Healthy Start Coalition begins home visit program

Elaine Sanchez (far left) and Kristen Crocker (far right) visited new parents Renae and Darren in the hospital setting at Indian River Medical Center following the birth of their son Darren Scott.


Ms Sanchez paid her post birth visit to Home visit to Kelyn Fuentes, age 22, and her infant son Julio Carcamo-Fuentes, who was born on Oct. 20.

When the Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition expanded their programs and services for new babies and their moms, long-time employee, Elaine Sanchez, RN, CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) was thrilled with the new focus of her role in the twenty-five year old local non-profit. She first came on board in 2006 as a health educator and support system for pregnant women and post birth through the first three years of the baby’s life.  In the spring of 2016, her role shifted when the Babies & Beyond program was introduced. Ms. Sanchez now sees all mothers who give birth at Indian River Medical Center while focusing on her new title, Home Visit Nurse.

CEO Andrea Berry and Program Manager Kristen Crocker developed a 4-tier program that now accommodates every one of their client’s needs and is aimed to touch every mother in Indian River County during pregnancy and post birth. The four tiers of Babies & Beyond cover Prenatal Education, Lactation/Breastfeeding with hospital bedside support (post birth), Nurse Home Visitation (post birth) and Playgroups.

“As the Home Visit Nurse, I am responsible for following up with mom and baby in their home about a week after their discharge,” shared Ms. Sanchez from her office on the labor and delivery floor at the Indian River Medical Center. “It is a joy to see them bonding at home after initially meeting them in the hospital setting. It is there I have the opportunity to check the vital signs for both mom and baby, making sure that they are both doing fine medically, and mentally, feeding, stitches, belly button healing, skin color, depression…whatever is necessary.  If there are any issues, we catch them at that time and I can help direct any additional assistance that may be needed.”

“Elaine works closely between the physician and the family, in the hospital and at home, and the program is positive and reassuring for everyone,” explains Ms. Crocker. “Our programs help educate and support our moms, before during and after, and our Home Visits have proven to be a very important aspect of Babies & Beyond.”

According to pediatric hospitalist, Dr Katrina Leshanski, “There is no easy way to express how important these home visits are and how beneficial they are to both mother and baby.  They provide a wonderful opportunity to have a well-trained set of clinical eyes on the mother baby couplet as well as provide much needed anticipatory guidance, reassurances and resources to our families. Bringing home a new baby is a wonderful but very stressful time, these visits ensure we are providing these families excellent support even after they leave the hospital.”

Babies & Beyond classes are free of charge on Tuesday morning and evenings throughout the month.  Some of the weekly topics covered include Nutrition, Infant and Postpartum Care, Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts, Breastfeeding and Stress Management.  Additionally a Breastfeeding Happy Hour is held every Wednesday at Indian River Medical Center at 5:30 p.m. The monthly classes will repeat subject matter monthly with the introduction of new topics to meet client needs. For more information on Babies & Beyond, classes Home Visit Nurse and more can call 772-563-9118 Ext 115.

Babies & Beyond is funded through the generosity of support from the county as well as the Indian River County Hospital District, United Way, and Indian River County’s Children Services Advisory Committee, hospital and philanthropists in the community. The Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition offers a broad spectrum of programs to insure that every pregnant woman and their young children receive all necessary healthcare and support services. They are located in the Bridgewater Plaza at 1555 Indian River Boulevard, 2nd Floor, Vero Beach.

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