Nurse-Family Partnership of Central Alabama receives $8.8M grant

Nurse-Family Partnership at home visit

By Pareasa Rahimi

The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing Nurse-Family Partnership of Central Alabama has received an $8.8 million Integrated Maternal Health Services grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration that will fund NFP’s expansion to 27 additional counties in Alabama within the next five years.

The project, led by Associate Professor and Director of the Nurse-Family Partnership of Central Alabama Candace Knight, PhD, RN, FAAN (BSN 1997, PhD 2013), will further enhance NFP’s current services and increase access to maternity care in Alabama by fully integrating nurse-midwives into the care team, and provide additional behavioral health and primary health care services for five Alabama regions that are classified as underserved or under-resourced.

The project implementation team for the grant includes Professor and Chair of the Department of Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care Allison Shorten, PhD, FACM, FNAP, FAAN; Associate Professor and Director of the MSN Nurse-Midwifery Pathway Sharon Holley, DNP, CNM, FACNM, FAAN (MSN 1996); and Assistant Professor and Nurse-Midwifery Pathway Assistant Director Elizabeth Munoz, DNP, CNM, FACNM.

Established in 2017 as a branch of the national Nurse-Family Partnership, the UAB School of Nursing-led Nurse Family Partnership of Central Alabama began in Jefferson County and partners pregnant and parenting mothers experiencing adversity related to economic or social barriers with their own personal nurse. These nurses connect mothers with vital resources ranging from prenatal care and nutrition to educational and career opportunities to achieve the best possible outcomes during pregnancy, postpartum and parenting. In addition to the original site in Jefferson County, NFP currently serves Walker, Winston, Fayette, Marion, Lamar, Shelby and Bibb counties.

“The mothers who participate in our NFP program have better outcomes in pre-term birth, breastfeeding and employment as compared to state and county averages,” Knight said. “NFP moms also have quick access to mental health treatment should they need it and see improvement in mental health screening scores.”

The expansion of the Nurse-Family Partnership of Central Alabama also means more training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate nursing students—including nurse midwifery students—as well as other health professions students, as workforce development is a vital component to improving and sustaining better outcomes for patients and families.

“The NFP program benefits families but also nursing and health care professions students by allowing them to see what barriers to health and wellness look like in a community setting,” Knight said. “I hope that through clinical experiences with NFP, students are able to see health equity in a true light and that it changes their future practice for the better.”

Since its establishment, the program had been funded solely by philanthropic donations from the Jefferson County Public Health Fund, Mike & Gillian Goodrich Foundation, The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, The Daniel Foundation of Alabama, The Caring Foundation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and grants from the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education First Teacher Program.

Philanthropic support from EBSCO Industries enabled the latest expansion into Shelby and Bibb Counties in late 2022 and enabled NFP to bring a social worker on board to provide counseling services and assist clients with mental health needs.

This type of expansion has been an ongoing endeavor since NFP’s inception. The School’s Office of Clinical and Global Partnerships, which oversees the Nurse-Family Partnership, also has been working to ensure it continues to grow and serve as an important resource for first-time parents to help create a foundation that reduces the impact of poverty and childhood adversity while building stronger families.

The Office, working with UAB Medicine and Alabama Medicaid, in July 2022 received approval to begin billing Alabama Medicaid for NFP nurse home visiting services, assisting with program sustainability and growth.

“Billing for services provided in one of our seven UABSON nurse-led clinics is a new model we are employing to help sustain and grow the vital health care solutions our nurses provide,” said Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships Michele Talley, PhD, ACNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN (MSN 2005, PhD 2015). “The revenue generated will aid in the expansion of NFP across Alabama, improving the health outcomes of even more mothers and babies statewide.”

“And, while the reimbursement for our services through Alabama Medicaid has allowed us to sustain nurse home visiting services, and the grant is helping us expand, the continued philanthropic support from our generous donors is vital for wraparound services for our families, including interpreters and social workers. It also is crucial to keep our nurse visitors in the homes of our moms for the full two years of the program, even if they no longer qualify for Medicaid,” Knight added.

The Nurse-Family Partnership of Central Alabama falls under the UAB School of Nursing Women and Children’s Health Initiative. WACHI’s vision is to assure a future where women and children in Alabama are not only healthy but are thriving and achieving their highest potential. The School is collaborating with community partners to reach women and children in every corner of the state and are working together to build a highly educated and well-resourced nursing workforce, equipped and practice-ready to address our many challenges and to create solutions for a sustained healthcare workforce.

To this end, WACHI encompasses all the School’s maternal and child health focused work across its teaching, research and practice missions. This includes the Nurse-Family Partnership, MSN Nurse-Midwifery Pathway, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Specialty Track, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Specialty Tracks and the Graduate Nursing Education Primary Care Scholars; the School’s nurse-managed clinic at Wellhouse that provides health care to women who are escaping human trafficking; a partnership with Birmingham charter school I3 Academy, which provides regular vision and hearing screenings and health assessments for students, along with health education events for families; and an initiative with Birmingham’s Titusville community, Booker T. Washington K-8 School and Sixth Avenue Baptist Church to reduce childhood obesity and its associated poor health outcomes in the Birmingham area.

Optimistic about the potential impact of this project, Shorten, who is the Director of WACHI, said, “under our collaborative WACHI initiative in the School of Nursing, and integral to its vision, this critically important work in building collaborative interprofessional models of care in Alabama, is an important step towards achieving a future where women and children in Alabama are healthy and achieving their highest potential.”

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