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Centering on Parenting Program to Kick Off in January

Building on its highly successful CenteringPregnancy program, Penn State Health St. Joseph will in January begin offering a CenteringParenting clinic at its Downtown Campus.

A kick-off event was held at that campus on October 16, when pediatric providers and others learned about the intent of the program and how it will be implemented and run.

Start-up costs for the program were funded by a grant from the Boston-based Centering Healthcare Institute.

“This has been something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” said Laura Welliver, Grants & Special Projects Coordinator at Penn State Health St. Joseph. “We knew from our successful CenteringPregnancy program that this was the logical next step.”

Kim Hunter, OB Nurse Navigator, explained that the CenteringParenting program pairs 6 to 8 mothers, along with their partners, support persons and same-age infants together in community with their healthcare providers for the first two years of the babies’ lives. Each session serves as a well visit for babies, while also providing education, fellowship and support for parents.

“This is a proven program that benefits all involved,” Hunter said. “We want healthy moms, healthy babies and healthy families that make healthy communities.”

Participation in the CenteringParenting program has been shown to increase compliance with immunizations, well child visits, breastfeeding and other aspects of care. It promotes healthy lifestyles, gets patients actively involved in their care and promotes bonding among groups of parents and their children.

There are 61 CenteringParenting clinics across the country, with 39 more on their way to opening.

Liz Stern, a public health professional who serves as a consultant for the Centering Healthcare Institute, praised the Penn State Health St. Joseph team for its work of putting together a CenteringParenting program in just 10 weeks.

“I’m really impressed with how quickly this all came together,” she said.

Stern told physicians, nurses, medical assistants and support persons at the kick-off event that each of them will be vital to the new program.

“All of you in your different roles will be very important in making Centering successful,” she said.

Those involved with the program will undergo a two-day training program in November.

The CenteringParenting program begins when babies are one month old and continues through their second birthdays. Parents will be taught how to weigh and measure their babies and document the information in a special notebook, available in either English or Spanish.

Each meeting also will include activities involving babies and parents, refreshments and education.

“It’s a lot of fun and fellowship,” explained Stern. “But, if you hear a lot of laughing, don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s not important work happening there.”

The inaugural CenteringParenting group will meet January 7 and be made up of babies who were born in November and early December. Each group will include two facilitators, a pediatric provider and a community health worker, in addition to parents and babies.

Hunter said that Penn State Health St. Joseph, a certified Baby-Friendly hospital, is thrilled that it will have both CenteringPregnancy and CenteringParenting programs for patients.

CenteringPregnancy is a 10-session program during which 8 to 12 women due to give birth at approximately the same time meet for two hours, during which they receive prenatal care and education. Women typically bond during these sessions and had expressed interest in continuing to meet once their babies were born, Hunter explained.

“Women love the CenteringPregnancy sessions and kept asking why did they have to stop getting together when the baby was born,” Hunter said. “Now, with CenteringParenting, they won’t have to stop.”

Learn more about the Centering Healthcare Institute and the CenteringPregnancy and CenteringParenting programs at centeringhealthcare.org.

Kim Hunter, MSN, RN, OB Nurse Navigator Planning a pregnancy? Expecting this year? Want to check out our birthing center? Or just have general questions? Call Kim Hunter, MSN, RN, OB Nurse Navigator and let her be your personal guide.
610-378-2569   |   KHunter3@PennStateHealth.psu.edu   |   www.StJoesSpecialDeliveries.org

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