For five years, UF Health Jacksonville has utilized National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps members to reach thousands of women and their families who may not have been assisted without their service.
According to statistics from UF Health Jacksonville, 4,000 babies are born at the hospital every year. Of those 4,000 babies, there are moms and families who need services that only Healthy Start can provide such as: enrollments, social service navigation for clients, group class facilitation, care coordination for new moms and much more all to ensure that every baby has a healthy start.
UF Health Jacksonville is a medical center providing care in Jacksonville’s urban core. In 2001, Healthy Start expanded to the hospital to meet the needs specifically of expectant and new mothers and their babies receiving care or delivering there. The program is set up in multiple units of the hospital: the obstetric clinic, antepartum, postpartum and a pregnancy- related only emergency room.
Rebecca Ratusnik, a Healthy Start Research Associate for UF Women’s Services, identified that the greatest benefit to having a National Health Corps member is they learn by serving others and teach with new perspective and creativity every day. Rasika Patel and Jayash Ramanthan, the two members at UF Health for the 2017-2018 service term, exemplify this through applying new strategies to the organization through what they have learned in National Health Corps trainings and their previous education.
The National Health Corps Florida program is an initiative of Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition. The mission of National Health Corps is “to foster healthy communities by delivering and connecting those who need it most with health and wellness education, benefits and services, while developing tomorrow’s compassionate health leaders.” Members become community leaders in the course of 46 weeks and 1700 hours. With their time and talents, National Health Corps members have had a positive impact on healthy pregnancy and early childhood outcomes in Northeast Florida. Rebecca believes that Rasika and Jayash have provided the organization with the same progressive results as the years previously.
Rebecca recommends other public health nonprofits apply to become a host site because they can be matched with someone who is passionate and invested in their organization’s development. She was a National Health Corps member at UF Health Jacksonville before getting hired there; now she gets to mentor members who are experiencing their service in a way which she used to. Rebecca understands the symbiotic relationship between a host site and their National Health Corps member; they “enrich and nourish” each other. With the shared commitment comes shared success.
To learn more about becoming a host site and applying for your organization to have a National Health Corps Florida member, go to http://nationalhealthcorps.org/florida/become-host-site.