Nurse checking child's heartbeat When a child becomes sick, how do parents know whether they should call the pediatrician or bring the child to the Emergency Department?

Helping them answer that question was at the heart of one project from the Community Nurse Advocacy Fellowship (CNAF) last year. CNAF gives staff nurses the opportunity to step outside their roles at Children’s Hospital and step into a community setting where their knowledge and skills are aimed at improving children’s health.

To help parents differentiate between routine and serious illness, fellow Kimberly Ross, BSN, RN, an intensive care nurse, tapped into CHOP’s Early Head Start (EHS) Program to reach families in West Philadelphia. Ross reviewed a new booklet, which highlights the signs and symptoms that constitute true medical emergencies, that EHS home visitors planned to share when they visit families’ homes.

To prepare the home visitors to be more effective educators, Ross held a training session and armed them with answers to questions parents ask most frequently.

That was just one of several new CNAF projects. Fellows also maintained the momentum of successful previous projects. A common thread was partnering with CHOP programs and experts, maximizing the fellow’s impact.

Teaming up with CHOP’s Homeless Health Initiative (HHI), neonatology nurse Kara Schmidt, RN, BSN, laid the groundwork to promote and provide breastfeeding support for new mothers living in shelters. She planned a peer support group for pregnant residents and mothers of newborns. Sessions begin with a general newborn topic and move to discussions about breastfeeding. Each mother receives an informational handout, and a resource binder is available in a designated spot for mothers to use. Schmidt also planned a training session for EHS health educators who work closely with pregnant women and moms of newborns so the educators were better able to support breastfeeding.

After learning of the lasting effects intimate partner violence (IPV) has on children who witness it, fellow Amanda Bullard, BSN, RN, CPN, worked to develop appropriate screening questions to identify victims of IPV during HHI CHOP Nights, monthly pediatrician visits to area shelters. She held a focus group at HHI partner shelter Jane Addams Place to ask residents to share their thoughts on what questions would be OK — or not OK — for clinicians to ask about IPV. The group talked about the most appropriate setting to hear questions and how it would feel to be asked certain questions. Bullard also connected with CHOP’s IPV specialists, who would support any shelter resident who sought help for IPV.

Sustaining projects included: safety training for summer camp counselors; leading regular health, wellness and nutrition classes for mothers and children at HHI partner shelters; and a day-long training for Norristown School District nurses.