Ten V.I. Department of Health Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program participants graduated on Feb. 7, during a morning ceremony held on St. Thomas.
Eight of the 10 new mothers, their children and families, were joined by National NFP representatives, including the President and Chief Executive Officer of National Nurse-Family Partnership Frank Daidone and NFP Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jaime Moreno from the National NFP Office in Denver, Colo., and R.N. NFP Nurse Representative Alain Glen from South Florida, who provides regional support to the VI N-FP Program. Two of the graduating mothers were unable to attend.
The original 12 participants joined the program when they were less than 28 weeks pregnant. Even though hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the Virgin Islands in September 2017, these graduates stayed loyal to the program and remained on St. Thomas.
This graduation ceremony is especially significant to all involved because of the hardships endured by the mothers and the N-FP nursing staff during and immediately following the storms.
“The post storm period was extremely challenging time for everyone,” said Carmen Vanterpool-Romney, R.N, BSN, nurse supervisor, MCH, VI N-FP program. “It was difficult on the N-FP team but they prevailed because they knew their families needed them and because they also received tremendous support from their national N-FP colleagues.”
During the ceremony, there was also a moment of silence to remember the three individuals who were lost during the program period. Lydia Etienne was a beloved data entry staff member at MCH who was lost March 2018, Merlinda George was an N-FP participating mother, and the last individual was a Zika positive baby.
The program’s graduate speaker, Deneisha Brazzle, summed it up best saying: (sic),
“A big thank you to all. It was a great two years; it was a rough two years. It was a happy two years. It was a sad two years; two years is what we have to thank the N-FP nurses and their associates for all the help they have given us, with their open arms, their attentive ears, their wise mouths and their caring and adherent supportive mindsets. Through this program, we who benefited from it, have gained knowledge, a good sense of direction, and key points of how to keep those temper tantrums in check. This program has helped us be the mothers or fathers that our kids need us to be.
We should never forget the connections that we have formed with the N-FP members. I’m so accustomed to your visits and this will be hard, because I know after today the only visits we will be getting are pop-up visits; others can relate. Kindness is our very own magical pixie dust. It gives people the ability to soar, not just fly.” So, I also do know that you have to give others the chance to soar too. Thank you, I appreciate all that you did for my daughter and I.”
She also talked about the assistance she received throughout the two-year (plus) experience saying not only did she receive medical intervention to help with her unique pregnancy challenges but Brazzle also received support she needed to become a certified medical administrative assistant (CMA) with the V.I. Department of Labor.
As a participant in the N-FP program, all expectant women receive training to help guide and train them through their pre and postnatal experience as well as individualized healthcare care. Expectant mothers are supported with training to improve their pregnancies and are also encouraged to become economically self-sufficient through continued schooling or pursuing career goals. Participants benefit from being part of the program during their pregnancy and up through their child’s second birthday.
It is hoped that in the near future the N-FP program will be expanded to create identical programs on St. Croix and St. John.