancy. First-time moms benefit from the close relationship with their nurses, and in turn, gain confidence in their future and parenting skills.

Nurse Nefertiti Peterson says ultimately she would like to make a difference in the life of these moms.

“The information that they get it dispels a lot of the myths they may have heard in the past,” Peterson said.

She has been a home care nurse for years, but this is Peterson's first year with Nurse-Family Partnership. She has been a big help to new mom Ciera Ellis. Ellis gave birth around a month ago and it was a very difficult pregnancy.

“I just didn't think I was going to make it out that hospital I was in there for two and a half weeks I just got home,” Ellis said.

Suffering from a blockage in her kidney, and a blood clot, Ellis said she has had to focus on her healing, in addition to being a mom.

The program is funded completely by grants, with no additional cost to the mothers. Currently, with 133 moms and 8 nurses in the program, most mothers have been referred by doctors’ offices or other moms within the program.

The ultimate goal is to reach as many moms as possible. In the future, the program does hope to expand beyond Cuyahoga County.

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